Taylor Lewan, a 6-7, 280-lb offensive tackle from Scottsdale, Arizona. Lewan is a high school teammate of Michigan defensive end commit Craig Roh, and becomes the 21st commitment in Michigan's class of 2009.
Recruiting Notes Lewan was unknown early in the recruiting season, but a solid senior year at a new position and a new school has given him the ability to pick from a virtual who's-who of colleges. Michigan offered him after the first few games of his final high school campaign, and when they landed Craig Roh, it greatly increased their chances to land Taylor. However, Lewan's father is a native Minnesotan, and attended the University in St. Paul. Because of his father's roots, Lewan has described himself as a displaced midwesterner. After a Minnesota visit, Lewan maintained that he would still take trips to Michigan and Oregon before making his decision. Taylor visited Ann Arbor the weekend of December 13th, and attended Michigan's basketball victory against Eastern Michigan. Shortly thereafter, he told Rich Rodriguez that he wished to be a Michigan Wolverine, and committed to the Maize and Blue.
Player Notes In his junior year, Taylor Lewan was a little-known defensive end prospect from Cactus Shadows High School in Scottsdale, Arizona. A transfer to Chaparral High School (a more successful program) and a move to the offensive tackle position (at which he is a better physical fit) gave Lewan a new lease on football life. He has become one of the fastes-rising prospects in the country over the course of a few short months. Lewan is a true offensive tackle, and a four-star prospect to both recruiting sites. He plays with an edge to his game that sets him apart from other offensive linemen. New teammate Craig Roh had a mutually-beneficial relationship on the practice field with Lewan, and the pair helped each other improve. Roh has described Lewan as a gym rat that won't be outworked by anyone. Roh and Lewan also faced
Freshman running back Sam McGuffie has announced his intentions to transfer from Michigan. McGuffie was Michigan's 2nd leading rusher on the year, but missed parts or all of several games with concussions. He received his unconditional release from Michigan this morning, according to both pay sites.
McGuffie-and-Michigan never was a perfect fit after the departure of Lloyd Carr and the pro-style system, and McGuffie will likely transfer somewhere closer to home that is a better fit for his skill set. His injury history and family issues are reported to be the reasons for his departure from Michigan.
Varsity Blue wishes McGuffie the best of luck with whatever he plans to do in the future. Scholarship count will be updated accordingly.
Action since last rankings: 12-7-08 Notre Dame gains commitment from Jordan Cowart. 12-8-08 Michigan State gains commitment from Corey Freeman. Purdue gains commitment from Xavier Melton. 12-9-08 Indiana loses commitment from Kenny Watkins. 12-11-08 Michigan gains commitment from Cameron Gordon.
Wide receiver Cameron Gordon of Inkster, Michigan has given his word to sign with Michigan in February. Gordon is a 6-3, 210-lb player who has been measured at 4.6 in the 40-yard dash. He is Michigan's 21st commit in the class of 2009.
Recruiting Notes Gordon started the recruiting year as someone Michigan fans expected to likely end up in the Wolverines' recruiting class. However, it certainly ended up taking significantly longer than they expected (although he had always planned to take his time with a decision). At the end of his junior year, he announced that he would be transferring from Melvindale High School to Inkster, where he would have a better opportunity to excel athletically. During the summer, he attended Michigan's summer camp. The Wolverine coaches told him that they liked him more as a linebacker, and told him that he would receive an offer if he was willing to play at that position in college. With a noncommittal answer, Michigan's offer took significantly longer to arrive than Gordon would have otherwise liked. When he finally received his offer in November, Gordon took a visit to Iowa, who had been on him all along. However, the allure of the Michigan offer was too much to pass up, and he committed to Michigan today.
Player Notes Gordon is a big, physical receiver, with large measurables for the position. He lacks elite speed, but is able to beat defenders, using his body well and catching it at the highest point with his biug hands. However, Michigan fans liked the physical play he could bring to a linebacker position at the next level. It will be interesting to see whether he remains at receiver when he gets to the next level, or at least be open to a potential position switch.
Etc. This year, Gordon was catching passes thrown by 2010 dual-threat quarterback prospect Devin Gardner, who is certainly one of the top targets on Michigan's recruiting board. Securing a commitment from Gordon should go a long way to helping Michigan land his teammate in the next recruiting class.
We will not be posting this weekend, for several reasons:
Varsity Blue may or may not be moving venues starting on Monday. I'll let Paul fill in the gruesome details, since he's far more knowledgeable on the matter.
I currently believe that I am going to be unavailable most of the time (as I was last weekend, hence the inconsistency in posting).
With the season over, there is little to post about, and I think it's time to take a little break from scraping together content.
That said, the Big Ten Recruiting Class Rankings that are typically posted on Saturdays will make their tomorrow afternoon. Friday Night Lights (the final substantive update of the year) will appear on Monday. There may be a post or two shuffled in today or tomorrow as well, but no guarantees.
All-conference performers in Southeastern Conference play include 2010 WR commit Jeremy Jackson of AA Huron and 2010 RB prospect Nick Hill from Chelsea.
2010 OH TE Greg Gainey has transferred from Trotwood-Madison to Thurgood Marshall. Without the pipeline advantage, and at a position of little need, will he remain a Michigan target? He stays on the board for now, but he's a candidate for removal.
56 catches for 1,099 yards (20 yards per grab) and five TDs. 132 tackles, 11 sacks.
He has offers from Penn State, Pitt, Stanford, and Maryland at this point.
Want some fluff on 2010 IL QB Detchauz Wray? It's your lucky day!
Junior quarterback Detchauz Wray completed 133 of 228 passes (58.3 percent) this season for 2,564 yards and 38 touchdowns while throwing only five turnovers. The 5-foot-11, 180-pound signal caller also rushed for 260 yards and five touchdowns...
Wray's impressive numbers have gained the attention of several Division I programs. The Flyers' standout has already received offers from Arizona and Kansas State, Sunkett said. Illinois and Kansas have also shown Wray interest.
Sunkett said East St. Louis' offense doesn't call for the quarterback to run often but that Wray has the ability to be a dual threat. However, Wray's stature may force him to change positions, possibly wide receiver or cornerback, at the next level.
For now, he'll remain at QB on the board, but he is a definite position-change candidate down the road.
Meanwhile, new Gophers running game coordinator-offensive line coach Tim Davis, who left No. 1 Alabama last week for Minnesota, spent Monday, his first day with the Gophers, in Phoenix recruiting 6-foot-6, 265-pound Taylor Lewan , a nationally sought offensive lineman. Today, Davis plans to be at Cretin-Derham Hall, which has 6-8, 296-pound junior offensive lineman Seantrel Henderson , who is among the country's elite prep players.
Lewan is heading to Ann Arbor this weekend for his official visit. Other prospects on the docket include: NC CB Josh Hunter (North Carolina Commit). FL S/LB Commit Mike Jones. FL K Commit Brendan Gibbons. Speaking of Gibbons, he's been selected to the Army All-American Bowl. He will be headed there instead of the ESPNU game, to which he was already committed.
Will Campbell enjoyed his Michigan official last weekend. Both parents want Will to go to Michigan, and have mentioned that recruiters have seemed... disingenuous... at some other schools, particularly in regards to treating Will's mother like an annoyance.
2010 OH RB Erick Howard grew up liking Michigan, and the Wolverines would start at an advantage if he is recruited down the road.
2009 MI TE Dion Sims has eliminated Michigan. I knew he was never really going to end up here, and I've been saying (even when he was still on the table) that he doesn't seem like a guy who likes football or has the necessary intensity to enjoy it in Rich Rodriguez's program. It's sad to lose another instate guy, but c'est la vie.
Another recruiting post sometime late this week or early next week.
With Michigan's basketball team attaining a new standard of relevance, it's easy to see how Wolverines fans are already prognosticating a run to the NCAA tournament. Wins over UCLA and Duke are certainly a stepping stone towards achieving that goal, but there is still work to be done. Let's see what Michigan has to do to make it into the Big Dance. Sagarin Ratings are little more than a rough draft at this point, but they give us some idea of the relative strengths of the teams.
The wins over UCLA and Duke were certainly not expected, and one could easily maintain that Michigan has done better through the first part of its schedule than could possibly have been expected. Salvaging the win over Savannah State was key. Had Michigan been able to top Maryland on the road (and, in all honesty, they should have), we'd be looking at a pretty highly-ranked team right now.
Remaining Non-conference Schedule
Florida Gulf Coast
The remaining four games before the start of the conference schedule are all must-wins. Even with some good victories under their belt, the Wolverines would be devastated by a loss to any of these teams. The mid-year tilt with UConn looks like a loss this early in the year, but who knows where the teams will be come February?
@ Penn State
@ Ohio State
Going into the conference schedule, it loks like Michigan will have a 10-2 record (and will and with a 10-3 non-conference record overall). The conference predictions are little more than guesses at this point, because it's hard to tell this early in the season exactly how good all these teams are. Regardless, I project Michigan to be 17-8 (7-5) with 6 in-conference toss-ups. They would likely need to win at least two of those toss-ups, but preferably three to bring them to 20-11 (10-8). This would nearly assure them a bid to the NCAA tournament, especially if combined with a win or two in the Big Ten Tourney. 19-12 (9-9) would likely necessitate a couple wins in the Big Ten Tournament to warrant an NCAA bid.
Of course, Michigan will overachieve at times, and likely underachieve at others. The key is to minimize bad losses, and win most of the games that they should. Combined with the possibility for an upset or two, they should be able to make the tournament.
Another key will be closing the season strong. Unlike college football, finishing the regular season strong is an established criterion for selection to the NCAA tournament. With a likely loss and three tossups in the final four regular-season games, Michigan will have to find a way to win a couple of those tossups to warrant strong consideration.
With Michigan idle during the bowl season, I'll take a little closer of a look at the rest of the Big Ten. Let's start today with Iowa v. Northwestern.
Lake the Posts, poster-blog for "hey give us respect, guys!" posting, has yet another issue with not getting what the Cats "deserve." 8-4 Iowa has been selected to the Outback Bowl over the 9-3 Wildcats, who also hold a head-to-head victory on the season. Well, for once there may be a legitimate gripe here. Let's take a look at the resumes:
Neither resume is particularly impressive, and they're fairly hard to differentiate at this point (aside form the head-to-head win). Let's break it down further.
Northwestern gets the non-conference nod, though it's slightly skewed because they didn't lose a non-conference game, whereas Iowa lost to the only legit opponent either team played. Northwestern's crappy non-con schedule gets a bump of one spot at each position. If you were to sort just by quality of opposition, ignoring win/loss record, Iowa's slate would take Northwestern's behind the woodshed.
Overall, the resumes are very similar, but Iowa's seems to be better on the whole, despite the head-to-head loss and the slightly worse record. The common opponents occupy a high slot on Northwestern's resume, and their wins were either comparable or not as impressive. In loss, Iowa was competitive in every game they played (and let's not even get into how they should have beaten both Michigan State and Pitt), whereas Northwestern was either getting blown out by good teams, or losing to Indiana, of all teams.
Nonetheless, Michigan’s football coach has been covering the country as part of his recruiting plan. He said he started in Detroit, was in Chicago on Wednesday and will hit California, Texas, Florida and Ohio this month before he’s off the road.
You can guess who he's visiting in each place. Snyder also reports that Rodriguez expects 8 early-enrolling recruits from the class of '09. Those would be Tate Forcier, Shavodrick Beaver, Vincent Smith, William Campbell if he re-commits, Anthony LaLota, Brandin Hawthorne, Mike Jones, and Vlad Emilien.
Added to the 2009 Board: LA DE Bennie Logan, who has been offered (info in header). Added to the 2010 Board: NE DB Darius Evans. He grew up in Ohio and likes the Big Ten (info in header).
There's been something of a minor inter-freakout among the Michigan fanbase over a comment posted by DandyDon.com about 2009 MI DT William Campbell.
As for William Campbell, I list him at 60-40 because he has told an LSU commitment more than once that he was going to sign with LSU.
Not to besmirch the honor of Dandy Don, but regardless of his source, I don't think the information is correct. All reports on Campbell's LSU visit have indicated he was less-than-enthused, and barring a sea-change in his sentiments, I think Michigan is still the leader, especially after he stormed the court following the hoops upset over Duke. Also storming the court after the upset over the Blue Devils? 2010 DE William Gholston, pictured below in the lovely purple T-Shirt, along with Brandon Graham in the black jacket.
Still (somewhat surprisingly, given the lack of information about him relating to Michigan) considering the Wolverines is 2009 GA CB Darren Myles. Michigan appears to be in his de facto top 6, along with Alabama, LSU, West Virginia, Purdue, and Georgia Tech.
Though I thought he was planning to make a commitment a couple weeks back, 2009 MD RB Tavon Austinnow says he'll wait until signing day. West Virginia is his current leader, followed by Maryland, UNC, and Michigan.
2010 OH OL Matt James. He has now been offered by Notre Dame (info in header). They seemed to be right in the thick of things before they offered, I'd now assume they are an early leader.
Forcier, averaging 303 yards per game in the air and 86 on the ground, was sacked seven times and finished with no yards rushing on 16 carries and was 9-of-23 for 106 yards and two interceptions.
After a one-hour, 52-minute delay, the game resumed and the Falcons (8-4) took advantage of the break in Oceanside's momentum, scoring on a 7-yard Forcier run on the last play of the first quarter, and again on a 6-yard Forcier run with 32 seconds left in the first half to tie it.
The article sounds like his offensive line killed him in this game, and an MGoBlog diarist who was there corroborates it. Season Totals: Scripps Ranch 7-3. Lost in the third round of the playoffs.
Tate Forcier 2008
Forcier photo by John R. McCutcheon of the Union Tribune.