Basketballin'

Did the Michigan basketball team just earn their bid to the 2009 NCAA tournament?

Maybe. A big win against #16 Purdue will go along way to impress the selection committee. They needed this win to stay alive in the hunt. And hopefully even if they split the next two games, they can still find their way into the big dance for the first time in 11 years.

And...the final four is going to be in Detroit this year. Coincidence?

Our hats off to Beilein and his boys. Way to give the Michigan fans out there something to cheer about.

The 1997 Michigan Defense Mix Tape

...brought to you by our favorite Michigan YouTube sensation, Wolverine Historian.



The 97 Penn State game was one of the best defensive performances I've ever seen. Correct me if I'm wrong, but I believe 10 of the 11 starters from that defense went on to have an NFL career.

Wednesday Fluff

• The Minnesota blog Buck Bravo's Gopher Football Blog took an interesting look into what could be a new phenomenon...Big Ten Bloggers somehow influencing teams recruiting rankings. Seems like a long shot, but have a look see and decide on you own. And for what it's worth, we here at MBN love the name "Buck Bravo".

• Speaking of Big Ten blogs, Jeff over at The Buckeye Battle Cry has taken his shot at pretty much every sport that is played by a team in the state of Michigan. Here's his story, and a thorough rebuttal from UMTailgate.

A few things bother my about the BBC's assertion that the whole state of Michigan's sports teams need a bailout. Aside from the obvious fact that a Buckeye has opened their mouth, he goes on to say a few things that really irk me.

First of all, he goes after the Detroit Red Wings:

Who cares? There’s a reason why ESPN has the NHL link AFTER their soccer link.
Anyone who bases an argument on where their sport ranks on the header the ESPN.com has bigger issues to deal with. The Red Wings play in maybe one of the toughest sports on the planet, and they consistently win. They're maybe one of the best and most successful sports franchises in the world. That counts for something.

Dude. 0-16.

Really?

When the Browns have to START their fourth-string QB and still end up with four more wins than you, you suck.

Dude...I'll agree the Lions are bad. But so are the Browns and the Bengals. Together they combined for a stunning record of 8-23-1 in 2008 (they split the season series 1 win each). And since Ohio has two NFL teams that can be successful, and aren't...I'll call it a draw.
Just three months ago, ESPN was trumpeting their trade for Allen Iverson as a move that would guarantee them more seasons on top of the Central Division and the Eastern Conference. Right now, Detroit is fighting to even make the playoffs.
The Pistons raised the NBA title banner in 2004, and have won the division title 6 times since 2002, and the conference title in 2004 and 2005. And if anyone wants to dissect the worth of the Cavs franchise, just watch and see how fast LeBron James leaves town when he's a free agent next year.

And finally, the shot at Michigan.
What once was a proud football school has been leveled into depression. And while to MGoBlog denizens will tell you that it’s going to be better once Rich Rodriquez gets “his men” in there, the real fact is that it’s probably not hit rock bottom yet.

More players are likely to transfer, and as the losses pile up, so will the desperation. Bo Schembechler once put up that sign that read “Those Who Stay Will Be Champions”. His players knew that it meant they had to be tough to be a Michigan football player, and they would use that toughness to win championships.

RichRod is no Schembechler. He’s not even close.
Interesting. Yes, we've been your whipping boy for the last 5 years. But I think it's funny how easily tOSU fans forget that they were Michigan's whipping boy for much longer before that. It's cyclical. Everyone knows that. We still have the edge on you 57-42-6.

See you on November 21st. Our house.

• And if anyone needs yet another reason to hate Ohio, and a whiskey brand at the same time...spotted somewhere in the Columbus area.

Thanks to Brian @ mgoblog for the image. And a special thanks to the fine people of Maker's Mark. It's good to know we have an easier choice when we stroll down the whiskey isle at the store.

Threet was Pushed Out?

According to a few sources, most notably Brian from mgoblog, Steven Threet's departure from Michigan might not have been as simple as first thought. Brian appeared live on WTKA yesterday afternoon (I'm still efforting the audio from the broadcast), where he sat down with John U. Bacon and talked about, among other things, Steven Threet.

The details of the meeting Rodriguez had with Threet at some point a few weeks ago are sketchy, but the gist of the discussion was that Forcier was going to get the bulk (or all) of the snaps for spring drills with the first team, and that Threet might be better served elsewhere as a starting QB contender.

Two things bother me about this.

First of all, how does Rodriguez know that Forcier is going to be any better of an option than Threet was without ever seeing him take a collegiate snap?

And secondly, why would he try and muscle out a kid who's seen a year of action under his system, and could very easily serve as a competent and capable backup?

I'm not going to speculate. And I trust that Brian would not speculate as well, especially on live air. But if either one of those questions results in Rodriguez either not feeling comfortable with Threet on the roster, or Threet not feeling comfortable playing second fiddle to some new guy, than it may be for the best that Threet seek greener pastures.

But I really hope that Rodriguez didn't try and muscle Threet out of town based solely on the fact that he didn't perform as well as most would have hoped in 2008. And it doesn't make a whole lot of sense given that we've still not seen Forcier throw a pass in a college practice yet.

We had our chance to take a number of shots at Threet last year when the wheels were falling off the season, and we did. But it was never in the spirit of not liking the kid, we'd be critical of anyone who steps in as the QB.

And for the record, I'm still not at all convinced that Forcier or Robinson are going to take Michigan to promised land. But I will conclude, even now, that we're in better hands than we were a year ago at this time.

Ridiculously Early 2009 Preview: Quarterback

Welcome to the first installment of the Ridiculously Early 2009 Preview. This will be a series of posts over the course of the next few days/weeks in which we will attempt to address and preview each position going into the spring, one by one. Today we will begin our preview...where else...with the quarterback position.

Coming off of a miserable 2008, there was no question that Michigan needed to do something with the QB role. When Rodriguez came to Ann Arbor a year ago, it was obvious that he didn't have a warm body that could run the spread style of offense that he was used to running with Pat White at West Virginia. His only true hope was freshman Justin Feagin. But he didn't arrive in campus until summer, and by then it was too late to try and catch up and outgun Steven Threet for the starting nod. Many had high hopes, but Feagin just wasn't cut out for QB yet. Instead he shifted over to slot WR where he ended up getting minimal playing time.

So that left Threet and backups Nick Sheridan and David Cone. Sheridan, a walk-on and son of former Michigan assistant coach Bill Sheridan, who is the currently the linebackers coach with the New York Giants, ran the spread in high school...and therefore somehow thought he could run it in college. His one good game, against Minnesota last year, but that didn't make up for his complete meltdown in Columbus.

As we've addressed before, Threet has since decided that his services would be better utilized elsewhere.

So, knowing that Threet and Sheridan are not exactly what the doctor ordered, Michigan needed to recruit a couple QBs to take their place. Oh don't worry, Sheridan will still be on the roster for 2009.

Welcome Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson.

Now, much has and will be made of Forcier's ability to run the spread. And even more has been made of his confidence so far at Michigan. If I was the projected starter as a freshman and I hadn't yet even seen the practice field, sure...I'd be confident, too. But he is a highly touted QB coming out of San Diego. But he will by no means be the savior of Michigan football. He has a great football pedigree, with his brothers Jason and Chris both playing at PAC-10 schools. And my personal opinion is that he will be better than Threet in terms of overall ability to manage the game and make less bonehead mistakes.

Two things really going for him right now are that he enrolled early and has had the chance to learn the playbook and workout with S&C coach Mike Barwis, and also that Threet's departure has basically left the door wide open for him to step in a be a leader right away...a role it seems he's more than comfortable with.

Denard Robinson was a late addition to the 09 class. He signed on with his fellow HS teammate Adrian Witty who will likely red shirt and find a role as a DB down the line. But Robinson was a standout from the speedy state of Florida. According to a recruiting publication, SuperPrep, he was the #9 overall recruit coming out of Florida this year. However, unlike Forcier, he will not arrive on campus until summer after he graduates. Likely a drawback in terms of preparation.

But as we know, how you perform in high school has really very little bearing on how well you'll perform in college. How else can you explain how Notre Dame consistently recruits top 5 classes and hasn't played in a meaningful game since the first Bush administration?

In a previous post, I listed my projected depth-chart for Michigan's QBs going into this season.

1) Tate Forcier
2) Denard Robinson
3) Justin Feagin
4) Nick Sheridan

I received a comment regarding the placement of Feagin, a slot-WR, as the #3 QB. I'll stand by that placement if for no other reason that I think if Forcier and Robinson go down, the last thing Michigan would want to do is snap the ball to a guy who's been wearing the headset for the whole game.

Feagin's ability to run the spread (effectively) will of course be limited, but any more limited than Sheridan's?

As we go into the spring and of course the summer, no question things will develop more. The QB is a vital role in any offense, but especially one like Michigan's which puts so much emphasis on not only the QBs physical ability, but his ability to mentally manage a complex offensive scheme. Especially in front of a large television audience and the largest crowd to watch a football game anywhere in the world.

I think there is little doubt that even with 2 true-freshman at 1& 2 on the depth-chart, we're still in better and more capable hands than we were at this point last year. I may be proven wrong when the stadium explodes in a devastating loss to Western Michigan on September 5th...in which case I will be more than willing to link back to this post and say I was dead wrong. But that will likely be the result of poor coaching rather than the QB's fault.

The State of the Blog

Well, welcome back kids. I've been rather selfish these past few days...taking a little break from full-fledged posting to relax and take in some of the off-season. Sure, I really never post anything on the weekends unless it has something to do with huge news that just can't keep until Monday. And as I've said many times, the off-season is now upon us. That glorious time between the end of recruiting (for now) and spring practice.

Of course that doesn't mean there isn't news out there. And in the blogging world, we have the luxury of sort of making up news and making it sound like it's a bigger deal than it really is, like Penn State having the #2 biggest stadium in the country to Michigan's smaller, yet still biggest house of college football. Is this really important to anyone? Of course not. But its mid-February and we have nothing better to talk about.

So take this in the spirit in which it's intended. And that would be like a President giving a state of the union speech...except I'm not going to be as eloquent and as thought provoking. Thus, let us begin...

The world is changing.

And by that I mean the world of sports and how we (the public) interact and receive our sports content. And I don't mean how we watch live sports on TV. That, at least, is not changing much...yet.

I mean how you and I get our much needed fix for sports news and information.

There is absolutely no question that there is a monumental shift in the area of mass media. Accelerated by the lagging economy, outlets like newspapers, news stations, even sports talk radio shows are starting to feel the pinch. Beat writers, on-air jocks...everyone who makes a living in reporting the sports, at least everyone outside of ESPN or a major sports website like CNN/SI or CBS or Yahoo!, is finding it harder and harder to do their job and still make a decent wage doing so.

Why is this happening?

Well, this site is part of it. Albeit, we have just a fraction of the readership of say mgoblog or Varsity Blue...but the traffic on this site has increased by a factor of 10 in just over a year. Now of course it's not my intention to drive good hardworking writers and sports radio DJ's out of work. Heck, I get most of my information from sites like MLive and the Detroit newspapers. I'd be fooling myself if I thought my humble site was responsible for anyone else losing their jobs. We didn't make the internet popular and make print a dying format. That started a long time ago, and has only been accelerated by the recession.

And to put it in perspective, my repeated efforts to obtain a press credential for a Michigan football game/presser have only been rejected on the basis that I do not represent a major media outlet.

And to tell you the truth, I'm okay with that.

I think my blog, as well as the many others like mine, represent the voice of the common fan. The fan that sits in the bleachers or watches from home and doesn't have the luxury of sitting in the press box and getting a free catered lunch during the game. Although that would be sweet!

So, getting back to the point...what does all this have to do with anything?

My point is, my goal for this off-season is to try and expand MBN even more. My blog is run by me and me only. And I do it for the very minimal revenue that these banners you see on the site generate. Luckily my overhead is very low (or nothing) due to the free hosting I receive on Blogger and that I have a 9-5 job that keeps my pretty busy.

The only thing standing in my way right now is time. Time to get all the pieces of the Maize & Blue Nation that I envision, and making them fit together and working correctly. Those pieces include, more regular guest bloggers, and weekly or semi-regular podcast, a more detailed stat section, better and more efficient site design, more content, more content, and probably more content.

I have a vision of what MBN can and should be. Will it ever happen? I think it can with a little effort and a lot of luck. I have the ability to do it, I just need the time. I can see it happening if for no other reason that I love doing this and I enjoy the satisfaction of delivering information to the loyal readers that I have, and doing it with a certain style and substance that the mass media can not.

So, as changes start to happen and hopefully soon they will, you will continue enjoy what I have to say here. I'm not going to reinvent the wheel, but I would like MBN to start becoming a bigger and better source for all things related to Michigan football.

So as we look forward to another season and the 2nd year of the Rodriguez era, we can hopefully look forward to another successful year of reporting the rumors, the speculation, and all the news (both good, bad and everything in-between) that has to do with our beloved Wolverines. Thanks so much for reading and supporting this grass-roots experiment, and I hope you continue to do so.

Tell your friends!

Still The Biggest House

Amid one of the best season's Penn State has had in a long time, and one of the worst Michigan has had...Michigan still edged out the Nittany Lions for the top spot in overall attendance for 2008. This, also when Penn State had a higher capacity due to the construction project going on until 2010 at the Big House.

I do find it amusing, that given all the things going against Michigan last year, and all the things going for PSU, that Michigan still edged them out. Michigan averaged about 108,500 for their 7 home games, while Penn State averaged about 108,200 for their seven home contests.

The good folks at the Penn State blog The Nittany Line will tell you that it was their game against Coastal Carolina that hindered their average. That may be true. And Michigan did benefit from having a good home opener against eventual Mountain West Conference champ and undefeated 13-0 Utah.

And venerable PSU blog Zombie Nation notes the 2 extra inches of seat space that Beaver Stadium gives you, as compared to the cramped seats of Michigan Stadium. I will whole-heatedly agree that wider seats would be nice, it seems worthwhile to be able to claim the top spot every year.

No one knows for sure how many people Michigan will cram into the stadium once the renovation is completed. Estimates have put the number of actual seats at 108,000+. But I expect gameday figures to be somewhere in the 113,000-115,000 range.

Michigan's QB Situation

Well, as we all know by now, Steven Threet is on his way to wherever he's going. Between he and Nick Sheridan, they took about 99% of the snaps last season. Threet started 8 of Michigan's 12 games, seeing playing time in 10 of those contests. So he was easily the #1 QB after the season had ended.

The loss of Threet could, and should prove to be a non-factor once summer practice begins. Maybe we all are jumping to conclusions, but I haven't met one person/blogger/writer who honestly thought Threet was going to be a starter for this team on September 5th when we host Western Michigan. Everyone was looking to someone else to take the reins of this offense.

However, going into the off-season, there was no question that Michigan needed to address the QB situation by bringing in some guys that would best fit the type of system that Rodriguez was trying to implement. And he did so. Long-time Michigan commitment Tate Forcier from Southern California, younger brother of former Michigan backup QB Jason Forcier. And last-minute commit Denard Robinson from Deerfield Beach, Florida.

Both have the chops to run the spread-option better than Threet and Sheridan did in 2008. They are prototypical run/pass QBs who are used to running this system, and were hand-picked by Rodriguez, QBs coach Rod Smith and offensive coordinator Calvin Magee.

Now that may all prove to be meaningless unless they have the mental toughness to step in and be leaders as true-freshman. But we've said this a few times before when John Navarre was a true-freshman in 2000, and then again in 2004 with Chad Henne. And from what it sounds like, Forcier is having no trouble fitting in.

Some are willing to argue that it's Forcier's starting job to lose. And that he's having such a easy time picking up the offense and fitting in so well, that he's the reason that Threet is transferring away. I might not go that far, but it does seem plausible.

But this whole QB craziness really illustrates just what a crappy and awkward season 2008 was. So much change in such a short amount of time. Sometimes I feel like we were lucky to be 3-9.

The main question on every Michigan's fans mind is: Are we going to be better off without Steven Threet? And I think the answer is a resounding yes. And furthermore, I think having 2 true-freshman QBs on the depth chart is not going to be a liability, at least not as much as flipping between Threet/Sheridan at 1 and 2 like we did much of last season.

So, my February prediction for the QB depth-chart going into the opener is:

1) Tate Forcier
2) Denard Robinson
3) Justin Feagin
4) Nick Sheridan

That's my prediction. But what do I know?

Outgoing: Steven Threet

Steven Threet has decided to transfer. Official press link.

Not that we here at MBN were at all surprised about this news, rumors where out there last week that something was going on with Threet. Then yesterday, The Daily posted an article that Threet was going to release a comment about his future with the program.

Once the official word came out, Threet had this to say:
"I've decided to transfer from the University of Michigan. I have requested and received my release. I do not yet know where I will continue my collegiate career and will have no further comment until that decision is made."
So, sounds pretty much like he knew that his playing time, if any for 09, would be minimal now that Michigan has two much more capable QBs on the roster. Sure they're just freshman, but they fit the Rodriguez system much better than Threet or Sheridan did last year. To illustrate my next point, Threet's stats for 2008 compared to Henne's stats from his freshman year in 04:






AttComp
IntComp%YdsYds/CompTD
Henne 04
3992401260.2%274311.425
Threet 08
200102751.0%110510.89

Sure, comparing Threet to Henne is like apples to oranges, especially given the systems and support personnel they inherited, but its also how most Michigan fans will expect any incoming freshman QB to perform. Is it fair? Maybe not. Also, it should be noted that Henne had Mike Hart, Braylon Edwards and Steve Breaston. And not to mention Jake Long for his whole career. But since when have lofty expectations of Michigan fans been fair to anyone?

Unlike MSC or MVictors, I really don't see this as such a blow to the program. It might have been nice to have him around for the sake of having a QB with a year under his belt, but don't forget that it was one of the worst year's a QB has ever had at Michigan. Sure some of the blame goes to Sheridan, but I don't see losing Threet that detrimental to the program.

But, I do hope that he lands on his feet somewhere where he is a better fit. Some people suspect he's going to a FCS (1-AA) school, which probably makes sense given that he won't have to sacrifice another year off for transferring if he goes down to FCS.

So, best of luck to Threet at wherever he ends up.

Dead Time, 2010 Incoming WR, NCAA Random News

Ahh...yes, we've reached that magical time between national signing day and the first game of the season. For the lonely stretch of months that we're just beginning, football will be non-existent. Oh sure, we'll still have much to discuss. Let's not kid ourselves. We're a blog, we thrive on speculation and predictions. Half of the fun of college football is just talking about it.

Michigan's off-season began months ago, but the true off-season just began. After senior bowls and signing day, what else is there?

Well, hopefully...a few months of enough football fluff news to keep our appetite's whet in order to stave off going insane watching basketball and baseball.

Starting off our fluff, college football officials are reviewing the issue of keeping the fun out of college football. Huh?

An issue being looked at by NCAA officials is the apparent problem of athletes pre-emptively celebrating (or taunting) when scoring touchdowns. Basically, when the ball-carrier starts the celebration before they actually cross the goal line. Officials want to not only penalize the guilty party, but actually take away the touchdown all-together as the punishment.

First of all, since when has this become a problem? I would argue that there are far more important and pertinent issues to address other than athletes celebrating a touchdown. And secondly, won't this rule probably create more of a problem than the one it is trying to remedy?

My stance on this is simple. If a guy taunts another player while scoring a touchdown, that is not cool. But the punishment should be dealt by the players coach, not the officials. I can assume that Rodriguez would not be happy with his players not treating the other team with respect. Players that don't show respect for the other team, especially when scoring on them, shows a lack of discipline between that player and the rest of his team and coaches.

In recruiting news, yes...2010 recruiting news...Michigan has received another verbal from another WR. Well, actually he's a WR/DB, but either way...

Jerald Robinson
6-2, 190
Canton South High School, Canton, OH

Yet another Ohio kid who's seen the light and chosen the righteous path. He is the 3rd commit for 2010, and also the 3rd WR. It would seem odd that Michigan would get 3 outstanding WRs so early all in the same class. But according to Varsity Blue, Robinson's greatest asset is his dynamic versatility. He has the ability to play WR and S, but given that he's only a high school junior, he may add weight/size/strength and become a linebacker. At this point, who knows? But for sure he's a great player and a great addition to the 2010 class.

YouTube mix tape via Varsity Blue:


And finally, the NCAA rules committee also agreed to the following piece of interesting legislation:
The committee also approved a provision allowing both teams to wear colored jerseys in games when there is a clear contrast in color and only if both teams agrees. The agreement is also subject to conference approval.

If there is not an agreement, the visiting team would wear white jerseys.

Hmm, so when Michigan and Michigan State or Ohio State tussle, both teams could potentially wear home unis? This could be cool, given that I so prefer Michigan's home blues to their road whites...but still, I'm a traditionalist. This one will take some time to get used to.

Big Ten Bloggers Roundtable - Recruiting Edition

Props to Zombie Nation, a venerable PSU blog, for hosting the first BTB Roundtable since the season ended. Cheers!

1. Were you pleased with this year's recruiting class? Where did your team excel? Where did they fall short? 

 I think there is no other way to feel about this year's class other than good. We had issues to address, such as a new QB, more WRs and rebuilding the defensive line, at least the interior portions. But I think we did get the QBs situation resolved with two very promising players in Tate Forcier and Denard Robinson. Which will end up starting? Who knows. Forcier has the leg up on Robinson by having enrolled early. I think offensively, Michigan did very well this year getting good players at almost every position.

The areas I think we probably fell short in shoring up were linebacker and defensive back. We did get some guys that I think could end up making an impact in 3 years, but no standout playmakers.

2. Name one or two players you want to see get on the field ASAP, and where you think they will fit in. 

Easy. Tate Forcier and William Campbell.

Forcier will be on the field this year at the QB position. He might have to battle for it with Denard Robinson, but I feel that his enrolling early and getting a handle of this offense is going to mean getting the starting nod once fall rolls around.

William Campbell, the 5-star DT from Detroit, will probably be an instant starter at defensive tackle. He will fill the massive hole left by departing senior Terrance Taylor. He also enrolled in January.

3. This one's purely for the sake of argument. Much has been made about the SEC's recruiting 'dominance' over the Big Ten, particularly this year. Either validate that claim, or try to prove it wrong. At least vent a little bit. You know you want to.

Well, the SEC has the luxury of being the home schools for many of the best recruits in the country. Let's face it, fast players who run the spread-option in high school usually come from Florida. There's no questions about that.

But, I will say that Michigan did it's part to help refute the notion that only fast guys from Florida go to SEC schools. 8 of Michigan's 22-member class are from the state of Florida, and all of them are skill-position players. Michigan's assistant coaches who have strong ties to high schools in Florida did a very good job getting kids to take Michigan seriously.

So yeah, I will vent a little by saying that this idea that good players from southern states don't want to go north to play at Big Ten is at least, starting to go away. Will it continue? Probably not. But I do get a little disturbed when local media guys get all wrapped up about who's winning the in-state recruiting battle. As far as I'm concerned, while there may be good players from the state of Michigan, we will still get those guys (William Campbell), but let's not ignore the fact that great players might not all come from Michigan. I'll give Rodriguez and his staff credit for getting great kids from other states, even if it means sacrificing some local recruits to Michigan State.

4. Going into next year (already), where does your team need to focus its efforts? How about the Big Ten as a whole? What can the conference/your team do better to attract more highly-regarded recruits, or is it even an issue?

Well, this could be a really long drawn-out answer, but I'll just say...win.

Really, that's all we need to do. Michigan has based it's traditions on winning. If we stop winning, everything else will suffer. I don't think we're to that point where we're not going to sell-out all of our home games yet. But clearly the foundation of Michigan faithful and it's loyal fan base has been shaken by a 3-9 season. There's no questions we're in rebuilding mode now. But we're doing everything else right. We're getting good coaches/players to come here. We have (are going to have) the best facilities in the country. All that's left is to start winning games again. Go to some bowls and put the 2008 season behind us.

One word/number answers...
How many freshmen (in your class) redshirt in 2009?

16.

Did you watch live TV coverage on signing day? If not, how many times did you hit 'refresh' on your browser on signing day?

mgoblog.

Are you going to your spring game? 

YES!

Excellent Enormity for His Colossalness

Not much to this post. Pretty simple. Jake Long was a bad-ass at Michigan, and now he's a bad-ass in the pros. If you need further proof, tune in this Sunday to see Jake make his Pro Bowl debut.

Found this little gem from The Onion, posted April 2008, that I thought I would share.

Michigan to Play Delaware State on Oct. 17

Just spotted on UMTailgate, on October 17 this coming season, Michigan will play Delaware State. Yes, Div-IAA Delaware State Hornets from the MEAC (Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference). Suddenly, visions of Appy State players celebrating at midfield in 2007 at the Big House are rushing back to me.

Sept. 5WESTERN MICHIGAN
Sept. 12NOTRE DAME
Sept. 19EASTERN MICHIGAN
Sept. 26INDIANA
Oct. 3at Michigan State
Oct. 10at Iowa
Oct. 17DELAWARE STATE
Oct. 24PENN STATE
Oct. 31at Illinois
Nov. 7PURDUE
Nov. 14at Wisconsin
Nov. 21OHIO STATE

The 2009 Recruiting Class

The first day of the official singing period has come and passed. And while a stray recruit is still out there looking for a home, odds are Michigan is done for this year. 22 recruits sent in their LOI (letters of intent) yesterday, of which 7 of them are already enrolled at the U and working out with Barwis getting a leg up on conditioning for their freshman season.

Quarterback
• Tate Forcier ★★★★, 6-0/184 - San Diego, CA
Denard Robinson ★★★★, 6-1/179 - Deerfield Beach, FL

Running Back
Teric Jones ★★★, 5-8/186 - Detroit, MI
Vincent Smith ★★★, 5-6/159 - Pahokee, FL
Fitzgerald Toussaint ★★★★, 5-10/185 - Youngstown, OH

Wide Receiver
Cameron Gordon ★★★★, 6-2/211 - Inkster, MI
Je'Ron Stokes ★★★★, 6-1/178 - Philadelphia, PA
Jememy Gallon ★★★★, 5-8/165 - Apopka, FL

Offensive Line
Taylor Lewan (OT) ★★★★, 6-7/272 - Scottsdale, AZ
Michael Schofield (OT) ★★★★, 6-6/272 - Orland Park, IL
Quinton Washington (OG) ★★★★, 6-3/315 - St. Stephen, SC

Defensive Line
William Campbell (DT) ★★★★★, 6-5/317 - Detroit, MI
Anthony LaLota (DE) ★★★★, 6-6/260 - Princeton, NJ
Craig Roh (DE) ★★★★, 6-5/230 - Scottsdale, AZ

Linebacker
Isaiah Bell ★★★, 6-0/209 - Youngstown, OH
Brandin Hawthorne ★★★, 6-0/181 - Pahokee, FL

Defensive Back
Valdimir Emilien (S) ★★★★, 6-0/186 - Lauderhill, FL
Thomas Gordon (S) ★★★, 5-10/199 - Detroit, MI
Mike Jones (S) ★★★, 6-2/200 - Orlando, FL
Justin Turner (CB) ★★★★, 6-2/186 - Massillon, OH
Adrian Witty (CB) ★★, 5-9/175 - Deerfield Beach, FL

Kicker
Brendan Gibbons ★★, 6-0/202 - West Palm Beach, FL

The biggest key for Michigan this off-season was to address the QB situation. Both recruits for 09 will likely be the #1 and #2 options for Rodriguez this season at the QB position. While Threet will surely be contending for the role, both of the these two newcomers offer a bit more in terms of ability to run the style of offense that Rodriguez wants. Rodriguez noted their ability to manage a game as a main reason why he liked both of these guys so much. Clearly, that was an issue with the Threet/Sheridan duo from 2008.

Running back Fitzgerald Toussaint, considered to be the #1 recruit in the state of Ohio will be a great addition to the backfield. Michigan has some good depth at RB this year with Minor, Brown, Grady and Shaw all returning (although McGuffie is gone), so the three backs from this class will probably not see much playing time until next year, with maybe the exeption of maybe Toussaint.

Wide receivers are always a huge key for any offense. And for Michigan, moving forward with the spread-option, WR is vital. Michigan got a huge late commit with Je'Ron Stokes, from Pennsylvania. He was thought to be off to Tennessee, but a coaching change made him think twice. He's a very capable wideout as is Gordon. But Michigan also really targetted slot-type WRs, and got a good one in Jeremy Gallon.

Another area of key interest for Michigan was OL. Michigan netted a bunch of linemen last year which they red-shirted all of them, including Dan O'neill. So the 3 incoming OL will have their work cut out for them. But on the flipside, linemen at Michigan tend to get playingtime anyway, due to injury or whatever...so being deep at this position is never a bad thing. Michigan did very well here this year. Michael Schofield commited early, Quinton Washington is a great get for Michigan just a couple days before signing day, and Taylor Lewan was a very nice surprise a couple months ago. All 3 should be starting within 3 years.

On the defensive line, Michigan's 09 class looked very different just a couple weeks ago. DeQuinta Jones and Pearlie Graves were both barely verbally committed right up until signing day, but made the leap to other schools just as expected. But the commitment/de-commitment and then re-commitment of Detroit Cass-Tech super-stud William Campbell will probably pay off immediately. We need interior DTs as we need to replace Terrance Taylor, so expect Campbell, who enrolled in January, to play right away.

Linebacker has to be an area where Rodriguez feels he needed to get maybe one more guy. Bell and Hawthorne will be solid if they can get bigger/stronger/faster...and soon, but until then, we're notably small and lacking in the LB dept.

The secondary gets a little help from the likes of 4-star prospects Justin Turner (CB) and Vladimir Emilien (S). Word was that former Michigan QB coach and current Florida assistant Scott Loeffler tried to woo Turner away from Michigan very late in the game. But Turner remained committed.

All-in-all, a very good class for the Wolverines. Rivals has them ranked #7 overall. And, like we've always said, the best guage for a rebuilding program is how well the new coaching staff can recruit. Clearly, Rodriguez is doing something right. Getting this caliber of talent on a team that went 3-9 last year shows that this staff is serious and good things are on the way for the Wolverines.

Incoming: Je'Ron Stokes

The highly sought after 4-Star WR has made his decision, and it is good news for Michigan fans!

Via CSNPhilly.com. Presser live online at 3PM.

More to come soon.

Signing Day Update

Incoming:
4-Star ATH Denard Robinson, Deerfield Beach, FL
2-Star DB Adrian Witty, Deerfield, Beach, FL

Rivals link to the story.

Outgoing:
4-Star DT Pearlie Graves (Texas Tech) Link
3-Star DE DeQuinta Jones (Arkansas) Link

Both sort of seen as a weak verbal heading into today, so no surprise that both are gone. Still in the hunt for Michigan is Je'Ron Stokes. Word of his choice is due out this afternoon.

We'll keep you informed.

Incoming: Quinton Washington

We're a whole day away from signing day, but Michigan already has some very good news heading into it. 4-Star OL Quinton Washington (6-3, 315) has verbally committed to the Wolverines. This is a huge get for Michigan. We needed another OL and this was one of the best available. Word was he was very close to singing with South Carolina, but had a last minute change of heart. Rivals ranks him #8 overall OL for 2009. Much more info here and here.

Go Blue!

Obligitory Super Bowl Post

As is the norm for pretty much any blog that is associated with the game of football, we too must bow to the pressures of pandering to the masses. Or, in short, post our thoughts about last night's Super Bowl. You know, that thing they show between all the commercials?

Well, luckily for Michigan fans, there were 7 Wolverines in uniform last night. So that at least gave us something to root for. And each team had their fair share of former Michiganders.

For the Cardinals, former defensive linemen Alan Branch and Gabe Watson, WR and punt returner Steve Breaston, LB Victor Hobson and TE Jerame Tuman. For the Steelers, they started LB Larry Foote and DE LaMarr Woodley.

The two standouts in this game were Breaston and Woodley. Early in the game when Kurt Warner was having a hard time getting the ball to his two marquee WRs Fitzgerald and Boldin, it was Breaston that came into the game and gave Warner a good 3rd option.

And the other Michigan alum who gave Michigan fans a reason to be proud was LaMarr Woodley. His play at the end of the game to knock the ball out of Warner's hands to cause the fumble, was a great defensive play. This blogger thinks though that it might not have been a fumble, but an incomplete pass. But that's just my opinion.

Either way it was a good game, as was last year's. And really, when it comes to Super Bowls, thats about all you can ask for.