Saturday, February 17, 2007

Junior Hemingway

Kenneth "Junior" Hemingway - 6'3" - 205 lbs - Conway, SC

Analysis: Probably the most polished of this years wide receiver class. Hemingway started the year highly rated by the recruiting services, but dropped late, despite having by all accounts an excellent senior year. His videos show a very solid receiver with great hands. Hemingway doesn’t have game-breaking speed, but he makes up for it with great route-running. Hemingway was offered by a who’s who of big name schools, including Notre Dame, Ohio State, Florida State, and Miami. I think Hemingway will likely not redshirt, and battle with Greg Matthews and LaTeryal Savoy for the #3 receiver spot. I see him filling the Jason Avant role in the Michigan offense, the #2 guy who’s not as flashy as some, but extremely consistent and reliable.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Offensive Backfield Roster Analysis

Chad Henne - SR - 6'2" - 224 lbs - Wyomissing, PA
Jason Forcier - SO - 6'2" - 218 lbs - San Diego, CA
David Cone - RFR - 6'6" - 201 lbs - Statesboro, GA
Ryan Mallett - FR - 6'7" - 250 lbs - Texarkana, TX

2007 Season Prospectus: Henne goes into the year the undisputed starter, and unless something catastrophic happens, nothing will change that. The real battle is for 2nd team, while it appears to be an open battle, good money is on Mallett to take the backup job. He enrolled early, and Coach Carr has already stated that they'd like to get him some game reps, so he seems to be destined to play the minimal garbage time available. Forcier will probably also get a few opportunities, while Cone and walk-ons Jeff Ziegler and Lee Mondol provide depth and injury insurance.

2008 Need: 0 - 1
While QB seems set with Mallett as the chosen one for the next few years, it's always good to get a quarterback in every class, and Michigan will likely try to pick up a mid-tier prospect for depth this year. Unless they can pull all-everything two-sport superstar Terrelle Pryor (Toney Clemons' cousin) out of Pennsylvania, I think the staff will target an instate player with high upside, likely either Marine City's Brendan Kay or Lake Orion's Chris Lum.

Running Back
Mike Hart - SR - 5'9" - 196 lbs - Syracuse, NY
Kevin Grady - JR - 5'9" - 216 lbs - Grand Rapids, MI
Brandon Minor - SO - 6'0" - 210 lbs - Richmond, VA
Carlos Brown - SO - 6'0" - 200 lbs - Franklin, GA
Avery Horn - FR - 5'11" - 195 lbs - Hanford, CA

2007 Season Prospectus: Over the past 3 years, as Mike Hart has gone, so has the team. He's the Hart (rimshot!) and soul of the Michigan offense, and will again recieve the majority of the carries this season. When he needs a breather, the baton will likely pass to sophmore Brandon Minor, who passed up Kevin Grady for the 2nd string job midway through last season. Interesting will be the fate of sophmore Carlos Brown, who the coaches were raving about during last years spring training, but who saw very little action, rumors have abounded that he'll switch full time to DB, but the coaching staff has yet to confirm anything. Freshman Horn will likely redshirt.

2008 Need: 1-2
With Hart graduating, the job will likely pass to the winner between Minor and Grady, but a stud back is needed to be their successor. Optimally this recruiting class would include two backs, a big grinder in the mold of Grady and Minor, and a smaller, scat-back type to mix things up. Top prospects include California's Darrell Scott, Detroit's Jonas Gray, and Texas' Sam McGuffie.

Andre Criswell - SO - 6'1" - 258 lbs - Detroit, MI
Vince Helmuth - FR - 6'1" - 235 lbs - Saline, MI

2007 Season Prospectus: With the loss of Obi Oluigbo and Will Paul, the Wolverines return no starting experience at fullback, while Criswell has earned praise from the coaches, he's got some big shoes to fill. With Helmuth enrolling early and participating in spring practice I think he's got a shot at the starting job, but likely Criswell at least begins the season at first string.

2008 Needs: 0-1
While a fullback this year would be nice and help alleviate depth concerns, I'd be very surprised if one ends up a part of this class, there are to many needs elsewhere and to few scholarships available to use one at this spot this year.

Vince Helmuth

Vince Helmuth - 6’1” – 235 lbs – 4.70 – Saline, MI
Analysis: Vince Helmuth may not be the most glamorous member of the class of 2007, but he may be one of the first to make an impact. With the departures of Obi Oluigbo, Brian Thompson, and Will Paul, the depth chart at fullback is extremely sparse, so I’d be surprised if Helmuth redshirted. A big pounding running back in high school, Helmuth played his to All-Conference honors at both RB and defensive tackle. While he’s shown that he can carry the ball, he likely won’t get many chances to do so in Ann Arbor, and apparently he’s ok with that, Vince seems to be a real team player, at the risk of sounding cliché, and repeatedly in interviews pushed credit for victories away from himself and onto his teammates. A devout workout warrior, Helmuth dropped almost 20 pounds before his senior season, and increased his 40 time by almost .2 seconds. Vince comes from good football bloodlines, as his older brother, Chris Baker, played tight end for Michigan State and now plays for the New York Jets. Appears to have a fondness for ridiculous hats. I see Helmuth following in the footsteps of great Michigan fullbacks past, such as Chris Floyd, Kevin Dudley, and Obi Oluigbo. A backfield of him and Brandon Minor in a year or two should put the fear of god into opposing linebackers.

Avery Horn

Avery Horn - 5’11” – 195 lbs. – 4.50 – Hanford, CA
Analysis: Avery Horn is an interesting recruit. I’m intrigued to see what the coaching staff is going to do with him. Is he going to play RB? DB? KR? Widely viewed as a plan B recruit, he was actually offered fairly early, when recruits like John Clay, Robert Hughes, and Dan Herron were still on the board. The question is, was he offered because the staff already knew those guys weren’t coming, or is he legitimately good enough to be our plan A at running back for 2007? I’m inclined to say that the staff believes him to be a plan A recruit, because of the timing of his offer, but I’m not sure if I agree with them. Horn can be summed up in one word, FAST. The kid has some serious straight line speed. His videos remind me a bit of a faster Mike Hart, but without the shiftiness. Almost every clip in his videos are the same, great acceleration through the initial hole, then once he gets into the secondary he cuts outside and tries to beat the defensive backs down the sideline. It almost seems like he relies on his speed a bit to much, and that could hurt him at the college level where the defense is a lot faster than high school. If he can develop a few nice jukes and moves, I think he could do pretty well in the new zone-blocking system, which relies heavily on running backs finding the holes and creating. His clips don’t show him making to much contact, so we’ll have wait and see how he stands up to the pounding. One place I’m very excited about Horn’s potential contribution is on kick returns, while he might not have the shiftiness for returning punts, if he can get a kick and ten yards to build up steam, he’ll be tough to catch. Horn could surprise, similar to Hart his freshman year, but at first glance, I feel that he’ll end up primarily contributing in the return game, and likely get passed up for carries if we can land a top flight RB target in the class of ’08.

Ryan Mallett

Ryan Mallett - 6'7" - 250 lbs. - 4.85 - Texarkana, TX

Analysis: Super Grand #1 Texas QB.

Mallett is the #1 guy in this class, the kind of recruit that defines a program for his time there, whether for good (Vince Young, Brady Quinn) or bad (Ron Powlus, Reggie Ball). The general consensus on Mallett is that he's got the arm of a howitzer, and the speed of a tectonic plate. From what I've seen of him (film, AAA game), this is selling the kid short. Mallett's arm is truly a thing of beauty, able to rifle frozen ropes 20-30 yards downfield with little apparent effort, and launch 60-70 yard bombs with ease. His accuracy is very good, and he appears to have fixed the tendancy to put unecessary force behind short passes that was a knock on him earlier in his career. He's by all reports a smart kid, very football savvy, won the "Best in the Chalk Talks" award at the Elite-11 camp, so he should have no trouble adopting the Michigan offense. No worries there, that brings us to Malletts main reported weakness, his feet. I think this concern has been overblown, Mallett shows an excellent ability to move around in the pocket, and those blitzers who he can't sidestep are going to have a tough time taking him down, seeing as he probably will outweigh half of them. He's never going to be a running QB, and when he does run, it really will be an incredibly surprising QB draw, but I think his size will help a lot in goal-line QB sneak situations. My only worry with Ryan is that he will fall victim to Mike Gittleson's Jewish-Mother strength and conditioning program ("Eat, EAT! You're to skinny! What has that goyish wife of yours been feeding you!"). At 6'7" and 250 lbs. he's already at a size that usually makes you think project offensive tackle, if he gains to much weight, he could lose his ability to evade rushers.

In summation, Ryan Mallet is a truly elite recruit, and probably the best one Michigan has recruited since Drew Henson. He's got a mammoth arm, great accuracy, solid feet, shoots laser beams from his eyes, and bakes an apple crumble that makes Martha Stewart cry tears of joy... Sorry, got a bit carried away there. Anywho, he'll be a heck of a lot of fun to watch in the Maize and Blue for the next 3-5 years.

Hello World

Welcome to Winged Helmet Wannabes. I'm Dave and I'll be your guide to the wonderful world of Michigan Football recruiting for as long as I can manage to keep this up. I'd like to thank Brian Cook of MgoBlog for inspiring me to start this blog (and also for enabling me to take my already obsesive love for Michigan football to an all new life-consuming level)

Here's what you can expect for starters here...
1. A player by player review of the 2007 class (posted as I write them)
2. A roster analysis, strengths, weaknesses, recruiting priorities for next year
3. An early recruiting board for 2008