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12Jan 2018
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2018 Recruiting Update: January 12, 2018

Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep DT Tyler Friday (image via Rivals)

OFF THE BOARD

Ft. Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas defensive end Nik Bonitto committed to Oklahoma. Bonitto was very high on Michigan early, and then Michigan stopped contacting him. It seemed at one time that he would end up with the Wolverines, so it would be interesting to know why Michigan didn’t want him anymore, especially if he turns into a good college player, too.

Howell (NJ) Blair Academy defensive end Jayson Oweh committed to Penn State. He’s a relatively late bloomer since he has only been playing football for two years, but he was good enough in that time to get offers from Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State, among others.

Moultrie (GA) Colquitt County linebacker J.J. Peterson committed to Tennessee at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. Michigan was never really a factor.

Hit the jump for more on the 2018 class.

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11Jan 2018
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Goodbye, Mike McCray II

Mike McCray II (image via Land of 10)

HIGH SCHOOL

McCray attended Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison and was a part of the 2013 graduating class, just a few years after Michigan wide receiver Roy Roundtree graduated from Trotwood-Madison. McCray is the son of a former Ohio State captain, so it was thought that he would end up a Buckeye, but Ohio State never offered the younger McCray. He picked Michigan over offers from Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, along with many others. I gave him a final TTB Rating of 74 (LINK).

COLLEGE

McCray redshirted as a freshman in 2013. In Brady Hoke’s final year as coach, McCray played special teams and as a backup linebacker, most notably blocking a punt against Appalachian State in the opener that was returned for a TD by Ben Gedeon. However, a pre-existing shoulder injury was aggravated in the spring of 2015, and he redshirted that year; there were rumors that the shoulder injury would end his career, and indeed he wore a harness on his shoulder for the next two years. When he did return in 2016, he was Honorable Mention All-Big Ten with 76 tackles, 12.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (including a TD against Florida State in the Orange Bowl), and 9 pass breakups. He followed that up with another Honorable Mention All-Big Ten season in 2017, finishing with 84 tackles, 17 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 1 forced fumble, and 1 pass breakup.

CAREER STATS

161 tackles, 31 tackles for loss, 9.5 sacks, 2 interceptions (for 36 yards and 1 TD), 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble recovery, and 8 pass breakups

AWARDS

Honorable Mention All-Big Ten (2016, 2017)
Team Captain (2017)
Robert P. Ufer Bequest for enthusiasm (2017)

SUMMARY

McCray had a career that I feel I have come to expect from Michigan linebackers. Michigan isn’t the Miami Hurricanes when they had a steady flow of elite ‘backers for many years. They never have been. McCray is a guy who didn’t contribute much during his first few years on campus, but when it was time for him to play, he did an admirable job. Despite being listed at 6’4″ and 248 lbs. – pretty large for a college inside linebacker – he was surprisingly adept at reading quarterbacks’ eyes and defending the pass. On top of that, he’s #12 in career tackles for loss at Michigan, though admittedly the school didn’t start tracking that stat until the mid-1990s. I feel he got a bad rap at times for his struggles to cover running backs out of the backfield on wheel routes, but those plays are designed to take advantage of 6’4″, 248 lb. guys trying to cover the likes of Dalvin Cook and Saquon Barkley out of the backfield. Defensive coordinator Don Brown basically said, “Yes, they’re going to hit some plays against him, but I’ll take my chances.” At his size, if McCray had the speed and athleticism to cover Barkley or Cook on wheel routes, we would be talking about a potential first or second round pick.

I WILL REMEMBER HIM FOR . . . 

. . . his punt block against Appalachian State in 2014 that was returned for a touchdown by Ben Gedeon.

PROJECTION

McCray was a productive inside linebacker who looks like a 3-4 inside linebacker at the next level. He’s not an edge rusher, and I wonder if Michigan kept him at WILL linebacker instead of MIKE to cut down on how much contact he would take with a bad shoulder. He’s not your typical WILL, and his primary backup is the shorter, smaller former safety Devin Gil. McCray may have been a SAM linebacker in a 4-3, but some of those guys have disappeared or morphed into different body types now that the NFL is a passing league. McCray has the size and athleticism to play in the NFL. I think he has pretty good awareness and is more of a zone coverage guy than a man coverage player. He should be a third day pick in the NFL Draft as long as his shoulder holds up to teams’ scrutiny.

10Jan 2018
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MLive: Enos to be WR coach, Washington to coach LB/ST

Dan Enos has been given the title of wide receivers coach (LINK), and Al Washington is going to coach linebackers and special teams (LINK). Enos will make $150,000 as WR coach, and Washington will make $350,000. That’s rather significant. Why?

Enos is more experienced and has a longer track record than Washington, yet he’s making $200,000 less. That tells me that Enos is in line to get bumped up to a coordinator gig (whether it’s offensive coordinator, run game coordinator, or passing game coordinator). Furthermore, Washington’s position means Chris Partridge is either headed out of town or he’ll be coaching safeties, since he was coaching linebackers and special teams.

Furthermore, I had speculated earlier that analyst Scott Turner would be headed for the wide receiver job, but he’s now reported to be destined for the Carolina Panthers.

I would be very surprised if Tim Drevno and Pep Hamilton are retained. One of them is bound to leave, most likely Hamilton.

Hit the jump for today’s batch of lovely ladies.

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9Jan 2018
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MLive: Higdon returning for senior year

This shouldn’t really be a surprise, but Karan Higdon is returning for his senior year after considering a jump to the NFL (LINK). I think Higdon could carve out an NFL career, but there’s no reason to leave early unless he wants to go undrafted and just try to latch on somewhere as a free agent. If that’s your situation, you might as well return to college, make sure you get your degree, have some fun (and hopefully football success) as a senior, and try to raise your draft stock.

Hit the jump for some pretty women.

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