What I’ve Been Reading: The Road to Ann Arbor

Tag: Tom VanHaaren

6Sep 2018
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What I’ve Been Reading: The Road to Ann Arbor

There aren’t a ton of perks to being the author of Touch the Banner, but one of them is the occasional chance to get an advance copy of a Michigan-related book. One of those chances popped up a couple weeks ago when I received a copy of Tom VanHaaren’s new (and first!) book: The Road to Ann Arbor, which was released yesterday on September 4.

The Road to Ann Arbor is a piece separated into chapters detailing the stories of how many Michigan greats (and some guys still making their mark) were recruited to Michigan. Each chapter is dedicated to a lone player, and many of them are from the pre-Rivals and pre-Scout eras. All-timers like Mark Messner, Desmond Howard, and Jarrett Irons lead all the way up to Rashan Gary and Aubrey Solomon.

If you’re reading this site, you’re probably pretty familiar with how recruiting works here in 2018. You see it develop on Twitter, you see the commitment videos, and you see players pick a hat at All-America bowls. In the days of yore, recruiting was done by sending out surveys (not requesting Hudl film) and sending handwritten letters (not trendy Photoshop edits). It’s funny and nostalgic to see how much times have changed, but the attitudes are the same among the players. Jarrett Irons, for example, knew he was a big-shot football player and had some demands for anybody recruiting him.

Among my favorite anecdotes are stories of Bo Schembechler, Chris Spielman, Mark Messner, and Desmond Howard. (Yes, I said Chris Spielman.) High school highlight films of those players aren’t widely available like they are now, so it’s fun to read about their high school exploits. For example, I wasn’t aware that Howard was a high school running back and safety before becoming a superstar wide receiver at Michigan.

Overall, The Road to Ann Arbor is just a good, fun piece of Michigan nostalgia. It’s uplifting to read stories about kids’ dreams coming true, especially from a time when football recruiting seemed more pure. It was about relationships and football, not necessarily TV deals, flashy uniforms, and making a big splash. And TomVH has a way of conveying Michigan stories without being too sappy. If you’re a fan of TTB, I think you’ll enjoy it.

15Jul 2016
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Michigan Football Writers: Who Are They?


Tom Van Haaren (image via Twitter)

I don’t know why, but I have always been interested in the number of people who cover Michigan football for a living. Not only are there pay sites requiring subscriptions, but there are also numerous blogs and websites that have developed over the years (including this one). It’s a bit of a revolving door, so I thought I would gather up some biographical bits for various writers. I’m limiting this to the four major recruiting sites and MGoBlog, since going even a step further would probably make this way too broad.

ESPN: Wolverine Nation (now defunct)

Chantel Jennings (image via Twitter)

Name: Chantel Jennings
Athletic experience: N/A
Prior to current job: Writer for The Michigan Daily, Wolverine Nation
Currently: Pac-12 football and basketball writer for ESPN.com

Name: Michael Rothstein
Athletic experience:
Prior to current job: Writer for Wolverine Nation
Currently: Detroit Lions writer for ESPN.com

Name: Tom Van Haaren
Athletic experience:
Prior to current job: Owner of U Recruit, writer for MGoBlog
Currently: Recruiting analyst for ESPN.com

Hit the jump for a further rundown of the people writing about Michigan.

read more

23Nov 2012
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Recruit Tracker: Wyatt Shallman

Wyatt Shallman with Tom VanHaaren

August 24, 2012: Shallman’s Novi (MI) Catholic Central team beat Detroit (MI) Cody by a score of 35-0. Shallman had 4 carries for 50 yards and 1 touchdown, along with 8 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack on defense.

August 31, 2012: Catholic Central lost to Toledo (OH) Whitmer by a score of 19-7.  The running back/defensive end had 7 tackles and 2 tackles for loss but missed some time with cramps.  Shallman’s team is now 1-1 on the year.

September 8, 2012:  Catholic Central lost to Cincinnati (OH) Moeller by a score of 61-33.  Shallman did not play due to an injury sustained in practice.  Catholic Central is now 1-2 on the year.

September 14, 2012:  Catholic Central ended their two game losing streak by beating up on Lincoln (Ontario) Niagara Academy, 42-0. No statistics appear to be available for Shallman, who may still be nicked up. Catholic Central faces off against Warren De La Salle next week. The Shamrocks are now 2-2.

September 23, 2012:  Catholic Central edged a Morris-less Warren De La Salle, 31-30, in overtime.  Shallman did not play for the third straight game due to injury and was described as “frequently hobbled the last two years,” but expected back “before the end of the season.”  The Shamrocks are now 3-2.

September 29, 2012:  Catholic Central won their third game in a row on Saturday, beating University of Detroit Jesuit by a score of 42-6.  Shallman had 6 tackles, 1 sack, and 1 interception, which was returned for 20 yards.  According to his twitter account, Shallman is “watching Rice film” getting ready for Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice next week.  Detroit Catholic Central is now 4-2.

October 6, 2012:  Catholic Central was defeated by Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice by a score of 20-14.  Shallman had eight tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble.  Things only get harder for Shallman and Catholic Central, as they host 6-1 Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s next week.  Catholic Central is now 4-3.

October 12, 2012:  Catholic Central won impressively, 35-13, over Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s.  No statistics appear to be available for Shallman, but Ace put together a scouting report from the game.  The Shamrocks are now 5-3.

October 20, 2012: Catholic Central lost to Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s by a score of 27-10.  The Shamrocks are now 5-4.

October 26, 2012: Catholic Central beat Hartland (MI) Hartland by a score of 21-15. The Shamrocks are now 6-4.

November 2, 2012: Catholic Central beat Walled Lake (MI) Northern by a score of 45-17.  Catholic Central is now 7-4.

November 10, 2012: Catholic Central beat Plymouth (MI) Plymouth by a score of 28-7.  Shallman had 7 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  Catholic Central is now 8-4.

November 17, 2012: Catholic Central beat Rockford (MI) Rockford by a score of 40-17.  Shallman had a 1-yard touchdown run and 6 tackles.  Catholic Central is now 9-4.

29Jan 2012
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Video: Tom VanHaaren works out with Mike Barwis

Tom VanHaaren, currently of Wolverine Nation  but formerly of MGoBlog and U Recruit, worked out with Mike Barwis recently.  I’m sure it was an experience he will remember . . . but it doesn’t look like he enjoyed it very much.

It must be frustrating not to be totally ripped and physically fit.  Luckily, I don’t have to worry about that.