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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Football’

Big Ten power rankings 2016: Pre-bowl

Wednesday, December 28th, 2016


Each Wednesday throughout the season we will release our Big Ten power rankings. These are voted on individually by the five members of our staff and then each team’s ranking is averaged to reach our power rankings. As these are simply power rankings, they are based on each team’s performance to date, not what happened last season or what will happen in the future.

Previous: Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, Week 4, Week 5, Week 6, Week 7, Week 8, Week 9, Week 10, Week 11, Week 12

*Black dash signifies previous week’s ranking

Big Ten power rankings – Pre-Bowl
Team Up/Dn Last Week This Week
1. Ohio State (11-1, 8-1) Even Beat Michigan 30-27 2OT CFP Semifinal – Fiesta Bowl
Sat. vs #2 Clemson (12-1, 7-1), 7pm, ESPN
2. Michigan (10-2, 7-2) Even Lost at #2 OSU 27-30 2OT Orange Bowl
Fri. vs #11 FSU (9-3, 5-3), 8pm, ESPN
3. Penn State (11-2, 8-1) Up 1 Beat #6 Wisconsin 38-31  Rose Bowl
Mon. vs #9 USC (9-3, 7-2), 5pm, ESPN
4. Wisconsin (10-3, 7-2) Down 1 Lost to #7 PSU 31-38 Cotton Bowl
Mon. vs #15 WMU (13-0, 8-0), 1pm, ESPN
5. Nebraska (9-3, 6-3) Even Lost to Iowa 10-40 Music City Bowl
Fri. vs #21 Tenn. (8-4, 4-4), 3:30pm, ESPN
6. Iowa (8-4, 6-3) Even Beat Nebraska 40-10 Outback Bowl
Mon. vs #17 Florida (8-4, 6-2), 1pm, ABC
7. Minnesota (8-4, 5-4) Even Lost at #6 Wisc 17-31 Holiday Bowl
Tue. vs WSU (7-5, 7-2)
8. Northwestern (6-6, 5-4) Up 1 Beat Illinois 42-21 Pinstripe Bowl
Wed. vs Pitt (8-4, 5-3)
9. Indiana (6-6, 4-5) Down 1 Beat Purdue 26-24 Foster Farms Bowl
Wed. vs Utah (8-4, 5-4)
10. Maryland (6-6, 3-6) Even Beat Rutgers 31-13 Quick Lane Bowl
Mon. vs Boston College (6-6, 2-6)
11. Illinois (3-9, 2-7) Up 1 Lost at NW 21-42 Season Over
12. MSU (3-9, 1-8) Down 1 Lost at #7 PSU 12-45 Season Over
13. Purdue (3-9, 1-8) Even Lost at Indiana 26-24 Season Over
14. Rutgers (2-10, 0-9) Even Lost at Maryland 13-31 Season Over

Heading into the heart of bowl season, Ohio State and Michigan hold onto the top two spots despite neither making the Big Ten championship game. Both face tough bowl games this weekend with Michigan playing 11th-ranked Florida State in the Orange Bowl on Friday night and Ohio State facing 2nd-ranked Clemson in the College Football Playoff semifinal on Saturday night.

Penn State leapfrogs Wisconsin thanks to a 38-31 win over the Badgers in the Big Ten championship game. The Nittany Lions will try to continue their late-season momentum with a Rose Bowl win over 9th-ranked USC on Monday. Wisconsin, meanwhile, gets a no-win situation against 15th-ranked Western Michigan in the Cotton Bowl on Monday. Beat the Broncos and it just shows the difference in the level of competition. Lose to the Broncos and it’s a black eye for the program even though WMU is one of just two undefeated teams.

Nebraska, Iowa, and Minnesota hold onto the five through seven spots, though the first two are tied for fifth. Nebraska holds a one-game advantage in the standings, but Iowa throttled the Cornhuskers 40-10 in the regular season finale. They both get to face SEC foes in their bowl games with Nebraska seeing 21st-ranked Tennessee on Saturday and Iowa taking on 17th-ranked Florida on Monday. Minnesota beat Washington State in the Holiday Bowl this past Tuesday, but that was not factored into this week’s power rankings.

Northwestern and Indiana flip spots after regular season ending wins over Illinois and Purdue, respectively. The Wildcats upset Pittsburgh in the Pinstripe Bowl on Wednesday afternoon (not factored into this week’s rankings) and Indiana played 19th-ranked Utah in the Foster Farms Bowl Wednesday night.

Maryland held onto the 10th spot after topping Rutgers 31-13. They lost to Boston College in the Quick Lane Bowl on Monday night, though it also is not factored into this week’s rankings.

Illinois, Michigan State, Purdue, and Rutgers round out the rankings as the only four non-bowl eligible teams in the Big Ten. All four lost their season finale. They’ll look to rebound in 2017.


Tailgate Tuesday: Braided pork belly tacos with mojo slaw

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Tailgate Tuesday is our weekly contribution from our resident pitmaster, Joe Pichey from GoBlueBBQ. These tailgate recipes will be posted each Tuesday throughout the football season and will feature a variety of appetizers, main courses, and sides to help you be the king of your next tailgate. Lane’s BBQ, a Bethlehem, Ga. based BBQ company, sponsors this season’s feature by providing their killer rubs and sauces for use in the recipes. Buy them here. In addition, Fogo Charcoal provides charcoal to use in each recipe. Buy it here.

Previous: Cedar planked scotch eggs, Pork tenderloin sliders with grilled cheese, Chicken street tacosSausage and cheese poppers, Tomato pie, smoked corn pudding, Maple planked salmon, Sous vide steak and burgers, Bacon cream cheese, Brazilian style protein, O’Korn and cheesy jalapeno bacon dipSmoked sausage balls
Full Archive here.

As we approach the ORANGE BOWL, I start to get excited when I think about the endless options for our year end TAILGATE. I’ve reached out to FSU friends and Michigan family located in Florida for their thoughts. Almost to a man (and one woman) they recommended something with a CUBAN flare. And as soon as Justin mentioned MOJO, the deal was sealed. I love trying new things and firing up the grill for a new recipe. It always adds a little extra something for me when the outcome is unknown. Plus, I love the movie CHEF! If you haven’t watched it, give it a go. It’s a good one. This recipe has a few of my favorites in it and will definitely work its way into my tailgate rotation. It’s a Braided Pork Belly Taco topped with MOJO Slaw.


• Pork Belly (1-2 lb piece)
• Lane’s BBQ SPF 53 Rub and Signature Rub
• Tortillas

Mojo Slaw:
• 3 cups chopped purple cabbage
• 1 cup chopped carrots
• 1 shallot
• ¼ cup fresh orange juice
• ¼ cup fresh lime juice
• 3 cloves chopped garlic
• ¼ cup chopped cilantro
• 1/4 cup chopped oregano
• 1 TBSP cumin
• Dash of salt and pepper


Set your grill up for indirect heat and shoot for a temperature of 275 degrees. Anywhere from 225-300 will work on this one. Be sure to use your FOGO lump for this to ensure a clean and hot burn.

As the grill is heating up, take your sharp knife and slice the pork belly into three pieces, all joined at the top. Make sure not to cut all the way through at the top as we need this for braiding. It should look like a pork belly octopus.

Each strip of the pork belly should be equal in size and thickness. Once you’ve sliced into strips, take something heavy like a meat tenderizer or a cast iron pan and pound them lightly. We want to thin them out just a little to make the braiding easier.

Once they are thinned slightly, dust it with a combo of Lane’s Signature Rub and Lane’s SPF 53 Rub. This adds some heat and sweet and some fantastic color to the belly. Once seasoned, start braiding by taking the strips on the outside and folding over the middle strip. Continue this all the way until it is completely braided. Make sure this is braided somewhat tightly. Secure the ends together with butchers twine. A BBQ skewer would even work (and look a lot cooler).

Once the braid is ready, place it on the smoker and add a few chunks of pecan wood for smoke. This will smoke for anywhere from 4-6 hours depending on your grill temp. We are looking for an internal temperature of 200 degrees.

As the pork belly is smoking, we can assemble our MOJO slaw. Cut your purple cabbage into chunks along with your carrot slices. It’s easier to just buy the pre-sliced carrots in a bag. Chop up a half bunch of cilantro as well. I love extra cilantro in my MOJO so I added a little more than the recipe called for. Add your chopped veggies to a large mixing bowl and set aside. Now, add your OJ, lime juice, oregano, garlic, and cumin to a bowl. Mix and pour into your veggies. I don’t like mine super saucy, so I only added half of this mixture and saved the rest. If you like your slaw super wet, add more. Set in the fridge for at least an hour and allow the flavors to develop. After about an hour, you will notice a lot of juice in the bottom of the bowl. This is some tasty stuff.

Once the pork belly reaches 200 degrees internal, remove from the heat and tent with foil for 10 minutes. Once rested, slice into chunks and start making your tasty MOJO tacos. These things are addicting and didn’t last long. The MOJO flavors paired well with the spicy rub from Lanes. The slaw had a nice crisp bite to it and looks great with the purple coloring. I love me some purple.

Visit Lane’s BBQ to purchase their fantastic line of rubs and sauces. You can follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

Visit Fogo to purchase their premium lump charcoal. You can follow them on Twitter, Facebook, andInstagram.

After growing up in Michigan, Joe now lives in North Texas where he can barbecue year ’round. He cooks mostly on Big Green Eggs and some Webers and has competed in BGE competitions. When he’s not watching Michigan football, he also teaches BBQ classes at a local grilling store and does some catering. You can follow Joe on Twitter at @mmmgoblubbq and Instagram at @gobluebbq.

Five-Spot Challenge: Florida State

Tuesday, December 27th, 2016

Congratulations to Maizenblu62 for his first Five-Spot Challenge win of the season the week of the Ohio State game. His deviation of 252.2 narrowly beat boggie‘s 257.8. Maizenblu62 wasn’t the closest to any single question, but was consistent across the board. His prediction of 112 for Wilton Speight’s quarterback rating was second-closest, his prediction of 145 Ohio State first-half yards was third closest, and his guess if 85 was just five away from the uniform number (or combination) of Michigan’s first touchdown. He wins a prize box of product from our sponsors, Lane’s BBQCultivate Coffee & Tap House, and Chayder Grilling Company.

Grahambino, kashkaav, Michigan Mack, HTTV137, and saline_ian all correctly predicted that Khalid Hill (80) would score Michigan’s first touchdown. Sistersueblue was just two away from Jabrill Peppers’ all-purpose yards (69). koakley@BIGLOTS.COM was just 10 away from J.T. Barrett’s rushing yards (125), was the only one to correctly predict that it would take at least 60 minutes for Michigan to reach 20 points, and was only one away from Michigan’s longest rush (16 yards). TheZachster was the closest to OSU’s first-half yards (145, 49 away). Boggie was just two away from Curtis Samuel’s total yards (86). Michigan Mack was only 1.8 away from Speight’s quarterback rating (122.2). JD Mackiewicz correctly predicted that the longest field goal of the game would be 37 yards. Finally, Jaeschke and artayay were both just one away from Peppers’ longest return (44 yards).

The weekly results and season standings have been updated.

Michigan returns to action on Friday against Florida State in the Capital One Orange Bowl. Here are this week’s picks.

First Look: #11 Florida State

Monday, December 26th, 2016

Michigan may be one of the four best teams in the country, but just missed out on a College Football Playoff spot after losing two of their final three games. On Friday, the Wolverines have a chance to make a statement that they deserved to be selected.

When Michigan narrowly lost by three to Ohio State in the 2006 “Game of the Century” and didn’t get awarded a rematch in the BCS National Championship game they mailed in their Rose Bowl matchup against USC, falling 32-18 in a largely uncompetitive game. It’s hard to see Jim Harbaugh letting that happen with a senior-laden squad this season.

Florida State comes in with a 9-3 record overall and 5-3 record in the Atlantic Coast Conference. The Seminoles lost by 43 points to Louisville in Week 3 and then suffered a bad loss at home to North Carolina, but played Clemson tough — falling 37-34 — and won their final four games, most notably a 31-13 thumping of rival Florida.

Let’s take a look at how the teams compare through the regular season.

Florida State & Michigan statistical comparison
Florida State | Michigan Rank Defense Rank
Points Per Game 35.2 | 41.0 32 12
24.4 12.5 41 2
Rushing Yards 2,481 2,679 1,575 1,401
Rush Avg. Per Game 206.8 223.2 38 30
131.2 116.8 38 13
Avg. Per Rush 5.1 | 5.0
3.7 3.1
Passing Yards 3,211 2,593 2,711 1,631
Pass Avg. Per Game 267.6 216.1 29 81 225.9 135.9 68 1
Total Offense 5,692 5,272 4,286 3,032
Total Off Avg. Per Game 474.3 439.3 24 46 357.2 252.7 29 2
Kick Return Average 21.2 18.6 52 108 17.9 21.0 13 | 74
Punt Return Average 8.3 15.6 59 | 8 21.5 7.3 127 57
Avg. Time of Possession 33:31 32:57 12 16 26:29 | 27:03
3rd Down Conversion Pct 46% | 44% 23 | 34
34% | 21.0% 16 1
Sacks Allowed-Yards/By-Yards 34-279| 18-119
108 27
47-292 44-274 1 2
Touchdowns Scored 53 63
37 | 18
Field Goals-Attempts 18-26 16-21
12-17 | 8-16
Red Zone Scores (52-54) 96%|(58-64) 91% 1 | 15
(32-41) 78%|(17-25) 68% 29 2
Red Zone Touchdowns (41-54) 76%|(43-64) 67% (25-41) 61%|(11-25 44%
Off. S&P+/Def. S&P+ 40.4 36.1 6 26 21.0 | 5.1 18 1

Statistically speaking, Florida State is probably the second best team Michigan has faced this season behind Ohio State. That’s debatable, as a case could be made for Wisconsin or Penn State (now, not at the time they played) but the Seminoles do rank ninth in S&P+, ahead of Penn State (12th) and Wisconsin (16th).

Offensively, Florida State ranks 24th nationally in total offense (474.3 yards per game), 32nd in scoring (35.2 points per game), 38th in rushing (206.8 yards per game), and 29th in passing (267.6 yards per game). Although the running game as a whole is good but not great — statistically, it’s about equal to Maryland’s (averaging about a yard more per game) — it does feature one of the nation’s top running backs in junior Dalvin Cook, who ranks eighth nationally with 1,620 rushing yards.

Cook has accounted for 65 percent of FSU’s rushing yards so far this season. By comparison, Michigan’s leading rusher, De’Veon Smith, has accounted for just 30 percent of the Wolverines’ yards on the ground. Cook’s percentage is roughly equal to that of Smith, Chris Evans, and Karan Higdon combined.

Florida State had just four games in which they rushed for at least 200 yards during the regular season (Michigan had six). The Seminoles had a high of 478 rushing yards against USF’s 92nd-ranked rush defense and had 334 against Syracuse’s 108th-ranked rush defense. But they did close the regular season with 249 yards on 6.2 yards per carry against Florida’s respectable 35th-ranked rush defense.

As a whole, the FSU passing game is much better with nine of 12 games over 200 yards passing, five games over 300 yards, and one over 400. By comparison, Michigan’s passing game had eight, two, and zero this season. The season high of 419 passing yards came in a season opening win over Ole Miss. They also put up 372 passing yards on a season-high 11.6 yards per attempt against North Carolina’s 14th-ranked pass defense. It was by far the most passing yards the Tarheels allowed all season, about one-third more than the next closest, James Madison’s 286. UNC held seven of 12 opponents below 200 yards passing. Against a pass defense comparable to Michigan’s (Florida), Florida State managed just 138 yards on 15-of-26 passing with one touchdown and one interception.

One major area in which Michigan can exploit is the Florida State offensive line, which ranks 108th nationally in sacks allowed. They’ve given up nearly twice as many sacks as Michigan’s offensive line has this season (34 compared to 18), an average of almost three per game. Michigan’s defense ranks second in the nation in sacks, so count on defensive coordinator Don Brown to dial up some pressure on quarterback Deondre Francois.

Defensively, like offensively, the advanced stats like Florida State more than the traditional stats do. The Seminoles rank 29th nationally in total defense (357.2 yards per game), 41st in scoring defense (24.4 points per game), 38th in rush defense (131.2 yards per game), and 68th in pass defense (225.9 yards per game). None of those rankings is indicative of a top-10 team, but FSU’s defense ranks a more respectable 18th according to S&P+. Four of Michigan’s opponents this season — Ohio State (3rd), Wisconsin (5th), Colorado (11th), Iowa (12th), and Penn State (16th) — rank higher but it still means FSU has a very good defense.

It’s lead by the defensive line and most notably senior defensive end Demarcus Walker, who leads the nation with 15 sacks and ranks 18th nationally with an average of 1.5 tackles for loss per game. Fellow end Brian Burns has 9.5 sacks of his own, which is one more than Michigan’s leader, Taco Charlton. As a team, FSU leads the nation with 47 sacks — three more than Michigan.

But when the Seminoles don’t make it to the quarterback, they struggle to stop the pass. Six of 12 opponents have topped 200 yards passing and four of those topped 300 yards. One — North Carolina — threw for 405 yards, their third-highest of the season. Clemson had its second-best passing game of the season and best in terms of yards per attempts (14.0) against the ‘Noles with 378 yards. Michigan’s defense allowed two 200-yard passing games to Colorado and Maryland and none higher than the Terrapins’ 289 yards.

The rush defense is slightly better, having held six of 12 opponents under 100 yards rushing. They did give up 314 rushing yards to Louisville and 290 to USF in back to back weeks early in the season, but in their last eight games, their opponents topped 100 yards just twice with a high of 165 yards. They allowed just 77.4 yards per game over that span.

But that should be said with a caveat. In the last eight games of the season, FSU faced a lot of bad rushing offenses. Clemson’s 67th-ranked rush offense was the best they faced and the eight opponents averaged the nation’s 96th-best rushing offense. Those two that rushed for a combined 604 yards on 6.9 yards per carry? They rank 11th and 5th in rushing offense. Michigan’s running game isn’t quite on that level, but the Wolverine’s 30th-ranked rushing offense is considerably better than any of the final eight teams that FSU’s defense shut down.

Overall, Florida State is a dangerous team that should absolutely not be taken lightly. Just because Michigan descended on the Sunshine State and whooped the Florida Gators in last year’s Capital One Bowl doesn’t mean they’ll do the same to the Gators’ rival on Friday. Florida State is a more complete game than Florida was a year ago and they’re filled with young talent that will make the Seminoles a force to be reckoned with in the coming years. Michigan has the edge in experience and is probably the better team, but FSU has the athletes to make Michigan pay if they don’t come to play.

Merry Christmas from M&GB!

Sunday, December 25th, 2016

Thank you for your support of Maize and Go Blue. We wish you and yours a very merry Christmas. Go Blue!

New in Blue: 2017 LB Drew Singleton

Friday, December 23rd, 2016

(247 Sports)

Drew Singleton – LB | 6-2, 215 | Paramus, N.J. (Paramus Catholic)
ESPN4-star, #3 ILB Rivals: 4-star, #4 OLB 247: 4-star, #5 OLB Scout: 4-star, #4 OLB
247 Composite: 4-star #3 OLB, #66 nationally
Other top offers: Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, MSU, Ole Miss, LSU, Georgia, Auburn, ND, Wisconsin

For the second day in a row, Michigan secured a commitment from one of the nation’s top linebackers in the 2017 class. After landing IMG Academy’s Jordan Anthony on Thursday, the Wolverines picked up a commitment from Paramus Catholic linebacker Drew Singleton on Friday evening. The 6-foot-2, 215-pounder pledged to join Jim Harbaugh’s class via a tweeted video just after 6pm Eastern.

Singleton is a consensus four-star recruit according to the four major recruiting services. Like Anthony, Rivals ranks Singleton the highest as the nation’s 55th-best overall player in the 2017 class and the fourth-best outside linebacker. Scout ranks him 72nd overall and the fourth-best outside linebacker. 247 Sports ranks him 79th and fifth-best, while ESPN ranks him the lowest as the 162nd-best player overall and third-best inside linebacker. He’s the third-best outside backer and 66th-best overall player in the class per the 247 Composite.

Singelton chose Michigan over a group that included Alabama, Clemson, LSU, Penn State, Georgia, Tennessee, and Auburn. He holds offers from most of the nation’s top programs despite missing his senior season at Paramus Catholic with a torn ACL. He hails from the same school that sent Jabrill Peppers, Rashan Gary, Juwann Bushell-Beaty, and linebackers coach Chris Partridge to Michigan the past few years.

Scout lists Singleton’s strengths as aggressiveness, change of direction, and hitting ability while listing his areas to improve as pass coverage skills and tackling technique. Scout’s Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Singleton can play on the edge or in the middle, and is best when playing downhill and filling run gaps. Singleton is physical, and he locates the ball in traffic and he pursues well. He can get to the sideline, and he has quick feet. He finishes plays well and understands how to run a defense. Singleton needs to work on his drop back in pass coverage, but that will come over time.”

Singleton is the 26th member of the class that is filling up fast and the 15th commit on the defensive side. He joins Anthony, Joshua Ross, and Ben Mason as linebackers in the class. His commitment follows on the heels of Anthony’s, defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, IMG center Cesar Ruiz, Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Connecticut receiver Tarik Black, who have all committed within the past two weeks.

New in Blue: 2017 LB Jordan Anthony

Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

(247 Sports)

Jordan Anthony – LB | 6-0, 220 | Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
ESPN4-star, #9 ATH Rivals: 5-star, #1 ILB 247: 4-star, #12 OLB Scout: 4-star, #13 OLB
247 Composite: 4-star #6 OLB, #107 nationally
Other top offers: Oklahoma, Auburn, Penn State, Clemson, Ohio State, Nebraska, Virginia Tech

Michigan continued its Christmas recruiting momentum on Thursday evening with a commitment from highly-rated linebacker Jordan Anthony. The IMG Academy star announced his commitment via a video shortly before 7:30pm Eastern time.

Anthony is a four-star according to ESPN, 247 Sports, and Scout, but Rivals has given him the extra fifth star. They rank him as the No. 1 inside linebacker in the class. ESPN ranks him as the ninth-best athlete, 247 as the 12th-best outside linebacker, and Scout as the 13th-best outside backer. All four sites rank Anthony among the top 250 overall recruits in the 2017 class with Rivals ranking him the highest at 26th. ESPN ranks him 123rd, Scout 185th, and 247 208th. He’s a four-star, the nation’s sixth-best outside linebacker, and 107th-best overall player according to the 247 Composite.

Anthony chose Michigan over a top group that also included Auburn, Oklahoma, Penn State, and Maryland. He also held offers from Clemson, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Virginia Tech, to name a few. Anthony officially visited Michigan the week of the Wisconsin game and received a visit from Michigan linebackers coach Chris Partridge on Dec. 6.

Scout lists Anthony’s strengths as athleticism, change of direction, and instincts while listing his areas to improve as pass coverage skills and strength. Scout’s Brian Dohn raves about his athleticism.

“Anthony does so many things well, but what stands above all else is his ability to tackle in space. If it 1-on-1 with a running back, he is winning it. He changes direction well, has the ability to find the ball carrier in traffic, and he gets off blocks well. He can blitz from the edge or the middle, and he can chance down on the backside. He has very good instincts and should be a tremendous weakside linebacker in college.”

Anthony is the 25th member of Michigan’s 2017 class and the 14th on the defensive side of the ball, joining Joshua Ross and Ben Mason as linebackers in the class. His commitment follows on the heels of defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, IMG teammate, center Cesar Ruiz, Detroit Cass Tech receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, and Connecticut receiver Tarik Black.

New in Blue: 2017 DE Deron Irving-Bey

Monday, December 19th, 2016

(Sean Scherer, 247 Sports)

Deron Irving-Bey – DE | 6-5, 282 | Flint, Mich. (Southwestern Commencement Academy)
ESPN4-star, #18 DT Rivals: 3-star, #18 SDE 247: 4-star, #5 SDE Scout: 4-star, #24 DE
247 Composite: 4-star #9 SDE
Other top offers: Michigan State, Tennessee, Maryland, Pitt, Cincinnati, Syracuse, Toledo

After gaining a commitment from the nation’s top center, Cesar Ruiz, earlier in the afternoon, Michigan landed a commitment from one of the nation’s top defensive ends. Deron Irving-Bey announced his intention to play for the Wolverines at 4pm Eastern time on Monday, giving Jim Harbaugh the top six players in the state of Michigan.

Irving-Bey is a four-star recruit according to ESPN, Scout, and 247 and a three-star according to Rivals. 247 ranks him the highest as the fifth-best strong side defensive end in the 2017 class. ESPN ranks him as the 18th-best defensive tackle, while Scout ranks him as the 24th-best defensive end. Rivals ranks him as the 18th-best strong side end. He’s the ninth-best strong side end and 270th-best overall player in the class per the 247 Composite.

The Flint, Mich. native chose the Wolverines over in-state rival Michigan State. He also held offers from Tennessee, Maryland, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Syracuse, and Toledo, to name a few. He took an unofficial visit to Michigan the weekend of the Wisconsin game and took his official last weekend, solidifying his decision.

Scout lists Irving-Bey’s strengths as athleticism, quickness off ball, and size, while listing his area to improve as technique and moves. That’s a good thing because technique and moves can be taught at the college level, while traits like size and athleticism are mostly what they are at this point. Scout expanded on their analysis.

“Kid with a great frame that continues to fill out. Projected as an offensive tackle early in his career and could still play there, but future seems increasingly more likely to be on defense. Long arms, naturally bends well and moves well. Gets off the ball quickly and plays with a good motor. Still developing technique and using his hands better. The bigger he gets, the more likely it is he’s a five-tech or maybe even a three for some schools, but an attractive package of skills.”

Irving-Bey is the 24th member of the 2017 class and the 13th on the defensive side, ending a string of three straight on offense over the past few days. He joins James Hudson, Donovan Jeter, Kwity Paye, Luiji Vilain, and Corey Malone-Hatcher as defensive linemen in the class.

New in Blue: 2017 C Cesar Ruiz

Monday, December 19th, 2016

(Andrew Ivins, 247 Sports)

Cesar Ruiz – C | 6-3, 315 | Bradenton, Fla. (IMG Academy)
ESPN4-star, #1 C Rivals: 4-star, #1 C 247: 4-star, #1 C Scout: 4-star, #2 C
247 Composite: 4-star #1 C
Other top offers: Florida, Auburn, Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, FSU, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

After grabbing two of the nation’s top receivers last week in Tarik Black and Donovan Peoples-Jones, Michigan missed out on one of the top offensive tackles in Isaiah Wilson, who chose Georgia. Today, the Wolverines bounced back with a commitment from the No. 1 center in the nation, Cesar Ruiz. The Bradenton, Fla. resident pledged his commitment to Michigan just after noon Eastern on Monday.

Ruiz is a consensus four-star according to the four major recruiting services. All but Scout rank him the top center in the 2017 class, while Scout ranks him second behind Texas Tech commit Jack Anderson. 247 Sports ranks Ruiz the highest nationally as the 66th best overall player in the class. ESPN ranks him 69th, Rivals 77th, and Scout 100th. He’s the No. 1 center and 58th-best overall player in the class according to the 247 Composite.

Ruiz, who is originally from Camden, N.J., chose the Wolverines over a final group that also included Florida and Auburn. Michigan has long been considered the favorite to land Ruiz despite the 6-foot-3, 315-pounder holding offers from most of the nation’s top schools, including Alabama, Oklahoma, Clemson, Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, to name a few.

Scout lists Ruiz’s strengths as body control and balance, explosion, and quickness off ball, while listing his areas to improve as flexibility and technique. Scout’s Brian Dohn expands on that.

“Ruiz plays with a low pad level and explodes well. He is quick to the second level and his agility allows him to manipulate his body and make square blocks on smaller targets. He has a strong initial punch and once engaged, he drives his legs and turns the defensive play to open a hole. He retreats well in pass protection and he reads blitzes well. Adding more knee bend and getting his hands inside more are key to his development.”

Ruiz is the 23rd member of the 2017 class and the 11th on the offensive side of the ball, joining Ja’Raymond Hall, Andrew Stueber, Joel Honigford, Phillip Paea, and Kai-Leon Herbert as offensive linemen in the class. It’s rare for a true freshman to start on the offensive line, but with most of this season’s line departing and not much proven depth behind them, there’s a chance for that to happen next fall.

What can Michigan expect from Peoples-Jones? History is kind to nation’s top receivers — except at USC

Friday, December 16th, 2016

(Getty Images)

On Thursday night Michigan reeled in five-star receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones, adding to an already impressive recruiting class. The Detroit Cass Tech star is the third receiver in the class but he’s also the highest-rated as the nation’s top receiver according to 247 Sports. So what can Michigan fans expect from Peoples-Jones in the maize and blue? A look at the history of the nation’s No. 1 wideout gives a lot of reason for excitement.

More than any other position on the field, receivers tend to produce the earliest when they arrive on campus. In a simplistic view, the position — more than any other — relies more on athleticism than a need to learn at the college level. Of course, route running, technique, strength, and a connection with the quarterback are important traits that can be developed in college, but an uber athletic receiver with good size and speed can produce right away.

Since 2000, the No. 1 receivers in the nation according to 247 Sports have produced an average of 34 receptions for 480 yards and four touchdowns in their first season of action. By comparison, as a senior, Jehu Chesson caught 31 passes for 467 yards and two scores as a senior this season (with a bowl game yet to play). That means that if Peoples-Jones performs just average as a true freshman compared to the past 17 No. 1 receivers, he would have been the third-leading receiver on Michigan’s roster this season. It gets better.

Nation’s No. 1 receiver since 2000 – by year
Freshman Season College Career
Year Name School Rec Yds TDs Rec Yds TDs
2016 Demetris Robertson Cal 50 767 7 50* 767* 7*
2015 Calvin Ridley Alabama 89 1,045 7 155* 1,772* 14*
2014 Speedy Noil Texas A&M 46 583 5 88* 1,134* 9*
2013 Laquon Treadwell Ole Miss 72 608 5 202 2,393 21
2012 Dorial Green-Beckham Missouri 28 395 5 87 1,278 17
2011 George Farmer USC 4 42 0 30 363 4
2010 Kyle Prater USC 1^ 6^ 0^ 71 654 2
2009 Rueben Randle LSU 11 173 2 97 1,634 13
2008 Julio Jones Alabama 58 924 4 179 2,653 15
2007 Terrence Toliver LSU 10 249 3 126 1,820 12
2006 Percy Harvin Florida 34 427 2 133 1,929 13
2005 Patrick Turner USC 12 170 2 138 1,752 17
2004 Early Doucet LSU 18 257 2 160 1,943 20
2003 Whitney Lewis USC 3 16 0 3 16 0
2002 Ryan Moore Miami 44 637 3 49 800 8
2001 Roscoe Crosby Clemson 23 396 3 23 396 3
2000 Charles Rogers Michigan State 67! 1,470! 14! 135 2,821 27
*Still in college
^Redshirted freshman season (redshirted due to injury)
! Sophomore season (academically ineligible for freshman season)

An anomaly among the previous 17 top receivers in the nation has been those who committed to Southern Cal. Four of them — George Farmer in 2011, Kyle Prater in 2010, Patrick Turner in 2005, and Whitney Lewis in 2003 — performed well below average. Those four averaged just five receptions for 58.5 yards and half a touchdown.

Farmer switched to running back, tore his ACL and MCL his sophomore season, and finished his career with just 30 catches for 363 yards and four touchdowns. Prater redshirted as a freshman due to nagging injuries and then transferred to Northwestern. He had originally committed to Pete Carroll, but didn’t stick it out with Lane Kiffin. Turner had the best freshman season of any of the four, catching 12 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns, and went on to a decent career and a third-round draft pick. Lewis — like Farmer — was switched to running back for most of his freshman season before moving back to receiver where he caught just three passes for 16 yards. He sat out his sophomore season while academically ineligible and didn’t catch another pass in his career.

With four of the five worst freshman seasons among the last 16 No. 1 receivers nationally coming from USC — the other was LSU’s Rueben Randle, who caught 11 passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns as a freshman –, it’s worth looking at the freshman year production average without the USC guys. If they had all not been from one school, we couldn’t do this. But when it’s isolated to one program, we can reasonably assume that it’s more of a reflection of the program than the player.

The 13 non-USC commits averaged 42 receptions for 610 yards and five touchdowns as freshmen. A performance like that would have been very similar to Jake Butt’s 43 receptions for 518 yards and four scores.

Nation’s No. 1 receiver since 2000 – averages
Receptions Yards Touchdowns
All 17 34 480 4
Jehu Chesson 2016 31 467 2
Minus USC commits 42 610 5
Jake Butt 2016 43 518 4

Three of the 17 No. 1 receivers since 2000 would have been Michigan’s leading receiver this season — Julio Jones, who caught 58 passes for 924 yards and four touchdowns for Alabama in 2008; Calvin Ridley, who caught 89 passes for 1,045 yards and seven scores for the Crimson Tide last season; and Charles Rogers, who caught 67 passes for 1,470 yards and 14 touchdowns in 2001. Last year’s No. 1 receiver, Demetris Robertson, had very similar numbers to Michigan’s leading receiver, Amara Darboh, catching 50 passes for 767 yards and seven touchdowns for California this fall.

Beyond just the freshman season, the nation’s No. 1 receivers have largely had outstanding college careers. Most of them didn’t stay all four years, but they averaged 102 catches for 1,461 yards and 12 touchdowns over their careers. Michigan State’s Charles Rogers turned in a two-year total of 2,821 yards, which would rank third in Michigan career receiving history. Jones’ 2,653 in three seasons would rank fifth and Ole Miss’ Laquon Treadwell’s 2,393 in three years would also rank fifth. Keep in mind that Michigan’s top four — Braylon Edwards, Anthony Carter, Jeremy Gallon, and Amani Toomer — all played all four seasons in Ann Arbor.

Of the 14 who are no longer in college, eight were drafted by the NFL — all in the top three rounds and four in the first round. Seven of them are still in the league.

Before Peoples-Jones’ commitment, the highest rated receiver Michigan had ever landed was Mario Manningham, who was the nation’s sixth-best receiver in the 2005 class. He turned in a 27-catch, 433-yard, six-touchdown freshman performance and ranks sixth in Michigan’s career receiving books.

Michigan’s top 10 receiver commitments in recruiting ranking era
Year Name Position Rank National Rank
2017 Donovan Peoples-Jones 1 11
2005 Mario Manningham 6 50
2001 Tim Massaquoi 7 47
2014 Drake Harris 7 67
2005 Antonio Bass 8 56
2008 Darryl Stonum 10 48
2004 Doug Dutch 10 71
2009 Je’Ron Stokes 10 90
2007 Toney Clemons 12 96
2002 Jason Avant 13 117

If recent history holds true, Michigan fans can expect a productive year from Peoples-Jones next fall and a solid career. He also comes in at the right time with the Wolverines losing their top three pass catchers to graduation. Jim Harbaugh has shown that he’s willing to play true freshman receivers as Grant Perry caught 14 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown in 2015 and Kekoa Crawford and Eddie McDoom combined for 9 catches for 106 yards and one score this fall, in addition to McDoom’s success on jet sweeps. The roster is certainly wide open for a go-to outside receiver and Peoples-Jones seems primed to fill that spot.

A high ranking doesn’t always guarantee success, and some of the best receivers in Michigan history weren’t ranked highly, but the recent history of the nation’s top receivers are good news for Michigan fans.