Chat with Tom VanHaaren
Welcome to WolverineNation! On Monday, recruiting writer Tom VanHaaren stops by to chat about the state of Michigan football personnel.
VanHaaren has covered Michigan recruiting since 2008. Follow his latest news on Twitter: @TomVH.
Send your questions now and join VanHaaren Monday at noon ET!
charlie steffens, manchester MI [via mobile]
Michigan defense is improving and they are improving as a team, with a pretty decent recruiting class coming how far do you expect michigan to excell next season
Tom VanHaaren (12:03 PM)
It's tough to say because you open with Alabama on a neutral site, and you also play at Notre Dame, at Nebraska, and at Ohio State. On top of that Michigan is losing Molk, Hemingway, Odoms, Koger, Huyge, Van Bergen, Martin, Heininger, Woolfolk, etc. That's a lot of quality players leaving. The defense is the more concerning, so we'll see who steps up next season.
Greg (Washington, DC)
Whats up Tom? Miss you on mgoblog. My question: what are Michigan's chances on taking a running back and quarterback in the latest incoming recruit class?
Tom VanHaaren (12:04 PM)
Thanks for the kind words. I would say I miss you too, but I'm not as familiar with your work. The chances that Michigan takes both? Not very likely. They missed on their main QB targets early on, and now have Shane Morris committed for 2013, so I think they're all set. At running back they are obviously going after Bri'onte Dunn so they're hoping to sign him.
Rich R (Green Bay)
Big Michigan Fan!!! And also a fan of your work. Michigan has had a reputation of big stud wide receivers (M. Walker, David Terrell, Braylon Edwards). When can we expect to see another big wide receiver on campus?
Tom VanHaaren (12:08 PM)
If you mean big as in stature the receivers that Michigan is recruiting for 2012 are all around the 6-foot-2 mark, and close to 195-pounds. They all happen to be very good, too. The most talked about 2013 receiver is Laquon Treadwell, who is around 6-foot-3 and has a really nice frame. There are a couple other receivers in the 2013 class that are big targets like Texas receivers Jake Oliver (6'4"), Marcell Ateman (6'4") and Quan Jones (6'3"). All will be recruited by Michigan.
Ben (Potomac, Md)
Do you have any reaction to "Three and Out? The book seems to really slam AD Martin and former coach Carr and paints Rich Rod in a pretty favorable light. Is Bacon's book on the mark? and has the department righted itself?
Tom VanHaaren (12:09 PM)
I'm a little hesitant to comment on it in this forum. I did read it, and I have spoken to John Bacon about it. There will always be another side to the story, but I think John did a great job telling the story that he saw and was a part of.
How are you not 300 lbs? Do you eat anything but cake and cookies?
Tom VanHaaren (12:10 PM)
I also eat a lot of pasta, but mostly cake.
Michael Joseph (Lincoln Park - Chicago)
Question: It seemed as though Payton really enjoyed his visit with ND..is there a time-range of when he will be announcing? Advantage Michigan still?
Tom VanHaaren (12:11 PM)
Payton says he's not sure when he will announce now. His high school coach has told me that he wants Jordan to decide sooner rather than later so the coaches at either school don't miss out on any other prospects if they're holding Jordan's spot. I think he just wants to see a few other places, but yes I think Michigan still has the advantage as of right now.
wolverine convert (Ann arbor)
How many "commitable" offers does Michigan still have out? What if a lower rated recruit is ready to commit and the coaching staff wants to wait for others? How does that work?
Tom VanHaaren (12:12 PM)
The prospects that are left are all very highly rated guys, so you won't likely see that situation happen this year. The coaches know where they're at with everyone left on the board for the most part.
Michael Joseph (Lincoln Park - Chicago)
With Shaq Thompson making a visit for the OSU game, do you think there is a "real" chance Michigan gets a commitment from him?
Tom VanHaaren (12:13 PM)
If he were deciding right now it obviously wouldn't be Michigan if that tells you anything. It's hard to say with a kid like him because he's never seen Michigan up close. Until the visit is 100% scheduled and he gets on that plane I don't think he even knows how he feels about Michigan. I wouldn't get excited until he talks about the visit afterwards.
Do you think the staff has a game plan for what positions they want to close with, or is it still fluid? It would seem by now they have an idea where they still need a little help.
Tom VanHaaren (12:15 PM)
Yes, they definitely have a game plan, but that doesn't mean they don't have their options open. Nothing is 100% with recruiting so they are prepared for any surprises, or if they happen to miss on any of the remaining prospects. They want 1 more OL, 1 more DB, 2 WR's, and a running back. How they get there, or who ends up committing is yet to be seen. They are flexible though with the circumstances that come forward.
Kris (London, England)
Hey Tom,What are the realistic options that Yuri Wright signs with Michigan? He's been very consistent in saying Michigan is his dream school, and not shy about sharing that. Is that just banter, or a preview of things to come?
Tom VanHaaren (12:17 PM)
I put Yuri in the same category as Shaq Thompson. He needs to get his visit 100% scheduled, get on the plane, and experience it himself. Until that happens I don't think he really knows how he feels. Being a fan of a school is different than wanting to spend the next four years there. Besides, he has listed a lot of schools as a favorite. He talks very highly of USC as well.
I came for the cake. Since I was misled, feel free to let me know who you most expect to round out UM's class.
Tom VanHaaren (12:20 PM)
The coaches want 1 OL, 2 WR's, 1 DB, and 1 RB. I hate predicting this because people typically read this as 100% happening, which it's not. This is a prediction based on what's happening right now. This could very well change tomorrow, so there's my disclaimer. I think Michigan has the best shot at OL with Josh Garnett, Alex Kozan, or Jordan Diamond. I think they have an excellent chance with Amara Darboh (very good chance), Jordan Payton, or Jehu Chesson, and it's going to be a waiting game for the other two spots and specifically with Bri'onte Dunn. Dunn is going to schedule an official visit to Michigan, though. We'll see if it's for Nebraska or OSU.
MFan in Columbus (Columbus, OH)
Any feedback on B'rionte Dunn's visit at OSU this weekend? He did see a heck of a win by the Buckeyes.
Tom VanHaaren (12:22 PM)
His father told me that Bri'onte is no longer planning on enrolling early, as of now. That is likely so they can see what happens with Ohio State. Enrolling early wouldn't give him a chance to find out what happens before getting on campus. The sanctions will affect his decision. Like I said though, he will take an official to Michigan. It hasn't been set up yet, but that shows he is sincerely interested. I honestly don't think he knows yet where he wants to go.
Brian (Philadelphia, PA)
With DB Greg Brown unfortunately leaving the program, does this mean Michigan will use one of its last 4 spots on Yuri Wright ?
Tom VanHaaren (12:22 PM)
The coaches have been targeting Wright before Brown left, so yes they are hoping to get him in this class.
Timothy Burtborgers (MICH)
Jeremy Gallon is having a tremendous season, no question. Did you see that coming? I'll hang up and listen.
Tom VanHaaren (12:23 PM)
I didn't, and I owe him an apology probably. I was critical of him last year, so I'm surprised and happy for him. Good to see that happen after a coaching change.
Elmo Stewart (MICH, MICH)
hey tomvh, long time reader first time chatter, a CAW to you sir! QUESTION: which of the incoming freshman will contribute on that d-line next year? it's going to be pretty thin with martin and RVB graduating. i hope some of those touted freshman can contribute. thanks, i'll stay here and read.
Tom VanHaaren (12:26 PM)
That's a good question. It's going to first depend on the younger guys that are currently on the roster, and then will depend on how the commits in the 2012 class come into camp, how well they've done with their conditioning program. There's probably a big opportunity at DE for Wromley, Strobel, or Godin. If Ondre Pipkins can come in at his desired weight he should get a crack at some playing time as well.
Mike (Laramie, WY)
Do you envision any 2012 recruit coming in next season and taking a starting job from an established starter from this year's team?
Tom VanHaaren (12:29 PM)
That's almost impossible to predict, but I don't think it's likely if we're talking about an established starter. There isn't an established starter at running back, so that doesn't count. There's probably an opportunity at WILL with Hawthorne and Desmond Morgan switching, but again that's not established. Stonum and Roundtree at receiver are back, the rest of the starters that are returning I think have done a pretty good job so far so it seems unlikely, but who knows.
David B (Charlotte, NC)
Two part question: 1. Do you blame the WR play this year on Denard/ play calling or the talent of the WRs? 2. Where the heck are our WR recruits for 2012?
Tom VanHaaren (12:32 PM)
I'm not as pessimistic as others. There has obviously been a decline in some of Denard's numbers, but he's going through a coaching change and learning a new system from a new set of people. That's not easy to do, as everyone learned a few years ago. He's done pretty well so far and has Michigan sitting at 7-1. I imagine he will be better next season, his second year with these coaches. As for the receivers, all of them that are left happen to be waiting to make decisions, not a correlation to Denard's play.
Nick (Sylvania, OH)
Given the somewhat erratic performances of the running backs, what makes you some of your colleagues say Michigan has found it's running back in Fitz Toussaint? Weren't they saying that about Vincent Smith after the Notre Dame game?
Tom VanHaaren (12:35 PM)
Yeah, I'm not as certain that Fitz will be the guy until he, or whoever, puts together a few good games in a row. There is obviously something the coaches are seeing in practice that is giving one guy the advantage over the other in different times of the season. I thought Fitz ran really well, though. That 59 yard run live was awesome, and granted he got some help with blocking downfield, his vision and speed there were as good as I've seen him.
Which position group has looked the best this year and gives recruits the best look at how they will be used in the future?
Tom VanHaaren (12:37 PM)
That's a good question, and it's pretty interesting on the offensive side of things. Michigan is recruiting for a pro-style offense, but running a "hybrid" with Denard. Despite the fact that they can't show recruits what the finished product will look like I think they've done a great job securing offensive commitments. The defensive side is probably where most of the prospects are seeing how they will be used. Defensive line has probably been where the prospects see the most how they'll be used though. There is a good amount of athleticism along the line that they're seeing how it will look, or how the coaches want it to look if that makes sense.
With Michigan's lack of depth on the O-line does Kyle Kalis have a chance to start from day one?
Tom VanHaaren (12:40 PM)
If he can play tackle or guard, then yeah I think he has a chance. I don't think he's a left tackle and Taylor Lewan has that pretty wrapped up anyway, so that's out. He could play right tackle though, and Schofield has been getting some playing time there when Lewan was out (Huyge moving over to the left). If Kalis can show up in the right shape then he'll have a chance to compete. Probably not likely that he'll start, but he'll have a good chance to compete and maybe get some PT.
Rick (Birmingham, AL)
Good morning Tom! First off I love the work you're doing here...I'm on here multiple times daily...my boss can't get mad since I own my own business! What is your take on 2013 recruiting...I know with Morris and Dymonte already committed that we have a very good start of course...do you think the class will end up on par or close to the 2012 class? I know it's early but I feel like we've created some good momentum
Tom VanHaaren (12:43 PM)
I agree, there is some momentum with those two committed. Add to that fact that Shane Morris is a really good recruiter and that's a good recipe for success. I think Michigan has done a really good job of positioning themselves early for some of their top targets. Remember, these coaches got a ton of commitments with the 2012 class before those prospects even saw a product on the field. They had no idea what would happen and they still committed. Michigan's now 7-1 in the transition year and there's some buzz from that going into the 2013 class. I believe they will have a very strong class for 2013.
Kyle DeJ (Chicago)
It seems like a lot of the top O-line prospects have cooled on Michigan as their leader (i.e. Banner and Diamond) and Garnett seems like a long shot. If you had to make a guess who do you think they get as a 6th OL in this class (if anyone).
Tom VanHaaren (12:46 PM)
I wouldn't necessarily take some of their actions as cooling on Michigan. In Banner's case, he's really the only one that has come out and said that Oklahoma is probably his leader for now. There was a miscommunication with Diamond for awhile, which has been cleared up, and I don't think Garnett is that much of a long shot. Yes it will take some effort to get him away from the West Coast, but I've always considered him a better shot than Banner. And remember, Garnett is very good friends with current commit OL Erik Magnuson. Colorado OL Alex Kozan will also officially visit Michigan. He recently received an offer from Ohio State, which is one of his favorites, so we'll see how that plays out. I think they have a chance with Kozan, though.
Josh G (Morenci MI)
Tom VH miss your posts on mgoblog, wish you all the success w/ espn and your career, wanted to know when you think 2013's class will start jumping on board, specifically w/ the offense and Shane Morris being on board
Tom VanHaaren (12:48 PM)
A lot of the actual recruiting for juniors starts in the off season, spring, and summer. As you saw with this current class, there's more time to take visits and they aren't focused on their season. There are at least a couple 2013 prospects who should make their decisions around the spring.
Andrew Luck (coldwater, MI)
wes brown, Greg garmon, and Keith Marshall are all still in the picture... Is it just Brionte Dunn coach hoke is after?
Tom VanHaaren (12:50 PM)
I will refrain from making any Andrew Luck jokes, if that's your real name. It has to be mutually beneficial. I don't see any of those guys, as of right now, picking Michigan. If they can get Marshall to visit then there might be a chance, but I see him going somewhere like Georgia.
Tom VanHaaren (12:50 PM)
We have time for one or two more questions then I have to get going.
John (Sterling heights)
Any news on jousha garnett???
Tom VanHaaren (12:51 PM)
He is saying that he's visiting for the Nebraska game for now, but he's trying to change that to the Ohio State game. Either way he's trying to visit, which is a good sign.
Chris (Niles, MI)
Tom Tom - I know there is a ton of hype about Brionte Dunn, and while I'm sure he's solid how does he compare with Thomas Rawls, who has been heralded as the next Mark Ingram? Would having Rawls on the team impact Dunn's decision? Obviously, he still has to produce, but that aside.
Tom VanHaaren (12:56 PM)
They're different backs. Rawls is around 5-foot-10, 219-pounds where Dunn is around 6-foot-2 and 225-pounds. I saw Dunn in person a few weeks back and he looked pretty good. He's not a burner, but he hit a lot of the right holes, made a lot of good cuts that helped him break away from the defenders.
Tom VanHaaren (12:56 PM)
That concludes this week's chat. Thanks for stopping by. I'm thinking about taking some of the unused questions and answering them on the message board, so I'll let you know if that happens. Have a good one.