What skilled trades jobs actually pay

February 8, 2016 by  
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As readers of this blog know I have been skeptical of the claims about lots of high paying skilled trades jobs going unfilled. And critical of the push by far too many elites to convince other people’s kids (not theirs) that they should forgo four year degrees unless they are going into a STEM field. But rather should learn a trade by getting an occupational certificate or associates degree.

I am skeptical both that there are shortages––which if you believe in free markets would require wages to be going up––and the claims about the number of jobs and pay in the traditional blue collar trades.

Welders have become Exhibit A for the kind of skilled trades occupation that today’s kids should be going into rather than non STEM professions. You know all the claims of six figure jobs in welding that can’t be filled. Turns out the average pay is far less than six figures. There are two occupations of welders, employing 15,700 combined, both averaging $18 an hour and around $37,000 annually. Below the $45,100 average annual wage for all jobs in Michigan.

Julie Mack of MLive has created a terrific searchable database of the average wage and how many people in Michigan work in 760 occupations as of May 2014. The data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  Exploring the database is highly recommended.

What follows are the list of occupations (non supervisors) in the four main blue collar sectors––construction, extraction and mining; factory and other production; installation, maintenance and repair; and transportation and material moving––that employed at least 1,000 (out of four million employed Michiganders) and have an average annual wage of more than the statewide average of $45,100.

Construction, Extraction and Mining

  • Brickmasons/blockmasons: $54,930
  • Electricians: $59,520
  • Plumbers/pipefitters/steamfitters: $56,010
  • Structural iron and steel workers: $47,360

Factory and Other Production

  • Chemical plant and system operators: $52,460
  • Chemical operators and tenders: $46,220
  • CNC tool programmers (not CNC machine operators): $48,480
  • Engine and other machine assemblers: $47,500
  • Model makers, metal and plastic: $59,150
  • Painters, transportation equipment: $50,860
  • Power plant operators: $66,950
  • Tool and die makers: $51,860

Installation, Maintenance and Repair

  • Aircraft mechanics and technicians: $52,790
  • Automotive body repairers: $48,370
  • Control and valve installers and repairers: $59,760
  • Electrical and electronics repairers, commercial and industrial: $54,470
  • Electrical power-line installers and repairers: $68,380
  • Heating, air conditioning, refrigeration installers and repairers: $46,270
  • Industrial machinery mechanics: $49,190
  • Millwrights: $61,160
  • Telecommunications equipment installers and repairers: $50,280

Transportation and Material Moving

  • Commercial pilots: $75,500

That is it. No carpenters, truck drivers, welders and automotive service technicians. And all the other hundreds of so called high paid/high demand blue collar skilled trades. If the list was for occupations that pay at least the statewide average and employ at least 5,000 the above number of occupations would decline from 22 to 7.


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Valentine’s Day Gifting

February 2, 2016 by  
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  • BCBG – New markdowns have been taken with up to 60% off!
  • Joie – New styles added to the sale
  • Julep – 50% off the Valentine’s Welcome Box when you join Julep.  Use “XOXOXO” through 2.20.


Valentine Welcome Box

  • Lulu & Georgia – 2016 Calendars and Agendas are stylish and on sale.  They make great gifts!
  • Nordstrom – Shop some of the best gifts from brands you know and love with sale prices!
  • Nordstrom Rack – Big discounts on Valentine gifts!

Cozy Valentine’s decor under $40

Lingerie is up to 50% off

50-70% off denim from Joe’s Jeans, Hudson , Rag & Bone and more

  • Shopbop –  New items have been added to this awesome sale section.  Shop early for the best selection!

Ella Moss Penny Lane DressThe High Waist Skinny JeansRebecca Minkoff Cary Top

  • Sorel – Save up to 50% off at the Winter Sale.

GE to Boston, ConAgra to Chicago

February 1, 2016 by  
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For years we have used the following quote from Rich Karlgaard, publisher of Forbes magazine, to describe what increasingly drives state and local economic growth: “Best place to make a future Forbes 400 fortune? Start with this proposition: The most valuable natural resource in the 21st century is brains. Smart people tend to be mobile. Watch where they go! Because where they go, robust economic activity will follow.

Karlgaard understood years ago what many still don’t today, that increasingly employers are following talent, rather than people moving to where the jobs are. In many ways this is the central insight of Richard Florida’s influential book The Rise of the Creative Class. That talent––primarily those with four year degrees or more––is the asset that matters most to knowledge-based employers.

Increasingly where talent is concentrated––particularly college educated Millennials––are central cities of big metropolitan areas. So it shouldn’t be a surprise that recently GE announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from suburban Connecticut to Boston. And several months ago ConAgra announced the relocation of its corporate headquarters from Omaha to Chicago. These are just two examples of a larger trend of companies locating in vibrant central cities where young talent is concentrated. (Think Quicken to downtown Detroit.) Both GE and ConAgra cited access to talent as a major factor in their relocation.

In a Minneapolis Star Tribune article entitled ConAgra’s Move from Omaha to Chicago Shows Big Cities Still Reign Lee Shafer writes:

To a lot of us, big cities like Chicago primarily look expensive and crowded. But it’s long been observed by economists that productivity improves in cities. One reason is that good ideas and know how seem to leak between people who share the same place, even if they work for competitors.

Companies can thrive in places like that, in turn attracting engineers, marketers and other highly skilled people. It certainly helps attract them if the region also has a lot of sports, arts, outdoors and other amenities to make the hours after work more pleasant.

All of that means that in this case Chicago, a big metro area in a state so dysfunctional that its legislature and governor still can’t agree on a budget, gets another Fortune 500 company headquarters to add to the 31 already there.

Exactly! Talent trumps a lot of what conventional wisdom claims are the keys to retaining and attracting jobs––particularly high paid professional and managerial jobs. Things like taxes, regulation, well run state and local government, etc.

Former New York city mayor Michael Bloomberg in a Financial Times column summed up best what matters most to retaining and attracting employers this way:

Many newly successful cities on the global stage – such as Shenzhen and Dubai – have sought to make themselves attractive to businesses based on price and infrastructure subsidies. Those competitive advantages can work in the short term, but they tend to be transitory. For cities to have sustained success, they must compete for the grand prize: intellectual capital and talent.

I have long believed that talent attracts capital far more effectively and consistently than capital attracts talent. The most creative individuals want to live in places that protect personal freedoms, prize diversity and offer an abundance of cultural opportunities. A city that wants to attract creators must offer a fertile breeding ground for new ideas and innovations.

In this respect, part of what sets cities such as New York and London apart cannot be captured by rankings. Recent college graduates are flocking to Brooklyn not merely because of employment opportunities, but because it is where some of the most exciting things in the world are happening–in music, art, design, food, shops, technology and green industry. Economists may not say it this way but the truth of the matter is: being cool counts. When people can find inspiration in a community that also offers great parks, safe streets and extensive mass transit, they vote with their feet. 

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Stagnant manufacturing employment

January 25, 2016 by  
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Good news in the latest report on employment from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 2015 saw the most net new jobs since the boom of the late 1990s. 2.65 million jobs were added in 2015. Of those 35,000 were in manufacturing. You read that right: manufacturing contributed less than one tenth of one percent of the job gains in America last year.

So much for the much hyped American manufacturing renaissance. At the end of 2015 manufacturing employed 12.3 million out of 143.2 million American workers. That is 8.6% of American jobs. This reality is a continuation of the long term trend of the American economy––largely because of the mega forces of globalization and technology––becoming a service providing, rather than goods producing, economy. (You can find details on job growth from December 2104 to December 2015 by industry here.)

A recent post by St Louis Fed economist Maximiliano Dvorkin entitled Jobs Involving Routine Tasks Aren’t Growing explores what kind of occupations are growing. Dvorkin divides the economy into four occupational clusters:

  • Nonroutine cognitive occupations, which include management and professional occupations
  • Nonroutine manual occupations, which include service occupations related to assisting or caring for others
  • Routine cognitive, which include sales and office occupations
  • Routine manual, which include construction, transportation, production and repair occupations

He details employment changes for the four clusters between 1983 and 2013. He summarizes his findings this way: “The picture is clear: Employment in nonroutine occupations—both cognitive and manual—has been increasing steadily for several decades. Employment in routine occupations, however, has been mostly stagnant.”

In 1983 nonroutine cognitive, routine cognitive and routine manual occupations all had about the same number of employees. Thirty years later nonroutine cognitive occupations employment had nearly doubled, while the two categories of routine occupations had stayed largely unchanged. Nonroutine manual occupations in 1983 were around one half the other three occupational categories. In 2013 they were close to the two routine occupational categories.

The best book I have read on the future of jobs is still Daniel Pink’s 2005 A Whole New Mind. Pink explains that routine/left brain work is the easiest to automate and outsource. And that what isn’t are what he calls high concept and high touch. He writes “we’re progressing yet again––to a society of creators and empathizers, of pattern recognizers and meaning makers”. A decade later the Dvorkin data provides evidence that Pink’s analysis of the kind of jobs that will be in demand in America going forward is quite accurate.


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Preview: Michigan at Nebraska

January 23, 2016 by  
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Michigan will challenge one of the Big Ten's best scoring duos in a game between the Wolverines and Huskers that should go down to the wire.

The Basics

Who: Nebraska Cornhuskers (12-8, 4-3 Big Ten)

When: Saturday, January 23rd, at 2:00 p.m. ET (ESPN2)

Where: Pinnacle Bank Arena -- Lincoln, Neb.

SpreadVegas: Pick 'emKenPom: L, 71-72 (49% WP)

The Stage

The prospect of Michigan beating Nebraska in Lincoln this afternoon radically has changed in recent weeks. On January 5th, the Huskers were #156 on KenPom and had just lost to Iowa to drop to 8-8 (0-3 Big Ten). At that point, Michigan was a sizable favorite to win. Since then, though, Nebraska has played its best basketball. The Huskers have won their past four games, beating down three lower-tier Big Ten teams before stunning Michigan State, 72-71, in East Lansing. As a result, they have shot up KenPom's rankings to #78, making today's contest a tossup in the eyes of the computers and Vegas.

This puts Michigan in a difficult spot. Not only is this no longer a game that Michigan should win, a loss would harm Michigan's resume substantially. Though the Huskers have risen on KenPom quickly, their RPI hasn't. They are only #150 in RPI, so a loss would hand Michigan its first defeat against a team outside the RPI top 100 and maybe put the Wolverines, who are a #8 seed on Bracket Matrix, back onto the bubble, while a win wouldn't do much. So this game suddenly has become much more significant.

And, once again, Caris LeVert likely won't be available. On Friday, John Beilein ruled that LeVert was doubtful for the game and, for the first time in three weeks, indicated the injury isn't related to the two previous fractures LeVert has suffered in his left foot. Beilein still expects LeVert to be back this year. But it shouldn't be today.

The Opponent

I discussed Nebraska's recent surge above, so let's dig into its basketball profile.

Offensively, the Huskers have improved tremendously. Last season, they were 285th in adjusted offensive efficiency (96.3), and, this season, they are 66th (109.0). The main catalyst for this is its shooting. After being 290th in eFG% (46.2) and 340th in three-point percentage (28.4) last season, the Huskers are 81st (52.0 eFG%) and 106th (36.2 3P%) in those categories, respectively, this season. They are effective inside the arc as well. Though they don't get many shots around the bucket (339th in pct. of shots at the rim), they are 79th in two-point shooting (51.0 pct.) because they can knock down their mid-range jumpers. However, the drawback of this is that they don't get to the free-throw line often (170th in FTR), but, when they miss their shots, they do a decent job of earning second chances (73rd in OR%). What will be interesting to watch is Nebraska's turnovers. For much of this season, Nebraska has had problems giving up the basketball (204th in TO%), but, in Big Ten play, the Huskers own the third-best turnover rate (15.1 pct.).

Defensively, Nebraska is 104th in adjusted efficiency (99.6), which is a solid step in the wrong direction after the Huskers were 25th in that stat last season. Plus, their defense hasn't been much better in conference play, ranking ninth in efficiency (106.4). The one thing that they do well is grab defensive rebounds (32nd in DR%). Other than that, though, nothing stands out. Nebraska's defense is 88th in eFG% (47.3), permitting opponents to make 46.1 percent of their twos (90th) and 33.2 percent of their threes (107th) -- though Big Ten offenses have had more success. On top of that, Nebraska is just so-so at forcing turnovers (150th in TO%) and below-average in free-throw rate (255th).

The Personnel

Nebraska is led by its two 6-foot-7 wings, Kansas transfer Andrew White and senior Shavon Shields, who have become one of the Big Ten's best scoring duos. White has averaged 17.0 PPG, which is the sixth-best in the Big Ten, mostly because of his three-point shooting. He's hit 53-of-122 triples (43.4 pct.), and almost all of those have been of the catch-and-shoot variety. But as the saying goes: he's more than just a shooter. He also is a capable slasher that can finish at the rim or drain mid-range jumpers (61.4 2P%). Accordingly, White's offensive rating is 122.8, which is fifth in the Big Ten among players with a usage rate of at least 20 percent. And, when White isn't being one of the Big Ten's best offensive players, he's been a great defensive rebounder (19.1 DR%), tallying 6.1 RPG.

Shields averages 16.1 PPG, which is ninth in the Big Ten, but he does it much differently than White. Shields isn't near to being the same three-point threat that White is, having sunk only 14-of-46 threes (30.4 pct.). Where Shields thrives are as a slasher and mid-range jump-shooter, which have allowed him to convert 106-of-203 twos (52.2 pct.) and take 94 trips to the free-throw line (37.8 FTR, 75.5 FT%). Plus, Shields is coming off two of his best scoring performances of the season. He posted 28 points on 20 shots against the Spartans on January 20 and 24 points on 10 shots against Minnesota on January 12.

Nebraska essentially starts two point guards. The one to watch is six-foot freshman Glynn Watson, Jr., who was a top-100 recruit in the 2015 class and has started to play like it in recent weeks. In his last four games, Watson has registered 12.5 PPG on 21-of-38 shooting (55.3 pct.), raising his season average to 8.1 PPG. He doesn't knock down many threes (30.0 3P%) or make his way to the tin often, but he has a solid pull-up jumper that must be accounted for. Further, Watson can do more than just score. He's the team's best distributor (22.0 ast%), ball-handler (2.43 A:TO ratio), and steal-generator (3.4 pct.). The other point guard is 5-foot-9 senior Benny Parker, who is a low-usage player (12.2 usg%) that struggles to score inside the arc (39.5 2P%) and owns a higher turnover rate (24.7) than assist rate (14.6). Parker can hurt defenses behind the three-point line, where he has drilled 17-of-47 treys (36.2 pct.). His three-point percentage has been even higher against Big Ten foes (44.4 pct.), but most of it is due to a 5-of-10 performance vs. Northwestern.

However, neither Watson nor Parker is Nebraska's best scoring guard. That honor belongs to 6-foot-4 junior Tai Webster, who has notched 9.9 PPG. Webster started the first 12 games of the season before he was replaced by Watson. Nonetheless, he's still earning about the same number of MPG (25.6) as he did before he was moved to the bench. Webster loves to drive to the bucket as more than half of his field-goal tries have been layups, dunks, or tip-ins. He can hit jumpers, too (40.6 3P%), but don't expect many.

At center, the Huskers will insert two freshmen that look more like forwards than big men. The starter is 6-foot-8 Michael Jacobson, who was a three-star prospect. Jacobson doesn't get many touches in the post (14.6 usg%), but he's very efficient when he does (119.0 ORtg) because he can hit short-range jumpers and tends to draw shooting fouls on his defender (82.7 FTR, 81.4 FT%). Also, Jacobson is a plus rebounder on both ends of the floor (10.5 OR%, 16.8 DR%) and a solid rim protector (4.4 blk%). His backup will be 6-foot-7 Ed Morrow, Jr., who was a four-star recruit that was designated as a small forward. However, Nebraska can get away with putting him at the 5 because his athleticism helps him succeed around the rim as a scorer (62.0 2P%), rebounder (13.9 OR%, 15.4 DR%), and shot-blocker (5.6 pct.). But Morrow still needs to learn to harness that athleticism at times because he can get into foul trouble too easily (7.0 FC/40).

One last reserve that should earn a large chunk of minutes is 6-foot-8 freshman wing Jack McVeigh, who will give White and Shields a breather when they need it. McVeigh was a three-star talent from Australia that has acclimated to his role as a three-point specialist (62.4 3PA%) and defensive rebounder (14.8 DR%) off the bench well. He's been only average from behind the arc (34.5 3P%), but he's posted a strong offensive rating (108.3) because he doesn't turn it over (14.9 TO%) and can finish when he gets inside.

The Keys

Go to the Rim: There is no question that Michigan can't miss the same number of open threes as it did against Minnesota on Wednesday (9-of-31 3P), but Michigan can't settle for threes either. Nebraska doesn't have an intimidating defense (9th in Big Ten-only efficiency), and that's particularly the case in the paint, where the Huskers likely won't play a center that's taller than 6-foot-8. Plus, the Huskers have a knack for fouling shooters (13th in Big Ten-only FTR), so a more aggressive approach inside should lead to many trips to the free-throw line for the Wolverines. And free points are fun on the road.

Duncan Robinson's Defense: Unless John Beilein opts to try 6-foot-4 Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman on 6-foot-7 Andrew White, 6-foot-6 Robinson will be tasked with the most important defensive matchup of the game. White is an excellent offensive player, ranking sixth in the Big Ten in PPG because he's a lethal three-point sniper and can amass points inside as well. There is no one right way to guard White, and Robinson has earned a reputation for being a subpar defender, though he's improving. One area where Robinson needs to be better is his closeouts, and that clearly will be vital this afternoon.

Zak Irvin vs. Shavon Shields: As it seems to be almost every Big Ten game because he's an undersized 4, Irvin has drawn one of the game's most important matchups. He will go head to head with Shields, who's been a known volume scorer for the past two years. Shields just had one of his best games of the season, scoring 28 points at Michigan State, but he's struggled in his four career starts against the Wolverines, recording 9.3 PPG on just 39.5 eFG%. If Irvin can force Shields into another tough performance by being physical with him down low and sagging off on the perimeter to tempt Shields into jacking up threes, Irvin should be in great shape to outscore him and win this matchup.

The Prediction

This will be the close game that the computers and Vegas project. The things that go in Nebraska's favor are that the Huskers have been on a roll the past two weeks or so, this game will be played in Lincoln, and Caris LeVert is doubtful to be a part of it. The things that go in Michigan's favor are that, with the exception of the SMU loss, the Wolverines have handled themselves well in hostile environments and this should be an offense-oriented contest. And it's difficult to pick against Michigan (16th in adjusted offensive efficiency) in a game where both offenses have a large advantage over the defenses.

Michigan 75, Nebraska 73

Also, Corn Nation's Patrick Gerhart predicts that this will be a close Michigan victory.

Final Thoughts on the Erik Swenson Situation

January 22, 2016 by  
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Putting this week's controversial saga into perspective, where blame can be assigned to both sides and even media members for stirring the pot.

One of the biggest stories this week on the recruiting trail, both locally and nationally, was the saga between 2016 four-star offensive lineman Erik Swenson and the Michigan Wolverines.

To summarize, Swenson decommitted from Michigan after being a verbal pledge since 2013 under Brady Hoke's staff. He has been telling everyone that will listen that Jim Harbaugh and staff pulled his offer out of the blue and was not transparent about his future.

This, like many things tend to do, set social media ablaze with questions of Harbaugh's ethics on the recruiting trail and how they are handling players they no longer see as fits in the class.

Of course, there two sides to every story. Michigan cannot publicly comment on this situation until signing day, and probably ultimately will not, but it has already become clear that some of the things out there right now are false and/or exaggerated.

Regardless, the questions must be asked.

I was one of these people to jump to conclusions in the immediate aftermath, and for that I apologize. As someone who will have journalism attached to my bachelor's degree, it was a mistake to make a judgement before gathering all of the facts. I pride myself on doing my best to keep people informed by being impartial.

A world with an increased social media presence gives us real-time access to what is going on out there, which in turn creates off-the-cuff emotional reactions.

As the facts begin to emerge, it is becoming more and more apparent that Michigan had hinted that this was a possibility months ago and that maybe he should keep his options open. Since Swenson was a Hoke recruit, the staff wanted to use his senior season to evaluate if he would be sticking around moving forward.

When they viewed his senior film, it sounds like they were not all that impressed with what they saw. Not that any of us normal-folk are great talent evaluators, but when you put his senior film against, say, Stephen Spanellis, it is pretty clear what Michigan is looking for.

The idea that commitments are never official until National Signing Day is absolutely true, and perhaps even moreso with Harbaugh at Michigan. It is not enough just to be dedicated to a cause, but you have to grow throughout the process and be willing to work the entire way.

Harbaugh is not a bad person, and the character assassination going on right now in the media is completely overblown. This is a man and a staff who is pulling out all the stops to do what they feel is necessary to put the best possible team on the field on fall Saturdays.

This is what Michigan fans wanted when Hoke was fired.

Whether or not people want to see it, college football recruiting is a business arrangement. A player pledges himself to a program in exchange for his four-to-five years in college completely paid for. Coaches have a criteria in mind when it comes to what they want to see from their players. They have to hold up their end of the deal.

Sometimes business deals go sour and bridges are burned.

Recruiting is not all sunshine and roses. Sometimes, shady stuff happens on both ends of the spectrum. And it happens at more schools than people would care to realize or report.

Because Harbaugh is always in the headlines, he is an easy target. But he is by no means the first coach ever to do something that upset a recruit and his family.

This will not have much of an impact on the recruiting trail moving forward. When 150-plus offers go out with only 25 or so committable spots on average, someone is going to end up hurt and pissed off. It is what it is.

Forget the past and move on. It may be time for the rest of us to do the same.

Michigan TE Jake Butt Named to SB Nation’s Full-Season All-America Team

January 22, 2016 by  
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One final honor for the star tight end's 2015 season.

Jake Butt had an outstanding 2015 for the Michigan Wolverines. He was the Big Ten's Tight End of the Year with 51 receptions for 654 yards and three touchdowns, and was considered by many one of the best receiving tight ends in the nation.

Now Butt will cap it off by being named to the SB Nation All-America team, which is different from other All-America teams in that it is formed after bowl season.

Here's what SB Nation had to say about Butt:

Michigan improved from 5-7 to 10-3 under Jim Harbaugh despite a roster that wasn't all that different from Brady Hoke's. Nobody embodied that improvement more than Jake Butt, who went from a 21-catch, 211-yard 2014 to 51 for 654. And he's the player with a last name so great, even his head coach just loves saying it.

Butt will have a chance to add to his Wolverines legacy since he is coming back for his senior year in 2016.

2017 LB Antjuan Simmons to Visit This Weekend After Cutting Michigan from Top List

January 22, 2016 by  
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Maize 'n Brew caught up with three-star linebacker Antjuan Simmons, who plays his high school football across the street from the Big House.

News broke recently that the three-star 2017 Ann Arbor Pioneer linebacker Antjuan Simmons had trimmed his list of schools to eleven.

Simmons told Maize n Brew prior to hist list being released that Michigan would not make it.

"Other schools have made me a priority," Simmons said. "I have a great relationship with Coach Wheatley, but I want one with the rest of the staff too."

Simmons mentioned that new Ohio State defensive coordinator, Greg Schiano, contacted him the day he was hired.

"I hate that people think just because I'm from Ann Arbor means I have to go to Michigan," he said.

"They're still in the race for me if they try. Like I said, I just want to get a better relationship, and have more contact with (Michigan)."

Following his released list of schools, he received calls from Tyrone Wheatley, his main recruiter, and new linebackers coach Chris Partridge.

Partridge asked Simmons to come visit Michigan Saturday, but it was known Simmons was visiting Notre Dame, who many believe to lead the race for him.

Due to academic tutoring, Simmons had to cancel his Notre Dame visit, and will visit Michigan on Saturday with his high school coach.

Michigan should be able to work its way back into his top list and continue more consistent contact after the linebacker made it clear he did not feel like he was getting enough.

Simmons says he plans on making his college decision later this year.

Behind Enemy Lines: Q&A with Corn Nation for Michigan-Nebraska

January 22, 2016 by  
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Corn Nation's Patrick Gerhart answered our questions about Nebrasketball and believes Saturday's game will go down to the wire.

While no Big Ten road game is expected to be breeze, three weeks ago, Michigan was projected to be a sizable favorite at Nebraska this Saturday. The Huskers were 8-8 overall and had lost their first three conference games. Since then, though, they have been on a tear, winning four straight games which includes a huge upset of Michigan State in East Lansing earlier this week. Accordingly, tomorrow's game now is viewed very much as a toss-up and could go either way.

On that note, I spoke with Patrick Gerhart, who is an editor and basketball writer for Corn Nation -- SB Nation's Nebraska team site. We discussed why the Huskers have come on strong in the past few weeks, what Michigan needs to do to contain their two best scorers (Andrew Whit and Shavon Shields), whether they have the perimeter defense to bother Michigan's three-point shooters, and which team will on Saturday.


After opening the Big Ten season with three straight losses, Nebrasketball is rolling. The Huskers have won four straight games, beating up on three weak Big Ten teams before edging Michigan State in East Lansing. Thus, they have shot up from #143 to #77 on KenPom in two weeks. Why are they suddenly playing so well? What changed?

Yeah, that was quite the jump there. None of us could have told you that Nebraska would be playing as well as they are right now. It’s not like Nebraska has had trouble with injuries, academics, or illness this year. I think a lot of it has to do with how young the team is. There are a handful of upperclassmen, but none of them have been able to bring the team together night in and night out to pull off a strong win.

Right now you’re seeing experienced upperclassmen and new freshmen finally playing together. I think a lot of Nebraska's early struggles was guys not sure of their role on the team and the inability to then pull themselves out of holes. If you look at a lot of Nebraska's losses, you will see they were either leading or at least playing competitive ball by halftime. Then they would come out of the locker room and not quite know what to do next. One of the problems I say in many of the wins and losses was the lack of strong leadership on the court. I think we are starting to see that change with the all the guys working better together on and off the court. There’s a lot more talking going on during the games, and guys seem to have a better understanding of their roles.

One of the biggest differences between Nebraska last season and this season is the team's ability to shoot. Last season, the Huskers were 290th in eFG%. This season, they are 81st. Some of this seems to stem from that they pose a threat from the three-point line -- hello, Andrew White! -- but they also don't launch a bunch of shots from deep. How has Nebraska's offense changed in the past year? When is it most effective?

A lot of it has to do with the fact that Miles had done something that the past coaches struggled at: getting guys who can shoot. This freshman class is one of the best ones Nebraska has seen in a very long time, many of which are contributing on a fairly regular basis. In the past, Nebraska has relied on one or two guys to really get them through the games. This year, Nebraska actually has some others to take up the challenge.

Guys like Glynn Watson Jr., Jack McVeigh, and Ed Morrow Jr. have had their ups and down but are now getting to the point where they can be relied upon to help out when needed. Such as when White fouled out in the MSU game. Nebraska would have been in trouble a year ago if that had happened to Petteway. No way would the talent that was on the court be able to collectively bond together and push through.

Nebraska has two primary scorers: Kansas transfer Andrew White (17.4 PPG) and senior Shavon Shields (15.6 PPG), the latter of which just tallied 28 points against MSU. How would you describe their games? What must Michigan do to contain them?

Andrew White is the type of player who could probably play anywhere and do well. He’s the guy on the team that will lead you in scoring almost every game. If anyone is hitting the 3’s, it’s him. He’s currently shooting 43% from outside the arc and is leading the team. His size and strength also allows him to be a threat underneath and leads the team in rebounds with 6.1 per game. He can be a bit aggressive at times and has been in foul trouble early on in games, which has hurt Nebraska in some of the losses. If Michigan wants to stop White, keep him from shooting from the perimeter.

While not as talented as White, senior Shavon Shields makes up for it with his all-around ability on the floor. He has been starting since his freshman year and is a constant for the team to rely upon. He likes to play all over, so don’t be surprised to see him shooting outside and also driving to the basket. However, he does do the most damage inside unlike White, who can kill you with the 3’s. Keep Shields from driving to the basket, and it will frustrate him and might get him to lose his cool.

Michigan is one of the best three-point shooting teams. Not only do the Wolverines make a high percentage of them (9th in 3P%), close to half of their shots are behind the arc (11th in 3PA%). Does Nebraska have the perimeter defense to give them trouble?

Yes, Nebraska could cause problems on the perimeter if the Wolverines don’t get the ball to the basket quick enough. One area that the Huskers have done fairly well in over the past few years is defense. While they’re not the biggest on the court, they make up for it with speed and ability to steal the ball. If Michigan’s shooters do not get set in time, they could be forced to shoot the paint. Even without a true big man under the basket, that could cause problems during the game. Guys like Benny Parker and Watson will go for the steal if they see an opening.

Pinnacle Bank Arena can be a hostile environment for opponents, but Nebraska has lost four games at home this season (Miami-FL, Samford, Northwestern, and Indiana). What type of atmosphere should Michigan expect on Saturday afternoon?

It should be quite the ruckus on Saturday. Nebraska is on a four-game winning streak, and the fans have a second jolt of optimism. Even though we do not have a huge basketball history, we really support the team well, and "The Vault" should be packed. If it’s a close game, expect the crowd to get loud. The acoustics in that place are amazing. If you’re there, grab a Runza.

Prediction time! KenPom essentially views this as a coin flip, giving the slightest of edges to the home team. What will happen? Does Nebraska win its fifth straight game? Or will Michigan leave Lincoln victorious? And what will be the final score?

If you asked me a month ago, I think I would have said Michigan would walk away with this. Especially with that nice win against Maryland. But then there was the loss to a good Iowa team and last night’s win against Minnesota left something to be desired. You also can’t forget the loss to Purdue whose play seems to be sporadic right now…Honestly, I really can’t put my finger on who is good in the Big Ten right now.

I think Nebraska’s improved offensive play and home court advantage should help them Saturday. The momentum they are riding into this weekend is huge for the confidence and should show up on the court. That is, it "should". With all that said, I’m still feeling like Nebraska still needs to work on a few things to become a team that can beat Michigan. It will be a close game, and I could see it going either way.

Michigan 76 Nebraska 73


A big thanks to Patrick for his insight. Make sure to give him a follow on Twitter!

Friday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: Welcome David Long and Stephen Spanellis

January 22, 2016 by  
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Thursday was the perfect example of the ups and downs on the recruiting trail and more in this edition of the roundup.

The last few days have provided a perfect example of both the good and bad sides of the recruiting trail when it comes to Michigan Football.

A lot has taken place in the last few days, so let's get right to it, starting with the good:

David Long Commits to Michigan

The biggest news of the week so far comes in the form of 2016 defensive back David Long's (Los Angeles, California) commitment to Michigan.

Long is a four-star prospect and the eighth-ranked cornerback in the class, according to the 247 Composite. He made his announcement during ESPNU's Recruiting Nation show on Thursday evening.

We took a brief look at what Long brings to the Wolverines following his commitment: (FREE)

Long is listed between 5-foot-10 and 6-feet tall depending on the sites you look at. Regardless of how tall he actually is, he possesses the skill set of a player that has a chance to be a really good cornerback at the next level.

Everything he does looks smooth. He has great speed down the field and is a natural at the position. Not many players have the ability to beat him down the field, but when he does get beat he has the athleticism to recover and make a play on the football.

Long is good in both man and zone coverage. He will have to improve his tackling a bit and develop more physically, but he reminds me of Jourdan Lewis coming out of high school.

That is not to say they will have the same career trajectory, but Long certainly has the ability to be an all-conference performer in time at Michigan.

Spanellis Joins the 2016 Fun

Michigan also received a commitment from 2016 offensive lineman Stephen Spanellis (Baltimore, Maryland) on Thursday evening.

Spanellis is a three-star prospect and the 61st-ranked offensive tackle in the class, per 247's Composite. He steps in and joins the class following semi-controversial (among fans) decommitment of Erik Swenson earlier this week.

Like Long, we took a look at Spanellis' skill set following his verbal pledge to the Wolverines: (FREE)

At 6-foot-5, 295 pounds, Spanelis already has good size and strength for a player his age. Most of the plays on his highlight reel end with him pancaking the guy across from him.

He has good first step off the snap of the football and fires out low with a good pad level and finishes his blocks using his upper body strength. He also has good speed and is a capable downfield blocker on screen plays.

Spanellis lines up at right tackle in most of his film, but looks like he may have decent enough footwork and lateral quickness to play inside at guard, as well.

Michigan's coaching staff deserves the benefit of the doubt, but it will be interesting to follow the career paths of Swenson and Spanellis moving forward to see if Jim Harbaugh and company made the correct decision.

The Decommitments Keep Coming

Prior to the two commitments above we just covered, there was also a pair of Wolverine pledges who elected to open things up and look elsewhere on Thursday.

The first was three-star running back Kiante Enis (Winchester, Indiana), who the staff reportedly saw as a defensive back. Rumors had been flying that the staff had not had much contact with him recently, so his decision to decommit is not much of a surprise.

In fact, with the Wolverines needing to have spots available for players they did not forsee being on the board at this point, this helps them out a bit.

The surprising news of Thursday came when three-star cornerback Antwaine Richardson (Delray Beach, Florida) announced that he was reopening his recruitment.

Michigan really liked what Richardson brought to the table after earning his offer with an injured ACL. He sat out his senior season, but the staff knew was the deal was when he was offered and committed, so the fact that he decided to decommit is surprising and certainly has the look of something that came from his end.

Four commits have left the class in the last week or so, but none have really been ones that were too unexpected, aside from Richardson's.

This is how things go this time of year. And it should continue to be a roller coaster ride as we sprint towards National Signing Day on Feb. 3.

Who's Next?

The most popular question on the recruiting trail after a player joins the program is, "who is next to commit?"

This time of year, anything can happen, but there are of course more than a few candidates.

The leaders in the clubhouse to drop next seem to be tight end Chase Allen, wide receiver Eddie McDoom and defensive tackle Michael Dwumfour. Allen and Dwumfour visited last weekend, while McDoom will be taking his official to Ann Arbor this weekend.

McDoom seems like a safe bet due to his comments earlier this week following his decommitment from Oregon. He said he will visit Michigan and if things go well, he will pull the trigger.

The staff is a big fan of McDoom and he is rumored to be one of their top remaining players on the board, so he is absolutely a take.

We will see what happens from here, but more good news should be on the way shortly for Michigan.

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