Michigan Football Recruiting: 2016 Commits React To Nike News

July 6, 2015 by  
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See what members of the 2016 football recruiting class had to say about the new apparel provider of the Wolverines here.

The news of Michigan returning to Nike as the official outfitter of the athletic program is something that has been met with rousing applause throughout the day.

Nike is a huge brand that signals a return to national prominence in terms of apparel. A place that this will certainly have a large impact on is the recruiting trail.

A number of 2016 Michigan commits Tweeted out their opinions of the switch earlier today:

Four-star running back Matt Falcon

Four-star offensive tackle Erik Swenson

Four-star athlete Chris Evans

Three-star quarterback Victor Viramontes

Two-star safety Josh Metellus
Two-star tight end Rashad Weaver

Interim AD Jim Hackett: "The right partner for U-M was Nike"

July 6, 2015 by  
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The University of Michigan Athletic Department formally announced an apparel deal to reunite with Nike set to begin next year.

The Swoosh is back in town. However, it won't make an appearance for another year.

The University of Michigan athletic department formally announced an apparel deal to reunite with Nike set to begin in August, 2016.

"After careful consideration, the right partner for the University of Michigan was NIKE," said interim athletic director Jim Hackett in a statement. "This decision, this partnership is about more than Michigan athletics; at the core, it is about our University community and it is about two great names reuniting for an opportunity that speaks to more than uniforms and apparel.

"NIKE is a recognized leader in its field when it comes to product innovation and we look forward to future collaboration."

The agreement is set to begin on August 1, 2016 and will run through 2027 with a U-M option to extend to 2031. Nike will also supply all 31 U-M athletic programs with all equipment and apparel needs. Michigan and Nike will also collaborate on innovation initiatives in sports technology. Also included are student internships at Nike headquarters.

The apparel deal also includes the Jordan Brand "Jumpman" apparel for men's and women's basketball.

"The University of Michigan ranks high among the world's great institutions of higher learning and enjoys a rich, tradition-laden history in college sports. Nike is especially proud to partner with the Wolverines and have the opportunity once again to work with Michigan student-athletes, coaches, and staff. We eagerly look forward to bringing out the best in each other," said Joaquin Hidalgo, Vice President and General Manager, Nike North America in a statement.

Financial terms with Nike are set to become available the week of July 13, 2015. The current apparel contract with Adidas is set to expire in July, 2016.

Wayne Lyons is Michigan’s Top Draft-Eligible Player, Says CBS Sports

July 6, 2015 by  
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The redshirt senior transfer tops the list of Wolverine possible draftees.

Redshirt senior and Stanford transfer cornerback Wayne Lyons tops the list of Michigan's potential 2016 NFL Draftees, according to CBS Sports' Dane Brugler.

Here's what Brugler has to say about what Lyons brings:

Originally recruited by Jim Harbaugh out of high school, Lyons spent the last four years at Stanford before deciding to rejoin Harbaugh at Michigan for his final season of eligibility. As a graduate transfer, he won't need to sit out a season and adds an instant boost to the Wolverines secondary that loses starter Blake Countess to transfer. Lyons, who started 22 games for the Cardinal, fits the press-man style that Michigan will ask of its cornerbacks with a highly aggressive and confident demeanor on the field. He does a great job leveraging the field and is physical downhill vs. the run, but he does need to improve his break down skills to complete open field stops. Although he isn't as effective when asked to play off coverage, Lyons has the size and length to match-up with receivers on the line of scrimmage and make them uneasy off the snap.

Lyons will bring size and physicality to the secondary on the opposite end of Jourdan Lewis. We will see if he is able to live up to the hype.

Monday Michigan Recruiting Roundup: Add Another Jersey Boy To The List

July 6, 2015 by  
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In this edition, we break down Michigan's newest commit, a possible addition to the class and a top prospect who has trimmed his list.

Michigan's hot streak on the recruiting trail continued into the month of July on Friday, when the football program received a commitment from 2016 wide receiver Brad Hawkins out of Camden, New Jersey.

Hawkins, a four-star prospect, is teammates with defensive end commit Ron Johnson and gives the Wolverines another piece from The Garden State, which has become Michigan's East Coast pipeline. There are still some big names on the board from the state, like defensive tackle Rashan Gary and 2017 center Cesar Ruiz, so that very well could pay dividends down the road.

Following his commitment to Michigan, we did a brief analysis of what Hawkins brings to the table. Here is a snippet:

At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Hawkins is a physical wide receiver with above-average height. He is not the fastest by any means, but he does appear to get faster as he gathers momentum down the field.

He is a true red-zone target that adjusts to the football and makes plays at the highest point. He has big hands and uses them well to catch the ball. He is not a playmaker, but does flash the ability to make moves to get behind the secondary and get open down the field.

Hawkins needs to improve a bit as a route runner, but has the look of a nice match-up wide receiver you can line up in the slot or someone on the outside that can grab a jump ball.

Butler decommits from Pittsburgh

Class of 2016 cornerback Tony Butler (Lakewood, Ohio) decommitted from Pittsburgh last week, according to 247's Steve Wiltfong.

Butler is a three-star prospect and the 57th-ranked cornerback in the class, per the 247 Composite. Many believe that Michigan is the school that will ultimately gain a commitment from him.

He wil be visiting Michigan later this month, so we will keep an eye on what happens with him. I would not rule out a commitment, but I am not comfortable with making a prediction there yet without gathering more intel on the situation. Stay tuned.

Xavier Kelly trims list of schools

In case you missed it last week, 2016 defensive end target Xavier Kelly (Wichita, Kansas) released his top eight schools, where Michigan made the cut.

Kelly would be a great piece to add to a class with Ron Johnson at defensive end and possibly Rashan Gary at defensive tackle. It would go a long way in improving a defensive line that has underachieved greatly in the last few seasons.

What Are The Illini?

July 4, 2015 by  
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Are they the Big Ten's Mr. Nobody? Or will they be somebody?

Perhaps Illinois' problem is its reputation. Or more specifically, its complete lack of a reputation at all.

The team has been very successful; in fact, Illinois claims five national titles, more than Texas, Florida State, or Penn State - and as many as Auburn, Georgia, Miami or Nebraska. They have also had five Rose Bowl MVPs, seven Big Ten Players of the Year, and four Heisman Trophy finalists.

Illinois has also been in the doghouse. In 1997, Illinois lost every one of its games by double digits and got outscored by 250 points. Then, from 2003-06, they went 2-30 in the Big Ten and 8-38 overall. And of course, the wins they managed to get came at the expense of some extremely light-weight competition.

If you were around in the mid-90's, you thought of Illinois as a strong defensive squad, thanks to Lou Tepper. Tepper came to Champaign in 1988 to coordinate John Mackovic's defenses, and he took over the team when Mackovic left for Texas. For about a decade, Illinois built a calling card as a physical, 3-4 defensive team. In 1994 and 1995, two Illinois linebackers won the Dick Butkus Award, given to the nation's best linebacker. It's an award named for a former Illini. But that defensive reputation didn't last, as Ron Turner, then Ron Zook, took over the program.

If you were around in the late 2000's, you thought of Illinois as offensively driven. Rashard Mendenhall had 1,999 yards from scrimmage in 2007. The next year, Juice Williams threw for 3,173 yards and ran for 719 more. (To put that season in perspective, Georgia's Matthew Stafford, USC's Mark Sanchez, and Florida's Tim Tebow all had fewer yards.) Mikel Leshoure ran for 1,697 yards on 6.0 yards a carry in 2010, then Nathan Scheelhaase threw for 3,272 yards in 2013. Yet while all those seasons were amazing, they were also out of the blue when placed next to what those guys did in all their other seasons in Champaign. Consistency? Not quite.

So, what are the Illini? They're 10-2 one year, 5-7 the next, and 1-11 the year after. They're consistent enough to avoid the 'noticeably inconsistent' tag. They don't win too often, but just enough to get by. They're forgettable. They could be great, but never seem to get there. And no one bugs them too much for it.

Perhaps a less difficult question is, what are the Illini in 2015? And yet that, also, is tricky to answer.


The Big Ten, all of a sudden, is undergoing a quarterback renaissance: three potential first-round draft picks, at least, in the 2016 draft. Wes Lunt could add his name to that pile with a strong showing in 2015, and the only thing holding him back is a worrisome injury history.

To borrow a term from baseball, a five-tool quarterback would have the following skills: athleticism, accuracy, the football IQ to be a coach on the field, arm strength, and a leadership quality off the field and during training. According to Illinois' coaches and also based on what's visible on film, Lunt has four of those five, which puts him in rare company. (He lacks athleticism, like most true pocket passers.) Another off-season to improve, an offense designed to put the ball in his hands, and the talent and dedication he has ... all those things point to an outstanding year.

With that said, there are quite a few other factors. He's had problems staying healthy for several consecutive years. The offensive line is porous, and with an ACL injury to Mikey Dudek, he loses one of the few consistent receivers on the team for at least half a season. What we do know is that Wes Lunt can light it up when everything is in his favor; after all, in fourteen career appearances, basically a season's worth of games, he has thrown for 400 yards twice. But not only does the rising junior have personnel obstacles, the Illini would be in very bad shape if Lunt were injured for any stretch of time. And that has happened consistently.

Running backs

Josh Ferguson is a star, but unfortunately for the Illini, he's also the only proven entity.

There is one other player, though, who's pretty close to a sure thing: true freshman Ke'Shawn 'Red Mamba' Vaughn. Physically, the tools are all there. Vaughn has speed to burn, toughness and size, stop-and-start skills, and takes good angles. We don't know how he'll adjust to college ball, Bill Cubit's offense, or nuances like pass protection that often keep freshmen off the field. But the most likely back-up to Josh Ferguson, especially later in the season, is a true freshman.

(Credit: David Banks-Getty Images)

Pass catchers

It bears repeating how great Dudek was for Illinois as he ran to freshman All-America honors. Dudek breaks free consistently, making easy reads for his quarterback. When the ball is given to someone else, he blocks with amazing intensity and effort. Basically, he's the Big Ten's Wes Welker. Losing him for half the season almost assures Illinois another loss than it would have gotten.

With that said, there are some options behind him. Between returning players Malik Turner and Geronimo Allison, and true freshman Sam Mays, Illinois has three potentially athletic players who are all around 6'3", 200 pounds. Mays has to adjust to the college level, Allison will have to prove he can be consistent at the FBS level, and Turner simply needs to find another gear, because he doesn't get enough separation against better players. But it's a passable crew of possession receivers, and Lunt has good accuracy to get the ball to them.

Offensive line

Similarly to Northwestern, the state's other Big Ten team, this unit has been pretty ineffective. Simply, they are too slow and not strong enough. The guards and center were more reliable than the tackles, at least when it came to penetration into the backfield, but they also did next to nothing in the road-grading department. With the lack of run blocking inside and a sieve on the edges, this line basically forces an offense to be built on quick throws.

Once again, there is a four-star worth talking about, a local Illinois product in Gabe Megginson. Megginson is strong, and his foot speed is passable for a guard prospect. Unfortunately, Illinois is planning on putting him at left tackle, which is oddly fitting for what this line has been in the past. The talent infusion is always nice, and Megginson offers some road-grading at the position that this team has lacked. Unfortunately, the foot speed is a problem that might crop up more dramatically in college. If Gabe is solid, Tim Beckman is on the hot seat and some of the other tackles underwhelm like they did last year - then he might play, and contribute right away. But on straight rushes, he'll be a liability.

Defensive line

Again, similarly to Northwestern, this defensive line is a little deeper, a little better, and a little more competent than their offensive counterparts. Not by all that much, unfortunately - it was easy enough to move the tackles aside in the run game, and the ends didn't compensate with many negative-yardage plays. But it's clear in the open field that there's a decent combination of size and open-field speed in a lot of these guys, something that helped corral a lot of horizontal plays. If there was a 320-pound nose tackle in the middle, this unit could shore up pretty quickly. If these guys improved their technique, or magically grew longer arms, this unit could shore up pretty quickly. And while hope for any of that is slim (though they have another true freshman, Jamal Milan, who is up to 310), several players have been packing on a respectable amount of weight over the past year.

This line is growing up, and it will likely see more growth under Mike Phair. That would clean up the defense's biggest weakness.


The linebackers grew up in 2014, but the line didn't give them much to work with. Mason Monheim and T.J. Neal are the stars of the show, and both have good instincts and fine athleticism. With how often the Illini will play in nickel, they won't really need a third player to break out. This offers a chance for their three 2014 commits - all of whom are two-stars - to develop some more.

Defensive backfield

Earnest Thomas III is gone, and really, that's a shame. The guy was a lot of fun to watch, and played a big role in this defense as a hybrid safety-linebacker. Zane Petty leaves as well, which means a pass defense that was a strength last year might not be that again.

They do have some other good players, though. The cornerbacks are very solid, between V'Angelo Bentley, Darius Mosely, and Eaton Spence. They take good angles and know what they're doing. The safeties have a chance to be blissfully anonymous, but I don't see the same level of play-making they had last year. Overall, this unit might be less physical and make more mistakes, but it appears to be a really well-coached part of the team. They've built up two-star players before (see: Zane Petty) to be strong contributors.

There's no denying that Tim Beckman has this team in the right direction, at least as far as the roster goes. But if injuries play a factor, they'll probably play a big one, and Beckman has used up almost all of his good will in Champaign. Regardless, Illinois won't be solving any deeper dilemmas over what their identity is any time soon.

Can Illinois win 8 games this year?

  160 votes | Results

MnB Opponent Q&A: Fighting Illini

July 4, 2015 by  
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Illinois football could be good this year. Find out what their site editor Jim Vainisi has to say about their chances in the 2015 season.

How much of a distraction was it for the program when all those former Illini players spoke up about Coach Beckman's disciplinary style? Without getting into the validity of the rumors, is this a do-or-die year for this coaching staff or is hot seat talk premature?

The allegations were a huge distraction. Simon Cvijanovic's Twitter rant came out of nowhere and, of course, the athletic department didn't exactly do a great job addressing the situation. With that said, the current players and their families certainly grouped together on social media to give the coaching staff support. We heard next to nothing about the investigation since the initial claims (which is positive news given what's going on with our women's basketball program), but it hasn't disappeared all together. It'll be interesting to see how this plays out over the coming weeks/months.

As for hot seat talk—it's absolutely in play. Tim Beckman needs to win 6 games or he's gone. Our AD Mike Thomas was pretty much forced to keep him after the team's miraculous bowl appearance last season.

When Illinois held their spring game did anyone jump out as being someone that could make an immediate impact in the fall?

There wasn't really anyone in particular, but the defense did look pretty good. Senior defensive end Jihad Ward seems poised for a breakout season in his second year with the team—he's an athletic freak.

Most of the freshmen weren't on campus for the Spring game, but the three to look out for this season are Gabe Megginson (OL), Ke'Shawn Vaughn (RB), and Sam Mays (WR). Vaughn appears to be the favorite for the backup role behind Josh Ferguson and he'll get plenty of carries. With Mike Dudek's ACL injury it look like Mays will have an opportunity to fill in for most of the season.

SBN's Bill Connelly lists a lot of good things for Illinois' on-the-field product but lacking some roster depth. Agree/disagree that the Illini, with some luck, could do very well in 2015?

I think that was a pretty fair assessment. Looking at the schedule, the Illini have four winnable non-conference games (only one really in question is @ UNC) which means there's potential to make some noise in the Big Ten. Illinois' home field advantage hasn't exactly been that formidable in recent years, but all of their ‘tough' conference games—Nebraska, Wisconsin, Ohio State—will be played in Champaign. So there's chance, albeit extremely slim, that Illinois could win seven or eight games.

How do the players/fans/coaches feel about Jim Harbaugh being back in college? Even though Illinois isn't on Michigan's schedule *this* year, does it change the perception of -- or even preparation for -- Michigan in any ways?

We hate Jim Harbaugh. Remember his introduction during on ESPN during the Wolverines' basketball game? You were playing the Illini. All we wanted to do was watch the game, but it turned into a unending conversation about Michigan football. Oh, and it caused all your football fans to show up to a basketball game and it gave you what was probably your biggest home court advantage of the season.

I don't really think it'll impact our perception/preparation for Michigan because you typically kick our ass anyway.

Beer question: What local brew is getting you through the long summer ticking off the days until football season?

Well I don't turn 21 until next July. But if I were to have a favorite beer this Summer (totally don't, you guys), it'd probably be an ice cold bottle of 312.

Thanks, Jim!

Michigan Football Recruiting: What 2016 WR Brad Hawkins Brings To The Wolverines

July 3, 2015 by  
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Taking a look at what the four-star receiver brings to the program.

Michigan added a member to its 2016 recruiting class in wide receiver Brad Hawkins (Camden, New Jersey) on Friday afternoon.

Hawkins is a four-star prospect and the 38th-ranked wide receiver in the class, according to the 247 Composite Ranking. The biggest thing he brings without taking a look at his film is another piece from New Jersey to held solidify Michigan's pipeline to the East coast.

At 6-foot-1, 190 pounds, Hawkins is a physical wide receiver with above-average height. He is not the fastest by any means, but he does appear to get faster as he gathers momentum down the field.

He is a true red-zone target that adjusts to the football and makes plays at the highest point. He has big hands and uses them well to catch the ball. He is not a playmaker, but does flash the ability to make moves to get behind the secondary and get open down the field.

Hawkins needs to improve a bit as a route runner, but has the look of a nice match-up wide receiver you can line up in the slot or someone on the outside that can grab a jump ball.

Michigan Football Recruiting: 2016 WR Brad Hawkins Commits To The Wolverines

July 3, 2015 by  
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He becomes the 21st member of the 2016 class.

Update: For a quick scouting report on what Brad Hawkins brings to the program, check out our analysis here.

The momentum continues for the Wolverines.

It has been a slow week on the recruiting trail compared to the month of June as a whole, but Michigan has opened the holiday weekend with a commitment from 2016 wide receiver Brad Hawkins (Camden, New Jersey), he announced on Friday afternoon.

He is their first true wide receiver of the 2016 class, which is still a position of need in this recruiting cycle.

Hawkins is a four-star prospect and the 38th-ranked wide receiver in the 2016 class, according to the 247 Composite Ranking. He is teammates with four-star defensive end commit Ron Johnson, so this continues to build on the pipeline to the East coast through New Jersey.

He gives Michigan their 21st commitment in the class, along with the names below:

Keep it locked in to Maize n Brew throughout the day for more recruiting coverage and a quick analysis of Michigan's newest pledge.

Guest Post: Minnehaha Falls

July 3, 2015 by  
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Hi Selective Potential readers! My name is Gracie, and I blog over at Sometimes Gracefully. I’m so happy to be guest blogging for Tieka and to be sharing these images from my adventure to Minnehaha Falls! The name “Minnehaha” comes from words in the Dakota language that mean “waterfall,” but Minnesotans also like to call the falls the “laughing waters.” Mostly because it’s just impossible to say “Minnehaha” without laughing, don’t cha know. ;)

The park has at least a dozen lookout spots that are begging to be Instagrammed, but my sisters and I decided to wander down to the very bottom of the falls and walk along the rocks. I opted to combat the afternoon humidity by wearing this summer eyelet dress from the LOFT. The fabric is soft and lightweight, which means that it’s perfect for outdoor waterfall exploration and won’t weigh you down if you accidentally fall into the river (a slight fear I had, let me tell ya).

Minnehaha Falls and the land surrounding the waterfall was one of the first state parks in the country, so I definitely recommend a visit. The falls are located surprisingly close to downtown Minneapolis, which means that visitors can first explore the falls and then catch a happy hour somewhere in the city! High five!

Thank you so much for following my adventure to Minnehaha Falls, and many thanks to Tieka for the chance to guest blog! Hope you all have a beautiful rest of your day!

Outfit details:
LOFT Dress
Franco Sarto Flats

2016 Wide Receiver Brad Hawkins Decision Primer

July 3, 2015 by  
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The four-star prospect will make his college decision on Friday.

It has been a relatively slow week on the recruiting trail, but class of 2016 wide receiver Brad Hawkins (Camden, New Jersey) will make his long-awaited college choice on Friday afternoon.

Hawkins is a four-star prospect and the 38th-ranked wide receiver in the class, according to 247's Composite Ranking. He was offered by Brady Hoke's coaching staff back in May 2014, but it was not until recently under Jim Harbaugh and company that the pursuit of him began to heat up.

He has been on campus since Harbaugh was hired and Jedd Fisch and Jay Harbaugh have been staying in contact with him on the trail.

Hawkins has plenty of connections to the program with New Jersey becoming one of Michigan football's newest pipelines. Last week 2016 defensive end Ron Johnson, a teammate of his, committed to the Wolverines.

He will be choosing from five schools, as noted in a tweet from earlier this week.

Of the above schools, this will come down to Michigan and South Carolina with the Wolverines as the clear frontrunner. Over 80 percent of the picks on the 247 Crystal Ball, including one I submitted, have Hawkins donning the maize and blue.

Stay tuned here throughout the day for coverage of Hawkins announcement and more.

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