The Impact of Simeon Smith
This past Saturday, Michigan added a commitment from a preferred walk-on, Simeon Smith - a 6'6", 208-pound wideout from Kalamazoo, Michigan. Smith, who already has a full-ride scholarship to attend any school in Michigan, will be able to add depth without affecting scholarship numbers.
He also brings a skill set that could make an impact at the college level. Some 6'6" guys have trouble with balance or body control, but Simeon has a deft touch around defenders and can even juke out much smaller high school players. He also has the frame to add a lot more muscle - maybe up to 225 or 235 pounds. I don't think Simeon is a tight end prospect, but he could be a great asset on sweeps or rubs to get other players open. If he works hard, there are a lot of opportunities for him to get on the field.
The Impact of Michael Shuster
When it rains, it pours. Michigan added a second walk-on commit just days after the first, this time from Michael Shuster, a quarterback out of Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. Shuster has put up some prolific numbers - he's fifth all-time in Pennsylvania high school history with more than 8,700 career yards, and he threw for 42 touchdowns his junior year alone.
Shuster also shows some really nice mobility on his highlight tape, as well as comfort in the pocket, accuracy downfield, and some decent arm strength. Going forward, I'll want to keep an eye on his short-area accuracy and if he can get a little more zip on his passes.
Michigan already has a tremendous amount of depth at the quarterback spot, but Shuster is exactly the kind of player you'd want: a smart kid, who seeks out competition, and wants to learn the game from one of the best. Michigan fans might joke that Jim Harbaugh could mentor a statue and turn it into a pretty good quarterback, but the fact is it helps when a prospect has shown the kind of tools that Shuster has. At the very least he'll be able to give competition to the other players, and should be able to give Michigan another leader and quality teammate.
For the curious: Here is the list of Michigan's seven preferred walk-ons from 2015.
New Academic Standards
This is actually pretty old news, but the NCAA adopted new, stricter regulations in 2012 for student-athletes to be eligible in their freshman year. Those regulations will be going into effect in 2016, which means that we might be talking about "academic redshirts." To be clear, this is not about players being admitted to college, but rather for them to be eligible to play in their first year as they settle into classes. The NCAA explains:
The new initial-eligibility requirements create a higher academic standard for freshman to play. That standard is higher than what will be needed to receive aid and practice, creating an academic redshirt year.
For immediate access to competition, prospective student-athletes must achieve at least a 2.3 GPA and an increased sliding scale. For example, an SAT score of 1,000 requires a 2.5 high school core-course GPA for competition and a 2.0 high school core-course GPA for aid and practice.
Prospects also must successfully complete 10 of the 16 total required core courses before the start of their senior year in high school. Seven of the 10 courses must be successfully completed in English, math and science.
The new requirements are intended to ensure prospective student-athletes are as prepared to succeed in the classroom as they are in their sport, a message NCAA President Mark Emmert underscored in his Final Four press conference.
"When a young person is growing up, everybody knows exactly what they have to do to be prepared to play college ball," Emmert said. "People are constantly saying you have to work on this part of your game, you have to work on that part of your game.
"Academics are vitally important and demand just as much attention as athletics, especially in college."
Freshman year is usually the hardest for any collegian, and particularly for a student-athlete. This is a pretty good, hands-off way to make sure that coaches are getting their players adjusted to life as a college student, with the right habits and comfort level in their classes.
Update on Dele Harding
A couple weeks ago, Rivals dropped Dele Harding from Michigan's list of 2016 commitments, and while there was no statement by anyone close to Harding immediately afterward, in the last few days, both 247Sports and ESPN have dropped him as well. MGoBlog has been talking for a while about a complete lack of communication between the Maryland linebacker and Michigan's coaches, so this isn't entirely surprising. Only Scout still counts Harding as a Michigan commit.
This move will give Michigan 20 commits in the '16 class. Depending on a number of factors, like whether Jake Butt leaves early for the NFL, Michigan's class could expand to around 25 players.