Michigan Team Camp: Recruit impressions

Michigan Lacrosse Recruits 2012 2013 2014

The future of Michigan lacrosse

I took in a handful of games that “Michigan’s First Class” played in at the Wolverines’ inaugural Wolverine War team camp over the weekend. Photo gallery is included in the post prior to this one.

Keep in mind that they were pretty easily the best team in attendance, so the level of competition wasn’t the greatest for divining details about their play. Some thoughts on the incoming freshmen:

  • Gerald Logan is a very good goalkeeper. He’s a solid ball-stopper who is able to make plays in the clearing game with his legs and passing. He’s a pretty aggressive keeper who likes to face a lot of shots, a very different mentality from Emil Weiss. Both bring something different to the table, and can contribute for Michigan next spring.
  • Cooper Charlton wasn’t on the team (my understanding is that the players who have already enrolled at Michigan were not eligible to participate), but he’s a huge defender. Physically reminiscent of former defender – from the club days, but a transfer from D-1 Bucknell – Pat Stansik.
  • Without being integrated into the team system, it’s tough to say what the individual defenders did and didn’t do well in terms of how they’ll be used. Almost all of them were pretty big guys, a much-needed size upgrade for Michigan. Most of them were able to throw takeaway checks pretty easily against the players they were facing. There was a bit of fancy stickwork, but nothing special for the most part.
  • I saw Chris Walker play several times this year, so I basically knew what to expect: excellent stick work, but a smaller frame. Those thoughts were both confirmed, since I believe he was the smallest defenseman, but also had some of the best handles. Those stick skills will allow him to see the field, but he’s not going to be an intimidator. I know he’s thought of as more of a close defenseman, but his size and athleticism could see him fit at LSM, too.
  • I had previously predicted Chaminade midfielder Matt Graham would be a d-middie, based on offensive production in high school. After seeing him in person, that’s definitely not the case. He has the stick skills that you’d expect from a player coming out of a Long Island powerhouse, and also a pretty good shot (which we saw mostly on the run) with either hand. He has more offensive punch than I’d given him credit for.
  • Like Graham, there wasn’t enough information available on Hernandez to know what to expect from him, but I came away impressed with his game. He doesn’t have the polish of some of the hotbed recruits, but California is turning out talent, and he’s no exception. He is bigger and taller then I was expecting, an obvious plus.
  • After not getting much action in the Under Armour All-American game, I didn’t know what to expect from Gaughan. Obviously, a collection of one school’s recruits is a less talented pool than the best players in the country, but would he stand out among them? He’s tall and thin, and has a good knowledge of the game. If the team had been coached up (instead of playing together for the first time in the games I saw), he would likely have been more involved. His frame has room for development though.
  • Evan Glaser has a bit of a stocky build – or he’s just more filled out with muscle than some of his incoming classmates – and played a pretty tough game (easier to do successfully against a random assortment of high schoolers than on the D-1 field, but he was good nonetheless). He carried the ball for the team quite a bit, and can handle it well.
  • Like his teammate Walker, I’ve seen Riley Kennedy play in person enough times that I wasn’t forming many new opinions about him, but rather seeing how he would adjust to a different level of talent than he saw for much of the season – both on his team and from the competitors. Like he was for Brother Rice this spring, he was a very calm, precise ballcarrier and passer. He didn’t dodge much that I saw, but his stick skills are very smooth and should translate well.
  • Like Glaser, Peter Kraus is a thickly-built kid. He didn’t get as much playing time as some of the other incoming freshmen, but a big brace on one knee is probably to blame for that.

A few of the incoming guys (in addition to Charlton, of course) didn’t play: Josh Stauffer, Kyle Jackson, Brad Lott, and a couple others. Some of those guys are already in school and therefore couldn’t play, and I’m not sure the reasoning on others.

I haven’t profiled the incoming 2013 and 2014 recruits yet, so seeing them over the weekend allowed me to form some first impressions, rather than shaping what I’d already researched about them. Like with their future teammates in the 2012 class, a few guys were not there.

  • Stefan Bergman is a physically intimidating defender, though he was at times caught lunging at the defender with his checks instead of keeping his feet and playing solid positional defense. In a summer camp situation (and realistically, an all-star situation), that’s bound to happen here and there.
  • Will Biagi and Brian Archer were both excellent on faceoffs. I don’t think they lost one in any of the games that I watched unless they moved early, or their wing players didn’t get the GB after a long scrum. Biagi in particular impressed, and it seemed like he controlled every draw. The only serious competition these two would have had in the games I saw would have been if they’d gone against each other.
  • Christian Wolter was able to uncork a couple impressive shots, though I only saw him shoot lefty that I can recall.
  • Mitchell Kelln has impressive size for a midfielder, and he was one of the biggest non-defensemen on the field.
  • I mentioned Michael Hernandez above, but two of his fellow members of the Alcatraz Outlaws club program – Mike Schlosser and Andrew Simor – played as well. All three showed that you don’t need to come from a hotbed to succeed at the next level (Kelln is also a California native, actually).
  • As for 2014s, attack P.J. Bogle and midfielder Chase Young were the only two there that I know of. I saw Bogle play with Culver Academy a couple times this spring, and he’s a tall-ish, thin attackman who carries the ball well. Young is a miniature (couldn’t have been an inch over 5-8, and he’s very thin as well) midfielder who has excellent stick skills, and doesn’t hesitate to uncork his shot.

I know a few readers may have been in attendance at some of the games. Did anybody have thoughts they’d like to share?

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15 Responses to Michigan Team Camp: Recruit impressions

  1. norcal says:

    Hernandez and Schlosser are the real deal. Both are big and fast. Hernandez has a canon from either hand. Schlosser is slick and smooth and has 1 more year of HS to develop. Can’t wait to see them play at UM.

  2. Mike L says:

    Having observed the camp, I share your enthusiasm for next LAX season. Great group of incoming freshman. I was especially impressed with LSM and defense players. I agree, lots of big D coming in. Key to defensive play next year will be having a good combo of Size AND speed. Having a big player like Riefberg or Charlton paired up with a speedy skilled Walker will vastly improve Defense. Go back and view the stats from the UNC game (19-5). TEN goals were scored by 4 players who were 5’10” or shorter! Defensive foot speed will be critical. Biggest Q that I have is who from incoming will play SSDM next season? There’s a need there.

    • Tim says:

      None of the incoming guys are obvious choices at SSDM. That’s as much a compliment to their offensive skills as it is a question mark about other things, but it’s still the case. Will a skilled offensive player have to take one for the team and play SSDM?

      There’s also a chance that a returning player could play SSDM. Sean Sutton, for example, has been a defensive specialist in the past. He missed most of last year with a knee injury, but if he returns healthy, he could help out there.

      • Jason says:

        Another possibility could be converting a longpole to SSDM, but that can be a tough transition on the stick skills. In the past I had been very impressed with Dakota Sherman’s footwork, so someone like that may work.

        • Tim says:

          Good point. On that note, I wonder if someone like Walker, with his smaller frame but excellent quickness and very good stick skills, could be a candidate to give SSDM a try.

          • Mike L says:

            Many D1 top scorers are attackmen under 5’10”. A 6’3” defender is gonna have a heckava time getting low and keeping up with these “water spiders”. U of M also needs a fast, highly skilled defender with a lower center of gravity (than a 6’3” defender) to keep up with the smaller attackmen.
            Need a range of size on close D.…funny how a 6’ defender (Walker) can be considered small but standing next to Charlton, Riefberg, Keady, Healy, maybe so…Close defense lacked D1 foot speed and stick skills last season. They had some size. Healy’s a big boy. BTW, UDM’s Hebden at 5’11” was D MVP. Need Walker’s speed and stick skills at close defense.
            SSDM’s could be returning players who’ll be working very hard to get on the field. SSDM’s could come from the 6 or 7 middies JP recruited (2012). Surely he recruited for potential SSDM’s in the 2012 group. I liked (middie) Martorella’s speed and short stick defensive skills at the camp. He could get some looks at SSDM as well. JP really did a good job recruiting. Matt Graham, Kyle Jackson appear to be steals. And Hatton and Weichert could be future starters.

  3. Wowzer says:

    Another option were for John Paul to play the more talented, and bigger Jeff Jayner at SSDM like he belongs, rather than LSM he was converted to last season.

  4. CKLaxalum says:

    Let’s keep in mind that perhaps the biggest asset last year’s UofM defense (and team) lacked was D1 EXPERIENCE. Add to that the fact that 2 of the top defenders were only a freshman and sophomore (red shirt freshman). For all of the natural talents of the incoming recruits, they will still lack D1 EXPERIENCE and will still be FRESHMEN.

    Comparisons to D1 EXPERIENCED UPPERCLASSMEN on other (especially the ones from long-established) teams isn’t exactly completely fair. Keep in mind, the learning curve from even the best high schools, to D1 (especially at big time programs) is huge. So don’t count out the returning defensive starters to play key roles because their experience counts for a lot, and they too stand to improve with age.

    • AndyD says:

      I agree with that to a point, but talent is still talent. While some of the returning guys probably got decent D1 looks, all of the guys Michigan recruits from now on will be at a higher initial level.

      Another question will be does JP play the younger guys early, even if the older guys are better right now, since the younger ones will probably have a higher ceiling. This team isn’t going to set the world on fire regardless of who plays, so it might be smart to develop the younger talent now. Tough call.

      One counter point, from what I’ve read the 2012 class is more highly regarded on the offensive end than the defensive end. The 2013 class appears to be the first real defensive impact class. Of course this is all speculation until we see what these kids can actually do, but if true it might be another year before the defensive freshmen coming in are clearly better than the guys already on the roster.

      • Jason says:

        I doubt JP plays younger guys if they are behind the older guys. A major role of the older guys is to instill a winning work ethic into the younger guys and show them the right way to do things. JP won’t compromise on that, and the younger guys won’t get their time until they are doing things the right way. That said, the team will be almost half freshman, more than a few should get their time.

      • Tim says:

        I actually really like some of the incoming defensive guys. As mentioned in the post, Cooper Charlton is physically very impressive. He’s also experienced, with a PG year at The Hill. If he is as athletic and skilled as I believe he is, he could be an instant-impact defender. Charlie Keady, Brendan Riefberg, and Graham Conlan all have the potential to contribute, and we’ve already discussed Chris Walker at some length.

        Michigan’s defense was a major sore point last year, for a combination of reasons: 1) new system, and therefore inexperience in the system, and 2) excellent club players, but many of whom don’t quite have D-1 athleticism, skills, and/or size. Most of the guys coming in should be an upgrade in the latter category in some respect, and their ability to contribute should really hinge upon whether they can pick up the system quickly enough to pass the more experienced players.

  5. CKLaxalum says:

    I believe that JP expects a lot from the returning players, especially the starters. “Team One” wasn’t just a motto, rather, it was quite literally the laying a foundation. Remember, these are guys that survived a year of D1 baptism under fire (against some top competition) as well as a round of cuts (and some players that decided to quit) at the end of the year.

    As Jason pointed out, half the team will be freshmen, so many of them will see significant playing time. And yes AndyD, I agree, talent is still talent. Therefore, more than a few freshmen will be starters.

    • Mike L says:

      Lets put things in perspective. Defense was one of the weakest parts of the team last season. Guys made a valiant effort. But we need to up the skills, talent to compete at D1. Remember, Rob Healy played midfield throughout his LAX career and converted to Long pole (close defense for 2011-2012 season). The recruited defenders may displace him. Dont be surprised. Cooper Charlton (6’3″)recovers successfully from hip surgery, he could start. These new recruited defenders have played close defense since 5th or 6th grade and thats all they played. So their skills with the long pole SHOULD be better. I’m reading stuff about how experience with last year’s system should count for something. I disagree. Last year’s system will not be next year’s system. We have a new Offensive coordinator coming ( no doubt with new schemes). Defensive schemes will evolve based on the new skillsets available. Last year defense played less one on one focus because of lack of D1 level skills. Defensive focus will change next season. The guys coming in have better one on one skills. So the defensive schemes will change. Forget what defense did last year. Next season will have new schemes because the incoming skills have increased. Last year’s defense will play important roles (maturity, work ethic/practice leadership); they will really help the young guys acclimate to U of M; they will really help the practices and development of freshman; but they will very likely get significantly less game minutes.

  6. CKLaxalum says:

    Ok, let’s have some perspective here. Playing one year of D1 ball, especially against top level competition, is the equivalent of 2-3 years (if not more) of overall playing experience. Yes, longevity (playing since 5th or 6th grade) can mean something, however, at the end of the day, it doesn’t necessarily dictate skill level by the time a player gets to college. There are some top collegiate players that didn’t start playing until high school (Maryland’s freshman starting defenseman for example).

    Also, a team’s offensive capabilities doesn’t have anything to do with what type of defense it runs.

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