Getting "Our Shane Morris"

By Chad Peltier on July 30, 2012 at 6:00p
He's good, but so was Chad Henne..Morris is recruiting for UM even in his Gridiron Kings pic

Unfortunately, the player pictured to the right - Shane Morris - is an elite quarterback who is headed to Michigan. 

Through The Opening, the Elite 11, and most recently, Gridiron Kings, Shane Morris has proven that he's likely to be a great quarterback with a high ceiling for UM.

There's no doubt he's ready to write his chapter in the story of The Game. 

But what's the worst for Buckeye fans about Shane Morris is his ability as a recruiter. He's managed to help assemble a recruiting class that is currently ranked second overall on Rivals.

Morris was Michigan first commit for the 2013 class, way back in May of 2011. In the year and almost three months since his commitment, he's helped sell Michigan to other top recruits in the nation. 

Shane embraces his role as a charismatic peer recruiter:

For me, committing early made everything easy as I can focus on my high school and helping recruit for Michigan. We have a great class in terms of quality and quantity, so that is really exciting.

His future teammates recognize his leadership too:

He's so energetic, so passionate about Michigan," said fellow pledge Kyle Bosch, an offensive guard from Wheaton, Ill. "I think he's going to be Tom Brady reincarnated.

It's possible that this isn't isolated to just Michigan either, but is common to most elite recruiting classes: an early commit by a highly-regarded, charismatic class leader can cause other elite players to join the class. 

It's my goal to statistically test whether this is true. 


In order to find whether or not a team had a recruiting class leader to rally behind, I took a look at the highest-rated commitment during the first month of the 2012 recruiting class.

That is, the recruit with the highest Rivals Rating that commits within one month after the first commit in the class. It's crucial for the theory that the class leader be an early commit. 

For example, for Ohio State in 2013, Jalin Marshall, Billy Price, and Eli Woodard all committed within a month of Cam Burrows' initial commitment on January 19th, 2012. Cam Burrows happens to be the highest-rated player of the four, with a 6.1 Rivals Rating, so he is assumed to be the potential class leader. 

The hypothesis here is that a highly recruited early commitment can be a rallying point for other recruits. If five-star quarterback Johnny Touchdown is one of the first commitments to a class, then he can help recruit fellow blue chip wide receivers and offensive linemen. 

Because I couldn't do this for all 120 FBS teams, I took a simple random sample of 30 recruiting classes using a random number generator. That way I avoid biasing my results by selecting based on the dependent variable, which is the final Rivals Class Ranking. 


In short, we find really great support for our hypothesis: great recruiting classes usually start with a highly-regarded commitment early in the recruiting cycle. 

The Rivals overall class rank and the Rivals Rating for the highest-rated recruit to commit during the first month variables are inversely related: 

Coefficient T P Value
-148.3149 -7.16 0.000

It's definitely no guarantee that highly-ranked first recruits actually will help recruit other elite players, but elite recruits seem to be especially drawn to the idea of playing with other elite recruits.

Part of this has to be because they're often friends with one another through things like The Opening, 7-on-7 camps, and other national recruiting events. 

Another drive is simply a higher probability of winning championships on a "dream team." Georgia classes have been like this in recent years, with the 2010 "Dream Team," the 2011 "Ring Team," and the 2012 "Dream Team II."

2013 recruits are doing work around the countryThompson, Burrows, Elliot, and Woodard with the OHIO 

elites only

But wait! Maybe the "charismatic recruiting class leader" hypothesis applies even more intensely to teams at the top of the recruiting food chain. 

Demetrious Knox, a potential charismatic recruiter for Ohio State in 2014, has used similar "dream team" language: 

It seems that you have struck up quite a relationship with some other 2014 recruits. The term "super team", in regards to teaming up those other recruits to go to the same school, has been mentioned a few times.  Is that something that you are considering?

... I would love for it to play out so that we all go to college together, though.  It is something that I am going to definitely going to consider.  We all want to win.

Lower ranked teams have no real chance of being a championship-caliber dream team anyway, so why would a super-recruit's appeals work anyway? To test this alternative hypothesis, I only looked at the top 10 recruiting classes. 

Rivals 2012 Top Classes and Recruiting Leaders
Team Final Team rank Top recruit rating Top recruit stars
Alabama 1 6.1 5
Texas 2 6 4
Florida 3 5.8 4
Ohio State 4 5.8 4
Stanford 5 6 4
FSU 6 5.8 4
Michigan 7 5.8 4
USC 8 5.8 4
Miami 9 6.1 5
Auburn 10 5.8 4

In last year's top ten Rivals classes, the first month of recruiting saw each team snag at least one 5.8, four-star player. The top class in the country, Alabama, received a commitment from 5-star Eddie Williams right at the beginning.

These elite players then recruit other elite players, and it snowballs until schools end up with entirely elite classes. USC's absolutely unreal 2013 class has used this dynamic: recruit an awesome player at the beginning (5-star DE Kenny Bigelow at first, then 5-star QB Max Browne later), then ride the momentum to the top-ranked class in the country. USC is obviously an outlier, even among other crazy recruiting classes, but their lowest-ranked player has a 5.8 Rivals Rating. 

Ohio State has experienced this too - Cam Burrows helped recruit other mega-recruits early, like Eli Woodard, Jalin Marshall, and others.  

In summary, it really pays to start off your recruiting class in the best way possible, because has the potential to influence the overall trajectory of the class itself. Begin by recruiting a vocal leader that other players will want to play with, and good things will follow. 

Brady Hoke used this strategy with Shane Morris and it's already paying dividends. Of course, we'll still let Urban and his great recruiting classes settle it on the field. 



Comments Show All Comments

bukyze's picture

I think the statistic with the highest probability is that Shane Morris = douche.

Tim's picture

Agreed, I think Shane Morris' douchiness is perfect for Michigan.  Also, note to Kyle Bosch:Tom Brady is not dead, so I'm pretty sure he is not going to be reincarnated as Shane Morris.

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Don't be so sure about that. Maybe on the eve of the Super Bowl, Tom Brady and Shane Morris  both accidentally smirked themselves to death at the exact same moment.
You ever seen the movie Heaven Can Wait? Tom Brady's soul went into Shane Morris's body and Ryan Leaf's soul went into Brady's (is Leaf dead yet?). The next night Brady/Leaf struggled against the worst defense in the NFL, while Morris stopped combing his hair.

Tim's picture

Haha I haven't seen that movie, but the scenario you mentioned sounds plausible.

Crimson's picture

Good teams get good players.  Good players make good rankings.  Multiple good players means that some of them probably commit early.
I don't see how your t-stat says any more than that.  There's certainly nothing here that implies that an early, elite commit does anything additional for the team.

Chad Peltier's picture

Early elite commits are associated with high final class rankings. This doesn't have to be the case, as an early five-star commit could be followed by straight three-stars hypothetically. 

Crimson's picture

You're article claims that early elite commits cause high final class rankings.  I can just as easily argue that high class rankings cause early elite commits (having many elite commits means that it is likely that one of them will be early, not that it must be that way), or that having Urban (or Lane Kiffin . . .) causes both.  Your analysis does not show which one is correct.
If you want to, then you need:
1) a survey that pegs an early elite prospect for each team and asks which recruits committed because of that player, or
2) an instrument that causes someone to commit earlier that is not related to other unobserved variables, while also controlling for quality of the school, for example.
This is not an easy task.  I'm only being hard on you because I know a few things about the subject.  Keep working.

Chad Peltier's picture

I appreciate constructive criticism. I never want to claim anything more than an association between the two variables- no causation.

You are correct that causality cannot be determind by the test, but association is, I believe, a valuable first step. 

buckeye76BHop's picture

I like the second half of your article A LOT better...not to mention you used math on tTUN.  I like your graphs and t-stats on OSU.  I'm not as found of your math when it involves them;-) Just kidding btw...nice article Chad.  I see your correlation...just not sure recruiting is an exact science that can be illustrated through mathematical terms.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

Kalamazoo Steve's picture

Two observations. If Morris is the second coming of Brady, then he will split time with someone. Also, the hat in that picture is awful. You would think he could get something that isn't from the 80's.

45buckshot's picture

hahaha. that's what i thought too. what kind of revisionist history is that? Brady wasn't anything at TSUN (one throw that i don't want to talk about :(  did they even win more than 8 games when he was SPLITTING time at QB?

“The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
—G.K. Chesterton

Buckeye_Mafia's picture

I would call Shane Morris a Douche, but I don't want to offend vaginal cleaning products...

"At critical moments throughout the season, we learned about the character of this football team.  This was a team of true character, of true resilience." -- President Barack Obama

buckeye76BHop's picture

^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^NICE...!!!^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ Watch out...we have some "sensitive" ppl on this site these days.  They may not like the way you're talking about our most hated rival of all time and their new "douche" (as you called it first) QB to be.  However...I LOVE IT!  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

buckeye76BHop's picture

I don't think he's Brady...not to mention Brady only played his senior year as a full time starter. I see Morris playing as a Soph. for sure...and may be as a Freshman if Gardner doesn't work out.  Point being...he won't better than Brady in the NFL...We're getting a bit ahead of ourselves...the Game will be better but I'm not so sure he's going to take tTUN to prominence just yet.  His performance I saw for elite 11 wasn't much to write home about IMO (neither was JT Barrett's either.  But those types of 7-7 camps personally don't show off what a Dual-threat QB can do).  Morris did improve his accuracy as the days went on but I'm not sold on him just yet being Tom Brady in the NFL or even Brian Griese in his college days.  

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

OSU2002Grad's picture

No offense to the OSU alum, but I hope Shane Morris is Michigan's Justin Zwick. Leads a great recruiting class, but doesn't personally live up to the hype.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

Morris could be their next Chad Henne -- zero for four against Ohio State. Quit glorifying him to be a star. He and his team didn't even score 1 point in the Michigan state championship game last year.

timdogdad's picture

i looked it up-not even the state final or semi final   but regional final   detroit cass tech 6  de la salle 0      

Ken-Yon Rambo's picture

Folks - we have Corch Meyer.  I am not worried about Shane Morris, and neither should you.
That is all. 

How firm they friendship...

Northbrook's picture

This is the correct answer.

buckeyedude's picture

Well, all of those OSU fans saying, "I wish Michelin would be undefeated/better than they are now, so The Game would actually mean something," may get their wish. Be careful what you wish for.
When RichRod was coaching, nothing would have made me happier than to see Michelin go 0-fer. Never felt sorry for them, nor did I care if they were ever relevant again. Oh well. I guess everything goes in cycles.
But I agree, this Morris kid sounds like El Douche'.



Ken-Yon Rambo's picture

Personally I think they were overrated last year.  They had no business winning against VTech and ND.  Jim Bollman (!!!) called up a perfect game plan against them, and was a couple inaccurate Braxton Miller passes away from winning in that pathetic stadium.
The Alabama game will tell us how far they have come.

Also, Urban Meyer's record in "rivalry" games speaks for itself.  I'm not that worried about the team up north.

How firm they friendship...

fear_the_nut70's picture

Alabama wil beat TSUN by 3 tds. They lost players on both lines, have a QB who is a below average passer, no real playmakers at WR, and they had a statistically well below average D last year (I know that was last year and improvement is likely. Still, I don't see a D that is suddenly going to be elite). I don't usually enjoy a SEC beatdown of a B1G team, but will enjoy this one.

OSU2002Grad's picture

Chill out with the "Alabama will blow them out" talk. Bama didn't even really blow out Penn State either time. They aren't a high-scoring team in general. They may physically beat Michigan up. But they won't blow them out.

Ken-Yon Rambo's picture

Bama dominated both games.  Saban could have embarrased them but he had too much respect for Paterno (at the time).  Even hinted in the press conference that he called off the dogs in the 2nd half.  

How firm they friendship...

William's picture

Penn State held Alabama to season lows in most major offensive categories last year. I wouldn't say that was due to "calling the dogs off." PSU shot themselves in the foot in both of those games with turnovers.

fear_the_nut70's picture

We will have to agree to disagree.  Those Penn State teams were better on both lines than TSUN.  TSUN is a one trick pony on offense (granted neither of those PSU O's were anything to write home about) and both PSU teams were much better in the secondary (if I am not mistaken, doesn't TSUN still have a walk-on starting in their secondary?).  This UM team is going to get exposed.  I do think it's going to be close for a half, but Alabama is going to pour it on in the second half (and they will win the turnover battle big).  That TSUN team had everything go right for them last year, and odds are that ain't gonna happen again.
You heard it here first (and I will be around if I am wrong).

hail2victors9's picture

Yes, you are mistaken.  Former walk-on, three-year starter, and soon to be all-B1G safety, Jordan Kovacs.  Most importantly, he's a helluva kid.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

bucksanity68's picture

They blew MSU out by like 49 points in a bowl game, but we all know Sparty is a fraud.

Chad Peltier's picture

Also I just want to say, I did NOT intend this to be a forum for bashing a Michigan commit - let's remember, the kid is in high school. No need for the hate on Morris. 

tampa buckeye's picture

I miss the old school 11w.  This site has become so consumed with recruiting.
 I understand you have to give us something to read about during the dead period but who gives a rats ass about a Michigan recruit.   I wish nothing but the worst for him personally and hope all the bad things in the world happen to him and only to him....hate hate hate

Alhan's picture

No reason except he's going to TTUN!  (And that's reason aplenty)  :)

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

hail2victors9's picture

Don't be naive, Chad, you may have not intended it, but you had to expect it.  I liked the article and it was nice, honest piece and unbiased.
I just hope you all hate Shane this much in 4 or 5 years.

Those who stay will be CHAMPIONS!

~Bo Schembechler

buck-I.8's picture

Not sure what that would indicate. I still hate Mike Hart, but it's not like he could beat us.

grant87's picture

Sugar Shane wasn't impressive vs. SE at Gridiron ....  He threw into doubl coverage a bunch.  over threw the long ball even worse.  Seem to be more in recruiting Tredwell imo than throw accurately.  If Sugar Shane doesn't pan out, Wishigan will be in deep trouble. 

Maybe tomorrow, when today will be yesterday things will be clearer.


toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

This story read like Morris' press agent's press release. Stay on the focus of the Buckeyes'. Do the Wolverine fan web sites gush over OSU players like this story did? I doubt it. Why are you wasting your time writing this pig slop?

tampa buckeye's picture

Again this site was good back in the day.  I miss the original 3 or 4 guys that made this site real.  Just a matter of time before they partner with ESPN.

schooey's picture

Damn, then I will be banned again. 

Trig Lazer's picture

Another article about UM?? I don't want a warm and fuzzy experience gushing about how great a UM recruit is and how well he's recruiting for them.
Let's stay focused on Ohio St. shall we?
Oh yeah..UM sucks.

buckeyefanatic's picture

I admit I did not read this past the front page.  I only have a little bit of free time and I couldn't decide which was more appealing ... reading about scUM recruits or listening to my mom tell sex stories.
No offense Chad I'm sure there is something good in there but I'll risk missing it.

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Want to beat Michigan? There's an App for that.