i refuse to even consider this a possibility
it was one or the other this weekend for Michigan's 18-to-20-year-old hockey prospects
An eight-man recruiting class will enter Michigan this fall ready to patch some of the holes left by this spring's exodus. Though there are no players the caliber of Kyle Connor or Dylan Larkin in this class, it seemed almost certain that five of the eight would be drafted in this past weekend's NHL Draft.
Almost, but not quite. Only three of Michigan's eight incoming freshmen (and an addition 2017 prospect) were selected in the draft despite projections that had the two who went undrafted, Griffin Luce and James Sanchez, safely above the bottom of the draft.
Scouting reports for hockey prospects are typically short and published irregularly, so I thought I'd use the boom in available scouting materials to look at what you can expect from Michigan's newest draftees' games, as well as where they're likely to fit when they suit up for their first game in a Michigan sweater this fall.
Will Lockwood, RW
Third round, 64th overall- Vancouver Canucks
Lockwood's 13-20-33 scoring line in 59 games with the USNTDP is fine, I suppose. He's not going to be a revelation, but he should put up a fair but not-at-all sterling stat line in his first season. SB Nation College Hockey's Chris Dilks hints at that toward the end of his scouting report while also making him sound a lot like a third- or fourth-liner:
What I Like:
Lockwood plays with a lot of energy and effort. He's a very consistent player that always gives 100%. He creates opportunities for himself by taking away time and space from the opposition and forcing mistakes
Speed is Lockwood's best asset. He's got light feet which gives him a very quick first step and above average straight-line speed. He doesn't always use that speed to his greatest advantage, but it could be a pro-level tool if he learns how to use it better.
Lockwood wasn't a huge scorer for the NTDP this year, but when he got opportunities, he showed a nice ability to finish off plays. He'll have to show he can do that more consistently, but matched with the right linemate that can set him up, he could be a much bigger scorer.
Dilks goes on to mention Lockwood's inability to create with his hands and win puck battles; you can work on winning puck battles, but relying completely on speed is a bit of a red flag in terms of NCAA point production.
Steve Kournianos of The Draft Analyst agrees with Dilks' assessment while also noting that Lockwood played against good competition and shouldn't have much of a learning curve at Michigan:
Lockwood is near the top of a decent list of draft-eligible sandpaper forwards thanks to excellent straight-line speed and a fearless mindset when engaging opposing skaters. He gets most of his points from a crash-and-bang style that would normally compliment line mates of the finesse variety. Lockwood, however, played most of the season with similar players, yet he was easily one of the NTDP’s most reliable and consistent in that regard.
Hockey Prospectus' Ryan Wagman sees something in Lockwood's physical game that other scouts did not and has a generally less optimistic take:
He is a good penalty killer with a decent wall game. Although well undersized, he is generally a pretty physical player and a frequent hitter. Committed to the University of Michigan, he has low upside, but plays a coach friendly game.
Elite Prospects does a nice job collecting player rankings from around the internet, and you can see Lockwood's all over the place. A few sites had him in the 70s, but others had him as low as #197. Most sites that don't rank expected him to be a mid-fourth round pick; no matter which site's rankings you prefer, he was taken higher than expected.
There's going to be plenty of room to move up with Michigan losing five of their top six forwards. I'd keep the Warren-Marody-Calderone line intact and make that the top line; Lockwood could play on the second line with Alex Kile on the opposite wing and centered by…uh, someone's going to have to learn how to play center in a hurry. Lockwood plays a similar style to Warren and could hit 15-20 points as a freshman.
[After THE JUMP: two more commits get picked]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon.
|Concord, CA – 6'4", 270|
|Scout||4*, #67 overall
|Rivals||4*, #46 overall
#2 TE, #10 CA
|ESPN||4*, #44 overall
#3 TE-Y, #5 CA
|24/7||4*, #220 overall
#8 TE, #31 CA
|Other Suitors||USC, UCLA, UW, Bama, ND|
|YMRMFSPA||AJ Williams, Harbaugh Edition|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Junior film, notable because he plays a reasonable amount of QB in it:
This is a useful Sports Stars of Tomorrow profile:
Devin Asiasi is an archetypical "jumbo athlete." He is a huge person who moves uncommonly fast and could fit at either tight end or somewhere along the defensive line. For most of the cycle there was disagreement amongst the services where he would end up, and many articles reported that school X was recruiting Asiasi for defense.
This was to Michigan's advantage. A big reason he's in Ann Arbor is because he wants to play tight end:
“A lot of people are saying defense, but I’m trying to focus on tight end right now,” Asiasi said. “That’s really where my heart is right now. That’s really where I’m trying to focus my game on.”
There are zero programs in the country more convincing when they tell a kid like Asiasi he'll play offense. If there's a program that values this take from his high school coach…
"…if there’s a better blocking tight end in the country I’d be really surprised. What he did for us blocking was incredible. He’s the best blocking tight end we’ve ever had. … Then when you throw the ball out to him and you see how big, long, and athletic he is, it’s unmistakable."
…it is Jim Harbaugh's Michigan.
Asiasi is a rare guy these days. In an era when top tight end prospects are 6'6" converted power forwards liable to snap in half if you breathe on 'em, Asiasi delivers a thump. Jay Harbaugh says Asiasi is "tenacious, violent and physically bludgeons his opponents," and this is not mere puffery. Rivals caught him during his junior year, when he was around 250. He had "some fierce blocks" and there was "no doubt he's super powerful now"; he weighed in at a college-ready and even more powerful 270 at the Army game. Scout notes that he's "more than just a big receiver" because he can "block and engage in the physical side of the game" and that he's "as complete a tight end to come from the West in some time." ESPN:
…excellent bulk. Has a powerful base with room for further development through his upper body. … a big, physical short-to-intermediate underneath target. … good hands with ability to extend for the ball and catch away from his frame…very good body control to be able to adjust to passes off target….very strong [as a blocker], with size, strength, toughness and experience. … good ability to come off with pad level, deliver a pop, roll hips and push defenders off the ball. Physical player that can play with some nastiness.
huge lower half and actually could potentially be in danger of growing out of being a tight end. …very agile for his size, but isn’t an explosive athlete. …. dominant in-line blocker that shows great pop on contact and does well getting to linebackers at the second level. My only small complaint is that he sometimes will only get the pop and not fit his block as well as he should, but he will latch on and drive an opponent into the ground … brings violence when he hits a defender.
Scout named him an "instant impact" freshman:
… special talent with a college body right now. … advanced technique as a blocker, has the size to be physical in the run game but the hands and the athleticism to be a factor in the passing game as well. …looks like a future NFL player.
Asiasi is the kind of guy that will allow Harbaugh to line up in a goal line formation on his own 30. He's not just rare because he's a mean TE, he's rare for the same reason Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is: that man should not get to move like that. Tim Drevno knows a tight end when he sees one and told MGoBlue that "we have had a great string of tight ends at Stanford and now here at Michigan and he’s right that at the top"; Touch The Banner compares his athleticism favorably to Jake Butt.
Data on Asiasi's hands is necessarily thin given the nature of his high school's offense—his coach says De La Salle is "90-95% run"—but what exists is mostly encouraging. For one, in the highlight films above he makes a number of tough catches; even on the simple ones he flashes his hands out and secures the ball without bobbles. I just watched Nick Eubanks's tape, and the contrast jumped out. For two, in various camp situations he excelled. Both Rivals and 247 praised him after a massive 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas; both placed him on the All-Tournament team because he showed "good mobility and athleticism," "very strong hands," and was "just too strong for defenders and too nimble."
The most extensive reports come from his appearance at the Army game. Scout:
…can absolutely run and catch like a lighter tight end. He's a smooth pass-catcher with a big catch radius, has soft hands, runs tremendous routes and looks natural playing the position. … already a good blocker but this game, and today in particular, showed what he can do when used as an offensive weapon.
…did a nice job of getting open and gaining separation against some linebackers and safeties. He also showed soft hands and was a nice weapon in the redzone.
… one of the biggest players on the roster yet he moves remarkably well down field and through his routes. Asiasi has been a favorite for the West quarterbacks throughout the week and that continued Thursday, especially in the red zone.
…impressed all week during Army practices … Weighing in at almost 275 pounds, Asiasi wowed onlookers with how well he moved for such a big target. He has soft hands, is a tremendous blocker and is that rare every down tight end who can be both strong in the run game as well as a threat in the passing game.
…showed the skills necessary to be a consistent receiving threat at the next level. He is a natural, and just glides for a guy his size. He didn’t drop a pass and just oozes big time potential.
There was one guy who was like nah: 247's Barton Simmons. This evaluation is more or less the only negative one I came across in a pile of scouting and likely explains why 247 is the least enthused about Asiasi by some distance:
Devin Asiasi needs to play defensive line. He's a capable tight end but with one drop on what would have been a touchdown reception in the game and a pedestrian week of practice, we think Asiasi would be a dominant defensive lineman but is just a guy at tight end.
Yeah, he biffed a touchdown in the game itself, but per Scout Asiasi dropped just one of a ton of reps during the practice week, and various clipped bits of the scouting reports above reveal that TEs don't block much, if at all, during the Army practices. It's an outlier evaluation. What concerns exist about Asiasi's receiving ability are not about his hands but his size. He's probably fine right now—only the one dude had any concern about his mobility at the Army game—but people don't often stay the same weight once they hit a college S&C program.
So defensive end remains a possibility. Asiasi strongly prefers tight end and will start out there, but you know Harbaugh: he's going to flip guys to the other side of the ball just to check. It's possible Asiasi ends up with a higher ceiling there, especially if his weight goes up instead of down. That is not out of the question. Asiasi tried to cut down before his senior year, which he played at 275:
“It didn’t happen, it didn’t happen,” Asiasi said. “Hopefully I can get back to 260, 265. (But) I don’t think I should focus on getting my weight down I think I should just focus on getting stronger.”
Adam Gorney pointed out that if he ends up adding weight—which almost all recruits under 300 pounds do—tight end might cease to be tenable:
“He’s huge so that’s going to be a concern if he’s going to stay at tight end, he really can’t gain any more weight, he’s maxed out physically, a lot of people are thinking defensive end, I wouldn’t be shocked if that was maybe his future position.”
ESPN evaluated him as a tight end but did mention his two way ability and provide an intriguing comparison: former Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman, who went from high school TE to explosive 300 pound three-tech over the course of his career.
Various folks think his best potential is as a DL; Son of a Coach believes he'll be best as a Wormley type DL who bounces between SDE and three-tech:
He’s got some ability to bend around the edge and can convert speed to power. His first step is very good and he uses his hands well to disengage. His ability to recognize and react to blocks also appears to be advanced for someone his age.
On most teams—cough cough UCLA—DE would be a likely destination no matter what Asiasi was told during his recruitment; at Michigan it's is definitely the backup plan.
Etc.: Was long thought to be a package deal with Boss Tagaloa but that didn't happen. While packages are often overhyped, in this instance I'm still surprised they ended up different places. First in his family to go to college.
Why AJ Williams, Harbaugh Version? I can't remember the last truly jumbo tight end before Williams. Carr's guys were Tuman/Ecker types, mostly, RR was a spread guy looking for flex sorts, and Hoke's jumbo TE was… AJ Williams. That version of AJ Williams was a consistent disappointment, a poor blocker and nonentity in the passing game; Harbaugh made him a legit good two-way player in just a year. Asiasi has more upside than Williams, who was a 3/4 star borderline guy a lot of people thought would end up playing OT. Asiasi is a better athlete and more natural pass-catcher who will start out almost as good as Williams was as a senior.
The other obvious comparison is Tyrone Wheatley Jr, who we haven't seen play yet but is the same kind of freaky athlete and mauler dude at 270-280 pounds. Having two of these guys on one roster is going to be fun as hell.
Guru Reliability: High. Asiasi was one of the highest profile prospects on the West Coast, he did a bunch of camps, he showed at the Army game, and while there are scattered disagreements and one outlying ranking this is one of those posts I had to chop down from 5k words. Lack of utilization in the passing game is the only major caveat.
Variance: Low. I mean, yeah, some concern that he didn't get the ball a ton but he looks very natural on film and did every camp imaginable to prove to folks he was a TE. If he is not a TE for some reason he was just as touted as a DL. If he doesn't end up a starter at some point I'll eat a lemon. (Barring injury.)
Ceiling: Very high. Asiasi's combination of face-smashing blocking, excellent hands, and plus athleticism is hard to find.
General Excitement Level: Vast. I remember on signing day when Michigan got Asiasi it was kind of like "cool, bonus, but let's talk more about Rashan Gary." I thought that myself, and then I don't think we talked about Asiasi much in the aftermath. In general it feels like the Michigan fan base is overlooking this dude, his fit with the Harbauffense, and the evil things Michigan will be able to do with him.
Projection: A lot of reports out there that he won't redshirt. That makes sense given the player; it might not make quite as much sense given the depth chart. Oh well: he's playing. He should get a reasonable number of inline TE snaps behind Wheatley and I bet one dollar both of them are in short yardage and goal line packages.
Going forward it's hard to project he'll be a starter for a while with Wheatley and Bunting around, but what's a starter, really, when we're talking about a Harbauffense? TE will be like this year's defensive line: a ton of rotation, fresh legs, and talent coming out the winged helmet's earholes. Asiasi will be a major part of that from year two on.
Michigan's landed a commitment from three-star CT OL Andrew Stueber, who recently received a camp offer and is now a lock to succeed Jake "Ruddock" as the internet's most misspelled Michigan football player. Stueber's rankings are of the middling three star variety, but he's got a relatively impressive suite of offers: PSU, Tennessee, Pitt, UNC, Duke, Harvard, and Yale. An informative update is coming right up.
|3*, #43 OT||3*, #64 OT||NR||3*, 86, #740 overall
#79 OT, #3 CT
|3*, #785 overall
#80 OT, #4 CT
Generic three star OT ahoy, except ESPN hasn't even put up a profile for him yet. That's probably for the best, since ESPN is an open-minded service that is willing to look at a guy like Ben Mason with fresh eyes—he's a four star to the WWL—but tends to fire and forget evaluations. 247 shot him up several hundred spots a few weeks ago.
Stueber is just emerging from sleeper status and there is correspondingly little actual scouting out there. The Penn State 247 site did discuss his recent effort to slim down:
A year ago, Darien (Conn.) offensive tackle Andrew Stueber tipped the scales at nearly 320 pounds on his 6-foot-6-inch frame. The now three-star prospect decided to try to trim down after his senior season… Stueber hit a low point of 283 pounds this spring. Now back closer to 290 entering the summer he is a different prospect.
“I feel good. I feel at The Opening I did well with my agility and my shuttle and that was something I really wanted to work on,” he said. “My strength is improving, I definitely feel better as a player. I can get off the ball faster and I feel like a better player when I’m faster.”
That's the kind of thing that often happens during a prospect's freshman year of college, not high school. If Stueber continues on the path he's on he could arrive in Ann Arbor around 300 pounds and college-ready. He was impressive enough at Michigan's camp to grab an offer:
"The camp was awesome," Stueber said. "Coach Drevno is experienced, and he knows so much about the offensive line positions, and to bring in a bunch of NFL guys that went to Michigan and played for coach (Jim) Harbaugh and coach Drevno, that was awesome. It was such an incredible learning experience. I definitely picked up as much as I could.
"I was really happy with the way I performed. I won a lot of the competitions and everything. Coach Drevno was pleased with what he saw and everything worked out the way it did."
He drew some notice at the Opening's regional camp in his area:
Darien (Conn.) High offensive tackle Andrew Stueber was another potential big-time guy on the offensive line, took some good reps and has all the tools college coaches covet.
This concludes people talking about Andrew Stueber productively. Woo sleeper Connecticut OL.
One thing I did glean: Stueber is definitely a tackle. He's the kind of guy who is listed at 6'6.5" when people want to get specific, not 6'5.5", and once you get into that range you are a candidate for pass-rush-engulfing left tackle stuff.
As above: PSU, Tennessee, Pitt, UNC, Duke, Harvard, and Yale give you the shape of things. Maryland, BC, Rutgers, and other middling Power 5 schools fill out his offer sheet. My impression is that the PSU offer was committable:
The 6-foot-6, 285-pound Stueber was at Penn State twice this spring - once for a Saturday visit in March and then again for the Blue-White Game in April. The Nittany Lions have identified him as a top candidate to fill the remaining tackle slot in their offensive line class and they hope to get him back to campus again this summer.
Not enough data on the others. FWIW, PSU's new OL coach is former Minnesota OL coach Matt Limegrover. This may assuage worries that PSU being involved with an OL is a kiss of death.
Rivals borked their database so you can no longer search by high school but I assume Michigan's never gotten a kid out of Darien before. Connecticut Wolverines are rarities indeed, although Stueber is joined by LB Ben Mason in this class.
OL don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Stueber does not have one listed.
One on one reps from the Rivals camp he attended:
The guy with the dreads is Luiji Vilain, BTW.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Despite the low ranking, Stueber checks a lot of boxes: great frame, great academics, the discipline to shed weight and build it back up. The camp reps above show a guy with excellent agility who has work to do anchoring against a rush and preventing opponents from getting into his chest with his hands; I'll take the latter if it's paired with the former, because you can teach the latter.
This isn't a camp commit that gets me tweaked because Michigan has four stars on the hook if they'd just show some patience. There's a good reason Stueber has been overlooked by the sites, he's got a bunch of solid offers, and Michigan just saw him in person twice. Also Stueber also has the greatest twitter feed ever right now: it is one tweet announcing his commit. 99/100 on the Never Tweet scale. Thumbs up.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Stueber's the second offensive lineman in a class that will go to five or even six. He's a true tackle—something Michigan needs badly—and will be joined by up to three more depending on how various 6'5"-ish players get classified.
Maybe we can split him in half
AJC reporter Jeff Sentell appeared on the DawgNation podcast (DawgNation appears to be an AJC silo for Georgia athletics content) to talk recruiting, and naturally struck on GA DT Aubrey Solomon. Sentell talked to both Solomon and mom and came away saying that "from listening to [Solomon's] mother, that's 100% committed right there" and that he would be "stunned if Aubrey Solomon went anywhere but the University of Michigan." Sentell further reports that Solomon ducked out of the visit for a moment, claiming he had to go to the bathroom, so he could call his mom and get her blessing to pull the trigger. That's the opposite of a high-pressure pitch that might backfire as time goes by.
So of course the Georgia 247 site is reporting that Solomon will visit Georgia in July. This isn't as bad as it sounds: the visit was planned in advance of the sudden turn in Solomon's recruitment. It's common for guys to follow through on their word when coaches ask them to. I wouldn't be worried about that visit; any subsequent ones would be game on.
FWIW, that article contains a number of positive quotes about Georgia from Solomon's mother that were gathered before the trip to Ann Arbor. While I don't doubt Georgia is at least some threat the article gives off a bit of a whiff of saving face amongst subscribers—Sentell appears to have the latest, and he's considerably more neutral than a team site.
Give 'em the clamps, Holmes
CA CB Deommodore "Clamp Clampington" Lenoir hasn't drawn much mention around these parts since he first popped up on the radar, but Brandon Brown catches up with him and discovers he is planning an official, ideally when CA CB Darnay Holmes comes in. That would be all right. Argh Dave Brandon, part MCMXI:
"I really wanted to go to Michigan against Michigan State or Ohio State but those are both away."
Nebraska and Oregon are the other officials he's certain of. [UPDATE: Lenoir committed to Oregon yesterday. Nevermind.]
Speaking of Holmes, it looks like David Long's presence in Ann Arbor means at least a little something:
— Darnay Holmes (@DarnayHolmes) June 22, 2016
Holmes also has three officials he knows he'll take: Nebraska, OSU, and Michigan. The date for the M visit is also up in the air; he'll go to Columbus for the Game. UCLA's also involved heavily.
I see that eyebrow, but don't scoff at the Cornhuskers. Nebraska is doing some work in California this year. They've got two commits from Holmes's teammates, both four stars.
On Wednesday I mentioned that Steve Lorenz had fired off a crystal ball for FL WR Mike Harley to Michigan. Yesterday Brandon Brown interviewed Harley, who says Michigan is his #1 and he will be pulling the trigger "either this weekend or next weekend," which gives other schools vanishingly little time to catch up.
Despite our KJ Hamler-related garment-rending, Harley looks like a solid pickup should he follow through. His stock is on the rise after an excellent Five Star Challenge…
— Mike Harley Jr. Ⓜ️ (@harleyxvi) June 22, 2016
…and whatever spurred 247 to put him on the ol' rankings rocket:
Blue is 247, green the composite. (That line is also an excellent demonstration of the usual pattern for recruits: get ranked, drop slowly as more dudes get slotted in front of you, big change only when you get re-evaluated.)
Baylor recruits released
Per Texas sources, Baylor's released five of the seven players who wanted out. The main guys of interest to Michigan fans in the aftermath of the Devery Hamilton are the two offensive linemen; Barking Carnival believes that TX OL Patrick Hudson will head to Texas and that TX OL JP Urquidez is a possibility "depending on mutual interest and swiftly tightening [scholarship] numbers." Urquidez is a 6'6" tackle and composite four-star who Michigan did have some early contact with. Longshot, obviously.
AL OL Toryque Bateman named Michigan and Tennessee leaders. He'll announce a top eight shortly, one that presumably includes those two schools. CA OL Chuck Filiaga has no top list but definitely wants to visit. Moving to Texas this fall so distance probably not much of a factor.
On the other hand, Lorenz moved UT DT Jay Tufele up on 247's listing of Michigan's prospect as he is "far and away" the DT Michigan would most like to pair with Solomon. An OSU/M battle could be on the way; Michigan has a Polynesian edge in that case.
MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell on Jourdan Lewis:
"He's a great player, a phenomenal person," Kelly-Powell said of Lewis. "He's humble, he's a great person just to be around. ... I watch him a lot and try to be just like him, try to be as good as him."
Kelly-Powell remains the lockiest lock on the board.
OH DE James Hudson reports back from his visit over the weekend, telling Brice Marich it was a "ten of ten". Hudson also provided some clarity on what spot Michigan is recruiting him for:
"I fit right into their defense because of my size. It means a lot (hearing about early playing time) and I feel like I could be a dominant 3-tech for them. They do a lot of the things that I do at my high school.”
Hudson's already 280 so that makes sense. If Hudson is a DT prospect for Michigan then you can fit a guy like CA DE DJ Johnson in the class relatively easily.
A Rivals reporter caught up with TX LB Baron Browning after his trips to Michigan and Notre Dame last weekend. Browning doesn't tip his hand at all, but making those trips with his brother and former Harbaugh player Barry can't hurt. Baron on Barry on Harbaugh:
“…he said ‘One thing I will say about Coach Harbaugh is that he is going to get the best out of you. He said that Harbaugh is really competitive. … He said that Coach Tolbert would definitely have me right and ready to compete."
A second planned unofficial to OSU next month is off. No indication where he's leaning or even where he might visit officially. Dude is one of the mystery recruits of the cycle.
Josh Henschke reports from Michigan's NorCal camp, which appears to be one of the more loaded camps they've had. CA DT Popo Aumave, CA DE DJ Johnson, CA TE Josh Falo and CA OL Aaron Banks all say they will take visits; CA RB Najee Harris also attended and worked out.
Johnson told Rivals that Michigan is "around his top schools" in part because Michigan will let him wear #1. I can get behind a DE with 1 on his jersey. Aumave says he'll officially visit M, USC, and probably Oregon.
So here's this guy
Also in dramatic smokebomb recruit entrances: GA LB Dennis Bell tells Maize and Blue News that he was on the verge of committing to Michigan:
Working at the U-M’s Shine Time Camp this week, he impressed the coaching staff enough to receive a scholarship offer from the Maize and Blue on Thursday. That was significant for Bell, who originally planned on committing the instant the offer came through, describing Michigan as his dream school. Ultimately though, cooler heads pulled him back from making the early decision.
“I was going to announce it today on Twitter, but then my coach was like ‘don’t do it yet,’” Bell said of his plan to commit. “He said wait until later in the summer. I think it will probably be the week before we go back to school.”
Bell, a former teammate of Elysee Mbem-Bosse, is a two-star only ranked by two sites and only has Georgia State and Miami (Not That Miami) offers per 247. His composite ranking is around 1700.
I'm dubious that this is actually a thing. Michigan appears to be "offering" people for PR purposes. For example, there was recently a farcical exchange between various sites about an offer to NC QB Jackson Gibbs, who is 1) a 2017 QB and 2) the grandson of Joe Gibbs. Gibbs reported an offer; various reporters said this was not a thing; Rivals got quotes that insisted it was a full offer, not a PWO; Rivals then clarified that this offer was not in fact committable. Soooooo… yeah. The destruction of the English language for marketing purposes continues apace.
Anyway, I don't expect anything to come out of either recruitment.
Happy trails to CA OL Wyatt Davis, who announces today. Nobody expects it to be Michigan; OSU appears to be it.
In the Kindle Edition of HTTV for this year (oh by the way that exists) I added a sidebar/article on Michigan State's defense and different ways to attack it. With Quarters coming back into vogue to combat the spread, and Quarters teams getting super-aggressive against the run, offenses have been pulling the old Spurrier trips-and-triangle stuff to attack it. But Quarters is not new, and there are some other good answers out there for an overzealous defense from the two-back offenses that dominated the '80s and '90s.
Here's an oldie but a goodie, the Tunnel (or Jailbreak) Screen to a running back:
A-Train motioned out to the flat, essentially becoming a receiver. Chris Floyd stayed in as an Ace back, then he drifted out the other way to draw people away from where Thomas is going. DeBord caught the Buckeyes in one of TENUTA!!!!'s crazy blitzes that overloaded the backside. The running backs flying out horizontally pulled the linebackers out of the middle. Then Thomas cut back in, and by the time the outside guys can react to that there's an A-Train a-comin' with a lead blocker. It's a race between him and the flat defender for ALL the yards. Flat guy won.
(And Tuman got away with a hold).
This play never went away; they run tunnel screens out of spreads all the time with receivers coming in. Whereas bubble screens attack the defense in the space outside, tunnel screens get the defense moving hard one way to defend the edge, then pass it to a good athlete coming the opposite direction. Like a cutback run, if the screen target can accelerate downfield before the defenders can reverse momentum and converge, it could be a huge gain.
DeBord brought that out in '97 because OSU was blitzing guys off the edge. In 2011 vs MSU Borges (unsuccessfully since he didn't have the personnel) tried to make it a hot read to Vincent Smith. It's particularly good to run against a defense that's getting upfield too aggressively and dropping other guys back, since it attacks the space between them. As you might have guessed, if you catch the linebackers blitzing too that space could be huge, which is why this is fun to run on passing downs.
* [Moore was technically a free safety in '97 but the way OSU played twins this game was to have the CBs follow their receivers and leave Moore the strong side overhang DB.]
[After the jump: Harbaugh's version]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks.
|Dudley, MA – 6'5", 240|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#34 TE, #2 MA
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#23 TE-Y, #2 MA
|24/7||3*, #1253 overall
#61 TE, #3 MA
|Other Suitors||VT, BC, Syracuse, UConn, Harvard|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Sean McKeon has virtually no recruiting accolades. On the other hand…
…Harbaugh's earned some trust when it comes to plucking tight ends from obscurity. This comparison may not be entirely unprompted. Drevno:
Sean is a guy that can really bend, has great flexibility and great ball skills with a good catch radius. He can be a complete tight end as a run blocker and pass receiver. He is a big athletic guy, kind of reminds me of a Coby Fleener-type; has that same type of athleticism.
And it seems clear that their interest in McKeon is much stronger than that profile would suggest. David Reese—a linebacker who signed with Florida—decommitted largely because M did not have an early enroll spot for Reese. They had one for McKeon. Various other low-rated commits were outright jettisoned; there was never a whisper that McKeon could end up in that same boat. While I'm not particularly happy with how Michigan dealt with the guys they no longer wanted, the silver lining is that you know Michigan doesn't have buyer's remorse about the guys who did sign.
There are other positive indicators for McKeon. His frame is paired with some pretty impressive athleticism:
...elite athlete for a player his size, holding the fastest verified 40-time of any tight end in the country at 4.65 and also the highest vertical jump (36.2 inches).
That was from a Nike event and was only current as of his commitment in mid-June last year. Some some dudes may have passed him; if so it was not many. McKeon's ability to go recurs frequently in his scouting reports; so does Drevno's assertion that he can "really bend". ("Bending" is being able to play football in a compact stance instead of standing straight up; it is a major factor as players try to achieve the all-important good pad level.)
Allen Trieu liked him at Michigan's camp (like, camp-camp, on campus camp) last year, naming him the #2 player in attendance, just behind future four-star MSU commit Trishton Jackson and ahead of David Reese, Corey Malone-Hatcher, and a then even more completely obscure "Benjamin St John"*:
Loved how he could bend for his size. Very naturally athletic and catches the ball well. Lean frame with the room to grow.
Excellent height with just adequate bulk. …Doesn't look to play quite as fast as he may test, but displays above-average top-end speed … enough speed to make the occasional play down the seam. Between height and leaping ability can be a factor in jump ball situations. …doesn't display much burst out of breaks. … physical tools to be a productive receiver and with continued development can be an effective blocker as well.
…intriguing prospect because of his combination of size, speed and athleticism. …releases well off the line of scrimmage and gets into his routes well. He high-points the ball in traffic and is also tough to bring down after the catch. When blocking, the intent and desire is there, but he needs to get stronger to stay on and finish the block.
"Blocking ability" and "strength" are the areas for improvement; those are easily improved.
"…really good athlete, you can see that on film. … great frame and size for the next level."
…good acceleration …. will be able to get separation from linebackers with that initial speed burst…. can catch the ball with his hands outside the frame of his body….willing blocker who shows some pretty solid technique, and he has the feet and the hips to be effective in the run game.
…comfortable being attached to the offensive line as a blocker. …reliable hands and does a nice job sitting in open spots and showing the quarterback his numbers so he can be seen. … straight line speed and ability to threaten the seam. McKeon can extend and pluck the ball when it's in the air but shows some stiffness when he has to turn and adjust his body.
The bolded section from Brewster is something that pops out on film. He looks like a capable receiver downfield. He does not look like Jake Butt, who has a certain je ne sais quoi to his movements. I suppose coaches would call that fluidity. It doesn't seem like McKeon has that ability to change direction that allows Butt to win matchups against safeties and even occasionally corners.
Even so you may be asking yourself how a tight end prospect with those measurables gets ignored by the scouting services. There are a few reasons. The state of Massachusetts is a football wasteland scouted about as heavily as Liberia. McKeon's camp career appeared to begin and end after one or two that got him a suite of East Coast offers he was content with before Michigan leapt in. And his high school was one of those that tends to run run run:
"You can't tell his routes and catching because there's not a whole lot of film on that. The bit of film there is at tight end is mostly blocking. You know he's willing to mix it up, and he can move guys off the line."
He led his team with 19 catches as a junior; second place wasn't close. A tight end playing bad competition and running few routes who doesn't show at camps is destined for shruggie rankings.
McKeon has impressed coaches since his arrival. While I didn't notice him at Ford Field or the spring game—I was too busy going DANG at Ty Wheatley Jr—every month or so Steve Lorenz bangs the drum that he's got a good shot to play this fall:
We have been told on numerous occasions that McKeon is a player capable of playing in his first year depending on how his camp/off-season goes.
Don't rule out Sean McKeon as a year-one contributor at tight end. Physically, he's already there outside of building some weight.
I listed that Harvard offer above for a reason, as it implies McKeon will have little trouble imbibing a college offense and making it a part of his brain. Jay Harbaugh emphasized that in his take:
…Sean is a very intelligent, hard-working guy who is nowhere near reaching his potential as a football player … above average explosiveness and is an outstanding bender for his size. What he has done in the classroom in high school proves that Sean is willing to study and be a complete football player and student.
One of my main takeaways from watching Harbaugh's Stanford teams was that he put a ton of mental burden on his blocky/catchy types, who were expected to move willy-nilly about the field and make on-the-fly adjustments, especially when the Cardinal ran power. This applied moreso to FB/H-back types than inline players; the sheer number of formations and motions was still kind of boggling.
I'd be inclined to redshirt McKeon all the same. Michigan has Butt, Bunting, Wheatley, and (more or less) Hill ready to go this fall and will almost certainly play Devin Asiasi, about whom more in a couple days. I'm also guessing that Ben Bredeson gets a bunch of run as a sixth OL. Michigan plays a lot of tight ends. They don't play enough to absolutely need McKeon, either this year or next.
*[This would be current CB commit Benjamin St Juste. Trieu did well to get the name of a complete unknown almost correct; I mention it just to re-emphasize how out of nowhere St Juste came from.]
Etc.: Super-advanced wolverine drawing technique:
The gentleman scholar also wants to be a computer engineer if football doesn't work out. Don Brown was interested him as a DE(!) when he was recruiting McKeon to BC.
Why Kevin Koger? Koger was a guy with solid-to-good size who could threaten down the seam with surprising speed. Frames are pretty comparable, with Koger entering at 235 and leaving at 260. Recruiting rankings were not; Koger was the #6 TE in the country per the composite. Koger may have been a bit overrated since he was as likely to drop an easy ball as make a spectacular one-handed stab. And he wasn't open like Butt is open.
I thought about Mike Massey here but his MGoBlue page had him at 231 pounds as a redshirt senior, which is bonkers. Can't imagine Harbaugh's running anyone that size out there at TE unless he's a Eubanks walking mismatch type. Butt is another potential comparison, though one we dismissed above; have to roll sixes there.
Guru Reliability: Low for the reasons detailed above. I get why their skepticism is warranted. I don't think it hold much weight.
Variance: Moderate. Does have to add some weight, could be a mirage because he doesn't play good competition. On the other hand, could have gone to Harvard and already drawing praise after early enrollment.
Ceiling: High. Big frame and ability to move it. Blocking upside seems good as well.
General Excitement Level: High-minus. McKeon just about got sleeper of the year status. I already issued that to Josh Uche and have another gentleman in mind for a second slot; I don't want to go to three. If I did, McKeon would be the pick. Repeated insistence from inside the Michigan program that McKeon is a high upside guy who could easily play this year is a major plus.
Projection: He'll probably get scattered snaps as a frustrating burned redshirt. Next year it's similarly tough to find playing time with all of the aforementioned names save Butt ahead of him and Zach Gentry coming online. In year three he should be bulked up to 250 or 260 and will be a candidate for serious run.
With the pile of tight ends Michigan will have available your guess is as good as mine who emerges from the melee. McKeon is a very good bet to be a contributor and guy who gets complicated blocking assignments right.