this may be of some local interest
Michigan has gained a commitment from TX TE Chris Barnett.
Hat! Dyed Beard!
|3*, #16 TE||4*, 5.8, #14 TE, #224 Overall||3*, 78, #20 TE|
The premium sites can't agree on how tall he is, with Rivals and Scout saying 6-6, but ESPN going all the way down to 6-4. Despite that, all three list weights within a few pounds of each other, at about 247. ESPN's evaluation:
Barnett is a kid who as a tight end can present a big target with his long and lean frame. He has good height and while he needs to keep filling out he has plenty of room to add size. He has good hands and displays the ability to use that reach and extend and bring the ball in. He runs solid routes and does a good job of finding the soft spots in zone coverage and being able to settle and get open. He is a tall kid who appears to need to build speed and displays adequate acceleration whether getting into his route or after the catch. He displays adequate leaping ability, but will go up and get the ball and that coupled with his size can present a tough match-up and a nice target in the red-zone. He is a tough kid who will fight for yards after the catch. He is not very elusive, but will lower his shoulder and try and fight his way through tackles. While he needs to add bulk and may not physically look like a in-line blocker, he is productive. One thing he does well is he gets hands on and gets good placement. He needs to improve his overall technique as a blocker, but when he gets locked on he is tough to beat. Moves his feet, but needs to watch his pad level and you would like to see him consistently deliver a good initial pop and use his lower body strength more. Works to stay with blocks. Displays upside as player who can stay in and help as a pass blocker. Displays the ability to keep a solid base and move his feet and mirror, but does need to be sure to bend more at the knees. Barnett has good size and the ability to be productive as a both a receiver and blocker.
Scout's comments... well:
The phrase 'chillin, but my swag's on full attack' can definitely be applied to Barnett's game out on the field. He plays under a controlled tempo until it is time for him to explode out of a break or plant a defender into the turf on a block. It is a great year for the tight end nationally and with the proper development and focus Barnett could end up being one of if not the best by the time he leaves college. He has the size and the tools.
Were they drunk when they wrote that lede? I lean towards yes. They list blocking, competitiveness, and route-running as his strengths, while saying he needs to improve his body control and strength. Rivals also evaluates his game:
On the Hoof: Tall, long-armed athlete is a bit thin in the chest and thick through the midsection. Barnett has a nice powerbase to go with long, thick legs. His build is similar to Stanford redshirt freshman Levine Toilolo.
Needs Improvement: Needs to reshape some of his bad body weight and improve his overall speed. Added upper-body strength will also improve his run blocking ability.
Most Impressive: Has very soft hands for a huge tight end and is a mismatch for shorter defensive backs. He also runs precise routes and knows how to use his body to shield off defenders from making plays on the ball.
Conclusion: His size makes him a candidate for early playing time, especially on passing downs and in the red zone.
They love his size and ball skills, while saying his speed, strength, and agility are just good.
Barnett decommitted from Arkansas to join Michigan's class of 2011 (he had previously decommitted from Oklahoma to join Arkansas's class), and the Razorbacks know what a good tight end looks like. "Bobby Petrino tight end" is like "Wisconsin offensive lineman" or "USC pro-style quarterback" in terms of recruiting cachet from a single offer.
The rest of Barnett's offers, then, should follow suit. Miami (YTM), USC, Clemson, Florida State, Notre Dame, Alabama, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Stanford, and Utah are just a few of his more notable names. Despite "meh" grades from the recruiting sites, the offers say this is a big time tight end prospect.
The recruiting sites only have estimates for his stats, with ESPN having sophomore numbers:
Caught 25 passes for 300 yards and three touchdowns. Rushed for 150 yards. Registered 130 tackles and six sacks. Missed three games following knee surgery...
And Scout bringing the senior year:
As a senior Barnett racked up 300 yards and scored four touchdowns.
Not exceptional numbers, but as with most high school prospects, it's hard to determine the quality of his team and the opposition, as well as his team's offensive style. Especially since tight end isn't a "glory position," those stats are nothing to sneeze at.
FAKE 40 TIME
OK, if these numbers are legit, this dude is a beast. Scout lists him with a 4.55 40-yard dash time, and Rivals says 4.52. Those are very good numbers for a wide receiver prospect, and much more so for a 6-6 250-pound tight end. Since both sites have such specific times, and since they're so close, I'm inclined to believe they might be legitimate. Still, that only knocks it down one spot to four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights from the YouTube:
I couldn't find senior highlights on Youtube.
OTHER PEOPLE NAMED CHRIS BARNETT
Apparently there's an MMA fighter named Chris Barnett. People REALLLLY like putting MMA videos on Youtube.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though the Wolverines really needed a tight end in this class, that doesn't necessarily mean Barnett will get onto the field right away. Kevin Koger will be a senior this year, and if redshirt junior Brandon Moore can become a contributor, Michigan's top two TEs are locked down.
However, Barnett seems ready to play immediately, and though he can add a bit of strength and weight, he has the speed to make defenses pay for overplaying the run. I think he'll get a bit of playing time as a true freshman, splitting the #2 spot on the depth chart with Moore.
After Koger graduates, Barnett should see tons of playing time in Michigan's TE-heavy offense. By the time he's a junior, All-Big Ten honors are a strong possibility, and don't be surprised if he contends to be an All-American a a senior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has a true tight end in the class, leaving defensive tackle as the only strong need. Any prospects on top of that are icing on the cake, as Michigan has filled all of its other needs by now, and they're unlikely to run up against the scholarship limit. CO LB Leilon Willingham is the only known prospect left on the board.
Barnett is a great pull for this coaching staff, and they've gone well beyond showing they can recruit. With just a couple weeks of contact, they've reeled in a number of good prospects (Barnett, Antonio Poole, etc.) and continued the recruiting job Rich Rodriguez's staff did (Countess re-commitment, Taylor and Bryant commitments).
OH Ath Frank Clark has committed to join Michigan's class of 2011. The Cleveland Glenville product projects to a number of positions, but is expected to play linebacker or tight end in Ann Arbor.
|3*, #33 TE||3*, 5.6, NR LB||3*, 77, #82 DE|
The sites are basically in agreement on Clark's size: he's about 6-3 and 210 pounds. ESPN's evaluation is mostly at defensive end, and therefore unlikely to be too useful, but here are the revelant words:
He is a physical kid and can be a solid tackler. He is active and defends the run well. Displays good upside as a pass rusher. He will attack half-a-man and while he needs to develop his pass rush arsenal he can be active with his weapons and can turn the corner well to get to the quarterback. There is some possibility that Clark could be looked at as a tight end, but we feel he fits well on defense and with some work could develop into a good college defender and end up being a nice little pick-up for a program.
It seems like they're in love with him on defense, particularly on the line (or as an outside 'backer in a 3-4, I suppose). This is particularly odd, given that the rest of their evaluation is "he's not polished with the skills necessary for a position that he hasn't played and likely won't."
Since there's precious little out there on Clark's game, I'll dip into the paid reserves a bit, to excerpt this ($) Scout article:
Also impressing was Glenville (Ohio) receiver Frank Clark. With a large frame, long arms, and a solid lower body, Clark looks like a prime-time D-I athlete. Clark moves well for being about 6-4, 215-pounds. Although not quite a tight end, Clark looks as though he can easily put on another 10 pounds and be a big redzone target. He jumps relatively well and has pretty good-sized hands. His concentration was a bit inconsistent, but when he worked, he is a very good player. His waist is not quite big enough to grow into a tight end and he is already a thickly built kid; he will come into a D-I program pretty well developed. Not a true burner, Clark’s straight-line speed is decent due to his long strides.
He is a very good athlete and moves well for his size, which is listed in the 205-210 range. Frank clearly has the frame to add the weight needed to be a college TE or H-back. His straight-line speed is reported to be in the 4.5+ range.
Frank runs solid routes and uses his body well to separate from defenders. Glenville is loaded with skilled players, so Clark does not show up a ton on film. His video from the Michigan showcase was impressive.
So, he's on the borderline between a wideout and tight end in body size - though if he's actually 6-4, and can pack on weight, he should be just fine. In terms of skill set, he seems like a hybrid TE/WR, as he performed mostly as a wideout at camps, and it doesn't sound like he's done a lot of blocking.
Rivals credits Frank with offers from Michigan State, Minnesota, North Carolina, and Cal, along with a trio of MAC schools. Scout says he also had interest, but no offers, from Penn State and Pitt. He also heard (briefly) from Ohio State, but his chance for an offer disappeared when Ryan Shazier committed to the Buckeyes.
Michigan (offered in December), Michigan State, and North Carolina were Clark's final three.
ESPN has some stats:
The 6-foot-3, 210-pound Clark played outside linebacker and tight end during his senior season. He made 70 tackles including 19 sacks while catching 12 passes with three touchdowns.
Not bad, especially for a team that has playmakers at every position.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits Clark with a 4.53 40-yard time. That is very impressive for a guy that ESPN ranks as a defensive end, and would even be a pretty good time for, say, a strong safety. I'm pleased to present it with four FAKEs out of five.
There doesn't appear to be any video of Clark on Youtube or even on ScoutingOhio. That's pretty rare, especially for a guy from a program as high-profile as Cleveland Glenville. If you can find any out there, let me know.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With fellow recent commit Keith Heitzman expected to find a home on the defensive line, Clark is almost certain to be a tight end at Michigan. Depending on the status of Brandon Moore, who has yet to see the field, that could mean a redshirt for Frank. After a redshirt season, he and Moore will be the only tight ends on the roster (barring further commitments, of course), and he should see serious playing time with the two-tights leaning of the new staff.
Frank will always be a bit on the smaller side for a tight end, given what the recruiting services have said about him, so he'll be more of a pass-catching threat than a devastating blocker. However, that means stats should come, and with them accolades. Clark has All-Big Ten potential before he leaves Ann Arbor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wooo! Michigan got a tight end! That was a huge need in this class, and Mr. Clark's commitment makes it less of a pressing issue. The coaching staff is still going hard after TX TE Chris Barnett as well. Barnett is more of a true tight end, and is probably more ready to play right away than Clark is.
Going forward, Clark gives Michigan a foot in the door at the notoriously impenetrable Glenville Academic Campus, which pumps out top prospects on a yearly basis.
Getting started around 7AM. We'll be running most of the day, at least until after the 2PM press conference. We won't shut it down while there is a good possibility any prospects will pick Michigan today.
Former Hawk Jerry Montgomery, who joined new IU staff, now appears headed to Ann Arbor to join Brady Hoke's staff. Tough break for Hoosiers.
The "tough break" bit is that Indiana hired him three weeks ago*.
Montgomery is a former Hawkeye defensive lineman who's only coached DL, was set to coach Indiana's line, and has no experience with DBs. It's safe to assume this is the guy who should stop in Ann Arbor only to drop off signed LOIs and if at all possible be Beyonce.
He's not Beyonce, but he played at Iowa recently enough to have a bio from his playing days on the internet and rocks a soul patch whether he's friendly or srs:
In fact, he's a few months he's younger than I am. This is terrifying personally; from a program standpoint it checks off the "knows what Adult Swim is" and "isn't from Minnesota" boxes with a guy who's worked his way up the ladder quickly. In 2006 Montgomery was a grad assistant. In 2007 he got his first job as Northern Iowa's DL coach. From there he's moved from UNI to Wyoming to Indiana to Michigan in under five years. He's a tautological up-and-comer and hopefully someone we'll see referenced in recruiting articles every twenty seconds.
Michigan's got one more spot left for a DBs coach; the much-rumored name there is former Wolverine Chuck Heater. Heater was literally just announced as Steve Addazio's DC at Temple, though. If Michigan was going to yoink him chances are that would already be in the works and Temple wouldn't be making announcements soon to leave egg on their faces.
*[Insert "they'd KILL Rich Rodriguez for this" bit here.]
If you had 36 minutes in the "how long would it take a Jackson to wildly overstate the ability of Thomas Rawls*" pool, collect your winnings:
“Honestly, I did get a chance to watch Mark Ingram a few times,” [Fred Jackson Jr.] told The Flint Journal. “Mark is probably one of the best guys ever to come through here. Mark was great, but there’s something about this kid Thomas. If I was to compare them as high school backs, give me Thomas Rawls.”
He's like a Heisman trophy winner… except fast!
*[No offense intended to Rawls. All comments in this post reference the Jackson family's unique gift for shameless hyperbole and are not meant to reflect cynicism on the part of the author. The author legitimately enjoys this meme. He would find it sad if the Jackson family ever said a tailback was "okay." The author's life story was encapsulated in a Kids In The Hall sketch once. Hoke uber alles.]
Over the course of the recruiting process, MI RB Thomas Rawls has made it no secret that he'd commit to Michigan if he had the chance. Michigan has offered, and according to the Detroit News, Rawls will be a Wolverine. Apparently his coach was unable to contain the excitement until Thomas's press conference, at which Rivals confirmed he committed to Michigan.
|3*, #77 RB, #15 Instate||3*, 5.6, #20 Instate||3*, 76, #81 RB|
The sites are in agreement: Thomas Rawls stands 5-10, and about 215 pounds. Their rankings of him aren't very high, but there are some reasons for that. Scout openly downgrades players for being academic risks (which is stupid, because it's easy for the layman to tell whether or not he ultimately enrolls at school - rankings should be about skill, not some abstract "value" parameter), and ESPN says that he deserves to see his stock higher than it is, apparently not realizing that they're the ones ranking these kids. More from ESPN:
He is a physically imposing back with good downhill attributes. Hits the hole with authority and flashes good downhill burst and momentum. Quick to see and hit the cutback. A decisive and aggressive runner who is constantly heading North with square shoulder pads and good lean. Displays good explosive out of his cuts and can change speeds to elude.
So far, so good. Weaknesses?
Breaks consistent first contact but did not see the pile pushing power we were expecting. Competition at times appears inferior.
So, uh "AWESOME, except he plays against crappy competition" means he's the 81st-best RB in the country? Color me skeptical on their methodology (more on it in the next section). They also say he has the speed to break big runs against high schoolers, but may not be able to continue at the next level - a more reasonable criticism.
If that's the extent of their criticisms, sign me up for a guy with the upside that a bowling ball-type guy with all the positive attributes listed in the top section.
Scout asks Rawls to talk about his own game:
“I’m a power back and a speed back. I’m also pretty elusive. I can break tackles and always find a crease.”
The elusiveness might be overstated, as that's one of ESPN's criticisms of Thomas, but the combo of speed and power seems to be right in line with scouting reports.
A lack of offers may have kept his overall rankings low, but somewhere in the 3-star range - just a bit higher in the pecking order - seems to be legit to me.
[Ed.: Touch The Banner may provide some insight into the rankings that ESPN's boosterism does not: "Many fans want to compare Rawls to Mark Ingram, the Flint product who won the Heisman for Alabama in 2009. Admittedly, Rawls and Ingram have some physical similarities. Both are approximately the same height and even have similar gaits. But Ingram (who was a 4-star recruit) is and was quicker than Rawls. Michigan fans might not like me for saying this, but Rawls reminds me of Kevin Grady."
OTOH, LeVeon Bell.]
Central Michigan was Rawls's only offer almost through the entire recruiting process. Though Michigan didn't offer until close to the end, they were always right there for him.
Why so few offers? His grades have been a question mark, and that scared away a lot of schools. He insists he'll qualify to play as a freshman, so hopefully it won't be an issue. The lack of offers is part of what kept his rankings low, so look at it with a critical eye.
Sophomore and junior stats from Scout:
Thoimas Rawls made All-State Honorable Mention, All-Conference and All-City for his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, he rushed for 1,056 yards and 16 TD's on 138 carries and recorded 101 tackles. He says he can bench 285-pounds, squats 405 and has a 34-inch vertical jump.
And as a senior:
1,585 yards rushing on 450 carries; 21 touchdowns
He broke the single-game rushing record that a guy named Mark Ingram held for the Flint area, running for 343 yards and 5 TDs.
FAKE 40 TIME
4.5, per the premium sites. That's pretty darn good for a running back with Rawls's size. Of course, his reputation is as a guy who's pretty fast for his size, so I guess it makes sense. Three FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan is in need of a power back, especially with the move to a pro-style offense. Michael Cox has shown flashes, but those have only been against the worst competition on the schedule. The previous coaching staff didn't trust his blocking or hands enough to play him on any regular basis.
However, Stephen Hopkins may have a lock on the starting (power back) position, and as an academic risk, it's probably for the best that Rawls takes a redshirt year to focus on academics and adjust to college life. That will also give him the chance to undergo a year of college weight training, and get acclimated with the playbook before he's ever expected to do anything on the field.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan really needs a defensive tackle and a tight end, but everything else going forward is pretty much gravy. There are five prospects - Fisher, Clark, Willingham, Barnett, and Cooper - still out there (that we know of), and the Wolverines should have room in the class to take them all, should they be so lucky.