Caution: this draft is from June, so some portions may be slightly out-of-date. If I see anything glaringly wrong or in need of update, I'll fix it.
UT FB Sione Houma committed to Michigan today, showing that Brady Hoke was VERY SERIOUS INDEED about landing a blocking back in this crop. That brings Michigan's commitment total for the 2012 class to 20, with a class of 23-26 on tap (though there aren't that many spots available yet).
|2*, NR RB||NR RB||NR RB||Not in Database|
So, uh, I think it's fair to say this kid is a bit under-the-radar, no? Oddly, it seems that Michigan is recruiting him strictly as a fullback, although all three sites that have heard of him list him as a running back. And, well, they might be onto something. He's listed at a consensus 6-0, 215ish, which is really small for a fullback, unless his frame is really underdeveloped. Considering Michigan has offered a 6-3, 245-lb kid as a tailback for next year's class, it is quite curious indeed.
As a high schooler, he's the A-back (dive man) in a wishbone offense. That may be why schools think he's capable of playing fullback, but it also means he hasn't done a whole lot of lead blocking at this point. His video shows exactly what you'd expect: a guy who gets the ball surrounded by defenders, and instead of trying to go around them, he just keeps his legs churning and grinds out tough yardage. He's not going to go down on first contact, but that's more a result of effort and power, rather than impressive balance.
What is impressive is his ability to pull away from defenders should he happen to get through the first line of defense cleanly. He also shows the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, an important skill in a West Coast(ish) offense.
Apart from Michigan, it was mostly local(ish) schools that had offered. Utah and Utah State were joined by PAC-12 member Washington as the other schools that had extended offers to Sione.
Georgia Tech (noted fullback-users) had also showed interest, but did not extend an offer.
Scout and Rivals have the exact same stats for him, so I'm guessing they come straight from his coach's mouth:
As a junior Houma rushed for 1,211 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Without knowing how many carries that spans, it's impressive, but we can't be sure quite how impressive it is (his highlight reel embedded below says only 1,064 yards and 7 TDs, for the record). He was named first-team all-state.
FAKE 40 TIME
Once again, Scout and Rivals have the exact same information, so it's likely to be straight from the source: 4.53 seconds. If Michigan is indeed looking at this kid as a fullback, I would guess it's because he isn't very fast (the competition in Utah probably isn't the greatest either, so take the highlights with a grain of salt), so... four FAKEs out of five.
For a kid that the recruiting sites know next-to-nothing about, there certainly is a lot of video available on him. Highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan has a couple fullback options in the class of 2011 (be they position-switchers or preferred walkons), which means they'll have at least a year in the system - and possibly a year on the field - on him by the time Sione enrolls next fall. That spells immediate redshirt, especially since he needs to bulk up to play fullback.
After that, however, your guess is as good as mine. A couple years on special teams (he would make a good coverage man with his toughness and surprising speed) are likely if he can't beat out those ahead of him. If he can, four years of starting is probably in the cards.
Fullback is not a glory position, and he's not going to be a Kevin Dudley-type masher, either. What he will bring is more ability with the ball in his hands, either running or catching it. That provides an offensive versatility, particularly because he could also be the lone back in sets where the running back motions, etc.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The staff seemed intent on landing a fullback in this class, and they got one. Defensive tackle is still the biggest need for 2012, and other positions are rounding out nicely. Brady Hoke says this will be a nearly-full class of 23-26 kids, so the staff can fill a couple needs, while only worrying about elite prospects.
Yesterday's release of the 2011 media guide brought up a few questions about some guys not on the roster. I just got my answers from Athletic Dept. spokesman David Ablauf and they're un-good:
"Kellen Jones is no longer an enrolled student at the University."
Reason was neither asked for nor given. This is the end. One of you who doesn't like me gets to be the one to tell Brian we chose to post his 2011 Recruiting Profile right before some of the rumors hit the Twitters.
Impact: Kellen was considered one of the few 2011 recruits who might contribute immediately, and was expected to challenge for a spot on the two-deep at WLB. Short-term this will mean one of the other freshmen linebackers has a shot to play early. MLB/WLB depth chart currently reads Demens and ???s. Down the road it shouldn't matter so much once the 2012 class of Ross, Jenkins-Stone, Bolden and Ringer arrive.
As for some other roster incongruities, why was Christian Pace left off the roster, and did Teric Jones get listed with no number while two other guys switched to his 14? Because the gods hath no mercy:
"Christian Pace was medicaled; meaning his playing career is over due to an injury ... [answers other questions] ... Teric is also medicaled."
Impact of Losing Teric: Minimal. Jones is a 2009 scat-back who came in behind several guys in the '08 and '09 classes. He was part of the Cass Tech clan who re-established that pipeline. Teric did what he could to help, bouncing to DB when warm bodies were needed, but he made only a Darnell Hood-ian impact and moved back to RB, where he was a spare part behind 6-7 other guys. Teric lost the end of the 2010 season to a knee injury against Illinois.*
Impact Christian: Bloody Argh. Pace was the only OL recruit of the 2010 class, and those of us in bloggerland were ludicrously excited about him because he was an under the radar recruit whom smart coaches were hard after. Also he's as much of a David Molk clone as Taylor Lewan was a Jake Long clone coming out of high school. There's a huge difference between proto-Molk and Molk, but Pace's high school tape (as in just watch every play) is a series of the ball being snapped followed by something being shot out of a cannon and ending 4 yards downfield on top of a pitiable fool. He was perfect for the spread 'n shred, which suggests he's not perfect for non-spread-and-shred. I still had unreasonable hope, but even general hope for Pace in a Hoke Manball offense was pretty high. This year he was behind Molk and Khoury, who has been serviceable. Down the line this opens the path for Miller, or else one of the big guards-like objects from 2011 and 2012. Further injuries to the undermanned OL will result in wanton trotting out of an Angry-[Position]-Hating God tag.
Last piece of info, which isn't any info.
No change on Darryl Stonum's status.
I'll let Tim follow up with specifics since everyone I would call will be at his presser anyway.
* I hate to throw this into a post about one of Michigan's best academic performers and team players losing the 2nd half of his career, but considering the staff plans to sign the full 26 in 2012, this feels a little…convenient. #oversigning fears. EDIT: This is NOT an accusation and as posters have pointed out it would be a bad idea for the coaches to pull a "convenient" move with a kid from our biggest in-state pipeline. It bears mentioning only because it would arch an eyebrow at another school, and because this space has been critical of those other schools when there's even a whiff. Discussion cont'd in the comments.
Losing Pace and Jones is decidedly inconvenient.
Like this, but in a suit. And at a podium. And with other Big Ten coaches and players as well. So basically not like this at all. Sorry.
Since yours truly will be at Big Ten Media Days on Thursday and Friday, time to crowdsource some questions. Those of Michigan players (Denard Robinson, Kevin Koger, and Mike Martin), and coach Brady Hoke are most likely to be asked, but if you have things for other players/coaches that are interesting enough, I may get a chance to ask them at Friday's roundtables.
So, if you have a pressing question (WHEN U SCORED TOUCHDOWN HOW U FEEL?), drop it in the comments here, and I'll ask some of the best ones. You have a couple days to give it your best shot.
This weekend will be a big event for Michigan with the BBQ, but there will be a big time visitor before the cook out as well. With limited spots left prospects could start to make decisions depending on what their peers decide to do themselves, so every spot left is on watch. Here's a look at what happened this week and what's happening in the future. As always you can follow me on Twitter @TomVH and email me with any tips at [email protected].
6'2", 190 lbs.
West Des Moines, Iowa
Darboh is a four star receiver that has shown interest in Michigan for quite some time, bnut has been unable to make it up to Ann Arbor. That's about to change, as he has finally set up a visit to take in the campus and environment.
I'm going up to Michigan tomorrow [Monday the 25th]. Me and my basketball coach are going. He's a Michigan fan and he was able to give me a ride, so he wanted to go. We're taking off here at 8am on Monday, staying all day Monday, all day Tuesday, and then we might be back for a little bit on Wednesday too.
This is a big visit for both parties since Michigan is currently looking for wide receivers and Darboh hasn't been able to meet most of the coaching staff.
I have met Coach Mallory, but I haven't been up there yet. I'm excited, I don't have any questions right now but I'm sure once I get there I'll have some. I'm just excited to see everything. I've heard a lot of good things from my coaches. I've talked to the Michigan coaches over the phone, but I want to meet them and hopefully meet some of the players too.
As far as where his recruitment stands Darboh says he will likely narrow his list down by the time his season starts.
I thought I'd have a top list already but I'm not going to have it until my season starts. Hopefully when my season starts I'll have it narrowed down to a top five and then just go from there. If I take an official visit somewhere and I feel comfortable and it feels right then I'll just commit there. Right now everything changes every now and then because I haven't seen everywhere yet. I don't want to name a list until I finalize it, but I think Michigan has a good chance to be in the top five. I'll know more about them after my visit.
Amara also holds offers from Florida, Iowa, Iowa State, MSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin among others.
6'7", 320 lbs.
Braden has been committed to Michigan since March, though it seems much longer with all the other commitments Michigan has reeled in since. At the time, little was known about him, but since then Braden made quite a bit of noise at Michigan's camp with his size and performance.
I went up against a lot of good defensive linemen. Towards the end of the camp we were given the option to switch to defense, so I tried that out too. I did get to meet some of the other prospects and we were all kind of getting to know each other more than anything. Right now my height is 6-foot-7 and my weight is 320-pounds. I'm not really focused on a certain weight, just getting stronger and faster and better. That helped this year at the camp, but I still have some things I'm trying to improve on.
Ben is starting to realize that his last year of high school football is upon him, but is just trying to focus on one step at a time.
It's all starting to set in with all the seniors, but I'm just trying to worry about the season. With Michigan my family and I are going to try to get up for a few games. I do want to get up to the night game against Notre Dame.
There have been fans that are concerned with what the final product will look like for Michigan on the field in 2011. They've been wondering how that translates to the recruits, and what their perspective is on how well Michigan does this coming season.
Just from meeting the coaching staff I'm very comfortable with their methods and how they teach technique. The biggest thing that I really love and a huge key to why I committed is the family atmosphere. With Brady Hoke and all the coaches I think this season is going to be great, it's going to be huge. I know that they're going to do great. With recruiting I think it's cool that we have a lot of good athletes that are committing to my class. I know we're all excited to interact and build friendships too.
Braden's size and performance at Michigan's camp, in my mind, don't match up with how he's rated on the recruiting sites. As Tim speculated in last week's Friday Night Lights primer, he should have a shot to move up.
6'2", 186 lbs.
Powe is a four-star receiver that has recently come to the attention of Michigan fans. He has shown interest in Michigan, and says the Wolverines are among his top group.
I'm trying to visit Michigan. I've been talking to Coach Heck about when I should come out there. [In order] Oregon State, Michigan, UCLA, Miami, and Cal are on top right now. I'm trying to wait everything out to see all my choices and narrow everything down.
Powe's teammate and fellow wide receiver Malik Gilmore is currently committed to Oregon State, but also had interest in Michigan at one point. It will be interesting to see how Powe's recruitment plays out. He says that he's a fearless playmaker that isn't scared to go across the middle of the field to make a play.
I posted today that 2011 OL Graham Glasgow switched his preferred walk on commitment from Ohio State to Michigan in mid June. He's a 6'7", 295 lb tackle that has been showing some potential so far. Another walk on OL that seems to be holding his own is Gary Yerden from from Parchment, Michigan. Others have pointed out on the board that Yerden was formerly a weight lifter and broke the dead lift record in high school.
If you somehow missed the visitor list for the Big House BBQ this weekend you can find it here. This should be a big deal for Michigan; there are a few uncommitted prospects at the event and there might be potential for a few things to keep an eye on. We'll see.
2013 QB Shane Morris, 2012 DB Terry Richardson, and TE Ron Thompson are all at the Gridiron Kings event in Florida this week. If you've missed coverage of it you have not been on the internet because it's everywhere. Just in case, here's a link to an article. In that article Tom Luginbill says that if Shane Morris were in the 2012 class he would a top five or six guy in the country.
The 2011 Football Media Guide is out, and you know of course what that means: OBSESSIVE ATTENTION TO ROSTER NUMBERS HO!
Kellen Jones is not on it: There are plenty of rumors on [pick your favorite message board] as to why, but I've heard there's a high probability those rumors were made up to fill the great big "I dunno." I have a query in with Brandon's office.
Christian Pace is not on it: Medical rumors seem to be true, at least for this year. Shattered dreams of Molk 2.0.
Darryl Stonum is on it: If this means anything, horray. If not, horray.
Your Football Freshmen, Now With Digits:
# = walk-on
|Name||Pos.||Was||Now||This is not the reason:|
|Josh Furman||S||6||14||Stokes may line up on defense maybe?|
|Jack Kennedy||QB||25||14||Walk-ons don't count.|
|J.T. Floyd||CB||12||18||Secret plan to make me think we still have James Rogers next year|
|Thomas Gordon||S||15||30||Doubled the abs|
|Isaiah Bell||LB||26||34||Isaiah 26 is 'A Song of Praise'; Isaiah 34 is 'Judgment Against the Nations.' This is a bad sign for…someone.|
|Terrence Talbott||CB||22||37||Weird: Jake Ryan is 37 too. Maybe there's a plot to make the DBs and LBs look interchangeable to confuse opponents or something?|
|Marell Evans||LB||9||51||Those who stay can keep their number.|
|Ricky Barnum||OL||56||52||Joey Burzynski (2010 walk-on OL) called it|
|Brandon Moore||TE||88||89||Because he and Craig Roh are listed as 6'2"/250 and this was really freaking Funk out.|
|Teric Jones||RB||14||--||Maybe you need a position first|
Yes, I too was totally thinking of that Seinfeld episode after Susan died. Best as I can guess here is Lloyd and Bo liked to keep one guy to a number and some of them were repeats on the other side of the ball (RR was a proponent of that long before EA Sports let you do it). Or maybe some of the 2012 commits have been promised digits?
Counting Things on Scholarship
15! Fifteen scholarship seniors on the roster, ah ah ah! Also 18 juniors, 20 sophomores, and 27 guys with freshman eligibility.
42! Forty-two scholarship players not from one of the last two ('10 or '11) classes, ah ah ah! Up from 36 last year.
80! Eighty guys on scholarship, ah ah ah, counting Kovacs, Grady and Evans but not the missing fellows. Up from 76 at this time last year.
15! Fifteen scholarship players at defensive back, ah ah ah! Five of those are redshirt sophomores or older (two each from '08 and '09, and Woolfolk). Last year was 15 guys, but 7 of them freshmen. Now we have five freshmen and five sophomores, which, better?
15! Fifteen guys on the 2010 roster not on the 2011 one. That's 9 graduations, 2 non-renewed, four transfer/booted (Forcier, Cullen, Vinopal and D.J. Williamson) and one we're guessing medical. Strangely only Vinopal, the 2-star who became a freshman starter, seems to be a coaching transition loss.
12! Twelve guys pictured in the Media Guide with dreads: Richard Ash, Chris Eddins, Josh Furman, J.T. Floyd, Jeremy Gallon, Junior (Not a Junior) Hemingway, Stephen Hopkins, Martavious Odoms, Denard Robinson, Vincent Smith, Je'Ron Stokes.
Photo day!: From his picture I think Devin Gardner is going to end up being CEO of something. Will Campbell wins the "Fell for the old 'hey everybody let's all look like we're really tough in our photos' shtick" award. Meanwhile Klingons are attempting to steal Denard's smile because it has the power create habitable, lush new planets all by itself.
Non-renewed 5ths: Michael Williams, John Ferrara, Zac Ciullo, and Kevin Leach might have had another year of eligibility, but are gone. All were expected. Sad that Mike Williams's career ends with his pre-2010 concussion. I've been hard on his play but we'll never know if he might have put it together for his last two years.
Weight Gain 2011: The player weights are unchanged from Spring but some of the freshmen are a little off from their high school weights. Of those, Tony Posada is up 15 lbs. (to 330…um), Delonte Hollowell is up to 170 (from 162), and Thomas Rawls is listed at 220 (from 214). Standard operating procedure is to consider all weight gains and losses as good things.
Gentlemen, start your dynasties.
|Houston, TX - 6'1" 210|
|Scout||4*, #12 MLB|
|Rivals||3*, #29 ILB, #69 TX|
|ESPN||3*, 79, #35 OLB|
|Other Suitors||Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim. Tom interviews him and gets some commit quotes. User tomcat sits next to him on a plane and is impressed.|
|Notes||Also a small white dude drafted by the Oilers.|
Those are senior highlights; there is also a junior reel.
Occasionally, Spartan taunting will cause the message board to recycle a discussion about whether non-alum Michigan fans are real Michigan fans and how the core, I-know-what-Great-Books-is folk should react to them. Kellen Jones's dad Sean is the answer to this question.
The elder Jones grew up wanting to play for Michigan but didn't end up a D-I prospect, but a decade or two after his playing career at Morehead State ended, his influence saw a kid from Houston want nothing more than to don a winged helmet:
Q: How did you end up at Michigan?
A: It was a dream offer from the get-go. My dad’s dream was to go there, and he passed it on to me. It’s Michigan — Big House football. It’s a great academic school with history and tradition, the winningest program in college football, so it’s an all-purpose fit.
Q: So you’re going to be living your dad’s dream. How thrilled is he?
(Dad Sean Jones played at Morehouse College, Martin Luther King Jr.’s alma mater.)
A: He’s so excited. I think he might be more excited than I am. He sings Hail to the Victors. He’s looking up the videos and all types of stuff.
The answer: come one and all, especially if you are a large and mean.
The Jones family's Michigan fandom saw Kellen select Michigan over a wide array of mid-level BCS offers of which Arkansas, Texas A&M, Stanford, and Missouri were the most impressive. Jones made a little bit of noise about opening his recruitment back up when Rodriguez was fired but a couple of phone calls from Hoke and Mattison and he was solid again.
As a result, Michigan has a slashing blitzer on the three/four star borderline who is badly needed. Like Morgan, scouting reports focus on his intelligence. Unlike Morgan, they also praise explosive athleticism. (Morgan's edge is two inches and twenty pounds.)
The best parts of Jones' game are his intelligence and instincts. He has a knack for finding the ball even if he has to wade through the trash. Furthermore, as a high school middle linebacker, he has experience playing the position, which ought to enhance the speed with which he picks up the college game. Once he finds the ball, he's a solid tackler who could be a devastating hitter once he puts on the necessary weight and refines some tackling technique issues.
His highlight film above helps confirm. It features a large number of plays on which Jones has to pick through trash or defeat blocks to get to the ballcarrier. This may be because of its extensive length—a lot of shorter videos leave out scraping plays because they don't often result in HERE COMES THE BOOM—but it may also be because a lot of high school linebackers don't do that kind of thing very often.
That's not to say he doesn't bring the boom:
“He’s just a violent football player. He’s going to leave his mark when he makes contact with you,” Kimball said of Jones …
[Kimball] describes a play not on the highlight film: “…the guy’s momentum stopped going forward instantly. It was amazing that they were both conscious after that hit,” Kimball said. “I don’t know how both of them got up and walked off the field. It was one of those types of collisions that looked like two diesel trucks running into each other.
“Poor running back, he didn’t see it coming, barely.”
“I love to hit, I love to hit,” Jones said laughing. “When the season starts everyone is excited. You hear the fans, the crowd and I love to make contact and knock somebody into the dirt.”
“As a linebacker, I’m very instinctive,” said Jones, who has a 3.4 grade-point average and plans to major in mathematics and engineering. “I’m very good on the blitz. I’m aggressive to the ball and I’m a great pass rusher. I’m very passionate about the game.”
Did you have a tingle thinking about a linebacker who understands what a tangent is? I did. This is a signal you have Asperger's disease even if it doesn't exist anymore.
… excellent athlete … Has the size for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. We like this guy's flexibility, balance and agility; does a good job with K&D run recognition skills however his strength is the ability to avoid contact and beat blockers to the point of attack with quickness. Moves through traffic very well with good change of direction ability; is able to keep leverage on the ball and is seldom out of position. Flashes downhill ability vs. the inside run but not the big tough inside linebacker type who consistently stacks at the point. … capable of creating havoc in the backfield against the run and pass. Is productive blitzing up the middle or off the edge; shows good timing with quite a few sacks and hurries. … The intense motor this player brings to the field results in big momentum changing plays.
Scout more than echoes the section on his effectiveness as a blitzer:
Amazing on the blitz, he is as instinctual as you can find. He has a feel for getting through blocking and getting in to attack the quarterback, also good at blocking kicks. His size is okay but it is not above average. Good speed he uses it to his advantage on blitzes and coverage. Does a great job of working through blocks.
All things being equal, Jones might be destined for MLB. Things are not equal, though. Michigan has two more years of Kenny Demens in the middle, a potentially solid backup in Marell Evans, and fellow freshman Desmond Morgan. On the weakside there's just Mike Jones and Antonio Poole. While Poole is about the same level of recruit Jones is he's probably 15-20 pounds lighter. Jones could—probably should—be on the two-deep at WLB the day he steps on campus. His long term future could be in the middle, but until Demens departs he's needed on the outside. His coach echoes($) that evaluation:
"I don't think he is going to be there yet to play inside linebacker as an incoming freshman - that's a pretty tall task for any freshman - but at outside linebacker I think he has the ability to come in and play pretty soon," Kimball said. "On the perimeter I think he can make a pretty good impact with what they are doing out there, and over time, as he develops the college bulk to him, I think he can progress into the middle."
That versatility will make it easy for Jones to be on the field early and often even if Brady Hoke is dead set on filling a four-deep at LB.
Etc.: Hanging out with Ray Lewis. Hanging out with… um… Rich Rodriguez. Watch him sign a piece of paper. Played in that "USA vs the World" game. Player of the Week feature from the local Fox affiliate. Extensive interview with The Victors Voice.
One more fawning coach quote($) for the road:
"I don't see how he could be close to maxed out, not because of his physical abilities, but because of his work ethic," Kimball said. "He's almost a straight A student and the strongest guy on the team, but he puts those types of standards on himself... he's really focused for a young man. He does not do anything half throttle, whether that is in the classroom, the weight room or on the practice field. He has a relentless pursuit of perfection."
Aw, hell, here's another:
“We’ve got some great coaches here, but it’s (Jones’) aggressiveness that’s really made him the player he is,” Kimball said. “We spend actually more time at practice telling him to chalk it back a little bit. … We had to tell him, ‘Hey, man, look, we’re just trying to get a look here, you’re running scout team defense of whatever can you maybe give us a better look, because we’re not going to face a guy like you the whole season.’”
Why Larry Foote? Foote was a slightly undersized linebacker (6-0.5, 240-ish as a senior at Michigan) with good athleticism who could get to the sideline and was at his best when sent on the blitz. He bounced between MLB and WLB; as a senior he annihilated all comers with 23.5 TFLs.
Here's an old scouting report($) from Scout leading up to his NFL draft year:
THE GOOD: Quick, athletic linebacker that flies around the football. Explosive first step moving to action, scrapes well laterally and pursues the ball carrier with speed. Effectively redirects to the ball carrier, displays a quick and fluid change of direction and shows excellent range in pass coverage. Gets depth on his drops, adequate footwork covering backs or tight ends off the line of scrimmage and can play in space. Works hard, plays with reckless abandon and goes sideline to sideline for 60 minutes.
THE BAD: Small, slow shedding blocks or rather easily moved out of his angle of attack. Lacks body control and may not have the flat out speed to be considered at strong safety.
Jones seems to have all of the good bits above and sheds better than Foote—at least against high school competition.
Guru Reliability: Fairly high. Spread in rankings is pretty large, but was healthy at a big school in Houston. Scouting reports are consistent; differences in opinion appear to be due to varying opinion on how well he'll be able to overcome a lack of size.
General Excitement Level: Slightly under high. Size is a limitation, though it shouldn't be a huge one if he doesn't end up in the middle. The experience, athleticism, intelligence, and desire to plant his face into your pancreas at speed all appear to be there.
Projection: Moved to WLB in his first week on campus and probably on the two-deep against Western. No reason to redshirt him with the linebacker flood behind him and Michigan will need him unless Mike Jones is unreasonably good for a meh recruit who missed last year with an injury. Will probably spend the first half of the season spotting Jones—remember that Thomas Gordon will see significant rotation as the nickelback—and then it's 50-50 he takes over the starting job a la Demens.
Long term I think he sticks at WLB since he'll be established there and some combo of Morgan/Bolden/RJS/Ross will turn into a productive middle linebacker. A potential four-year starter.