OH LB Joe Bolden has been openly favoring Michigan for a couple weeks, and talking about making a decision "at any time." Well, that time has come, and he is the newest member of Michigan's 2012 recruiting class. As he told Tom: "God told him in more than one way that Michigan was his home."
|4*, #27 OLB||NR OLB||NR ILB, 150 Watchlist||4*, 90, NR OLB|
Scout and 24/7 Sports both say the kid is 6-3, whereas Rivals and ESPN both think he's 6-2. Having seen the kid in person, I would guess that 6-3 is closer to the accurate number, despite my hesitance to trust Scout's measurement numbers. As for weight, Scout is the most optimistic at 230, 24/7 Sports says he's 220, and Rivals/ESPN split the difference at 225. We'll trust that average.
On to the evaluations. Starting with Scout, which asks Joe to describe his game:
“The linebacker is the quarterback of the defense. I think I’m a great leader and communicator. My voice is heard on the field and I play smart. I’m also a big hitter and when I make contact I drop and go through people. I can also move well sideline-to-sideline. My game is not perfect and I’m always trying to do things better and get better at everything.”
From the horse's mouth, he's a big hitter and speedy player. If that's not enough, we'll take his high school coach's word for it:
"Speaking as a head coach, he is a phenomenal player. He can play inside and he can play outside at the linebacker position. He covers a lot of ground, he is smart, and he can make the checks. He is a thumper. When he gets there he makes an impact. When he tackles kids, they stay tackled. Plus he carries a 3.9 GPA and is a great man off the field. I think all that makes him a great football player and a great young man."
Now, to be fair, said high school coach is also his uncle, Tom Bolden. However, he echoes the same things: vocal, speedy, big hitter. Scout's Allen Trieu also talks about Joe:
"He has very good size, and he's a tough, hard-nosed football player," Trieu stated. "He's a classic, throwback type linebacker, but he's not just a run stuffer. He runs well and shows good ability in coverage. I think he can be an every-down linebacker and that's why so many schools are after him... Put that all together and he has a shot at playing early and often."
That's a raving review for a guy that doesn't even make Scout's top 25 outside linebackers.
He's also a multi-sport athlete, as ESPN points out that he's a baseball player as well.
Joe has the offers of a mid-to-high BCS-caliber prospect. Arizona, Arkansas, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, North Carolina, NC State, Northwestern, Penn State, Purdue, South Florida, Stanford, Syracuse, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and West Virginia were his BCS conference offers.
So he doesn't exactly have offers from the Ohio States, Floridas, Alabamas, and USCs of the world, but "Penn State linebacker" is an offer with nearly as much cachet as "USC Pro-style QB" or "Wisconsin offensive lineman." This is a Big Get.
Scout has junior numbers :
Joe Bolden finished [with] 90 tackles, four sacks and two interceptions. He says he has a 32-inch vertical jump. Bolden may also play college baseball. He’s an outfielder (.300 batting average, three home runs).
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the premium sites have 40 times, which means an automatic five FAKEs out of five.
ScoutingOhio provides an abbreviated junior highlight:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Joe seems like a very good athlete, and one who is pretty polished as a high schooler. That may sound like a recipe for early playing time, but Michigan landed a big linebacker class in 2011, and already has 3 in this year's crop, so he might not be needed, unless he gets some special team time in the Brian Cook Memorial Wasted Redshirt Year. Let's hope that doesn't happen.
Following a redshirt season, he'll get that special teams time, and a little bit of time as a backup in the rotation. By the time he's a senior, I think Bolden could have All-League potential, and be a mid-round NFL Draft pick.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
That's 3 linebackers, after Michigan landed as many as 6 last year. Brady Hoke and company are probably going to have to start slowing down on linebackers and focus on other positions (or phrased a different way, they have the luxury to do so). They might be willing to take one more elite 'backer, pending the final positions for some of last year's guys, but it would have to be a truly top prospect.
As for the rest of the class, offensive and defensive lines are still priorities. A quarterback, wideout, and safety would be nice as well. After those needs are filled, they can really focus in on top-top talent regardless of position with the final scholarship slots.
A couple months ago everyone was comparing Tressel to Bruce Pearl but there's a big gap between what those two scofflaws did. In contrast Tressel's violations are almost precisely in line with McNair's. He was hit with The Dread Bylaw 10.1 and got a one-year show cause. His issues:
The assistant football coach had knowledge that student-athlete 1 and agency partners A and B likely were engaged in NCAA violations.
Tressel had similar knowledge.
He was not credible in his denials of knowing agency partner A or in his claimed failure to remember a telephone call between him and agency partner A.
No one is denying it, nor could they given the email trail.
The assistant football coach failed to report information to the compliance staff regarding potential NCAA violations related to the activities of agency partners A and B.
Tressel did this.
He also attested, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations.
During the investigation that eventually led to OSU's five-game suspensions Tressel also did this.
His conduct impeded the institution from fulfilling its responsibilities under NCAA bylaws. His conduct also resulted in findings that he violated NCAA ethical conduct legislation by providing false and misleading information to the enforcement staff as described in Finding B-1-b and that he violated NCAA Bylaw 30.3.5 by signing a document attesting, falsely, that he had no knowledge of NCAA violations involving the institution.
Tressel also did this. The inescapable conclusion is Tressel will be hit with at least a one-year show-cause penalty, as McNair was.
Show-cause penalties are not all uniform, but McNair was totally prohibited from recruiting on- or off-campus—he was banned from so much as looking at teenagers who had put on shoulder pads—and had to attend a rules seminar. He wasn't totally banned, FWIW, and USC could have hypothetically kept employing him if they were in the business of carrying around RB coaches who couldn't recruit.
Show-cause penalties also don't necessarily mean the coach hit with one will be fired. Wikipedia helpfully points out the case of Rob Senderoff, one of Kelvin Sampson's assistants. Senderoff loved him some impermissible phone calls but by the time the NCAA hit him with a 30-month show-cause penalty he had already been hired at Kent State. Since he was already there KSU did not have to fire him; he's actually their head coach(!) after the current guy left for Bradley. If Tressel's penalty is analogous to McNair's OSU will probably suck it up and try to get through it.
Will it be? McNair's cover-up went on longer and featured a high-profile player but Tressel's eventually preserved the eligibility of six guys, not one, and if the COI is serious about "high profile compliance" being necessary for high profile violators the head coach of one of the most successful programs in the country brazenly flouting NCAA regulations is an acid test.
I won't venture a guess as to what the result of that test will be, but the next couple years will be time for Brady Hoke to make hay in Ohio.
Darius Morris and Jack Johnson
The Bylaw Blog has developed a recurring theme of late: by placing greater restrictions on the folk it has control over it cedes territory to people it doesn't. A prime example is when the NCAA banned college coaches from attending AAU events. AAU events didn't stop collecting players or happening, and coaches got more distant from the players they were trying to recruit. This provides greater influence for middlemen, and in college basketball these days lots of middlemen want to get paid, yo.
Here's another example, one year after ACC coaches successfully lobbied the NCAA to move the draft withdrawal date up 40 days:
A year later, here we are again. The ACC's coaches drafted a new proposal, one that moves the early-entry deadline all the way up to the day before the beginning of the spring signing period. In 2011, that date -- April 12 -- would have passed us by weeks ago. It would have given underclassman prospects exactly eight days after the national title game to decide whether they wanted to go pro or stay in school for another year. It would have -- I mean, it will; I'm still having trouble with the idea that this is actually happening -- forced players with millions of dollars on the line to make life-altering decisions in the matter of a few days with minimal information on which to make them.
Why move the date? April 10th is the day before basketball's late signing period. Now coaches will know how many spots they have open when that period opens. Except they wont. Bylaw Blog:
In attempting to control the draft process, college coaches have lost all control of the draft process to the NBA. Instead of an NCAA deadline of May 8, the new deadline is not April 10, but still April 24, the NBA's deadline.
The NBA's shown no interest in helping college basketball, so the chances the change actually has any positive effect are slim. The net effect is to prevent a bunch of players from declaring and returning to school. But at least there's an alternate universe in which college coaches are happier.
Why not revamp? I've been bothering the Bylaw Blog about this on twitter, and now I'm going to bother you: you could sidestep all these issues by dumping the current NBA draft structure and replacing it with something closer to the MLB/hockey model. In those sports everyone is automatically put into the draft and thus retains their eligibility. In baseball there is a narrow window in which you have to sign or the team loses rights to the player; hockey teams retain rights to the player until they graduate.
The Bylaw Blog keeps shooting down these proposals like so:
Short draft, limited roster spots, lack of minor league make MLB model less workable for basketball. NBA should adopt MLS approach*.
That was the same reasoning given to me when I bothered him about hockey, but I think he's conflating the two models. The MLB model does encourage a bunch of players to sign way before they're ready to enter the major leagues and implementing it in basketball could see a bunch of college stars toiling away in the D-League, something no one wants. (If the NBA had any designs on making people care about the D-League they wouldn't have started forcing players to go to college.)
The hockey model doesn't necessarily have this issue. Since teams retain rights they can leave kids in school until they determine whether or not they want to sign them. Players do tend to sign before they are NHL-ready but that's because there is a ready-made minor league with a higher level of play that acts as an intermediary between the NHL and the league. There isn't in basketball and the D-league is never going to be one, so teams would almost want to keep their players in college until they thought they were ready.
If I woke up tomorrow and was David Stern this is what I'd do:
- Change the draft so that every recruit who signs a LOI is automatically entered.
- Extend the draft to three rounds.
- Rookie contracts are at least one year longer than the amount of eligibility you're giving up. (IE, straight out of high school: five years, junior: two years, senior: one year, but in that case you don't have the sign the guy so this is essentially zero years.) That roster spot cannot be reclaimed by cutting the player; contracts are not 100% guaranteed but have some floor (probably the league minimum) that is.
- Allow unsigned, drafted players to play in the summer league.
And then if I woke up the next day as the president of the NCAA I'd:
- Fume at my lack of power.
But if I woke up the next day as an NCAA president who could force choke anyone who disagreed with me I'd:
- Allow pro teams to pay for their players to attend rookie camps and assorted "should we sign you" activities.
In the specific case of someone near and dear to us who seems to be making an odd decision because of the current NBA draft structure, Darius Morris would have been in the draft out of high school and after his freshman year, but would have been passed over each time. This year he'd be taken at some point, could work out with his team a bit as long as he paid his own way (about which don't get me started, see fuming above), and then it would be up to the team and Morris to decide whether or not he was ready to make the leap. If the NBA team signed Morris immediately they'd be committing to having him on the roster for the next three years, so they'd have to think about it.
In this specific case and a lot of others the player would be far less likely to make a bad decision because he'd be talking directly with the team who held his rights. Similarly, NBA teams who draft a college player only to find out he needs more seasoning than they thought could save the roster spot and cash for someone else as they wait to see which of their prospects develop. Everyone would have more information via which to make better decisions.
Unfortunately, this seems diametrically opposed to the way things are going. Like Brionte Dunn and showing up on campus, I'll start getting my hopes up when people talking sense about how basketball recruiting goes down pass a legislative proposal and no sooner.
*[The MLS approach is to sign the player and then find a home for him, which doesn't seem workable because the NBA is not a single entity, unlike MLS. MLS is competing with leagues around the world for players, so there's a point to negotiating a contract with a league. The NBA isn't competing against anyone for anyone other than Josh Childress, so I'm not sure what the advantage of their structure is for basketball.]
Brady Hoke has made it clear that the state of Ohio will be one of the main areas of focus [Ed-M: linked to DD on Ohio] for recruiting going forward. He proved that point early on by offering most of the top ranked prospects in the state to the south, including defensive end Adolphus Washington. The Taft High standout spoke with me today about Michigan and where he's at in the process. Here's a look at his film and what he had to say.
TOM: I know it's still early, but you already have a good amount of offers in hand, do you have any visits planned right now? What's next for you?
ADOLPHUS: I don't have any visits planned yet, but I'll probably start taking some in a couple weeks. I haven't really had time because of basketball, so once that's over I will.
TOM: Where have you taken visits so far?
ADOLPHUS: Just Ohio State and Kentucky, I think that's it.
TOM: You said you don't have any visits planned, but do you have an idea of what schools you want to see?
ADOLPHUS: I want to see the Midwest schools like Michigan State, Michigan, Ohio State, Kentucky. I can't go too far obviously, so just the local ones. Ohio State and Michigan will be my first two visits.
TOM: Since you haven't seen most of these schools yet, how are you evaluating them or analyzing them?
ADOLPHUS: When I'm at school I look up their rosters to see who they have coming back and who's redshirting. I kind of look at defensive end more, some schools want me to play outside linebacker, defensive end type role. Michigan has said just defensive end.
TOM: I'm sure the coaches are probably all saying something similar about their schools, but what has Michigan been telling you so far?
ADOLPHUS: Michigan, they think highly of a lot of guys here. They say they need Ohio guys to build their program. I mainly talk to Coach Smith and Coach Mattison sometimes too.
TOM: It's early, but do you feel comfortable talking to them? Do you feel like you're establishing a good relationship with them?
ADOLPHUS: I've established a real good relationship with them. Our AD at Taft used to play for Coach Smith at Indiana State so I trust him because of that.
TOM: I know you and your teammate WR Dwayne Stanford have said you want to play together in college, is that 100%?
ADOLPHUS: We're kind of looking at everything together, we like the same thing in schools. Our majors will be different, but yeah we're 100% going to school together.
TOM: I know that there's a lot of talk about you guys being Ohio State leans, and really liking Ohio State. Are you open to listen to other schools, or are you guys set on Ohio State?
ADOLPHUS: We're open to everybody. We like Ohio State because we grew up fans of Ohio State, but we're giving everyone a chance. Michigan is recruiting me very hard. A lot of people say that I'm an Ohio State lean, but Michigan is still recruiting me hard and I like that. That says a lot about them that they're still coming after me like that. Their program was down last year but I think they're an up and coming program and they'll be back.
TOM: When you start to take visits what are you going to be looking for when your on campus?
ADOLPHUS: When I go to a school I'm going to be looking for how I fit in with everybody else, how do they treat the players and everybody else on campus. Are the players segregated from everybody, or is everyone together. I want everyone to be treated equally with the players, I don't want it to be separate.
TOM: Do you have any preference for scheme?
ADOLPHUS: I can play in any scheme.
TOM: Fair enough. With that being said what do you think are your strengths and weaknesses, and what's your height and weight right now?
ADOLPHUS: I'm 6-foot-4, 258-pounds right now. I think my strengths are rushing the quarterback and being the first to the quarterback. I think I need to learn how to use my hands more, to use my hands better. That's something that I work on.
TOM: Do you know when you're going to make your final decision?
ADOLPHUS: I'm going to make my decision at the Under Armour All American game.
Previously: CB Greg Brown.
|Pickerington, OH - 6'0" 175|
||Scout||3*, #103 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, #60 OH|
|ESPN||2*, 74, #154 ATH|
|Other Suitors||Minnesota, Iowa, Stanford, Arizona|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post.|
|Notes||Yes, that Pickerington: Went to school with an accursed Boren. Central's entire secondary went D-I.|
There are also junior highlights.
When Tamani Carter committed out of nowhere in late January Michigan fans scrambled to find out who the hell he was. The answer, oddly: a guy who had committed to Minnesota less than two weeks before. It's not hard to envision Hoke and company arriving at Michigan, surveying their secondary, and going "oh shiiiiiiiiii." Carter looked like a vaguely plausible guy so plunk went the offer gun.
But despite an extremely plausible story—and the fact that he signed up to play for Minnesota's perpetually beleaguered secondary—that implies Carter is just a random guy destined for special teams duty, he did have a decent offer list. Arizona was after him so hard they're still breathless about their not-very-narrow miss months later (they "made a huge run at him"). He made multiple visits to Stanford and seemingly had an Iowa offer. Those three schools seemed to constitute a top three through his senior season. Snagging a kid away from those three and Minnesota is considerably more encouraging than "best case: Gopher starter."
Of course, you're very cynical so you're asking yourself why on earth anyone with those offers would end up at Minnesota. While he did have an offer from the Hawkeyes at some point, he went from planning an official to Iowa City($) in October to not taking an officials other than one to Arizona, so it seems likely Iowa withdrew that sometime during the middle of the season. The same presumably goes for Stanford. So he wasn't an enormous priority for either. When you're adrift in a post-Process January, though, anyone who could play at Iowa or Harbaugh-era Stanford starts looking pretty good.
This goes double when he is actually a terminator sent from the future with an audacious mission:
"Make all interceptions. Recover all fumbles," explained Carter.
Scouting type stuff. Carter's consistently listed at 6'0" or—at worst 5'11"—so it's odd that his size is consistently criticized. If he's fibbing surely he's not fibbing any more extensively than the vast populace of "5'9"" corners littering rosters across college football. Despite that a scouting article at… um… Scout published after Carter's Michigan commit features three separate guys worrying about it($). Allen Trieu:
My one knock would be size, and he's not very tall or thick at all. He will need time in the weight room before he's able to cover bigger, physical wide receivers.
First off, he's not very tall, but he's a nice, little athlete. It seems a little surprising for Michigan to go after him, because I would think they would be going after bigger defensive backs. He is a good player, and has skills, and the only real question would be his height. He's under 6-foot tall, and that will always be a challenge, covering the taller wideouts.
Assuming he overcomes his height limitations, and there are players that can do that, his speed and athleticism will get him on the field at Michigan, along with his intelligence.
ESPN($), meanwhile isn't too worried about height, but the other bit:
Has more than adequate height but his leaner frame and lack of great strength are concerns when projecting for the college level.
I was going to point out how weird Berk's assertion that Michigan wouldn't recruit Carter because of his size was by pointing to Michigan's roster, but it turns out that roster has dispensed with any pretense of reality by listing both Courtney Avery and Terrance Talbott at 5'11", which I'll eat my hat. Greg Brown is a mere 5'10", so he's probably just suffered a horrendous accident that leaves him without knees.
The point of all this is you will never get a truthful answer about any corner's height and if Carter can plausibly (or even laughably) claim to be six foot that makes him bigger than most of the guys already on the roster and probably as big as anyone else in the recruiting class.
So if Carter was crazy athletic that might not be a problem. That's up for debate. All the Scout guys were impressed ("light on his feet and has great quickness," "possibly sub 4.5," "moves really well"), but ESPN not so much:
Turns into a receiver in one-on-one coverage demonstrating great ball skills and body control. Has good extension, timing and leaping skills making him a very effective defender on the jump-ball. While fluid with good footwork, we do feel like he will be challenged in man-to-man coverage at the major college level. Appears quicker than fast and lacks great explosiveness and top-end speed needed to recover vertically. … Does not show great vertical speed or an extra though to project as a true difference-maker at the major college level.
Touch The Banner gives him an all-around "eh… okay": decent size, decent speed, nothing stands out.
FWIW, his coach echoes some other compliments about Carter's knack for big plays:
"Tamani had a very special season," said Central coach Jay Sharrett to ThisWeek last fall. "When we needed a pivotal play, he was always there for us. Whether we needed a big reception, interception or fumble recovery. Tamani was the guy who made plays that won games for us."
He also praises Carter's willingness to get in the opponent's face:
"He's a corner that doesn't, he kind of enjoys the physical part of the game," Sharrett said. "He's a good, solid tackler and when it comes time to drive his shoulder pads, he'll do that.
Whether he'll have the athleticism to pull that off in college is a question. TTB mentions he'd like Carter more if he was going to be "playing a Cover 2 defense and sitting in the flat most of the day." It might not matter since a quick glance of at the roster shows someone has to move to safety. Greg Brown didn't and it doesn't seem like the other freshmen are suited to it, so Carter is the obvious candidate.
Etc.: Carter's got his own website. Photo gallery from Central's playoff loss to Davidson, DE commit Keith Heitzman's school. Five INTs as a junior. Interview after his Herbstreit Classic game; 95-yard INT return included (unfortunately, INT went right to him). Gallery. Stats: 43 tackles, six PBUs, 3 INTs, and 21 catches on offense. Carter on his decision to decommit.
Why Markus Curry? Not a great comparison because Michigan hasn't recruited a whole lot of guys like Carter in the past, but Curry was a bit shorter than six foot, not heavily recruited, and seriously vulnerable to the deep ball because he didn't quite have the athleticism to keep up with college wideouts.
Guru Reliability: No reason evaluators would have anything wrong here: he was healthy and playing at a heavily scouted school. High.
General Excitement Level: The usual level of disclaimer applies but: low.
Projection: More of a lock to redshirt than anyone other than Russell Bellomy. There are three other corners in the class, all either more hyped or ahead of the curve after enrolling early, and three or four corners already on campus who will probably be ahead of him on the depth chart. Long term, someone's moving to safety and it's probably not Countess or Hollowell—the bet here is he moves to FS soon after arrival and ends up backing up Carvin Johnson for a while, possibly emerging as an upperclassman.
Previously: none this year, but this is an annual series. Check out last year's.
|Fremont, OH - 5'10" 180|
|Scout||3*, #50 CB|
|Rivals||3*, NR, #54 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 77, #35 CB|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post. FNL video and scouting.|
|Notes||Early enrollee. Same HS as one Charles Woodson.|
(Brown stuff at the two minute mark.) Scouting Ohio has junior film.
Greg Brown committed to Michigan a long, long time ago. This site's "Hello" post dates back to September of 2009, mere days after new Hurricane Tate Forcier had made his debut at Michigan. At the time we had little to go on except Jim Stefani's comprehensive database ("very quick, speedy, athletic, great body control, fine ball skills and has fluid hips… impressive at the 2008 Michigan summer camp and was rated by some onlookers as the second best CB at the camp as a mere freshman") and some message board post wherein Brown is declared Fremont's "next big professional athlete" by someone who is probably not an NFL scout. The mere fact he had a committable Michigan offer—and reported another one from Michigan State—before his junior year even started was the most powerful evidence we had at the time that he was going to be some variety of Big Time.
It didn't really work out like that. He never even looked like emerging from the Pit of Generic Three Stars, spent most of his senior year playing linebacker, and seemed like yet another questionable move by Rich Rodriguez when it came to defensive recruiting. Rivals doesn't even bother to rank him outside of "you'll get three stars and like it." When he had a brief flirtation with Syracuse at the tail end of 2010 that seemed like a development that would inevitably lead to Brown and Michigan parting ways like various other "whoops, you committed" players(e.g., Dewayne Peace, Jordan Barnes) had under Rodriguez.
He stuck, though, and was the only member of this recruiting class to enroll early. No one expected much from him, but there he was in the spring game…
…giving up a touchdown, sure. But giving up a touchdown that seemed like offensive pass interference after being close enough to be shoved by the wide receiver. I don't have to remind Michigan fans about what happened last year and how being in the same timezone as a wide receiver is an improvement.
This would be a hilarious reach but for Brown getting consistent praise in the spring. It's still a bit of a stretch but three things make a trend, right? (1) Hoke after spring:
"He has improved every week," Hoke said of Brown, from Fremont (Ohio) Ross. "I think he's got a great future. Sometimes when there's an opportunity and a guy comes in there and competes, he might just win (the job).
(2) Hoke two weeks earlier:
Freshmen contributing this fall: "Really haven't thought about it much yet." Depth concern at OL and DL might provide some opportunities, but it's too early to say. Corner? "Maybe. We'll see. Greg Brown's really, in the last week and a half he's really stepped up." Courtney Avery has stepped up as well.
(3) Craig Ross was also pleasantly surprised:
In a huge surprise to me, I saw some really good play from Greg Brown—at corner—in the last Saturday scrimmage [ed: ie, the Saturday before the spring game]. This was mentioned by the coaches, so it is not a secret or my insanity.
That sort of praise did not pop up about the departed Cullen Christian, for one. So it means something. How much it means is something we'll have to wait four years to find out, but at the very least it suggests Brown has a chance to be someone other than Darnell Hood.
As for what kind of player he is, the scouting reports read like the opposite of the ones we got for Avery and Talbott last year. Those praised the kids' athleticism and worried about their smurfiness; Brown's think he's got good enough size but don't know about those hips. ESPN($):
Has average height with good overall body length; should continue to fill out well. Plays bigger and taller on film than listed measurables. A bit high and rigid in pedal and opening and turning but uses his hands well and can stick to receivers in man-to-man without giving up much separation. Looks to be a better zone and underneath corner. Closes with above average speed and quickness. Displays more-than-adequate change-of-direction skill and overall footwork. … Very effective in deep coverage as well and defends the jump-ball well with his good leaping and high-point skills. Comfortable around the football and his polished receiving skills show. However, we do question his transitional skills and ability to flip his hips fluidly when matched up versus fast major college wideouts; not real explosive as a runner and speed could get challenged vertically as well.
When Tim covered the playoff game between Brown and OL commit Jack Miller he found Brown playing linebacker(!):
He's a bit stocky, and played exclusively outside linebacker on defense for Fremont Ross. Even at a position closer to the ball, he rarely seemed to be in on any plays, despite having a chance on some of them. As a linebacker, he only covered tight ends from the slot in pass coverage and did an adequate job staying with a guy half a foot taller than him. … His speed wasn't that impressive.
Those reports are in opposition Allen Trieu's, but Trieu caught him right at the start of his junior year—Tim saw him in his last HS game. Trieu($):
The report I had read coming into the game was that he did not have great timed speed, but watching him, I saw that he played fast. He also plays with a lot of aggressiveness and attitude and that showed in run support. He isn't afraid to come up and make tackles. He isn't a particularly powerful tackler, but he went low and got the job done. As a receiver and return man, he showed his quickness and open field elusiveness.
Areas for Improvement: Brown plays bigger than his size, but he is undersized.More Trieu($):
FWIW, local Ohio observers had a slightly higher opinion than Tim or the rankings at large. Ohio Varsity made him the #5 DB in the state, ahead of OSU commit and high three-star Dejuan Gambrell.
Why Grant Mason? Mason was around 5'11" and was not athletic enough to get an NFL sniff, but he was a useful piece as an upperclassman after his transfer from Stanford and started as a senior. Like Mason, Brown is a good student (3.5 GPA) and projects as a guy to develop in the hopes he ends up a useful piece behind a star.
Guru Reliability: You'd think high since he's been fairly high profile—evaluators had two years of games to check him out in the full knowledge he was a Michigan commit. The spring stuff might bring that into question.
General Excitement Level: If you asked me on Signing Day I was going to politely suggest that not everyone can be a starter and Brown was probably going to be Darnell Hood, but one spring ball later Brown looks like a viable threat to crack the two deep and is 50-50 to be a starter at some point. A bit below moderate, then.
Projection: also 50-50 to redshirt. Michigan's starters should be Woolfolk and Avery and they are apparently going with Thomas Gordon, not a corner, as a dedicated nickelback. So it's JT Floyd, Terrance Talbott, and the three freshmen competing to be the two guys who rotate in. I'm guessing only one freshman plays—Brown may not have the hype but he showed up early.
As far as the future goes, he'll be in a war to replace Woolfolk next year. He probably loses that to someone, at which point he'll have to wait for Avery to graduate before he gets a shot.