a terrible blight on our fine country
This first started with a message board post around these parts, and now we've confirmed it with two additional sources close to the situation: freshman offensive tackle Dann O'Neill has left the team. It's unclear whether he's transferring or giving up football.
Now… as we learned to our collective terror during the McGuffie transfer wobbling, these things aren't official until they are official. This appears to be a done deal, however, and has passed the threshold of likelihood where it's worth reporting. Thus: this post.
The departure shouldn't affect Michigan's 2009 season, as O'Neill wasn't on the two-deep and had never been mentioned as a threat to find playing time. Most of what we'd heard on him was along the lines of "great frame but needs a ton of work with both technique and strength." But he was a big-time recruit in the hybrid Carr/Rodriguez class, and his washout is disappointing. With Kurt Wermers' departure that six-member line class is now down to four; further departures will start cutting into players earmarked as future starters.
The good news is that Barnum, Khoury, and Omameh have all positioned themselves as future starters, possibly as early as this year, and are unlikely to depart. Elliot Mealer's recovery from his shoulder injury makes him something of a wild-card, but he's also been the subject of scattered positive reports.
This takes Michigan to approximately 21 scholarships in the 2010 class, but Michigan is probably going to have to fill O'Neill's spot with another offensive lineman; expect four to sign up, with OH guard/center Christian Pace already in the fold.
Previously: S Vlad Emilien, S Thomas Gordon, CB Justin Turner, CB Adrian Witty, LB Isaiah Bell, LB Mike Jones, LB Brandin Hawthorne, DT Will Campbell, DE Anthony LaLota, DE Craig Roh, OL Michael Schofield, OL Taylor Lewan, OL Quinton Washington, WR Cameron Gordon, WR Je'Ron Stokes, WR Jeremy Gallon, and RB Teric Jones.
|Pahokee, Florida - 5'6" 159
|Scout||3*, #102 RB|
|Rivals||3*, #36 RB|
|ESPN||77, #60 RB|
|Other Suitors||Tennessee, Wisconsin, Minnesota|
|Hello: Vincent Smith|
From Pahokee (Odoms, Hawthorne); early enrollee.
Life is rough in Pahokee, Florida, a place more swamp than land where the kids chase rabbits for something to do. Ask Vincent Smith:
"Life is a struggle," said former Pahokee running back Vincent Smith, now playing at Michigan. "It's a learning experience because you have to be able to adapt quickly or you can easily get into trouble. Playing sports helped put me on the outside of some of the circumstances and struggles in the town."
But not all of them. Smith's teammate and friend Norman Griffith was shot in the head on September 27th. Pahokee went out and lost its annual rivalry game against Glades Central, then ran off a series of victories that ended in a third consecutive state championship. Smith was the star of the game with 22 carries for 137 yards. Somewhere along the way, he committed to a Michigan program that had seen fit to offer him in February.
When he committed, I wasn't that enthused about a 5'6" low-three star who hadn't been the star of his offense as a junior. By signing day, though, Smith's zippy, productive senior year (2,119 yards on 248 carries with 20 touchdowns) had produced a steady climb up the Rivals rankings. Though he never escaped the three-star ghetto, he went from around the #65 RB to around the #30 RB. Then a couple folk who are employed to observe these kids emailed me saying that if Smith was three inches taller he'd be king of the universe. One did this apropos of nothing. And in retrospect, Smith's other offers—Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Minnesota—came from a weird melange of teams that, though different in philosophy, know ground-pounding when they see it.
(On the height, make no mistake: though he'll be listed at 5'9" or whatever on the roster, the height above is much closer to accurate. Varsity Blue attended the spring press conference and reported back thusly:
Smith was at the press conference, and he is tiny. I’ve talked with Odoms face to face, and I’m pretty sure Odoms has 2-3″ on Smith. He’s listed 5′6″; I’m pretty sure there are rides at Cedar Point he can’t get on, but he can apparently run the ball really well.
Anyway, by signing day I had come around on Smith, repeatedly going back to little darting Blue Devil with dreads when pinged for a sleeper in the class. (Here's the CIL archive.)
Not to be That Guy, but, uh:
Smith enrolled early and was the non-Forcier buzz of spring practice. Despite having three or four viable options in front of him at running back, he's not going to redshirt:
Rodriguez said Thursday he does not foresee red-shirting Smith, a 5-foot-6, 158-pound back from Pahokee, Fla.
"He's really come along," Rodriguez said. "He's still confused sometimes as all the freshmen would be, but he showed some flashes in the last practice, and he's probably going to play some this year as a true freshman."
"He's a pretty quick learner on the field, and he's got some natural ability."
Though his slight frame, general youth, and Brandon Minor should keep him from serious time as a freshman, if you were to poll the vast universe of people with an opinion of Michigan's 2010 running back situation, he would probably be at least neck-and-neck with Michael Shaw.
So he's passed the first major hurdle by arriving on campus and seeming like a viable future option. Plenty of recruits higher-ranked than he don't manage that (think Cobrani Mixon). So the following scouting reports are possibly a little pessimistic. Anyway…
ESPN says Smith lacks size "on paper"—which uh what about real life too—and says he runs "low to the ground," as if he has a choice. They also note his ability to pick through the traffic inside:
Very slippery to wrap up as an in-line runner and utilizes smaller body structure to his advantage. Picks and slides through the initial traffic with great shiftiness and vision. Shows good suddenness hitting the cutback lane and small run creases. Runs low to the ground with great balance and body control; rarely gives defenders a clean shot to hit.
So that's nice, but the evaluation comes back to his size and declares him a "good prospect" and one who will be a "nice change of pace back" in the spread.
Since he's a tiny spread back it's not surprising that he's lethal in 7-on-7:
I thought the second most impressive back was Pahokee's Vincent Smith [Ronnie Wingo was #1, FWIW]. Playing on the championship team, Smith was dynamite all day with his speed and explosiveness.
"That running back really hurt us in the final game," said South Florida Express coach Brett Goetz. "He's a great player and really hurt us coming out of the backfield. We didn't do a good enough job against him."
Goetz and his team wasn't the only one. Smith made plays all afternoon and showed why he's considered one of the most explosive players in the state this year.
That event also featured Ohio State commit Jamaal Berry, FWIW. Since the spread can be looked at as an attempt to turn 11-on-11 into 7-on-7, it's not surprising that it fits Smith like a glove:
And then there's his build, which Thompson simply called "that spread-offense body.''
Small but powerful, Smith projects as the prototypical player for the offensive system that has grown from obscurity into a flat-out trend. … ''He can do a lot,'' Pahokee quarterback-to-be Nu'Keese Richardson said, ``as far as catching it out [of] the backfield, making guys miss and stuff like that.''
Added coach Blaze Thompson: "When he goes to camps, he'll go from wide receiver to running back, wide receiver to running back. "He runs great routes, and he's powerful. … If somebody puts him in the spread offense, he'll be successful.''
After his senior season he was named the small-schools offensive player of the year—which Justin Feagin reeled in last year. This generated a number of coach quotes:
"He hit the scene confident and motivated," Pahokee coach Blaze Thompson said. "His maturity outside the football field has been measurable. He's just a great kid. Everyone just looks at him and says, 'I hope he succeeds. I hope he's successful' and everything's coming together for him."
And, hell, since he's a tailback I bothered to watch his highlight video and saw a one-cut-and-go player who picked a hole and zipped through it, capable of making the tiny lateral adjustments that get players past linebackers on the second level. He's not going to break many tackles in college but has the vision and quickness to burst into creases Brandon Minor perceives as defenders to maim. You can make a similar assessment while listening to the dulcet tones of Pat Summerall:
That's junior film, man.
Why Darren Sproles? He's five foot six! Virtually all 5'6" guys in college football are basically the same. Sproles is probably optimistic, since Smith would have to have spectacular numbers and deadly return skills to indicate the sort of game-breaking talent Sproles was.
Guru Reliability: Low. Huge spread, and Scout and ESPN didn't move him an inch after his senior season. They also aren't accounting for Smith's fit in Michigan's offense, and obviously didn't take his spring into account.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Though he's sort of proven himself already, there's a big difference between Michigan's second string and Big Ten first stringers. There's still a chance his size will be a significant hindrance.
Projection: Sees maybe 30 carries as one of Minor and Brown's caddies, then finds himself in a serious war to replace them next year.
Heismans past. College Football Live is going state-by-state and, I don't know, talking to people or something. It's the privilege of the internet that I don't have to watch College Football Live and find out about their latest programming initiative. Charles Woodson and Desmond Howard were the featured people when it came to Michigan. Here is their talking:
Reports from people who watched this say it seemed designed to blow a blood vessel in Mark Dantonio's head, BTW.
I do not know how alarmed you should be, but it appears the amount of alarm should, sadly, be nonzero. Incoming mega-recruit Justin Turner did not walk at his graduation because of what appears to be an inability to pass some statewide Ohio standardized test. Here's a really dumb thread on a Massillon message board about it. It's uncertain whether this would prevent him from enrolling at Michigan, as from other reports he's comfortably qualified, and it's also uncertain how an apparently-qualified person could not pass a test on which the questions were probably like so:
water : wet :: water :
C. noodly appendage
D. I hate Michigan
Unless, that is, he picked A when the right answer was D. Apparently there are further opportunities to take this thing and get it done, if it's an actual barrier to his entry. FWIW, Varsity Blue says Sam Webb says* this is a minor thing unlikely to be an issue:
Webb was not particularly pessimistic about Turner’s ability to still get into school, as he’s a pretty good student who’s already met the NCAA Clearinghouse’s requirements for eligibility, except the no high school diploma thing. There are alternative methods to diploma eligbility, and given Turner’s academic reputation, most don’t foresee him having difficulty there.
It's out there, but I wouldn't get too exercised about it. I'm more concerned about Fitzgerald Toussaint's status.
*(There's been significant backlash against GBMW on this, and while I agree they could use some serious writing lessons, I don't see how reporting something obvious like "Justin Turner didn't walk at graduation" is a big deal. Both premium sites had moderators address the issue before GBMW did and, while they like to hide behind the idea that what's behind the paywall is super secret just-between-us stuff, any information there is instantly transmitted to free message boards across the internet and thereby into the fan consciousness. Also: kid didn't walk at graduation; this is not a secret.)
Buryin'. If there's one lead guaranteed to be buried it's "here's this important rule change," which is inevitably preceded by 300 words about some director of officials who's very sorry about everything but has to ask you to go to hell. And it is so after the Big Ten meetings produced a couple notable changes:
A new rule states that once [rugby] punters are outside the pocket, the defense will not be penalized for running into them or roughing them. The rugby-style punters previously had the advantage of waiting until the last minute to choose whether to punt, run or pass and still draw penalties on the defense. "The defensive team never knew what to do because they didn't want to rough them," Carollo said.
This seems fraught with logistical issues. How is this mystical ability of a punter different from that of a quarterback? Can a punter now roll out, pull up to pass, chuck the ball, and get leveled way late?
Offensive linemen also will be allowed to move up to three yards down the field without being penalized.
I'm somewhat confused here; this sentence follows the previous paragraph immediately and either means 1) a slight change to punting rules or 2) a significant relaxing of prohibitions against linemen downfield. I'm betting it's 1.
Rose Bowlin'. The Rose Bowl is obligated to take a scrub team in the event that 1) A Big Ten or Pac-10 team is yanked into the NC game and 2) a scrub team ends up automatically qualified by finishing in the top 12. That's a somewhat unlikely confluence of events there, and even if it happens it will only happen once:
"It's only going to happen once if it happens at all," Hancock said.
And that's just a totally redundant blockquote but that's life. Totally redundant blockquotes.
Anyway: this places the change even more squarely into the realm of don't-sue-us CYA. The likely effect, if there even is one, is to replace the second-place Pac-10 team with a Utah or a Boise or whatever, which would be a wash in hypothetical opponent strength.
I don't get it, either. Earlier this year I touched on the ongoing Kiffin fiasco, and resolved that this could so either way, with the two ways being "John L Smith" and "Steve Spurrier." A couple months, a couple more inane secondary violations/diarrhea of the mouth incidents, and I've been pushed over the edge: I just think Kiffin is an idiot. I wasn't going to say anything until Get The Picture eloquently summarized the nagging problem I had with the recent spate of MSM articles which had "no, srsly, Lane Kiffin knows what he's doing" as their idiotically contrarian thesis:
If this is such a great approach to resurrecting a national powerhouse, how come the first guy to think of it is a 33-year old whose prior stop as a head coach was a miserable failure?
I just don't buy Kiffin's latest posture. Claiming "no, seriously guys, I meant to do it" is the last refuge of a guy caught with his hand in the idiot jar. True cleverness—see OBC—is apparent. Even if this supposed gambit works in the short run, in the long run Tennessee is going to be seriously hampered by their head coach's lack of intelligence. When the biggest accomplishment you can point to is locking down your hot wife, you have issues.
Oregon State's going to be pissed. So the SEC put an end to this ridiculous oversigning business after Houston Nutt pushed it past its logical extreme, adopting the same policy the Big Ten has by limiting LOIs to 28. They're going to attempt to make this a national policy, and the initial returns are good:
One Big 12 assistant who asked to remain anonymous said he hopes this will push the NCAA to make it a rule throughout Division I football. … "Generally when the SEC makes a push for changes in recruiting, things happen on the NCAA level. So there are a lot of us who believe that this will eventually become something everybody will have to follow, and I think that's a good thing."
Etc.: Daily continues murdering Detroit papers, this time landing an extensive interview with Toney Clemons. Oregon's rushing attack—which you may remember cowering from—in coachy detail. NCAA 10… worth buying? Michigan had "no chance" in '97 according to Corso. Patrick Lucas-Perry is rapidly developing into a major target.
Update 5/12: Linked to video of MN OL Seantrel Henderson, articles on FL RB Darion Hall(video), PA LB Ken Wilkins, FL DE Corey Lemonier (second), MI DT Jonathan Hankins (second), MN OL Seantrel Henderson, CA RB Brennan Clay, FL RB Corvin Lamb, IA QB AJ Derby, NY DE Dominique Easley, FL LB Jeff Luc (second), FL DT Richard Ash, SC OL Eric Mack, MD LB Troy Gloster, PA DE Ken Wilkins, MD LB Lamarcus Coker, FL CB Lo Wood, FL CB Spencer Boyd, IA QB AJ Derby, IL WR Kyle Prater, OH OL Christian Pace. Moved PA DE Jordan Paskorz to committed. Commit article on Paskorz. Moved OH OL Christian Pace to committed.
Prune time: removed TX QB Jeremy Johnson(WVU), FL CB Merrill Noel (dropped M), PA DE Dakota Royer (dropped M), GA S Daunte Carr(dropped M), SC DE Corey Miller, SC DE Brandon Willis (dropped M, both of them), FL QB Christian Green (dropped M), SC RB Marcus Lattimore (dropped M), GA RB Mack Brown.
Editorial Opinion: Recruiting board lives here. Wow. That is a ton of stuff. A lot of it is not particularly newsy, so what's below just focuses on items of direct interest.
A bloody week as a number of prospects cut their lists and dropped Michigan. In groups:
- Southern longshots to shrug at: SC DE Corey Miller, SC DE Brandon Willis, GA S Daunte Carr, GA RB Mack Brown.
- Minor disappointments: FL QB Christian Green, SC RB Marcus Lattimore, PA DE Dakota Royer
- Probably wasn't feelin' the love: TX QB Jeremy Johnson.
Johnson committed to West Virginia; he claimed a Michigan offer but with Gardner in the fold Michigan is probably going to be selective with their second QB in the class.
Lattimore released a top eight that lacked Michigan about a month after saying he'd visit officially, so there's the disappointment. Green, meanwhile, apparently wants to be a wideout in college, which considerably changes the attractiveness of Michigan to him. Royer's higher-rated than Michigan's current and prospective OLB/DE commits and is likely headed to Penn State.
The other thing worth mentioning is that I did yank FL CB Merrill Noel after he announced he would announce, but then he announced he wouldn't announce; I haven't added him back. If something happens that suggests he should be re-added, I will re-add.
The BBQ weekend came and went without any immediate commitments but OH OL Christian Pace dropped Monday and PA DE Ken Wilkins has scheduled a press conference for next Tuesday at noon. MGoBlog recruiting heuristic #3 is "a recruit announcing soon after a visit to a school is likely to pick that school," and the reports from the BBQ reinforce that:
"I liked it a lot," Wilkins said when asked about his trip to Michigan over the weekend. "The coaches brought out their families to show they have a family atmosphere there. I liked the enthusiasm of coach Rodriguez. You could see he is ready to turn the program around."
The 6-foot-4, 235-pounder has 27 scholarship offers including Michigan, Pitt, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland.
"I'm going to decide (on a college) in the next week or so," Wilkins said. "Michigan and Pitt are my top two. They are dead even. I just have to see which school I like best."
Despite that public stance that Pitt is even, most observers are expecting he'll pick up a block M hat if he does the hat thing.
A few guys expected to show up didn't make it in, including MI DE Will Gholston, OH TE Dan Schneider (no offer, Pace's teammate), and OH DT Jibreel Black. Black says he was sick and will be up soon:
"I'll go up there on June 20," Black said on Sunday night. "And I'll try to make it to Michigan State, while I'm up there."
One surprising name was OH TE Alex Smith, a Cincinnati commitment. Visit = soft commitment; he'll be a guy to watch in the near future. Other big names of moderate intrigue include FL CB Tony Grimes, who made the long trip to participate and came away duly impressed, and IL WR Kyle Prater, who yes is an ACK WR but is also perhaps the best ACK WR available this year. I've bumped Grimes back up to yellow from red, and removed my mental red tint on Prater's existing yellow.
Prater, shockingly, is talking up Michigan considerably:
“I like Oklahoma,” Prater said. “I like Michigan, too. I went to the barbeque they had on Saturday (at the Big House). It was real nice. I liked the relationship the coaches had and the people around the coaches. I have a strong interest in USC, too. Tennessee is another one I like, and Miami."
Holy pants. That quote wasn't even provided to a Michigan site: it was something Bucknuts mainstay Bill Kurelic collected and posted on a Penn State site. Even with all the wide receivers in the fold, you have to take a guy like Prater; that would just about assure the move of OH WR Jerald Robinson to safety. It's not like that's going to happen any time soon, though: Prater intends to take all of his officials.
I'm not getting too hopeful on Grimes, as it appears a high school coach of his is posting on BuckeyePlanet occasionally. The ungrammatical upshot:
To be honest, in the beginning all he wanted was a offer from da U. I help convince him to open up to the possibility of leaving home and getting away. After an UGA visit he was in love them and really wanted an offer and to commit there. But now he's in a tough position he say. You already i talked up OSU for a couple of months so he was really trying to get noticed by them. Me and a couple of other coaches really pushed Hayes and Fricell (something like that) to come see him...and that was when he only had 1 offer from FAU. Im just glad the young man as options now. It's going to be hard turning down DA U for him.
That was posted pre-Michigan visit, so there's some chance the BBQ radically realigned his perceptions; until he comes out and says something to that effect, though, the expectation is he stays south.
MI DT Jonathan Hankins, an instate recruit at a position of need that's having a crappy year nationally, also turned up:
“Michigan has been my childhood favorite," said Jonathan to GoBlueWolverine. "I like them -- I mean it is Michigan and it helps that it is close to my home. They are in my top three.”
Hankins has offers from Oklahoma, Illinois, and Wisconsin already and plans to camp at Michigan, at which point you have to figure Michigan will extend an offer of their own unless some crazy awesome stuff goes down with PA DT Sharrif Floyd or something.
More on Paskorz
The Free Press did some reporting on new commit Jordan Paskorz—slow week I guess—and came up with some quotes from his coach:
DeMatteo was most impressed that Paskorz would often arrive at 6 a.m. for workouts.
"It's pretty tough for high school kids getting up that early," DeMatteo said. "He's the strongest kid I have had the opportunity to coach. On the field, he uses his strength very well and uses leverage to make him seem taller than 6-4."
Sure to burn the ears of Mountaineers fans is the revelation that Paskorz has a friend who played at West Virginia who "spoke very highly of Rodriguez." Also, the article claims an Illinois offer in addition to the trio of Pitt, Virginia, and Minnesota that had been previously reported.
MD LB Troy Gloster has a Michigan offer and M appears to be a contender:
“When I got the offer, I was very excited,” he told GoBlueWolverine. “I started thinking about all the tradition that Michigan has, and everything else. I’ve been offered by Boston College, West Virginia, Stanford, Iowa, Michigan State, Syracuse, Louisville, and North Carolina. When I got the offer from Michigan, I felt like it was my biggest offer so far.”
Gloster plans on visiting M, Stanford, and WVU over the summer, with a decision to follow soon after. Those three schools plus local Maryland, where his older brother plays, appear to comprise a tentative top four.
Michigan is probably going to take a third tailback in the class, and CA RB Brennan Clay is perhaps the most likely. After an early period where it seemed like Clay would stay on the West Coast at all costs, he's settled on a top three of Oregon, Oklahoma, and Michigan, with Tate Forcier proving a major attraction for Michigan:
"I think it will be huge," Johnson stated. "The thing with Brennan and Tate is that they know each other. They know what each other can do on the football field. Tate being at the school is a huge factor in (Brennan) wanting to (possibly) go to that school. Tate is a tremendous athlete and Brennan and Tate kind of fit (together) because they are playmakers. I figure that if Brennan goes to that school it would be a really good show just like how it was here at Scripps Ranch."
Clay's certainly got chemistry with Forcier. Check his junior-year numbers:
During his junior campaign the 6-foot, 191-pounder amassed an impressive 1,486 yards on 170 carries and 27 TDs on the ground. He added another 1,055 yards on 70 catches and six TDs through the air. Then for good measure he returned two kickoffs for TDs as well.
One team to watch out for, if they offer, is USC. Obviously. Clay's already set up officials to his top three; Michigan will get its shot September 19th.
Meanwhile, FL RB Corvin Lamb is still, I believe, waiting on an offer, but Michigan remains strong with him. Try to reconcile this:
Who is coming after Corvin the hardest right now?
"Probably Michigan, North Carolina, and Ole Miss."
"I have not talked to Michigan in a while. I will probably call them soon. Torrian Wilson, my teammate, received an offer from them. We have been talking about them a lot."
…and, well. Uh. We're good with the emails, I guess? Either way, it seems Lamb is willing to wait on Michigan, and Wilson is probably still leaning to the good guys.
Rivals AMP going on; not a lot of news here:
Henderson came in for a mention in Mike Farrell's latest rumor blast:
Sources say there are a few schools to watch out for with Henderson. The schools that get mentioned the most when digging around for information on Henderson are Minnesota and Michigan, followed by Ohio State, Notre Dame and USC.
Minnesota is then named the "team to beat," which I guess if Baylor can pirate away a Texas safety commit anything is possible. That's based on their recruitment of local quarterback JD Pride, who Henderson would like to go to school with.
Michigan already had a pretty tough nonconference schedule lined up this fall, with a home game against UConn, BC in the B10/ACC challenge, and a serious nonconference tournament. Now, uh, well, here's another game:
A rematch of the 2008 NCAA National Championship Game against Memphis, trips to UCLA and Tennessee and home games against Cal and Michigan highlight the non-conference schedule for the Kansas University men’s basketball team in 2009-10.
Yipes. I'd rather fill out the schedule with some moderately difficult games—like the ND series I keep advocating—instead of death on a platter, but better a tough roadie against Kansas than IUPUI.
|#36 OG, 3*||#5 C, 3*||150 watch list|
The "150 watch list" was a much more exiting designation early last year, before it became clear that ESPN was putting almost 500 kids on it. Still, with a variety of Michigan prospects already evaluated and shoved outside of the list the implication is Pace will probably acquire the ESPN equivalent of four stars. Their reasoning for this:
Comes off the ball like a locomotive and derails the defensive lineman on run blocks. Really dominates the defender on base and drive blocks. Fires out low and hard with a flat back and strikes the defensive lineman across with a jarring first punch. Follows the initial blow delivery with great leg drive; churns legs like pistons. Impressive reach and zone blocker; uses excellent footwork in gaining position on the edge defender.
There are some concerns about pass protection, but the final words are "aggressiveness," "nastiness," and "pit bull." It's a very positive assessment.
Though Scout and Rivals are not as enthused, interior linemen often get short shrift—name a position other than kicker where the #5 player in the country doesn't get a fourth star—and as we'll see Pace has a solid offer list. I'm considerably less concerned with his ranking than I was for the various Michigan commits who play sexier spots and didn't have a lot of other schools clamoring for his attention.
Touch The Banner provides a more reserved scouting report:
Pace does an excellent job of finishing his blocks; the running back is sometimes seven or eight yards downfield and Pace is still latched onto his man. When he gets a pancake block, he often just lies on top of his man, which is demoralizing for a defensive player. He drives his legs and doesn't just use his mass to move smaller defenders.
When releasing to the second level, Pace plays a little high. He can probably outmuscle players on the second level, but the problem lies in a lack of agility when linemen get out in open space and play too high. Playing lower will give him more power, but it will also give him a better opportunity to stay in front of those smaller, quicker linebackers. He also needs to work on lower body strength, as he gets stalemated by smaller players at times.
And Ohio Varsity took a look($); it's premium so I'll quote sparingly:
His agility is what sets him apart from most linemen, as he has the ability to get out in space and execute blocks against smaller, faster defenders. Pace thrives as a pulling guard and his film features numerous plays where he rockets out of his stance and immediately becomes a dangerous 265-pound lead blocker.
…eh, not going to see a lot of pulling at Michigan but that agility and ability to operate on the second level will come in handy.
It's worth noting that Pace's size is up for debate. Some places have him as big as 6'4", 270, but Scout's profile lists him at a comparatively shrimpy 6'2", 252, and that's backed up by the weight of a combine appearance. If the latter is accurate—and I tend to believe it is, since, you know, they measured—that would push him more towards center and make this David Molk comparison stronger.
The full dossier as of a month and a half ago:
Pace' offer list also includes Michigan, Michigan State, Pitt, Louisville, North Carolina State, Indiana, Vanderbilt, Colorado, Wake Forest and a host of MAC schools.
Offensive linemen don't have stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Pace is credited with a 5.22 from that combine, which gets zero FAKE out of three.
There is also Scouting Ohio video, and if you loved "Christian Cullen" jumping over stuff and sort of running places, you'll love the Pace Christian edition. Yeah, I watched it. It was 33 seconds of pure bliss.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As mentioned above I'm far less concerned about the three stars here because of Pace's offers and position; also he sounds like the kind of guy who's a good fit for the reach-heavy zone read game but not likely to blow collegiate linemen off the ball, which potentially makes him more valuable to Michigan than Random College Football Program.
Pace's size all but guarantees a redshirt. From there he'll have the opportunity to compete for Steve Schilling's vacated guard slot, but with Washington and Barnum and so forth and so on the most likely scenario in which Pace finds a starting job is by winning the center melee after Molk's departure.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Pace is the first offensive lineman in the class and won't have much of an effect on Michigan's strategy going forward. Keeping the numbers level would require another three players (McAvoy, Moosman, and Ortmann graduate and Wermers have transferred), at least one of whom should be a tackle. They'd obviously like to add MN OL Seantrel Henderson and FL OL Torrian Wilson; past that there are a couple of Ohioans, Andrew Donnal and Skyler Schoefner, and a vast sea of undifferentiated offerees that will likely develop into a few serious targets.