Part 1: Ace covered the WRs and DBs, i.e. the fun part. His writeup is here.
2017 OL commit JaRaymond Hall [Eric Upchurch]
Last Friday a group of us attended Sound Mind Sound Body at Wayne State University. Their main football field had the QBs, WRs, and DBs, and Ace & Adam covered that. Two practice fields were then occupied by OL/DL and RBs/LBs respectively, so while watching one I couldn't watch the other. I spent most of my time trying to scout the linemen. Actually, because the roster sheets were organized alphabetically by first name instead of number, I spent most of my time scanning random numbers to figure out who a certain player was that caught my eye.
Eventually I settled for watching whoever Drevno and Mattison were talking to.
A few notes/observations:
Luigi Vilain was scheduled to appear but didn't make it. Some of his teammates were on hand. As Ace mentioned Antwuan Johnson was dinged up early so we didn't get to scout him. I thought 2017 Cass Tech OL target Jordan Reid would be there—he was on the roster—but I couldn't find him.
The SMSB staff are great.
With lineman drills no pads is a major advantage for defensive linemen, especially for quick little guys. The most successful blocks were often borderline holds, unless a lineman put a guy in the dirt, whereupon everybody clapped.
I learned a lot about why people who cover a lot of camps fall into the same vague observations. Unless you've been at this for way way longer than I have, the most apparent thing is how some guys look like amazing athletes and the rest look like your larger friends from high school. If you're there to scout just one guy in a group you'll spend most of your time marveling at how physically different he is while he's standing in line. Beyond that you can see foot speed and who got yelled at by coaches, who invariably coached "pad level" and "footwork."
If you haven't gathered by now these observations are going to be of dubious value to you.
Don Brown is a very INTENSE man.
Hall needed no shuffling through pages to identify; every time he took a rep the chatter died down as coaches and players paid attention. Drevno was giving Hall a lot of coaching between reps and ultimately had him doing a few things during drills that other linemen weren't, like keeping his hands nearly touching like in prayer while doing the shuffle. JaRaymond was taller than all but the one really really big kid.
Hall is super light on his feet and built on the lean side; Jason Spriggs was the comparison I made in my mind, and not just because I had just come from melting into a fanboy upon meeting Kevin Wilson.
The size thing was kind of an issue against bigger DL the few times he caught one, but he was credited by the coach running the drill (a Penn State grad assistant, who was Harbaugh-level into it all day) for using his space. Contrary to just about every other OL, the skinny unpadded little DEs couldn't rush by him. He just took 'em wide.
If I was creating an NCAA player I'd go heavy on the acceleration, lighter on the brute stuff. Also if I could edit hand size I'd put them way up there. Most players wore gloves but Hall didn't. I think he could curl his fingers over mine. I am running out of usefulness obviously so I'll move on.
[After the LEAP: Seth tries to scout more things that pro football coaches get wrong most of the time. Got that grain of salt? Okay then HIT THE JUMP]
Doing a thing tomorrow. I'm speaking at the UM Club of Livingston County's scholarship fundraiser. Thing is in Brighton, costs 25 bucks if you're not a member and 20 if you are. They promise me a projector with which to dazzle* and amaze** with. It's for a good cause, come on out.
*[you keep saying that word]
**[you also keep saying that word]
More satellite stuff. As the camp season moves along and more and more people see Harbaugh in action the tone of media coverage seems to have shifted. Harbaugh shows up, has an enthusiasm unknown to mankind, works his ass off in drills, and people in attendance go "huh." Marc Tracy has a NYT article that goes over the Rutgers camp experience in some detail, and Harbaugh impressed some people in Houston.
Observations: Harbaugh is more active/hands-on at these camps than any head coach I’ve seen. Also, several unique drills/competitions.
— Sam Khan Jr. (@skhanjr) June 14, 2016
Also Ohio. The Vindicator:
His speech was part instructional of what was about to happen on the practice field and part old-fashioned church revival, with football being the religion this day for young men that came as far away as Canada.
Harbaugh then spent the next three hours working a style that displays a boyish love of his job. The drills he led were mainly a mix of running tests in which he crowned a champion at the end of each, loudly announcing the young man’s name into a microphone that fit his hand like a glove.
The more people who go to these things, the more of them find out that Harbaugh seems to mean what he says when he talks about spreading football. That's not to say there isn't another motive, but Harbaugh isn't teaching a bunch of middle-schoolers because he thinks there will be recruiting payoffs.
Harbaugh: 'It's not about recruiting. If it really helped recruiting that much, ppl would've been doing it forever.'
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) June 9, 2016
"I play in the six-technique, so I play in front of the tight end more,” he said. “I love that. I feel like a tight end can't block me. If the tight end is blocking me I'm doing something wrong. That's all I've got to say about that."
Terminology changes over and over again and regimes move in and out; around here that means he's moved from WDE to SDE. That leaves just Chase Winovich and Reuben Jones amongst veteran options at WDE and thus implies that Taco Charlton is going to move back to the weakside and start. (He played SDE in the Ford Field practice and the spring game.) That'll probably mean Chris Wormley, an unparalleled tight end obliterator, will go back to SDE. Your other option there is Rashan Gary. So… Marshall probably has another year to prep before serious playing time as an upperclassman. An approximate three deep on the line:
|Chris Wormley||Ryan Glasgow||Maurice Hurst||Taco Charlton|
|Rashan Gary||Bryan Mone||Matt Godin||Chase Winovich|
|Lawrence Marshall||Hurst||Wormley/Gary||Reuben Jones|
That could work out okay.
Marshall also discussed some of the reasons it seems like he's been in the doghouse since his arrival, claiming that his work ethic "has tremendously improved from my freshman and sophomore years." Hitting 270 is solid evidence of that.
Hudson deployment. From Penn Live:
"I think as soon as I get there, I'm going to have an impact on the team," Hudson said. "I'll be at strong safety my first year, and then my second year, they're going to be putting me on offense and giving me some plays and stuff.
When Hudson committed I'd assumed he was ticketed for the nickel spot Peppers was at last year; his "LB" spot this year is probably going to look pretty similar except with more QB decapitation. Now, it seems like there are several options there in 2017 and beyond, and few at safety. Hudson will probably be a true safety for most of his career.
A SEC schedule solution that's pretty great. Jason Kirk and Bill Connelly propose a shift away from divisions in the SEC, which the Big 12 has enabled by agitating for a championship game despite having only ten teams. The upshot is that everyone gets three permanent rivals and then plays the rest of the league every other year. They've tweaked it so the schedules are balanced for the current state of college football, and while there will be some drift things tend to remain the way they are.
A Big Ten version is possible, but the proposal above is aimed at an eight-game conference schedule; the Big Ten has gone to nine. An attempt at three permanent rivals all the same has some goofy matchups:
non-negotiable in italics
Unlike the SEC it's very hard to create these matchups with any semblance of even-ness. Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, and Northwestern are all but impossible to split up, and consistently bad. Minnesota gets it in the eye. Rutgers too.
Even so I like the idea of having relatively balanced schedules for everyone, playing everyone at least every other year, and picking the top two teams with conference record of opponents the tiebreaker. Also, blowing up the schedule again would allow Michigan to undo the most lasting damage of the Dave Brandon era: the MSU/OSU home/road fiasco.
Sign her up. This woman has a legit shot at our linebacker two-deep.
We'll have to deprogram her first obviously.
The sixth year odyssey continues. MSU already failed to get Damon Knox the sixth year they promised was coming, and now it comes out that Ed Davis won't even get a degree until August(!?), despite the fact that he's already been on campus for five years. MSU can't apply for a sixth year until that degree is completed, two weeks before MSU's season opener. As we've mentioned before, Davis's case is hamstrung by the fact that MSU's own website notes he was scout team player of the week twice when he was redshirting and MSU's confidence about all three of these guys appeared to be very much unwarranted.
FWIW, the third dude, OL Brandon Clemons, has in fact sent the paperwork in already.
Okay, Drew. You know what's awesome? I haven't thought about Drew Sharp for more than a glancing second in years. But Detroit's miserable hatemonger gets on the radar today for the most hypocritical thing I've ever seen:
You win today. Now return to sleeping at press conferences.
Etc.: NFL.com names Jabrill Peppers the most versatile player in the country, which yeah. Someone complained about no Bedyoa mention in the Copa post. I have an article for you, sir. LSU bans opposing bands from playing at halftime. Rumors that Baylor is trying to bring Briles back appear to be mostly unfounded. Hockey rules committee proposes adopting 4-on-4 OT. No word on the guy who can't wear skates whose goals count double yet. Harbaugh is an extrovert.
The US came out of a reasonably difficult group at the Copa America and now faces Ecuador, a team they just beat 1-0 in a pre-Copa friendly, in the quarterfinal. Assorted items. Nobody cares if you don't like soccer, sports talk radio enthusiast.
Klinsmann wasn't entirely wrong after Colombia… The opener against Colombia was a 2-0 loss but far less dispiriting than a lot of victories over the past couple years, and because everyone's on edge about how Klinsmann is a bad coach there was a ton of pushback/panic/etc. Klinsmann in the aftermath:
Despite the loss, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann declared himself generally pleased with how his team performed in what he termed “a totally even game.”
“We were absolutely OK with the team performance,” Klinsmann told reporters in his postgame press conference. “Obviously we got punished for two set pieces in the first half, and then against such a quality team [it’s] very, very difficult if you don’t force one goal to get back into the game and equalize it. But overall, we were completely even. We didn’t give them anything.”
This was sort of correct and sort of the same product Klinsmann's self-serving excuse factory has been dumping into the river for a couple years now. (Please do not try to compare the above statements to anything Klinsmann said during or after the 2015 Gold Cup. If they touch each other they will explode.) Colombia generated little from the run of play. The fancystat Expected Goals more or less thought the game was a wash:
xG map for USA - Colombia. Not much in this one between the goal and the Bacca big chance. pic.twitter.com/RZWb2NhG7O
— Michael Caley (@MC_of_A) June 7, 2016
That more or less corresponds to what I saw, except the one big Colombia chance it sees is overrated by the formula because it doesn't take the difficulty of Bacca's attempt into account. I'll take that against the #3 team in the world. One missed mark on a corner and a fluke PK were about it for Rodriguez, Cuadrado, Bacca, and company. That's the bit where Klinsmann was right. The bit where he was wrong was a game state thing. Colombia scored within ten minutes and were happy to sit back and see what happened, especially once it seemed like the US was no threat. It wasn't a threat, and a large part of that goes back to the manager.
[After THE JUMP: soccer content that will probably revoke your man card or something]
KJ Hamler dominated the one-on-one portion. [Bill Rapai]
This year's Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Wayne State featured several of the state's best high school players, as well as some top out-of-state talent. Adam and I spent most of Friday afternoon watching the receivers and defensive backs—Seth covered the linemen on another field—and we saw impressive performances from a couple Michigan targets. Before running down the players who stood out to us, a few general notes/caveats:
- At a camp this large, even the top prospects only get a handful of reps in one-on-ones, so a couple good or bad reps can really skew the perception of a player. Drills were taking place on both sides of the field, too, so I didn't see every rep each WR/DB took. I'll note which players got more reps in than others that I saw.
- I mostly focused on the established prospects since there were usually two one-on-one matchups occurring simultaneously and I was trying to take notes between reps. If a prospect who stood out to another site isn't mentioned here, that's more a reflection of my focus than anything else.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones was listed on the initial roster but chose to attend the Rivals Five-Star camp in Atlanta instead. 2018 commit Leonard Taylor, who was supposed to work out at tight end, was also a no-show. 2018 commit Antwuan Johnson attended but dinged up his ankle and sat out most of the day.
With that out of the way, some evaluations:
2017 MI WR/DB KJ Hamler (M Offer)
Camp settings are ideal for Hamler, whose quickness and precision make him nearly impossible to contain in unpadded one-on-ones. He was easily the quickest wideout going through the three-cone drill, and that agility and foot speed was apparent in his route-running. Defensive backs had trouble getting their hands on Hamler, who got separation on nearly every rep he took and caught everything he could get his hands on. His route-running is advanced for a high school prospect; combined with his athleticism, he's hard to slow down.
Hamler is undersized, to be sure. He makes up for much of that deficiency with his ball skills—he's got great timing and can go up and get it. That showed up as much on defense as it did on offense. Hamler took some reps at cornerback, and while he's not at technically sound there as he is at receiver, he stayed step-for-step with his marks and came away with a couple interceptions, including a spectacular leaping pick on his final rep. Hamler also showed a high level of competitiveness; he took more reps than anyone else as best I could tell, and on a couple occasions I noticed him drop to the turf to knock out a quick set of push-ups when he was waiting for his next rep.
There were a couple moments when Hamler's size hampered him. Still, from what I saw he was the best performer among the WR/DB group, and only Ambry Thomas came close to matching him. Even though Michigan took a number of quality slot-types in the 2016 class, I'll admit I'm disappointed they aren't pushing harder for Hamler. While he'd be an ideal fit in a spread, I think he could be successful in any offense.
[Hit THE JUMP for reports on Ambry Thomas, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and more.]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp.
|Hartland, WI – 6'5", 307|
|Scout||4*, #36 overall
#1 OG, #1 WI
|Rivals||4*, #60 overall
#2 OG, #1 WI
|ESPN||4*, #50 overall
#4 OT, #1 WI
|24/7||4*, #67 overall
#8 OT, #1 WI
|Other Suitors||ND, OSU, WI, Bama, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Brother on the baseball team. Parade AA.|
I didn't copy and paste Mason Cole's recruiting profile for this post, but I may as well have: Bredeson is a powerful and agile offensive lineman who could hypothetically play any of the five spots, but fits best as an interior lineman because he lacks the pass-rush-engulfing height and arms that top flight left tackles generally have. But don't take my word for it. Scout:
"…has shown he can play some tackle too but we still see him as a big time inside guy in Ann Arbor."
Bredeson is likely bound for the interior of the offensive line in college, but looked better as a tackle than expected. He does have the thick build of a guard, but primarily in the lower body. Long arms and an upper body that can still use additional strength give him the look of a tackle.
I think Bredeson is good enough to play offensive tackle, but I think he could develop into an All-American level guard at the next level.
Bredeson has good but not great size for the offensive tackle position, and his body may be a better fit for offensive guard. … could slide in at all five positions. He can stay low enough to maintain leverage at the interior positions, and he has the foot quickness to block guys on the edge. I do not see him being an elite left tackle prospect like, say, Taylor Lewan because Bredeson just lacks the length and athleticism that Lewan had.
You get the idea. Michigan agrees with the above assessments: As of December Bredeson was scheduled to start out at left guard. Tim Drevno's evaluation on his MGoBlue bio mentions that he is a "guy who can hold point especially on a three technique," again implying that Michigan sees him as an interior lineman. Lorenz also reported that he was working on his snapping in case Michigan wanted to try him out at center. Bredeson has the athletic ability to play tackle but is a guard in an ideal world.
Michigan may not be able to provide him that ideal world. Contenders for the open slot at RT next year are… uh… I mean… yeah. Juwann Bushell-Beatty has been playing a lot of guard despite being the most tackle-shaped guy available, which is a situation with Ben Braden echoes. There was rumble that Nolan Ulizio was looking pretty good, and could be a tackle. Mason Cole could flip back out if absolutely necessary. That concludes likely contenders. Michigan does not have great options in 2017.
Bredeson might be a good option even at that early stage. I know we're pretty skeptical of "he's so college-ready" reports after Kyle Kalis, but, I mean, a lot of people think Bredeson is an advanced technician. Son of a Coach:
He’s very technically sound at this point in his development as a run blocker. He plays with good pad level and drives his feet on contact. His hand placement is good the majority of the time and he works to finish. … effort to sustain blocks is something that really stands out about his game. … violent pop at the point of attack. … He moves well to get to the second level. Really does a great job engaging and driving linebackers.
Clint Brewster named him the "most polished" kid in the class:
…has the footwork and hand technique of a college level offensive lineman. He keeps his hips down and his elbows inside to create power behind his hand-punch and really strikes people. He does a great job with leverage and using his body strength to overpower people.
There is also a slightly overheated report from Scout's Notre Dame site goes with "not a whole lot to critique" in its "room for improvement" section. While that's nice the report also ends with an assertion that going up against Bredeson is "like wrestling a bear" and that he "uses his hands like anvils." This is credibility-sapping, especially if you're a bear. Or an anvil, I guess.
On the other hand ESPN's evaluation is almost completely derailed by qualifiers about how he "flashes" things and "can" execute:
Prospect with very good height and bulk at this stage … displays very good playing strength. … Doesn't display a powerful punch and needs to continue to refine placement, but can do a nice job of with his hands of striking up and latching on and locking out on first contact. Can maintain a good base with ability to stay in front of rushers once locked on. … can be a strong multi-year starter for a Power-5 O-Line.
Until that last line there's not much to suggest they like him much at all since the entire evaluation is spackled with qualifiers about how he's not an NFL OL yet. It is what it is.
In addition to his relatively advanced technique, Bredeson brings an impressive physical package:
- Scout summary: "Outstanding overall prospect with good technique and ability to bend. Has good flexibility in his lower body and has no issue winning leverage battles even against shorter defensive linemen. Plays with a mean streak and finishes his blocks strong. Can still polish up his pass pro … but has all the tools and the intangibles to develop into a top flight college lineman."
- Blast-from-the-past Tom Lemming: "this guy is a brute … an exceptionally aggressive, athletic big guy. I know the Wisconsin staff thinks he might be the best offensive lineman to come out of that state since Josh Oglesby [the No. 10 player nationally in 2007] and Joe Thomas [a four-star in the Class of 2003]. Everyone thinks he has NFL future written all over him."
- Steve Wiltfong, 247: "…can absolutely bend, an agile lineman who is technically sound. Good agility and balance." Also: "top-of-the-board interior guy that has quick feet and frame that will add a ton of power as he continues to develop. Bredeson plays hungry on every snap, not one lazy play on film. He’s a technically sound player with long arms and a plus athleticism in the trenches."
- Anon Scout person, at UA: "…has drawn rave reviews and has been one of the few to test and stop Rashan Gary."
- Evan Sharpley, 247: "…showcases tremendous technique highlighted by the exceptional use of his hands. Defenders have a difficult time with him because he is able to create space with his lengthy frame. Ample athleticism to move around the line."
- Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "outstanding quick first step off the ball … very tough finisher, burying the defensive lineman on almost every rep that he has the opportunity. … against truly talented edge rushers, he may not have the overall agility to fend off a speed move or its counters. … has the speed to get downfield, but sometimes finds himself in space hesitating instead of making a second-level block."
I should clarify that those reports about Bredeson stopping Gary were impressive because he could do it at all. His wins there were intermittent, not consistent.
The encouraging thing in there are many assertions that Bredeson can "bend" and has plus agility. Those physical attributes, especially the hard-to-teach and impossible-for-some ability to drive off the ball low, are rare. Many high school OL are big guys who can't get under their opposition and end up dumped in the backfield on the regular. Bredeson does not appear to have that problem.
The only remaining question marks are the problems that have bedeviled Kalis thus far in his career: can he be consistent mentally? How many errors does he make attempting to execute a rather complicated offense? If the answer is "a lot" then he'll end up a disappointing starter but a starter nontheless. If the answer is "very few" dude will be righteous.
Etc.: Wisconsin fans were pretty pretty mad that one guy managed to escape their clutches.
Why Mason Cole? Explained in the post. Bredeson is higher-ranked—Cole was just outside the top 100 most places—but Cole's well on his way to outperforming his ranking, in part because he must be in the 90th+ percentile mentally. Very few OL can slide into a starting lineup as a true freshman and not have that be a disaster. Thankfully, Bredeson does not have to do that.
If Bredeson does hit the All-American ceiling many project he will have he could end up playing a lot like Steve Hutchinson. Those are big expectations, but Hutchinson was also 6'5" and got up to around 313. He was the last truly great Michigan guard. Bredeson appears to have all the necessary material to hit the same level.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. UA game appearance, healthy, more or less total agreement in both scouting reports and rankings.
Variance: Low. I almost never issue a "low" for OL since even super-sure things like Patrick Kugler get buried on the regular, but Bredeson seems like an exception. Size, bend, and technique are all repeatedly praised. Versatility means he's not going to get stuck behind guys like Kugler has.
Ceiling: High. Could easily end up one of the top guards whenever he's NFL-draft eligible.
General Excitement Level: High. Big-time get for Drevno; Bredeson will probably be the first Harbaugh-era lineman to remind you of his work with the Cardinal.
Projection: Bredeson is one of the rare OL you could justify not redshirting since he's almost certainly headed for a starting job in 2017. Harbaugh took a redshirt off Grant Newsome last year when it became clear that he was a heavy favorite to start as a true sophomore, so there's precedent for such a move. You know me—I'd prefer a redshirt unless a kid is going to significantly contribute, especially at OL—but I won't complain too much if Bredeson is the sixth OL on goal line packages and the like.
It would be a major upset if Bredeson did not lock down a starting job in year two and leave Michigan a three or four year starter. His competitors in 2017 will be his classmates, who he's ahead of, and whoever of Dawson/Runyan/Kugler/Ulizio ends up panning out. (For purposes of this conversation I'm assuming a center who's amongst the best five OL kicks Cole to a guard spot or RT.) It's unlikely that three of those guys are better than him.
Photo via 247
Michigan picked up an elite pass-rusher for the 2017 class this afternoon when Alexandria (VA) Episcopal four-star WDE Luiji Vilain chose the Wolverines over fellow finalists Virginia Tech and USC. Michigan's pursuit of the Canadian native dates back to the previous coaching staff; Vilain finally received his offer in March, and Michigan vaulted into the lead for good following an unofficial visit in May.
Vilain is the 14th commit in the 2017 class and the second at defensive end, joining in-state four-star Corey Malone-Hatcher.
4*, #10 DE,
4*, #10 WDE,
4*, 84, #11 DE,
4*, 94, #5 WDE,
4*, #8 WDE,
Vilain is right on the edge of the top 100 prospects overall. Scout recently moved him up 65 spots in their latest re-rank, making Rivals—which dropped him 91 spots based on his performance at a recent Rivals camp—the outlier among the recruiting services.
Vilain is listed by every site at 6'4" and 238-240 pounds. He should be a weakside end at Michigan and only needs to add 10-20 pounds to be at a playable weight. He could also be utilized early in his career as a standup rusher at strongside linebacker; he's even played some MIKE in camp situations, but his future is on the edge.
Michigan started its pursuit of Vilain after his freshman season, when he and a couple fellow Canadian prospects hit the camp circuit—the 2014 Sound Mind Sound Body camp served as his coming-out party. By that time, he'd already caught the eye of Scout's Bill Greene at the Pylon 7-on-7 tournament, where he looked and played like an upperclassman:
Vilain already has the body type of a high school senior, and also has the ability to run and change direction. Watching him in action on both offense and defense, it was evident that he understands the game well and is being taught proper technique. It's exciting to imagine him in three years, and he should be a recruit with a tremendous offer list. There is nothing not to like with Luiji Vilain.
Vilain continued to hit up a variety of camps, and the evaluations were universally positive. 247's Steve Wiltfong named him one of the top performers at 2015's Best of the Midwest Combine—"There wasn’t an offensive tackle that was able to regularly block him all day"—and awarded him "Alpha Dog" status as the best player at that summer's RAS Showcase:
The first thing that stands out about Vilain is his hunger. Nobody took more reps.
One of the standouts from last year’s event, Vilain continues to develop physically. As a rising sophomore, one coach at the camp said that a year ago Vilain looked like a receiver with his hand in the dirt. Heading into his junior year, Vilain is filling out physically.
Ranked by 247Sports as the nation’s No. 4 weak-side defensive end and No. 83, Vilain has a variety of pass rush moves in getting after the quarterback. His quickness off the edge is evident, but he’s also strong with his hands.
Rivals' Josh Helmholdt thought Vilain looked so comfortable at DE at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights camp that he gave him an award usually reserved for receivers and running backs:
DE Luiji Vilain, Ottawa (Ont.) Lester B. Pearson
This award usually goes to a skill position prospect, but on Friday night Vilain was as smooth as any of the guys catching or running with the football. He breezed through one-on-ones, registering easy wins against several offensive linemen who hold Power Five offers. The 6-foot-4, 240-pound defensive end still has room on his frame to add weight. That will help him at the point of attack without sacrificing much, if any, of the explosiveness he shows.
Vilain moved to Virginia before his junior season, and his impressive junior film helped him work his way up the composite rankings to #123 overall heading into this spring. Rivals was especially bullish, moving him up 66 spots to #84 overall in their postseason rerank:
"Vilain has the athleticism and strength to make a difference on every down. He sets the edge very well and is an asset as a run defender. As a pass rusher, Vilain has an extensive arsenal of moves to beat the offensive lineman and get to the quarterback. North Carolina is one of the most recent offers for Vilain." -- Friedman
More camps followed. Vilain showed off his versatility at this year's Pylon 7-on-7, making 247's "Dream Team" while lining up at the MIKE:
LB – Luiji Vilain, Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal – He looks like a prototype as a 3-4 outside linebacker but he was a natural in the middle on the weekend. Vilain can really run and play in space. Add that to his pass rushing ability and he's got great upside as a standup edge rusher.
Scout's Brian Dohn was impressed by Vilain's arsenal of moves at the New Jersey Opening regional last month:
The No. 16 defensive end in the class was quick off the line of scrimmage, and he demonstrated good balance and flexibility in the drills and also during 1-on-1 reps. He can dip his shoulder and get around the edge, and he was quick on the fake outside and then cut inside.
That performance, along with Vilain's overall body of work, led to Scout moving him up in the rankings this week:
The Alexandria (Va.) Espiscopal star jumped from No. 203 to No. 138 and he is announcing his choice June 10, and Michigan, Virginia Tech and USC are his finalists.
"A school is about to get a big-time pass rusher off the edge," said Dohn. "Vilain is quick off the edge, and he also has the athleticism to drop into coverage."
At the same time, Rivals moved Vilain down 91 spots after a subpar showing at one of their camps; frustratingly, there isn't any writeup on Vilain from the camp except the blurb that accompanied his ranking change:
“Vilain is normally a dominant force but that was not the same player at the New Jersey Rivals Camp. He was a little hesitant and when his initial outside speed rush didn’t work there wasn’t much he could do. Vilain, who is announcing his commitment on June 12, is an excellent athlete that could also play in space in college. Michigan, USC and Virginia Tech are his finalists.” - Friedman
That seems like an overreaction based on one camp given all the other reports on Vilain from this spring, but only Rivals knows what they saw—outside reporters aren't allowed at their camps.
The overall picture from Scout's free evaluation is excellent—I started bolding the highlights and realized I was highlighting the entire paragraph:
EvaluationVilain is explosive off the edge. He's extremely athletic and very strong. Vilian changes directions well, has great speed and is good in pursuit. He is very good against the run and the pass. Vilain also has a high motor and plays very hard. He needs to continue to work on his technique and develop some moves, but he has a very high ceiling and the potential to become a dominant player at the collegiate level.
Areas to Improve
- Techniques and Moves
Every high school prospect needs some level of technique work heading into college. Everything else is there for Vilain to be a top-flight edge player. Yesterday, he announced he'll play in the Under Armour All-American Game.
Vilain holds offers from Alabama, Boston College, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, UNC, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Virginia Tech, UCLA, USC, USF, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin.
Vilain transferred to Alexandria Episcopal along with two other high-level Canadian prospects. While four-star CB Patrice Rene is firmly committed to UNC, Vilain's Michigan commitment could be a draw for four-star S Jonathan Sutherland, who picked up an offer the same day as Vilain.
I couldn't find full stats—Vilain's MaxPreps page only has stats for one game (in which he had two sacks) last year.
FAKE 40 TIME
Vilain's Hudl page lists an unverified time of 4.80, which gets two FAKEs out of five.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Vilain is the second-highest ranked prospect in the class, behind only Dylan McCaffrey, and if anything he looks like someone who could move firmly into the top 100 with a strong senior season. His abliity to get to the quarterback should help him see the field early, possibly as a situational rusher from the SLB position—if that's the case, he'd be competing for snaps with Noah Furbush and 2015 signee Josh Uche. In the long run, Vilain looks like an ideal weakside end, where the competition will be wide open in 2017. Vilain might need a year to add weight depending on which position he plays as a freshman, but I expect him to see the field early on as a situational rusher before becoming a multi-year starter.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is up to 14 commits in a class that should reach the mid-to-upper 20s. With Vilain and Malone-Hatcher in the class at WDE, Michigan can focus on landing an SDE like James Hudson and perhaps one more end. Other areas of need include WR, TE, OL, DT, CB, and S. Here's the class—which, I believe, will jump to #4 in the composite team rankings when Vilain is added—as it currently stands: