Michigan got their top target at quarterback last night when Highlands Ranch (CO) Valor Christian QB Dylan McCaffrey announced his commitment to the Wolverines. McCaffrey is the son of former Denver Broncos WR Ed McCaffrey and brother of Heisman finalist Stanford RB Christian McCaffrey; prepare for the word "bloodlines" to show up in several of these scouting reports.
McCaffrey is Michigan's fifth commit in the 2017 class and the first at quarterback.
4*, #3 QB,
4*, #6 QB,
4*, 85, #1 P-QB,
4*, 95, #2 P-QB,
4*, #2 P-QB,
With the exception of Rivals, which still considers McCaffrey as a high-level prospect, McCaffrey's rankings are tightly grouped in what will be fringe five-star territory by the end of the 2017 cycle.
He has an ideal frame for a quarterback, listed between 6'4", 185 pounds (Rivals) and 6'5", 200 (247).
Scout's free evaluation shows that McCaffrey isn't just an excellent prospect, he's an especially good fit for Jim Harbaugh's offense:
EvaluationMcCaffrey has great bloodlines and is a tremendous talent. He's a pure pocket passer with good athleticism and a great feel for the game. He's the rare QB who can go under canter and take a drop, shows very good footwork and poise. He's a natural leader with the arm strength needed to make all the throws and is able to escape pressure and make a play with his legs. He projects as an elite high major prospect- Biggins
- Mental Toughness
- Pocket Awareness
Areas to Improve
With so many high school teams running shotgun spreads these days, it's hard to find QB prospects with experience dropping back from under center; McCaffrey won't have as tough a transition as most.
It should come as little surprise that McCaffrey has been on the radar for quite a while; I found mention of him as early as May of 2014, when the then-rising-sophomore performed well at the Oakland Elite 11 regional. Irish247's breakdown of his sophomore film indicates McCaffrey was well ahead of the curve at that stage in his development:
McCaffrey boasts big-time size, and will only continue to add strength and poundage to his frame. With added strength, expect for added velocity in the pass game and physicality as a runner.
McCaffrey displays proper posture in the pocket. He has the ability to make smooth, finesse throws as well as pass with power. Good athleticism with the ability to extend plays outside the pocket or as a runner. Not a burner as a runner, but his long levers allow him to cover larger distances with an extended stride.
Flashes a mixture of move the pocket, in the pocket, and play action passes. McCaffrey has experience running a gun spread offense with read/zone concepts. Solid ball carriage in the pocket with limited wasted movement. Impeccable pedigree. Great knowledge of the game. Football player. Subtle movement in the pocket allows him to create space for throws. Down hill thrower once on the run. Reminiscence of former Irish quarterback Dayne Crist, especially on his level one and level five throws.
Their primary complaint was one based in mechanics: sometimes McCaffrey relied too much on his arm strength instead of getting his whole body into a throw.
PrepColorado QB scout Tim Jenkins evaluated McCaffrey during Valor Christian's only loss last fall (one they'd avenge in the state title game). Despite the defeat, McCaffrey still looked like a top-flight prospect:
Dylan is a big strong quarterback who has electric reset ability with his feet, meaning when he goes from one target to the next he wastes no time. He resets to number 2 better than most college quarterbacks. Dylan has a great smooth delivery. There were only a couple things left to be wanted when evaluating that game. First would be chaos management, when he moves around sometimes the ball gets away from his body. Lastly would be post snap recognition, there were a couple missed reads on zone read where there was an extra outside linebacker blitzing off the edge that he didn’t see, or a couple wide open hitch routes he had backside that he went elsewhere. After cleaning that up you see why he has garnered as many offers as he has. He is an excellent quarterback, recruit, and by all accounts I have heard a great kid!
That ability to go through progressions with solid mechanics is one of the main things that separated Brandon Peters from Shane Morris at the high school level; it's very encouraging to hear McCaffrey is on that level.
ESPN's underclassman evaluation has little actual criticism unless you were hoping McCaffrey is as much of a burner as his older brother:
STRENGTHS: Ideal height and massive frame. Heady player who makes sound decisions in the passing game. Well balanced and has a compact, over-the-top release. Possesses the arm strength to make all throws and is very accurate. Poised and patient in the pocket and athletic enough to elude defenders and step up. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will need to fill out his ample frame. Does not have enough speed to be a dual threat. ... BOTTOM LINE: McCaffrey is a tall, polished quarterback with very good arm talent. As he matures and adds bulk, we feel he has the potential to develop into a prototypical pocket passer at the next level.
247's Clint Brewster evaluated McCaffrey's junior film after his commitment and came away suggesting he's better than Peters:
He’s got great size at 6-foot-5 and really sees the entire field. McCaffrey makes decisions that put his team in position to win. He is a smart player and really dissects coverage well, with precision- accuracy and decisiveness. He makes a ton of advanced level throws and reads on film and can really pick you apart with his arm. His mobility is just the icing on the cake.
Each year, programs strive to sign a better player at each position than they did the previous cycle. This was a tough task for Michigan considering they signed the No. 61 overall player in the country last year in Brandon Peters. But they certainly did with the commitment of McCaffrey. The Wolverines got their top overall target at the position that could potentially end up as the top quarterback in the class. McCaffrey's mechanics in the pocket are very polished, especially for a player with his type of upside and mobility. His pocket presence and footwork really set him apart from others in the class.
The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan noted one area where McCaffrey—through no fault of his own—will have to make a significant adjustment:
The lone questions around McCaffrey's talent relate to how he performs when things are stacked against him. Valor Christian is consistently one of the most talented teams in the Denver area, and there are only a couple games each year where the whole range of his skills is needed. The playing field will be more level on a consistent basis in college, and thinking under more intense pressure than he sees will be important.
McCaffrey led Valor Christian to their sixth state title in seven years last season. As with any quarterback, transitioning to tougher competition in college will be a challenge, and in his case it could require a longer adjustment period.
McCaffrey sounds like an ideal fit for Michigan. He's a passer first, and a very good one, but he can also make plays with his legs; he can operate from the gun or under center; his mechanics and understanding of the game are advanced for a prospect his age. Harbaugh has a lot to work with here.
McCaffrey holds offers from Arizona State, Colorado, Colorado State, Duke, LSU, Mizzou, Nebraska, Northwestern, Penn State, Rutgers, UCLA, Virginia, Washington, and Washington State. He had interest but not offer yet from Stanford, which prioritized the #5 P-QB in the class, Georgia prospect Davis Mills.
Valor Christian is a dominant program in Colorado; as mentioned, they've won six of the last seven Class 5A state titles. The program has, of course, produced the McCaffrey brothers; the two other four-stars they've produced in the Rivals era are 2015 Nebraska CB signee Eric Lee and Mr. Vision Quest himself, Auburn guard Alex Kozan.
During his junior year, McCaffrey led a powerful Valor Christian team to a 12-2 state championship mark, completing 207 of 320 passes (64.7 percent) for exactly 2800 yards (8.8 per attempt) with 27 touchdowns and just four interceptions.
For his efforts, he was named to The Denver Post All-Colorado High School Football Team.
An interception rate well below 2% is good, in my opinion.
FAKE 40 TIME
McCaffrey's Hudl page lists a Nike-verified 40 time of 5.18, which gets zero FAKEs out of five. He's not his brother; he still has enough athleticism to break the pocket and pick up first downs.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
McCaffrey is a near-lock for a redshirt, both because John O'Korn should be in his second and final year as the starter when he gets to campus in 2017 and doing so would separate him and Peters as much as possible. In what will presumably be his redshirt freshman season in 2018, McCaffrey should battle with Peters, Zach Gentry, Alex Malzone, and Wilton Speight (or whichever of those QBs is still on the roster) for the starting gig.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
McCaffrey is the type of quarterback prospect that makes a second pro-style prospect in the class more of a luxury than anything else; if Michigan goes after a second QB, it'll likely be a guy like Gentry or (sigh) Vic Viramontes who could also project to another position.
Here's the class as it currently stands:
— Dylan McCaffrey (@dcaf20) February 16, 2016
Michigan has landed a commit from the top 2017 QB on their board, Dylan McCaffrey (Yes That McCaffrey). McCaffrey is the son of Ed and brother of Christian; he's 45th on the 247 composite, and the #2 pro-style QB in the country behind Clemson commit Hunter Johnston.
In McCaffrey, Michigan gets a 6'5" pocket passer with huge upside and excellent bloodlines; his early commit will hopefully allow him to recruit other gentlemen into the class. Michigan may still pursue a second quarterback in the class. If they do so he's likely to be a player like Gentry or Viramontes who could play another position if QB doesn't work out. More likely is that Michigan stands pat with McCaffrey and Peters in back to back classes.
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Ace doesn't know about gravitational waves. He does know about basketball. Michigan's win over Purdue was very strange. But it was a win. Caris return, Irvin going ham, Walton closing it out.
Gimmicky Top Five: Things The SEC Will Ban Next
starts at 24:30
This segment is frosty. Ace has never seen Hunt For Red October, which is just… that seems impossible to me.
Ace's Hockey Podcast
Starts at 36:29
The worst goal ever. Segue from there into general league competence stuff, of which there doesn't seem to be much. The team is the team is the team at this point.
"Across 110th Street"
THE USUAL LINKS
Saturday's win was cause for celebration. [Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog]
Michigan's tournament resumé got a significant boost from Saturday's win over Purdue, which gave the Wolverines a third victory over a top-50 RPI squad heading into a home stretch in which they'll face as many as three more such opponents. (Maryland and Iowa will easily qualify; Wisconsin is on the edge at #44.)
As it currently stands, here are the numbers and rankings of note:
Record: 19-7 (18-7 vs. D-I), 9-4 Big Ten
RPI Strength of Schedule: 91
KP SOS: 65
RPI Top-50: 3-7
RPI 51-100: 0-0
RPI 101+: 15-0
And here's the schedule the rest of the way:
- at Ohio State (#83 RPI, #73 KP)
- at Maryland (#6 RPI, #13 KP)
- Northwestern (#104 RPI, #91 KP)
- at Wisconsin (#44 RPI, #33 KP)
- Iowa (#10 RPI, #4 KP)
While even a 1-4 finish with a lone win against Northwestern should put Michigan in decent bubble position barring an immediate exit from the Big Ten Tournament, CBSSports' Jerry Palm notes that M's unusual resumé makes matters less simple:
Michigan picked up a much-needed win at home over Purdue, and the Wolverines own the strangest looking profile in the bracket. They have wins over Maryland, Texas and Purdue, which are three top 25 teams, but those are also their only three top-100 wins. There has been only one team to get an at-large bid with fewer than four top 100 wins since the RPI formula changed in 2005. That was when the committee made the mistake of taking Middle Tennessee State in 2013, which had a gaudy record, but only one top 100 win. The highest seed for a team with only three top 100 wins is a No. 9 seed, which was given to Bucknell in 2006. Even for a team with four top-100 wins, only two teams have been seeded in the top half of the bracket.
A victory at Ohio State would give Michigan that critical fourth top-100 win (barring an OSU collapse down the stretch, at least) with the added benefit of it coming on the road; pulling that off should lock up a bid, especially if M takes care of business against Northwestern to secure 11 conference wins and no bad losses on the resumé.
Michigan had been on a slide down the brackets following the week of home blowouts and the underwhelming victory over Minnesota, but the win over the Boilermakers turned that around. After slipping to the ten-seed line on the Bracket Matrix, they're back to a nine-seed; that's where Palm and Yahoo's Brad Evans have Michigan, while ESPN's Joe Lunardi bumped them up to an eight-seed.
Those bracketologists are all focused on resumé. A different, simpler methodology created by Basketball Prospectus' Drew Cannon is also worth noting; simply adding a team's KenPom and RPI ranking projects the tournament field about as accurately as the traditional method. The "Easiest Bubble Solver" method also produces Michigan as a nine-seed, and for now comfortably clear of the bubble.
Assuming a victory over Northwestern—never totally safe, of course, but KenPom gives it a 78% chance—Michigan should need just one other win to feel very secure about their postseason outlook. Moving off the 8/9 line, which sets up a potential second-round matchup with a one-seed, might require a little more work, though it's worth noting a couple of the current one-seed matchups (Kansas, Oklahoma) may in fact be better for Michigan than a couple of the two-seeds (UNC, Xavier).
pick me up [Eric Upchurch]
So that was odd. For some reason during this game I thought to myself that this team was a stereotype of Beilein teams, a stereotype of the variety that gets passed around message boards that always, always call Michigan "scUM."
It more or less is. Michigan is 146th in defensive efficiency even after a strong outing against Purdue. They're 12th in the league in two point defense. They don't get to the line and don't get to the offensive boards. All of these things are more or less true every year. They're less easy to stomach when you get hammered over and over by teams that can exploit Michigan's various and sundry flaws. Michigan's been blown out of the building in every loss save Iowa*, often because they've resembled a grim parody of John Beilein basketball.
So I am thinking this and then Michigan wins a game by holding Purdue to 56 points. Michigan is 5/20 from three and significantly outrebounds a gigantic Purdue outfit. Okay. Whatever. In this very stereotypical Beilein year this was a genre-defying game.
*[That game was reasonably competitive despite the 11-point final margin.]
Doubly odd. Meanwhile there was a period in the second half when Michigan's offense devolved into ridiculous heroball. Walton, Irvin, and Robinson all took very bad shots on which they tried to beat guys off the dribble, failed, and shot anyway. This was during a 2/20 run from the floor. It was deeply unpleasant, and then Michigan won anyway.
Walton ain't wiltin'. Takes some cojones to drive in the vicinity of Hammons when you're 0/9 for the game and then aim for contact, but Derrick Walton has always been an assassin at the end of games. As a freshman he closed out wins against MSU and Nebraska with and-one drives; here he pushed Michigan in front on their 11-0 closing spurt. He then made four free throws down the stretch to seal it. I'm not a big fan of "clutch" but in his case I'll allow it.
While we're talking about weird-ass Derrick Walton, should be noted that he's still the top defensive rebouder on the team, and that is a good sign, not an ominous one. Michigan always does this thing where their defensive rebounding looks pretty good through the nonconference season and then they finish 10th or so in the league; not so this year. Michigan is 3rd(!) in the league at defensive rebounding. They haven't managed that since 2009, when Anthony Wright was tossing bombs at Oklahoma in the second round of the tourney instead of at Dan Dakich on Twitter.
Walton appears to have a tangible positive effect on Michigan's team rebounding, which is huge for a team that plays as small as Michigan does. A 6-foot-nothing point guard led all rebounders in a game featuring Purdue with 7 DREBs. Again, Purdue versus Derrick Walton and Walton wins.
Ticket more or less punched. Michigan needed to find a couple wins in a difficult closing stretch to feel secure about a bid; with the Purdue win they have reached 19 wins against a difficult schedule (SMU, Texas, UConn, and Xavier are all top-25 Kenpom teams). They've got three wins that will go on everyone's "good" list and zero bad losses. One of those wins is against a projected one-seed. Even if they had a season-ending skid that is not a profile that gets left out, especially when two programs that would normally be in the tournament (SMU and Lousiville) are taking postseason bans this year. And that's before the committee accounts for the fact that Levert has barely played during the Big Ten schedule.
Michigan would likely have to lose out to be on the bubble.
This is what I am saying about post offense. It's inefficient. Purdue makes it work better than most because they have simply enormous dudes but as Ace pointed out, all those post ups lead to a barrage of two point jumpers that aren't good at scoring points. This game was a good example of why. Hammons got shut out(!!!) on the offensive boards and Haas got just one. Those two combined to go 9/21 from the field and 3/7 from the line, with two of the makes Hammons 15-footers. Hammons turned it over 3 times. All this was against a very bad defense.
Hammons is 88% at the rim but:
- 71% of his shots there are assisted
- another 18% are putbacks, so
- 11% of his shots at the rim are unassisted non-rebouds, ie, post-ups.
Meanwhile he's hitting 39% on two point jumpers, which comprise the vast majority of shots arising from post ups. Haas is similar but is hitting 48%. And both guys see a lot of assists on their two point makes, which means raw put-it-on-the deck post ups are mostly a waste of time even when you have the biggest damn team in the world against a bad defense.
I am completely fine with the way Michigan has discarded post-ups entirely. I just wish they'd recruit posts based solely on resemblance to Dikembe Mutumbo; all the guy has to do is dunk and wag his finger.
(Other possibility: Purdue is super generous with assists. They're 11th nationally in A/FGM, and I've seen them play. That's not reality.)
Robinson quiet, but occupying people. Purdue has Raphael Davis. Davis is the reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year. Raphael Davis spent most of this game checking Duncan Robinson. This resulted in Robinson not doing much and an ugly offensive game for the rest of the team, but Irvin got loose in part because he got a matchup against Swanigan; only after he'd heated up did Purdue try to match Davis on him.
If Levert does get back to full strength either he occupies the ace defender and Robinson gets loose or he gets to attack those wide open lanes. This is one of two reasons getting LeVert back and functional is so critical; the other is that the committee won't give Michigan the benefit of the doubt for his absence unless he does return.
MAAR, ball-hawk. Abdur-Rahkman helped rescue the game with a couple of key steals late. That's a flash of the perimeter defender we hoped we were getting last year after he shut down DeAngelo Russell; for a lot of reasons that has not really manifested itself. He's probably been Michigan's most consistent defender, but that's not saying much.
While he's not exactly a standout statistically, he's piecing it together this year. He's shooting really well in conference (76%/59%/41%), he's inching up that assist rate, and he's getting to the line. Usage is still in the Spike Albrecht range; that's the main hangup when you're trying to project him. He should be a very solid upperclassman; the ten-point bump in his three point shooting percentage is encouraging.
Okay Caris. Just get right by the Big Ten Tournament. Now that he's seen the court the direst predictions are off the table.
Derrick Walton had taken nine shots. None of them had gone in. With Michigan improbably within three points in the waning minutes against Purdue, however, he crossed over PJ Thompson and charged into the paint, laying his first bucket in off the glass as AJ Hammons knocked him to the floor.
While Walton missed his chance to tie the game at the line, he more than redeemed himself, pulling down two signature high-flying defensive rebounds and making 4/4 free throws in the final 15 seconds to seal the victory.
On the afternoon Caris LeVert finally returned to the court, only to play 11 scoreless first-half minutes before sitting out the second half, Zak Irvin also played out a redemption tale. Coming off an ugly 1/8 performance against Minnesota, Irvin went 2/7 in the first half and had his first shot of the second swatted by Hammons. Then he heated up from the outside and turned around his battle with burly Purdue forward Caleb Swanigan, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the second half, including the winning points on a pull-up from the free-throw line with 1:09 remaining that barely crested over Hammons' fingertips.
Despite inconsistent performances from their stars, foul trouble for Mark Donnal, and Rapheal Davis once again eliminating Duncan Robinson (4 points, 0/1 3P) from the offense, Michigan found a way to win. To earn it, they had to lean on defense and rebounding.
Against the best rebounding team in the conference on both ends of the floor, Michigan won the battle of the boards, pulling down 28% of their misses to Purdue's 20%. While Swanigan (14 points, 6/9 FG) proved tough to handle, the bigs collectively slowed the two-headed center monster of Hammons and Isaac Haas (combined 21 points on 24 shots) with help from timely double-teams by the guards.
That's how Michigan could go 5/20 from three and still beat a team that presents major matchup issues. Purdue went 6/12 from beyond the arc but only 15/41 within it, and the second chances they normally rely upon weren't available very often. Days removed from one of the most demoralizing weeks in recent memory, Michigan is 9-4 in the Big Ten, all alone in fourth place and needing only two wins in their final five games—which includes a home matchup against Northwestern—to feel very good about their NCAA Tournament chances.
Perhaps—just perhaps—we were too quick to bury a John Beilein team. It wouldn't be the first time.