"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
|Prattville, Alabama – 6'1", 170|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#26 ATH, #16 AL
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#117 ATH, #32 AL
|24/7||3*, #1460 overall
#123 ATH, #164(!) AL
|Other Suitors||Cal, TCU, Miami, Mizzou, Louisville, UNC, Duke, UK|
|YMRMFSPA||Steve Breaston or
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Older teammate of Kingston Davis and Dytarious Johnson at Prattville. Decommitted from Duke and then Cal.|
The world was not particularly different when Keith Washington committed to Michigan. He is one of the first of the Harbaugh Guys, and demonstrated that in person with the man himself:
"They told me they had heard I was pretty fast, and I told them I'd run a 4.3," Washington recalls. "And they were like 'we don't believe you.'
"So I just said, OK, I'll run one for you right now outside. Let's go."
That story made the signing day press conference and will hopefully be the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
It is likely to be one on a slow burn. Washington is a project. He is projected by just about everyone to be a cornerback in college, but—as is often the case with super athletes—he played quarterback in high school. After a senior-year transfer from Texas, Washington walked into a Alabama state power at Pratville and immediately won the starting QB job. As a result all of his DB film is underclassman stuff from Texas. Also he is 170 pounds. It's going to take some time.
Even so there's a major disconnect between Washington's recruiting profile and his high school exploits. Prattville made the 7A* state championship game with Washington at the helm, rushing for 1200 yards at a Denard-esque 7.9 YPC. His passing numbers are pretty good, too: 61%, 1800 yards, 19 TD, 5 INT. He was mentioned as a (fringe) candidate for Alabama's Mr. Football award, won the Montgomery Advertiser's 6A-7A player of the year award… and nobody ranks him in, or really even near, the top ten players in the state when it comes to college potential. He does have to switch positions, but you'd think a guy who ripped through the best competition the state of Alabama had to offer would get a bit of respect even if it was as an "athlete."
Washington is certainly that, running sub-4.5 40s as an underclassman out of Clute, Texas. By the time Harbaugh sat down with him his go-to number was 4.38. Whether that is fake or not, his ability to separate himself—quickly—from defensive backs in Alabama's highest division leaps off his tape. A coach who played against him last year:
"The main thing that stands out about Washington is just how athletic he is," Dukes said. "He was dangerous whenever he got outside the pocket so that was our main focus. We wanted to keep him from doing that. … He can really run. Being athletic at quarterback is a bonus and hopeful, but it's not expected. If your quarterback is shifty and able to run like him it's a huge bonus, but at corner it's a must. You have got to have a great athlete there and I think he is that."
ESPN praises him as a "gifted athlete," repeatedly notes that he "demonstrates he can both run away from defenders and catch people from behind," and says he's a "general athlete that looks comfortable in whatever role he is asked to play."
Keith Washington is fast. Meanwhile his father (who is also named Keith Washington) was an Alabama high school star himself and a fringe NFL player for several years.
The transition to corner is the holdup in his rankings. There is little scouting on him for obvious reasons. He's 170 pounds. He's been mostly an offensive player the last couple years. His DB film from his Texas days looks rough to my amateur eye. Touch The Banner also has the quintessential scout-guy question about him:
I question whether Washington has the hips to be a big-time corner. He's a little bit stiff in the upper and lower body, and he does not transition out of a backpedal very well. As one might expect of someone who's primarily a cornerback, he also lacks tackling technique and doesn't pack much of a punch. Some of these things are technique issues - and strength and conditioning issues - that can be helped with some time in college.
Overall, I look at Washington and I see Jeremy Clark, who's a 6'4" safety for Michigan.
It's tough to make any call on him given the QB transition. When he was a Cal commit, Cal folks were impressed:
Physically, he's long and lean; and he really doesn't have a frame suited for some of the physicality required of a safety. … great acceleration. His ability to turn and chase is impressive with his closing speed. His height and long arms help him in press coverage and playing the ball, and he's a willing though unpolished tackler. … his athleticism makes him a natural in pass coverage. …athletically, Washington really is impressive.
Unfortunately, when I think "recent Cal defensive back" good things do not come to mind. This does:
An optimistic take on a commit should be taken in the context it was given. Clint Brewster also gave an evaluation a swing:
…got to like his height at 6-foot-2, and his rangy frame. Washington won't have an issue covering the big outside receivers. He's got good speed and can cover ground. … Washington shows good change of direction and breaks on the ball quickly.
Can he play cornerback? Nobody really knows.
There is a backup plan. Harbaugh loves to flip guys around and we already have a pretty good idea of what Keith Washington looks like as an offensive player. He looks like Steve Breaston. He looks creepily like Steve Breaston, playing against the top level of Alabama football. Northwestern recruited him as Kain Colter II, except fast(!):
While Washington says he "can come down under center" if he has to, his strengths are working from the shotgun and running the zone-read game -- much like Kain Colter did for Northwestern over the last four years.
Unlike Colter, however, Washington is a burner with "low 4.4, high 4.3 speed."
Michigan's slot receivers in spring were playing corner and then booted off the team (Norfleet), a true freshman probably better suited to the outside (Cole), and various walk-ons. There is room for a Steve Breaston even in Harbaugh's world of thud.
If it turns out the transition to corner is not going very well, the obvious thing to do is stick him at receiver and see if he can also go to work. I'm not sayin'… I'm just sayin'. I am sayin' that I wonder how seriously we should take any of these positional designations given the propensity of Harbaugh to try anyone anywhere. This goes double for Washington, a quintessential ATH recruit.
Get him in, guess at a position, and let marinate.
*[This is the largest classification. Alabama just added it last January for reasons unknown. There are only 32 teams in it, which seems small for a high school division.]
What song are you picking if you had to sing karaoke?
“That’s a tough one. I’d probably have to pick Usher’s ‘Let it Burn.’”
Can you sing?
Please make this happen.
Why Steve Breaston or James Rogers? If you are going off the high school film that does not look like it was filmed underwater, Keith Washington looks like a clone of high school Steve Breaston, who was a dual-threat quarterback and all-around athletic terror. Washington has the same kind of foot-in-the-ground shallow cut Breaston did, and has the ability to maintain speed through it like Breaston did.
As a defensive back the closest comparison I have is not a positive one, but James Rogers was a tall, very fast offensive player in high school with a modest recruiting profile who many people thought would be a defensive back. He bounced back and forth between offense and defense before becoming a starting corner on Rich Rodriguez's first defense. He could not flip the ol' hips very well and was constantly picked upon.
Morgan Trent is another potential comparison here. Trent had a higher profile as a recruit; in college he ended up being a very fast straight-line guy who couldn't change direction well enough to thwart Troy Smith.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy and high profile player, but a major position switch clouds matters. Also no camps after a few early combines—very possible that was a reason his ranking was bleah.
Variance: High. This is an Ikea prospect who you must assemble yourself.
Ceiling: High. 6'2" cornerback with excellent speed.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Love the go-get-it mentality, love the athleticism, worry about major transition and ability to add a bunch of weight and maintain said athleticism. I prefer him as an offensive player.
Projection: One of the surest redshirts on the team. Washington needs to add weight, move to a position he either hasn't played ever (receiver) or hasn't played in a long time (cornerback), and then add more weight.
After that your guess is as good as anyone's. He could end up a starting corner, he could be a slot receiver, he could never find a home and fade away.
This has been a fait accompli for a few weeks now; it is now official:
— UniversityofMichigan (@UMich) July 6, 2015
Also press release.
Creepy divorce metaphor aside, this is likely to please everyone. We have a Best Of Adidas post being assembled and it's a doozy. Around here we started calling them the Only Incompetent Germans after Glenn Robinson's jersey exploded in a cloud of fibers for the third or fourth time.
Nike's not perfect—in fact the only Nike tag we have on the blog is "nike would like you to wear this aerodynamic fez"—but the athletes really wanted Nike according to internal surveys. A lot of the fans really wanted Nike according to Sam Webb, who would know. Even those who were pretty indifferent to the brand of clothing they're wearing scoffed at the many and diverse fashion crimes perpetrated on the best uniforms in sports. And so the department acquiesced even though there were reports that the Adidas offer was worth significantly more.
Yes: the athletic department made a decision based on something other than making revenue go up. Even if you don't really care what symbol is on Michigan's jerseys, that has to feel good.
No numbers yet. Those will be announced next week. Current details:
- Contract runs to 2027 with a Michigan option to extend to 2031.
- Contract starts August 1st of next year.
- Michigan can use "Jumpman" apparel for their basketball teams—apparently this is a big deal.
- The Daily's Zach Shaw reports that employees were told that Michigan will be Nike's "top deal." I think they say that to all the girls.
I don't think uniformz are off the table unless the AD says they're off the table; that will be the next thing to watch for.
Hello, I'm back, and very thankful to have missed the dumbest week of the offseason thus far. The long-promised recruiting mailbag is here, and I'll have a recruiting roundup tomorrow once I've caught up.
There may be in-class attrition. It probably won't include Mike Onwenu. [Rapai]
At long last, we've gone long enough—hold on...
[checks three different message boards]
[checks Twitter again]
...we've gone long enough without a commitment for me to put together the recruiting mailbag I promised weeks ago.
— CBCS (@MGoFour) June 15, 2015
It wouldn't surprise me in the slightest. Michigan already sits at 21 commits in the class and they have several positions of need yet to fill: wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, BUCK linebacker, cornerback, probably one more offensive lineman, and maybe an additional inside linebacker. They may even take a kicker, though Quinn Nordin's recruitment is trending towards Penn State. That's seven or so more potential spots. If they find a way to make the numbers work, this class could conceivably reach 28 players, with the coaches backdating a few early enrollees to fit under the yearly cap of 25.
Can Michigan make this work without oversigning? I think so. Brian covered part of the numbers outlook in his recent mailbag, noting two areas where scholarships should open up:
- There are 4-6 current redshirt juniors who are candidates for unrenewed fifth years. They'll have spent four years in the program and will leave with degrees in hand.
- There are a couple potential medical redshirts, not including the now known to the public effort to get Ondre Pipkins to agree to take one. Pipkins, a senior, wouldn't have affected the 2016 scholarship count regardless.
There's another huge factor: the impending depth chart crunch. Michigan is set to have seven scholarship quarterbacks on the roster in 2016; they'll also have seven scholarship running backs. That's 14 players for two starting positions (three if M goes RB-by-committee), and there's a good chance underclassmen pass an upperclassman or two. Depending upon how the depth chart shakes out, there could be 3-4 transfer candidates just from those two position groups. As the pecking order is established in fall camp and during the season, some players will look for playing time elsewhere.
In addition, I looked at Stanford's 2010 class for a reason. Any class that fills this many spots this early is likely to have attrition, and while Stanford's 2010 class had an unusual number of decommitments even for Harbaugh, it'd surprise me more if Michigan held onto every current commit than if they lost at least a couple. David Reese is looking at Louisville and Notre Dame. Dele' Harding camped at West Virginia recently. In-class attrition should be expected.
For those looking at the number of highly ranked targets on Michigan's board and wondering where those spots will come from, that should help provide an answer, as should this: always remember that fans tend to overestimate their team's chances of landing top-ranked commits. Is Michigan going to pull in some four-stars and perhaps even a five-star or two down the stretch? Yes. Are they going to add Rashan Gary, both Kellys, Dontavious Jackson, Terrance Davis, Ahmir Mitchell, and Nasier Upshur to round out the class? No. While Michigan is in very good shape with each of those prospects, anyone who's followed recruiting for a while knows that a class never wraps up so neatly, let alone so spectacularly—especially when dealing with so many out-of-region prospects.
At this point, I'm not too concerned about the numbers. There's still an entire fall camp and football season to play before Signing Day, and Michigan is in their first year under a demanding coach with a markedly different style from his predecessor. If M has to "free up" a half-dozen scholarships in February, we have a problem; I don't anticipate this being a problem.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the mailbag.]
Dave: What future non-conference game are you most looking forward to?
Seth: As the usual question-asker I rarely get a chance to take the obvious response, in this case the 2020 trip to Washingon. So I'm gonna celebrate my good fortune with a top five list:
1. Seattle. Many U.S. cities are basically the same buildings, chain restaurants and NFL team just rearranged. Seattle is one of the few who are not that. Imagine San Francisco's waterfront, Brooklyn-like neighborhoods, and Portland's love affair with the 1990s. Then add 1000% more polar fleece, and coffee so good you should probably avoid it lest you spend the rest of your life as a Whole Foods shopper.
Seattle pier [me]
2. Michigan-Washington = classic football. In addition to the once-a-decade home-and-home we've been scheduling since the 1950s, we've met the Huskies four times in Pasadena, including Bo's first win:
(the only time in history "who wants it more" was probably a thing)
It's rare enough to keep them exotic, and familiar enough for a wealth of subplots, like the 1983 game where Michigan learned The Wave.*
3. Washington fans. Like other schools you can name with a rich football tradition, a healthy respect for academics, and who have survived Ty Willingham, Huskies fans are surprisingly tolerable. They remember Marlin Jackson like we remember Omar Lowe.
4. Gameday should be pretty good. It's one of the older programs in a gorgeous stadium on a gorgeous old campus in early September. In 2020 Chris Petersen would be in his seventh year, Harbaugh his sixth, provided both survive until then. No bets that far in the future are sure things in college football, but the two former quarterbacks are likely enough to have their respective programs consistently ranked by then.
5. Family. The moment the news broke last year that Michigan was going to Washington I secured a promise from the wife that we'd be there, then called my particularly awesome cousin in Seattle to book our room. This thing is stone; family members have received notification to keep all weddings and pregnancies clear.
* Michael Florek covered the history of this for HTTV '14. Short version is the Huskies stole it from some Vancouver hockey fans, then M cheerleaders picked it up on the '83 visit and taught it to Michigan Stadium, where the bowl was a natural fit (and Bo blew one). Michigan fans took it to Tiger Stadium in the 1984 World Series, and it went national from there.
[After the jump: somebody I used to know]
Michigan's picked up a commit from NJ WR Brad Hawkins. Here is an informative post about him.
|4*, #38 WR,
|4*, #42 WR, #7 NJ
|4*, #25 WR, #6 NJ
|4*, 92, #37 WR
|4*, #38 WR
There is virtual unanimity about where Hawkins falls amongst the top football prospects in the country: about 200th. Every service ranks him somewhere between 191 and 224.
Hawkins is a nice combination of burly-go-get-it and the athleticism to get separation. ESPN calls him a "physical specimen" and praises his ability to get open:
Shows some suddenness off the line for a bigger player. Has a long, strong stride to get into routes quickly and cover ground. Is deceptively sudden in confined spaces and can shift gears to flash double moves. … Above average body control opening up and adjusting to throws outside strike zone. Tracks deep ball well and fields over the shoulder throws naturally. …tremendous red zone potential as he continues to get stronger to be a significant factor on the jump ball.
247's Clint Brewster describes him as a version of Junior Hemingway:
…gives you a lot after the catch. … tough player in traffic and catches contested passes. He's not a blazer on the outside but has adequate speed and shows some quickness to take away angles from defensive backs. Power player and uses contact well in his routes. … He's able to use his body to box out defenders and snags the ball away from his body out in front. Really attacks the ball in jump ball situations.
Rivals is just as high on him as everyone else is but they were higher before his appearance at a camp stop. He dropped about 50 spots afterwards. This is their explanation as to why:
"Hawkins does a lot of things on the field very well and he will be a solid pickup for one team but there isn't a ton of explosiveness to his game. He has a knack for coming up big in big moments but consistently dominating on the field is something he needs to show more consistently."
Other camps he attended had a similar vibe, with a 7 on 7 appearance in Carolina—which was unspecified—netting him a "best hands" award. Both that appearance and the Rivals camp highlighted his reliability. Carolina:
…such a reliable receiver. He works the middle of the field very well and was always there for his quarterbacks in tough situations. Hawkins always seemed to be open because he runs great routes and covers a lot of ground coming out of his breaks.
…hard to point out any one area where Hawkins dominated on Sunday; but he does everything well. The 6-foot-2, 195-pounder is an all-around wide receiver who can break press coverage, gets on top of defensive backs in a hurry and catches everything thrown his way. The four-star has a basketball background and that came through in the way he was able to high-point the football and out-leap defenders.
He is one of those guys. You know, those guys. The ones that are large and good at boxing out and maybe don't have announcers moaning about how unbelievably open they are.
Hawkins was down to Michigan and South Carolina pretty quickly in his recruitment, but he reports an impressive offer list including OSU, Oregon, Penn State, MSU, Miami, Florida, Auburn, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Wisconsin, and so forth and so on.
Hawkins's teammate Ron Johnson just committed to Michigan a couple weeks ago; 2017 OL Cesar Ruiz also has an offer. Before that Camden had a drought of D-I prospects going back to 2009.
FAKE 40 TIME
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I mentioned Junior Hemingway above and I'll mention him again: Hawkins appears to be the kind of guy who can go up and get it in a crowd but also is slippery/mean enough to be an option on screens. He probably isn't going to blow by cornerbacks on the regular but with his ability to position his body and block out defensive backs he may not have to if he's going to be effective.
Hemingway got absolutely enormous at Michigan, pushing linebacker size as an upperclassman—Hawkins isn't that burly yet but at 202 he is filled out well for a high school receiver.
Other potential comparables are Greg Mathews and Amara Darboh.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Hawkins is the 21st commit and first outside wide receiver in the class. (IN four-star Chris Evans is tentatively slated for slot receiver.) It's likely Michigan adds one or two more guys at his position, with fellow New Jersist Ahmir Mitchell the most likely name to join him.
Past that, 21 is not much less than 25. By backdating three early enrollees, Michigan can go up to 28 if they have room, and they're recruiting like they do.
Ace is still on vacation.
Hawkins at two
NJ WR Brad Hawkins announces in a minute here. Recruitin' heuristics and the Crystal Ball suggest Michigan fans will be happy. South Carolina seems like the other option, but even their experts at 247 are saying all signs point to M($).
More detail on Xavier Kelly
KS DE Xavier Kelly just announced a top eight with Michigan in it. That could mean anything, but the way the Kellys are talking Michigan seems like one of the strongest contenders. Via Sam Webb, the paterfamilias($):
“It was great,” the elder Kelly said of the visit. “They had a lot of great things about it, but I was expecting big things from Michigan. I went in there kind of biased already, but it was real good. We had a good time. We kicked it with the coaches, had lunch with them, and toured the facilities.”
"Kind of biased already" is a good thing to hear. Kelly also gave a lengthy interview to Rivals—availability is good for your prospects to land a kid. Brandon Brown($):
"It's a pretty big deal that my dad is from Detroit because I have a lot of family there," Kelly said. "They support me and Detroit's not very far from Ann Arbor so they could come support me and I could go visit them so that's always good."
Kelly wants to get down to a top five before the season. Michigan is a near lock to make that list. Long way to go, otherwise: he plans on taking his officials and committing at the Army game.
Moar 2017 rankings
Scout jumps in with rankings for rising juniors. Thanks to Magnus, a list of the instate kids who made it:
#25 Donovan Peoples-Jones, WR, Cass Tech
#116 Ambry Thomas, CB, King
#126 Josh Ross, LB, Orchard Lake St. Mary's
#194 Ja'Raymond Hall, OT, Oak Park
#216 K.J. Hamler, WR, Orchard Lake St. Mary's
#239 Allen Stritzinger, RB, Warren De La Salle
#266 Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE, St. Joseph
#269 Hunter Rison, WR, Skyline
Looks like a pretty good year in Michigan. Yes, Hunter Rison is that Rison's kid, so I wouldn't get too excited about the fact he's at Skyline. Aside from that, Michigan is in good shape with Ross, Hall, and Stritzinger already. They have been pursuing Peoples-Jones with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind and he seems to be responding, but he's going to be a major national recruit and it's hard to get a read on him this early.
Other 2017 receivers to keep an eye on
Early offer Joshua Palmer is moving from Brampton, Ontario to Florida powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas this fall and tells Scout that he is "feeling Michigan the most". FL WR Daquon Green tells Scout that OSU and Michigan are at the top of his list, with OSU slightly ahead. Green is planning a visit to OSU in July that may turn into a swing through Michigan if he gets it set up with the coaches… and then he plans to decide before his junior season.
Tyus Battle has changed his relationship status on Facebook to "it's complicated" and removed mention of Michigan from his social media stuff. The previous sentence caused a brand of old and crotchety Michigan fan to shake his fist at the screen.
In any case, the is-he-or-isn't-he gone seems to be resolved. Michigan could get him back. I wouldn't count on that. The parents seem to be pushing him to reconsider, and when that happens it's a long, long way back. Unless Battle is absolutely dead set on Michigan I don't see this resolving pleasantly.
So. Moving on, OH SG Jarron Cumberland visited and seemed like a very good bet to be plan B. Then he suddenly committed to Cincinnati. Premium scuttlebutt said that the lack of an offer had something to do with a transcript hiccup; for whatever reason Cumberland decided not to wait around to see if he would get one.
On to the next. Michigan was looking at NY combo guard Kevin Huerter as a 2017 when Battle was in the fold; without him he is a very viable option as a 2016 recruit. Huerter announced he would take a set of five unofficial visits to Michigan, Syracuse, Villanova, Notre Dame, and Maryland. That is an impressive top five; Huerter has a rep as a kid who seems like a Beilein recruit. They will almost certainly go hard after him now.
Michigan is also back in with KY PG Quentin Goodin, who has replaced Louisville with Michigan in his final five. The other schools: Xavier, Florida, Miami, and Western Kentucky. That's a much more tractable list than Kentucky, Duke, and Duketucky if Michigan can overcome whatever reasons they were left off the list in the first place. Goodin, at 6'2", is probably mutually exclusive with in-state PG Cassius Winston. Good to have multiple options in any case.
Battle remains an option. Rivals says it's on the table and there should be a resolution pretty soon here($)—like within a week. I'm just guessing but I think the Syracuse visit and optimism was a product of recruiting gentlemen talking to his dad—and the lack of a commitment from that visit was the death knell for the Orange. At that point he's looking at UConn and Duke, but Duke apparently has moved on. UConn is a good program in a terrible league. So it's that or start all over or try to get back.
Etc.: CA WR Dezmon Patmon says Michigan would be at the top of his list($) with an offer. He is the nephew of DeWayne, FWIW. Sam talks with Rashan Gary's mom in two parts. OSU's head recruiter "is not Chris Partridge" so they don't have that going for them.