this may be of some local interest
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:
Guys lets talk about our favorite third down conversions I'll go first: 3rd and 12, at MSU, to Manningham: https://t.co/ua66YbunqG
— Jane Coaston (@cjane87) June 3, 2016
Adam: Michigan started the 1997 game against Ohio State—you know, the one with a shot at the Rose Bowl and national championship game on the line--with three three-and-outs; a five-play, zero-yard drive; and an eight-play drive that ended in yet another punt. Deep in the second quarter, Michigan was facing 3rd and 12 from their own 47 when Brian Griese hit Charles Woodson on a square-in for 37 yards.
Chris Floyd picked up 15 on the next play to put Michigan at the one-yard line, and Anthony Thomas punched it in one play later for Michigan's only offensive touchdown of The Game. That third-down conversion was one of two Michigan had in a game that came down to the last three minutes; I shudder to think what would happen if Woodson doesn't catch that ball.
[After the JUMP: more things that didn't go bad]
It's not quite official, but the head coaches of both ends of the rivalry more or less announced today that Michigan-Notre Dame will resume in the near future. Brian Kelly was more specific than Harbaugh:
“We’re going to make that happen,” the seventh-year Notre Dame head football coach said Thursday, relaxing in his office. “We’ve got some work to do, but we’re going to make it happen.
“It’s something (ND athletic director) Jack Swarbrick and I want to do, and we’re going to get that game back together. We’ve got some challenges, but I think we can pull it off.”
“We want to do it as soon as we can,” Kelly said. “We’ve got Michigan State home-and-home the next two years (2016-17), and then we’re hoping to. We want to get in on the schedule as quickly as possible after that.”
For his part, Harbaugh said they'd been working on resuming the series for "7, 8, 9 months" and that there were Ts to cross and Is to dot. Hoping those details include a rivalry trophy portraying Dave Brandon hunched over a computer, typing furiously.
Michigan currently has home games against Arkansas and SMU lined up for 2018 and an open date September 8th. It's an MSU/OSU away year and they should get the next home game in the series. ND currently has two openings in 2018, with Ball State scheduled for September 8th. They already have a couple of highly attractive home games in Stanford and FSU; their 2019 home schedule is currently pretty weak, with USC and not much else of interest. Resuming the series with a Michigan home game in 2018 appears to make sense for everybody.
The main problem: adding a game at ND in 2019 would lock Michigan into just five home games, which I assume is unacceptable. If the Arkansas return game gets moved—or that series gets flat-out canceled—they can get up to six. That would still be the fewest home games Michigan Stadium has seen since the move to 12 games. The ever-increasing blizzard of TV money makes it more likely Michigan can weather that financially, but it's a problem. One that the two sides appear to be working through.
A Top Three... Of One
Michigan's recent push for five-star CA CB Darnay Holmes is paying off. Holmes is in the process of narrowing his recruitment to three schools, and he told Maize n Brew he knows one school that will make the cut:
2017 5* CB/WR Darnay Holmes told @MaizenBrew that Michigan is the ONLY team that he knows will make his Top 3. Still deciding on others.
— Evan Petzold (@EvanPetzold) June 6, 2016
Nebraska is also a safe bet to be in the top three; the only official visit Holmes has set so far is to Lincoln, though he also plans to take officials to Michigan and Ohio State. Stanford and UCLA are also heavily involved. Michigan has gone from the fringe of Holmes' recruitment to the possible leader in a hurry.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
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.
|Boulder, CO – 6'3", 250|
|Scout||4*, NR overall
#42 DE, #1 CO
|Rivals||4*, #215 overall
#11 WDE, #1 CO
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#42 DE, #1 CO
|24/7||3*, #451 overall
#19 SDE, #2 CO
|Other Suitors||ND, UCLA, CU, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
No senior highlights on HUDL. Junior:
You can't throw a rock in Carlo Kemp's family without irritating a guy who played or coached football, often at the highest level:
The four-star prospect's grandfather is Sam Pagano, the former longtime Fairview High, Colo., head football coach and Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame inductee. He also ran the prestigious Mile High Football Camp for 36 years.
In addition, Kemp's uncles are Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano.
"I pretty much have a connection to every college in America because my grandfather back at home knows everybody [in football] and everyone knows him," Kemp told HuskerOnline.com.
I mean, this is a dude Kemp lives with just hanging out on the sideline of an NFL game.
Kemp's first words were probably an audible to a matchup zone. Pedigree doesn't quite cover it.
While having a bunch of hard-bitten football dudes around isn't a guarantee of success, it's a nice head start. Harbaugh noticed Kemp's readiness almost immediately upon his arrival this spring:
"He seems like he’s been here a couple years. I’m not talking from a football standpoint, but just a guy that being around him, he’s at ease with everything. Maybe a little bit of the Pagano background: grandfather a football coach, uncle a football coach. He’s very mature. Very smart; a 4.0 type of guy. He just looks like he’s in the groove.”
Around the same time Steve Lorenz was hearing that Kemp stood out as "someone who fits the Harbaugh culture." With his background and intelligence, Kemp is a heavy favorite to hit his ceiling.
That ceiling depends largely on finding a solid positional fit. Despite his size he played MLB last year; Michigan gave him a run at the spot in spring practice. That didn't last long. By the spring game he was back at end. If you watch his film, which is his junior year, you might wonder why Michigan bothered to try him out there—that is an end, and a relatively large one. The plan under Durkin was to play him at the "buck" spot, which is hypothetically a LB/DE hybrid but played much more like a standard weakside end even when a Kemp-sized guy was manning it. That might still be the plan. Mattison:
…fills two voids for us as he plays a linebacker position and outside rusher position in passing situations. He has great size and strength and his upside and we are excited about what he brings to the Michigan program.
Carlo is very versatile. He will be a guy who can line up on the edge and go, or drop into coverage, stand up and play linebacker or put his hand down and get the quarterback. Carlo is going to be able to do different things because of his size and his ability to move his feet and use his quickness. He’s a very smart, headsy football player.
On the other hand, Kemp was paired with Rueben Jones in the spring game. Jones, who also moonlit as a linebacker this spring, is a WDE all the way; Kemp was playing SDE. Kemp has reasonable size for a hybrid weakside end right now, which means that in a couple years he's probably outgrown the position. 247 projects him at SDE for this reason, and also issues him the sole three-star ranking he got. It's a concern: Kemp is a tweener who could end up too big for WDE and not big enough for SDE.
Unfortunately, much of the scouting about Kemp talks about BUCK and standing up and dropping back and etc., etc., etc. Buck doesn't exist anymore (and it never did) and your author thinks the extent of Kemp's hybrid role will be short drops on zone blitzes. Meanwhile Kemp avoided the camp scene—he had no need for exposure—and some of the other scouting is contradictory. ESPN says he does bring athleticism to go with the pedigree:
…nice combination of size and bulk at this stage with some room to still develop his frame. Demonstrates very good playing strength and a good get-off. … Flashes good speed to power and can knock and drive blockers back when he keeps pads down. Can bring a hard up-field charge, but can lack a plan and needs to continue to develop his pass rush arsenal to fit his strengths. … Athletic player for size.
Clint Brewster's evaluation is in conflict with the get-off statement above; he doesn't seem to believe Kemp has a ton of pass rush upside in college:
…big, tough player that can rush the passer off the edge or drop into space. Kemp’s effort and want-to on the field really pop out at you when evaluating his film. He chases the ball downfield and doesn’t give up on plays. … When he makes contact with people they feel it. Has the leverage and strength to get under pads and bull rush tackles.
Kemp isn’t the most talented prospect as far as first-step quickness or explosiveness and from a frame standpoint he’s not a long and rangy player. … Kemp makes heady plays and is really good with his hands shedding blocks and scraping to the ball carrier. He can really anchor down the edge and control the line of scrimmage against the run.
Scout has "athleticism" as an area for improvement and "suddenness" as a positive, which… uh. Those are more or less the same thing when it comes to a DE. The evaluation itself…
…physically very strong, and can overpower multiple blockers and make a play. He shows a quick first step and can beat an opposing lineman off the snap. He's a good athlete for a big man, can move laterally and covers a lot of ground. Depending on how much weight he puts on, we could see Kemp playing on the edge of even moving inside and playing as a tackle.
…says he's a good athlete. Scout doesn't have much else, but they did mention they believe he'll grow into a full time end or "even a tackle" when they put him at the tail end of their top 300 last April.
Rivals's Blair Angulo is enthusiastic—Rivals is an optimistic outlier amongst a bunch of evaluations that are right on the 3/4 star borderline—and helpfully dismisses the LB/BUCK talk to focus on a more realistic college deployment:
"I think he's really good. He's very physical at the point of attack and he's a really hard worker. He plays with a good pad level [ed: !!!] and is football sound as far as gaps are concerned. I think his work ethic is going to carry him to great places in college. … Looking at his film and his skill set I think, if he can keep the speed and keeps the aggression he has now, he doesn't have a lot of weaknesses… [he does need] to get better at getting off of blocks. … he does well to contain gaps, engage blockers, and recognize plays but if he's going to rush the passer almost exclusively, getting off of blocks is a big part of that.
Good pad level! I have been doing these forever and this may be the first time ever that a high school player has had his pad level mentioned as a positive. I mean… if this is not evidence that Carlo Kemp is from a football lineage nothing will convince you.
Anyway. Angulo's evaluation is another one that points to Kemp evolving into a good, maybe slightly boring starter. These reports contrast with Ron Johnson's. Johnson had all four services say something about his explosion and rawness. Kemp's evaluations occasionally mention something that should translate into pass rush; mostly they focus on the fact he's going to be in the right gap and play with good technique. That sounds like a high-floor, low-upside player.
There are a couple of evaluations that think Kemp could be a college star. One of them comes from the Michigan coaching staff. Lorenz:
Michigan pushed for [Kemp] very hard late in his process to beat Notre Dame for his services. Kemp had a solid offer sheet, but one that those around the Michigan program thought should have been even bigger. They believe he can become an elite pass-rusher in any (Don Brown) defense and could be one of the higher impact signees in the class.
Michigan was coming from behind in Kemp's recruitment. Kemp's grandfather played at ND and was indoctrinated young.
"With Notre Dame, it's been rooted in my family for such a long time," Kemp said. "My grandmother started me at a young age always wearing Notre Dame clothes."
The push there was a real thing. Notre Dame's involvement also spurred the other highly positive evaluation, this from former ND QB Evan Sharpley:
Kemp flashes brilliant athleticism, the versatility to play multiple positions, and potential to be developed into an elite collegiate player. Kemp shows ample speed as an edge rusher, the physicality to play inside, and coverage skills to matchup with hybrid tight ends. … Kemp is a smart pass rusher. Impeccable ability to read the quarterback’s eyes will moving upfield.
Sharpley is usually positive, as team-specific evaluations tend to be, but this evaluation is an effusive outlier. Kemp does have some moments on his highlight film where he absolutely wrecks a dude; it could happen.
Yo guy has picture of prestigious award.
Why Jibreel Black? Black was a 6'2" guy who came in as a WDE; he was pretty thick as a high school recruit and ended up a 280-pound defensive tackle. The DT bit was in large part because Michigan was desperate at the tail end of the Rodriguez regime; he infamously was forced to play nose tackle in an OSU game, and that went about as well as you might expect. His best fit was at SDE.
Kemp is probably going to be better than Black because of his background and the slightly better defensive coaching he'll receive. He's also a better-regarded recruit than Black, who was a late pickup and something of a flier. ND was not pounding Black's door down.
Another couple guys who are potential comparisons: Brennen Beyer and Craig Roh. Both moved from LB to WDE to SDE over the course of their careers as they got bigger; both ended up undersized for SDE but managed to make it work with smarts and excellent technique.
Guru Reliability: Moderate-minus. Rankings mostly agree; significant conflict amongst scouting reports and some positional question marks.
Variance: Low-minus. 4.0 kid with football coaches out the wazoo who's already Harbaugh-approved. The only thing that'll disrupt his career is an injury.
Ceiling: Moderate. I think he'll end up like Beyer or Roh: a solid multi-year starter who grades out well in UFR and maybe gets an honorable mention All Big Ten.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. At the very least he's a guy who gives you a ton of quality snaps. Michigan is going to need bodies on the line in 2017 and 2018 and Kemp's high floor is important.
Projection: Unlikely to redshirt given the Pagano stuff and his early enrollment. Similarly unlikely to have a major role given the many persons on the DL this year.
Future will depend on his weight. If he sticks as a WDE he'll be in competition with Chase Winovich, Lawrence Marshall, and some other guys. If he moves over to SDE, which I think he will, he's going to spend his sophomore year backing up Gary before a two-year run as an upperclassman starter. Shelton Johnson is the only other guy currently on the roster who projects to SDE in 2018 and 2019.
Just when you thought you'd seen peak Rutgers...
As Paramus Catholic High School officials prepare to host a football camp Wednesday featuring Michigan's Jim Harbaugh, authorities are said to be investigating a series of acts that the school president called vandalism.
Paramus Catholic president James Vail told NJ Advance Media his operations team arrived on campus this morning to find Rutgers magnets across the fields and a teddy bear and Rutgers paper packet on the 50-yard line of the football field.
A group claiming unofficial ties to Rutgers University took responsibility, emailing media outlets with pictures of its work and a letter slamming Harbaugh for starting a war with Rutgers.
The photos above depict the horrifying act of vandalism and the accompanying letter from "The Order of Bulls Blood," which for the sake of both brevity and accuracy will henceforth be called "Smirnoff ISIS."
There's so much to unpack here that I'm just going to start writing a list and see how long I can go before I can no longer see through the tears of laughter.
1. "The Order of Bull's Blood" is the oldest secret society at Rutgers—or is rumored to be, as its very existence is in question (see sidebar). "The Order of Bulls Blood" is a group of students who don't know how to properly deploy the possessive form.
2. According to an email sent to local media, this act of war was pulled off by "elite student leaders," which... you know what? That sounds about right.
Michigan has began a war with Rutgers University. Our Order, represented by some of Rutgers elite student leaders, see it fit that this rivalry be hereby declared.
We have had enough of Michigan. Fence the Garden was brought forth because of Mr. Harbaugh, and us Scarlet Knights are ready to protect our state. We R battle ready.
Tonight sparked the beginning of the end for Wolverine Football, and no longer will they return to their former glory. The Curse of The Bambino reigned for 86 years, Michigan's will last for 28.
The 2016-2017 Class
Order of Bulls Blood
The Yankees are invoked. I, for one, am shocked.
3. If an act of vandalism is best described as "adorable," it's probably not a very good act of vandalism. It's definitely not a good act of vandilism if it's already gone by the time the press picks up on it, let alone the event it's supposed to disrupt.
"The litter has already been cleaned up and we're ready to go for the camp,'' said Vail
This was not a good act of vandalism.
4. This is a textbook use of the passive voice by the NJ.com writer.
Because Michigan is perceived to be a rival to Rutgers both on the football field and on the recruiting trail, the camp has drawn intense criticism from Rutgers fans on popular Internet message boards.
Perceived by whom? Exactly.
5. The letter to Harbaugh. Good God, the letter to Harbaugh. There's the haphazard use of capitalization, the implication Rutgers is College Football David instead of College Football Job, "you will being to fade," and the invoking of their "powerful ally," Ohio State. Should somebody tell them?
The best part, though, is that the letter is meant to be an acrostic, a favored form among Facebook meme artisans and middle schoolers writing love letters. These elite student leaders cleverly inserted a message to Jim Harbaugh in such fashion. Or they tried to, at least, but their use of "The Sleeping Giant" screwed up the format.
As such, the capitalized letters down the side read: GO FUCK YOUGRSELF
Rutgers may be the worst thing to ever happen to the Big Ten, but at least they're the best thing to happen to this offseason.