Previously: Last year's profiles.
|Dayton, OH – 6'0", 205|
|Scout||4*, #150 overall
|Rivals||4*, #225 overall
#15 S, #10 OH
|ESPN||4*, #196 overall
#12 S, #7 OH
|24/7||4*, NR overall
#16 S, #13 OH
|Other Suitors||ND, MSU, Ark, Bama|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Brandon Brown interviews him.|
The world was a very different place when Tyree Kinnel committed to Michigan. It was August of 2013. Michigan was coming off a bumpy year induced by Denard Robinson's ulnar nerve turning traitor, but before that they were contending for the Big Ten title a year after Brady Hoke entered on wings of fire, winning the Sugar Bowl. Innocent Michigan fans frolicked in local meadows, unaware of the nuclear fires just over the horizon.
In the cratered aftermath Kinnel pokes his head out of his foxhole and cries out for his classmates. "Crawford! Campbell! Harris! Anybody? Anybody?" Alex Malzone pops up, helmet in bad shape but otherwise none the worse for wear. Otherwise… silence. Wither the commits of yesteryear, yea. We shall remember them as they were on recruiting sites, and get only slightly bitter when they do something good in college.
This is a long and largely unnecessary way of saying that Kinnel had a lot to think about after he decided on Michigan. After Shawn Crawford defected to the den of iniquity that is Notre Dame he tried to bring Kinnel along. He visited; he decided to stick out Michigan's coaching search instead. Kinnel really wanted to be at Michigan.
As a result there is a lot of chatter about where he might go and less actual scouting than you'd expect from a guy who committed before his junior year. And a lot of the scouting that exists is in the immediate aftermath of his commit—it's a bit dated. But we forge on.
In Kinnel, Michigan's locked down a potential replacement for Jabrill Peppers after he blasts off to the NFL. That's not to say he is Peppers. He is a safety-sized gentleman who is capable of covering people one on one, though. Rivals Ohio analyst Mark Givler:
"He's a strong kid, a good sized kid. I really like his versatility in the secondary because he's able to cover like a corner, but he also plays the game like a free safety. He'll bring some versatility back there, and he'll move around wherever the coaching staff will need him to move." …
"I think he's ultimately probably a free safety, but again, he's been put in a lot of man to man coverage situations at these camps and performed very well. He could have easily been a corner the way he performed at these camps. His build and strength to run sideline to sideline, though, makes him a great free safety prospect."
“Kinnel is just a great athlete. I would put him up there with guys like Cam Burrows and others like that from years past. He’s half safety and half corner. He has great coverage skills. He has good size. He is a fit kid.”
Rivals' Josh Helmholdt:
"He has the body, size and physical measurable of a safety, but he covers like a cornerback, I am very high on him as a prospect. He is certainly very talented, and physically, he brings everything to the table that you want from that position."
You get the idea.
If Michigan sticks with the perma-nickel defense they appear to be running with Peppers that would make him a strong candidate for that slot. If he does end up at free safety, that's fine too—the back half of his high school career was spent there (and running back and punt returner).
Some other scouting highlights:
- Clint Brewster, 247: "always around the ball …able to track the ball down on deep passes and make the INT or pass breakup. He does an excellent job of fighting for the ball and out-competing the receiver. … excellent quickness and a great burst to get to the ball-carrier. … elite agility and quickness. … could make the switch to cornerback at the next level if need be"
- Dave Berk, Scout: "Brute strength is above average … biggest question we’ll have going into his college career is the smoothness of his hips flipping out of his backpedal … no problem covering a lot of ground and does a great job in the deep half of the field showing above average instincts. His ability to cover an area and be in position to make plays is extremely high for such a young player."
- Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "Physically, Kinnel is everything that a college coach wants in a safety. He showed off his speed on kick returns and in closing on plays to be made. He's never going to be the fastest player, but he has enough speed to make an impact at either the strong or free position. He's a hair over 6-1, and every bit of his listed 190 pounds with even more room for growth. He showed off his strength in making forceful tackles (especially the disrupted screen play) without getting full leverage behind his body."
- Adam Gorney, Rivals: "Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers."
- Allen Trieu, Scout: “High football IQ who may not have the straight line speed some desire. Great body control and instincts with the ability to provide strong run support. Tough hard-nosed player who has no problem putting a hit on an offensive player. Great hands … Must continue work on coverage skills.”
What separates Kinnel from the all-world hype of Peppers is the usual: speed and size. Kinnel isn't a slouch in either department, but neither is there a unanimous chorus of "wow" at his raw athletic tools. Nobody ever said Jabrill Peppers was "a bit more athletic than many believe him to be," as Tim Sullivan did($) after an in-person evaluation.
It's hard to tell whether how real size concerns are since so many evaluations come from old film, but after watching Kinnel's junior tape 247's Clint Brewster said he was probably "closer to 5'10, 180" and "more quick than fast." He ran a 4.5($) at OSU's camp as a rising junior, which sounds excellent until you remember that OSU's camp is where all the kids get their 4.2 40s. He's still pretty big and quite fast. In that same eval, Sullivan noted that he has "plenty of speed to get things done." He's just not Peppers.
He is a high football IQ guy who really really wanted to be at Michigan…
Wednesday morning Tyree Kinnel expressed the dream he shared with his father to play at Michigan. During his speech to those in attendance at the school’s gymnasium, Kinnel thanked his friends, coaches, teachers, family and parents. After catching his breath and soaking up the moment, Kinnel looked back at his parents a second time and told them. “The Dream Came True!”
…and was calling audibles as a junior in high school. His high school DB coach:
"He has the size and speed, but he has something that you can't teach a lot of players: he has the instincts to see things before or as they are happening. This gives him the ability to make reads quicker and make plays. He knows how to disguise coverages and he knows how to read opposing offenses. As his position coach, I've given Tyree the permission to call audibles on our coverage."
Everyone's got bust potential; Kinnel's seems very low.
Why non-superman Jabrill Peppers? Kinnel offers a combination of safety instincts and man-to-man cover skills that should make him a hybrid space player like Peppers figures to be this year. As spread offenses respond to the intense quarters coverage that had MSU's D at the top of the world two years, the importance of covering the slot as he bombs deep is a priority, and Kinnel is a guy who offers that ability.
I usually try to grab someone in the same talent stratosphere—or that we've, you know, seen play—but Michigan has not deployed anyone of Kinnel's ilk in my memory.
Guru Reliability: High. Kinnel was healthy, playing the position he projects to, and hit a reasonable number of camps.
Variance: Low. Not much mystery here.
Ceiling: High-minus. Consensus four star who is a very solid athlete playing a spot he projects to well.
General Excitement Level: High. Note that there are levels above "high" in this arbitrary ranking system. Kinnel should be a contributor and a starter, probably a good one.
Projection: You'd think he's in line for a redshirt since Michigan has a veteran two-deep (Wilson, Hill, Clark, Thomas) in front of him at safety even if you don't slot Peppers in there. We don't know Harbaugh's inclinations in this department yet, though. One thing that might help: safety types are often drafted for special teams, but Jon Baxter likes to use a lot of starters there. That should reduce demand for pointless redshirt wastes.
Anyway, after a freshman year spent either getting no or very few snaps he will have on opportunity to compete for a starting job in year two after Jarrod Wilson graduates; more likely he has another year of sparse snaps. If Peppers hits the NFL in two years, that will be his first prime opportunity.
Pipkins got on the field late in the opener last year [Bryan Fuller]
Ondre Pipkins will attempt to use his last year(s) of eligibility elsewhere and he is not happy about it:
"I feel I'm healthy and ready to play," said Pipkins, who played last season after he was cleared to return from a torn knee ligament. "I don't want to sign the form. I wanted to play for my seniors and for the team. Coach Harbaugh said, 'I recommend you take the medical.'"
Pipkins said he felt constant pressure to retire. …
Harbaugh told him that he wanted "to make sure you graduate from Michigan" and that the coach did not plan to invite him to fall camp due in part to medical concerns. The lineman added that Harbaugh told him that he did not believe he would be drafted into the NFL for medical reasons.
"I feel bad I wasn't able to complete this journey with my classmates," Pipkins told ESPN. "I feel I am healthy and without pain. I believe Michigan wanted to free up the scholarship. I felt I was practicing well and could compete at a high level at the nose tackle and tackle positions."
First off, good for Pipkins for saying something about it—and apparently painting Harbaugh in a somewhat sympathetic light.
But this is a strange situation for a lot of reasons. I can't really figure out why Harbaugh would want to run Pipkins out of town:
- He was scheduled to be a senior and Michigan is at 85 scholarships right now, with the three former walk-ons (Kerridge, Glasgow, Glasgow) we think will get scholarships in 2015 accounted for.
- Pipkins thus doesn't impact the numbers in the 2016 class; the only reason he'd need to go this year is if Michigan was going to bring in yet more transfers.
- ND DE transfer Jhonathan Williams was just told no by Michigan.
- I'm sure at least one other player has a very legit medical hardship-inducing injury they haven't announced yet.
There were some rumors Michigan was looking at fifth year wide receivers that haven't come to fruition as of yet, but none of this really makes sense. Michigan seems to have room for him, and the move would appear to be a redshirt (that he should have gotten as a freshman /shakes fist at Hoke) so that he can be a fifth year somewhere else after getting his degree. That is unless he actually shouldn't play football.
Pipkins asserts in the article that Michigan wanted the scholarship… but for what?
Jim Harbaugh is a man like any other. He wakes up in the morning and puts his pants on one leg at a time. Except once his pants are on, he walks walks outside and drops gold:
walking the Ann Arbor streets with coach Harbaugh 〽️〽️ pic.twitter.com/JcEfjI2my7
— Pop (@NaseirUpshur) June 25, 2015
Choosing a favorite still from this is like picking between children. Let's start with the first frame, where the whole family is together even if one of the boys is doing that "I don't want to be in this" facepalm:
That we think is 2017 center Cesar Ruiz. Your cameraman is Naseir Upshur. Let's meet the rest of the crew:
Ahmir Mitchell is gonna wait to give a reaction, and Cesar has moved the hand over his mouth to keep from committing right then and there. Ron Johnson Jr. has no such reservations, and it's hard to blame them because…
Yes, the board has photoshopped. More than one of us went immediately to Popeye:
What do you think of Harbaugh, Ahmir?
Guys we are not even half-way through this thing.
We pan back to our videographer because the whole family couldn't fit in one frame.
…and oh hi Drevno.
Show us your mean mug Drevno.
Drevno's mean mug says "Home Depot is having a sale on gardening supplies!" The pen in his polo is ready to take down window measurements or commitments at a moment's notice. Or to sign for a Pizza Bob's smoothie.
There you go, Alabama bloggers: maybe this is a secondary violation. As we conclude Ruiz says "yeah-oh," and the kid with a bowl cut…
…the luckiest kid in the universe nods along.
They don't know what kind of marsupial it is.
The internet helpfully pointed out that keeping wildlife, uh, a gravid marsupial, for uh, you know, domestic…
…ain't legal. Also, Mariaklots is correct. That thing is a wallaby. Shane Morris had zoobooks and knows.
— Shane Morris (@ShaneMorris_7) June 26, 2015
No word on the ferret, or which of the many splendiferous names I offered up was eventually chosen. (I have money on Ferret Bo Jackson.)
I have committed to The University of Michigan thanks to everyone who believed in me and gave me the opportunity!! pic.twitter.com/BNv5rljqR0
— Ron Johnson Jr (@RonJohn24) June 25, 2015
The first of what could be multiple New Jersey commits in the 2016 class went down this afternoon when four-star Camden DE Ron Johnson announced his commitment to Michigan on Twitter. Johnson is currently on campus along with fellow 2016 prospects Ahmir Mitchell and Naseir Upshur, both of whom held Michigan in high regard heading into the visit, and surely in even higher regard now that they've hit the streets of Ann Arbor with Jim Harbaugh.
Johnson is the 20th commit in the 2016 class, the 14th this month alone, and the second defensive end, joining Rashad Weaver.
|3*, #48 DE||
4*, #6 WDE,
4*, 83, #16 DE,
4*, 92, #17 WDE,
4*, #14 WDE,
Scout is the major outlier here, despite giving him a pretty solid evaluation. Otherwise, Johnson easily ranks as a four-star.
Johnson is listed at either 6'3" or 6'4" and somewhere between 220 and 240 pounds. He's got the frame to add a significant amount of bulk, which is good, since his game suggests he'll fit best as a strongside end.
For being the low outlier in the rankings, Scout sounds quite optimistic about Johnson's potential in their free evaluation:
EvaluationJohnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism. He gets up the field in a hurry, but also uses technique, including a nice swim move. He stays low at the snap and can dip his shoulder to get around the edge, and also can chase a play down from behind. He needs to work a bit on his change of direction, which is good for a kid his size. His speed off the edge is why colleges like him a lot. -- Brian Dohn
- Hand Quickness
Areas to Improve
- Change of Direction
ESPN's scouting report features a lot of talk about wanting to see Johnson be more consistent in various aspects of his game, but given their conclusion and his lofty ranking they're clearly high on his potential ($):
Johnson is a prospect that brings some excellent physical tools. Can rely on size and strength some and needs to be more consistent with technique, but defender that can be a well-rounded and at times punishing presence in the trenches.
While ESPN praises his "raw strength," it sounds like Johnson needs to get stronger and/or refine his technique so that becomes a more consistent asset for him on the field. Rivals' Adam Friedman listed him at #7 among defenders at the RCS New Jersey camp in April, praising his edge rushing while noting he has work to do on the interior ($):
Johnson is a very skilled edge rusher with good balance and great length. He is very explosive off the line of scrimmage and does a good job of lining up the offensive lineman and faking one way before going the other. Johnson is still working on his overall strength and that will really help him on his inside rushes.
Rivals moved Johnson into their top 100 in the spring, as he showed quite literal growth from last year ($):
Johnson has gotten a couple of inches taller since the beginning of last season and it will surely help his game. His strength at the point of attack is undeniable and he's able to shed blockers and make the play. As a pass rusher, he can go to the inside, outside or bull rush. As his repertoire expands, the Johnson could end up moving up the rankings.
When Johnson got to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge earlier this month, however, he didn't impress as much as Rivals expected, getting a "Bear Market" mention from Mike Farrell in the aftermath:
DE Ron Johnson is ranked a bit too high right outside the Rivals100 and was small in comparison to the rest of the group without flashing the needed speed.
The raised level of competition may have affected Johnson, who apparently doesn't play against a ton of top-end talent at Camden. 247's Rutgers outlet noted that when naming Johnson their #4 player in the state this spring ($):
At 6'4" and 240 pounds, Johnson is an explosive, athletic defensive end with great strength and a phenomenal motor. He uses his hands very well and has a great understanding of the game. One of his biggest strengths is his versatility, as he can line up anywhere along the [defensive] line and can use his speed and an explosive first step to create an instant advantage over the offensive linemen. Johnson does not face the greatest competition but he still projects as a player who can make an impact, at least from a pass rushing standpoint, as a true freshman.
Johnson's most recent camp appearance came at South Carolina, where he stood out to 247 national analyst JC Shurburtt ($):
Johnson was perhaps the quickest defensive lineman in the defensive line group during Saturday's Showcase. He is explosive and has a wide variety of pass rushing moves to get past blockers. Johnson impressed in the quickness drills and looks the part. Combine that with what you see on film and it's easy to see why he has a high offer count.
Johnson has a lot to work with from a pass-rushing standpoint, and his overall game should improve as he adds more strength and, eventually, gets pointed coaching at the next level. He might not possess the lateral mobility to play the hybrid BUCK position in DJ Durkin's defense, but he's plenty athletic for a guy who will have his hand in the dirt.
Johnson holds offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Boston College, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, South Carolina, Syracuse, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among a handful of others.
Johnson is the first Power 5 commit to come out of Camden since three-star WR Matt Marshall signed with Arkansas in 2009. They're more talented of late, however, as Johnson is joined on the team by four-star WR Brad Hawkins—who may announce later this month and could very well join Johnson in the class—and four-star 2017 C Cesar Ruiz, who's also on campus this week.
According to 247, Johnson recorded 84 tackles and ten sacks in his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout lists a verified 40 time of 4.60, but I don't see that figure anywhere else, including on ESPN's profile that contains other testing results but omits a 40 time. I'll give it three FAKEs out of five, but even if he's a little slower than listed, he's fast for a defensive lineman.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Johnson has a chance to see the field pretty early in his career, provided he develops enough physically by the time he gets to campus. Chris Wormley, Henry Poggi, and Shelton Johnson should be his primary competition at strongside end when arrives in 2016, and I wouldn't rule out his ability to crack that depth chart as a true freshman. Even if he redshirts, he should be in line for playing time as soon as his second year on campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is up to 20 commits for the 2016 class, including Benjamin St-Juste (a potential 2017 enrollee). Johnson fills a significant need at defensive end. Michigan can now focus on adding prospects at wide receiver, tight end, defensive tackle, outside linebacker, and cornerback, as well as likely one more offensive lineman.
Johnson's commitment could help sway the New Jersey contingent of Hawkins and Mitchell, as well as PA TE Naseir Upshur, to join the class, as well as providing a strong early impression of Michigan for Ruiz. With five-star Paramus Catholic DT Rashan Gary also very much in the mix, it's doubtful Michigan is done pulling in prospects from the region in this class.
Noooobody expects a Drake Johnson! [Uphchurch]
Scheduling note: Yeah we had one on Monday; that was last week's, pushed back by all the commitments.
Seth: Every year there's at least one guy from down the depth chart who emerges as a major contributor even though we barely talk about him in the season previews. Who's the surprise guy this year?
Ace: Provided he's healthy when the season starts, and it appears he's on track, I'll go with Khalid Hill. Michigan is going to need a second tight end option after Jake Butt in Jim Harbaugh's offense, and Hill flashed potential last year before he tore his ACL in October. Known as a smooth route-runner with good hands coming out of high school, Hill showed off a somewhat unexpected aspect of his game—bowling over defenders in the running game:
Hill is limited by his size—he's a pure H-back at this point—but he should still prove quite useful as a reliable receiver and very willing blocker.
Alex: I would go with somebody on the defensive line. I'm not sure if Durkin will be as liberal with his defensive line rotations as Hoke/Mattison were (and I don't know if Mattison will be given the leeway to rotate again, which seems like a good bet) but if he is, I think that we could certainly have some breakthrough candidates on the defensive line. There's plenty of opportunity at the end spots—Ojemudia hasn't gotten big enough to be a consistent performer and Charlton still hasn't approached his level of recruiting hype (and potential, theoretically). Glasgow has one DT spot locked down, and Willie Henry seems to have a stranglehold on the other.
But if he can get on the field, my surprise performer is Maurice Hurst. He has a lightning-quick first step for a man his size and if we can get him to generate pass rush from the DT position, that will allay one of our biggest prospective weaknesses on that side of the ball. Mone, Wormley, and Poggi (who's a SDE) could all also be huge surprises as well.
Adam: I also think we're going to be surprised by one of the tight ends, but my choice is Ian Bunting. We know about Harbaugh's affinity for blocky/catchy guys, and Bunting's well on his way to being one. He put on 16 pounds over the winter, bringing him to a respectable (and much more in line with the rest of his position group) 243 pounds. At that weight he should be able to line up, put a hand in the dirt, and not tip off a pass play.
The catching part of being a blocky/catchy guy was never going to be a problem for a dude who has opposable skillets attached to his arms. Blocking was always going to be the issue for a nominal tight end who spent most of his high school career lining up outside, and even then it was simply a matter of size rather than willingness; Bunting posted separate highlight film of his blocking on his Hudl page. Now that he's in the range of plausible weights for a D-I tight end I'm expecting him to be the kind of matchup nightmare the Harbaughfense thrives on.
Seth: Brian wrote in HTTV that James Ross III had plateaued from the incisive freshman we were so excited about. One implication of being a base nickel with Peppers as a strongside slot space monster is that lifts a linebacker. Or did last year, cutting heavily into Ross's snaps. I find this sufficient underratement to justify defining him as a "surprise" star on this year's defense.
The loss of snaps to nickels may not be such a big deal this year, depending on how much of the Florida defense is ported to the new platform. There Durkin loved a lean, mean attack piece. His SAM last year was Neiron Ball, now with the Raiders. For Florida Ball was a Ross-like object consistently deployed as field side LB, whether that was technically MLB, or a nickel, a meat-raw version of the aggressive safety in the other slot. Given Michigan's uncertain DE depth, that surfeit of 30 (three DL) fronts would be a welcome wrinkle in Ann Arbor, drawing Ross back into the lineup instead of an end.
I also think he's still a better player than Bolden—that gap seems to narrow when Bolden faces Michigan's own offense because knowing the plays lets him match the effect of Ross's intuitiveness. Ross came on later last year as Michigan left him in as a hybrid spacebacker, and while that job is now Peppers's, any configuration that takes Ross off the field seems worse than the +Ross option. Add a bit of havoc from the aggressive stuff and sharing a side with Peppers and Taco, and there's plenty of opportunity for Ross to build his NFL highlight reel this year.
Brian: My surprise contributor this year is Dennis Norflee—dammit.
My surprise contributor this year is Delano Hill. He is officially a backup at safety, but in practice my hunch is that we see an awful lot of him. Jabrill Peppers is all-time nickel and he's going to be at or near the LOS at all times. Michigan faces a number of spread teams; Hill will be a de facto starter against them. He will also play extensively in regular manball games, because those also feature lots of passing downs—especially against a run defense that should be very good. He will play, a lot.
When he does Michigan will have a very fast, hopefully instinctive safety. Marcus Ray has been pumping him up as the best guy there, and he's a dude who knows safety play. I've been impressed in limited snippets so far as well; the bet here is that he eats into linebacker snaps on the regular.