After the spring game this year I was moved to write about the stuff Michigan was doing with Peppers. So moved in fact that I scrapped a "10 ways the NCAA can fix itself" feature for HTTV and wrote it on hybrid spacer players and how Peppers is a special type of that. If you'd like to read that, there are ways:
(not to scale)
e-Book version: Fewer photos, but a few paragraphs here and there that were cut for space. Now available from the Kindle store, working on iBooks.
Part of that article gets into how they aligned him (and Dymonte Thomas) in the spring game, but I wanted to explain more in detail what we mean by this:
Michigan will spend most of its time this year in nickel formations with Peppers acting as a hyper-athletic strongside linebacker. Against conventional sets they’ll be a base eight-man front with one deep safety (Jarrod Wilson) and Peppers acting as a maniacally aggressive strong safety, allowing the rest of the defense to play all kinds of tricks.
The gist is Michigan's defense, whether against spread or tight formations, is trying to have its run-stopping cake and eat the passing game too by putting Peppers in the slot, where his linebackerness can be brought to bear as well as his cornerbackosity.
Here's the Blue Team's first play in the Spring Game:
The soundtrack is off by a few seconds; sorry.
[There is Woodson after the jump]
Photo via 247
In what could be a sign of things to come, Pembroke Pines (FL) Flanagan S Josh Metellus announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon on Twitter. Metellus visited Ann Arbor last weekend with teammates Devin Bush Jr. and Devin Gil, both of whom have Michigan at or near the top of their lists. Metellus is the 16th commit in the 2016 class, the first at safety, and the second to announce today, following Ben Bredeson.
|2* S||2* S||NR S||NR S||2*, #145 S|
Scout and Rivals have each thrown two stars Metellus' way, but neither site even had an article posted to his profile prior to his commitment. Metellus earned his offer at Michigan's satellite camp hosted by Flanagan, so this is another instance of the coaches seeing a prospect in person who hasn't yet received much attention from the recruiting services.
Metellus is listed at 6'0", 185-187 pounds on every site save ESPN, which is a distinct outlier at 5'10", 170. He looks closer to the general consensus on tape.
This might be a first: there isn't a single evaluation on any of the sites. Highlight film goes here, then:
Metellus looks like a good athlete, enthusiastic tackler, and potential weapon as a punt gunner. Most of the pass defense highlights occurred on poorly thrown balls, so I won't attempt further analysis on four minutes worth of junior film. Perhaps more than with any other commit in the class, this is a situation where until there's more to go on, you either trust Jim Harbaugh's judgment or you don't.
Metellus was a Georgia Southern commit before visiting last weekend, when he and Gil both decommitted from other programs (Miami, in Gil's case). His other offers are from FIU, Miami (OH), Midd. Tennessee State, and South Alabama.
Flanagan's history of producing Division I prospects is relatively short and undistinguished until the present. Bush, Gil, and Metellus have obviously all earned Michigan offers; 2017 CB Stanford Samuels is a potential five-star. This is a pretty good time to develop a strong connection to the school, which Michigan has accomplished with the satellite camp.
None posted that I could find.
FAKE 40 TIME
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He will probably play safety?
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The big impact here is the potential that Metellus' teammates will join him in Ann Arbor, which appears to be a distinct possibility. Metellus also fills a need at safety, and Michigan should be all set there with either ATH Kiante Enis or, potentially, Gil.
No pictures of Claypool or Kelly so instead enjoy some gratuitous Harbaugh [Bill Rapai]
I attended the Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Dakota High School last Friday and had the chance to speak with a number of Michigan commits and targets. Today’s interviews include Chase Claypool, whom the Michigan coaches were keeping a very close eye on, and Xavier Kelly, a Michigan target and U.S. Army All-American Bowl selection.
Chase Claypool, 2016 WR
Adam: How do you feel you did on the field today?
Claypool: Pretty good. I’ve got to work on my press release. I tried to get as many reps as I could but there were so many people, but it was a good learning experience most of all so pretty good.
Adam: What kind of feedback did you get from the coaches?
Claypool: Work your arms and different techniques, and just keep it up. Be physical.
Adam: As far as Michigan goes, who’s involved in recruiting you? [It was windy. He must not have heard the first part of the question. Such is life.]
Claypool: Oregon, Tennessee, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Rutgers.
Adam: Who are the Michigan coaches that have been talking to you?
Claypool: Jim and Jay Harbaugh, and then Jedd Fisch. I got a chance to visit two days ago or yesterday and I met the whole staff there.
Adam: How did the visit go?
Claypool: It was really good. I got to hang out with some players there, two of the players, Moe [Ways] and Ian [Bunting], so that was good.
Adam: What else did you do on your visit?
Claypool: I took a tour, saw the field, saw the facility, and saw the business building because that’s what I think I want to take so that was really nice. We went out to eat to that Cuban burger place.
Adam: Frita Batidos?
Claypool: Yeah, yeah!
Adam: What was your impression after the visit?
Claypool: It was more building a relationship between the staff and the players and me, so the visit was really good but the relationship building was a lot better. Oh, and I walked through the tunnel and went on the field.
Adam: What would you say is the coaching staff’s recruiting style?
Claypool: It’s less serious. It’s more laid back. They want you to feel comfortable with them, so they don’t just want to talk about football and this is what you’ve got to do and this is what we want to see. It’s more like how’s your mom doing, how are things at home…more personal, in a good way.
Adam: How did you feel you fit in with the players?
Claypool: I clicked with those two players really well, so I feel like it’d be a nice fit. They’re all really nice.
Adam: What are your plans for the rest of summer?
Claypool: I have a couple camps coming up and then in July I don’t have anything booked so I might take a couple unofficial visits if I can get the money.
Adam: Where else would you like to visit?
Claypool: The places that I haven’t visited yet and that I’m not going to go any camps there, so probably Tennessee and Mississippi State…maybe a couple Pac 12 schools like Arizona and stuff.
[After THE JUMP: Xavier Kelly]
Photo via Scout
Michigan picked up their highest-ranked player in the 2016 class and one of the most coveted offensive line prospects in the country this afternoon when four-star Hartland (WI) Arrowhead OL Ben Bredeson announced his commitment on Twitter. Notre Dame and Wisconsin were the two other schools most often mentioned as Bredeson's potential landing place, but ultimately the recruiting trio of Jim Harbaugh, Tim Drevno, and Greg Mattison—along with some help from Bredeson's older brother Jack, who'll play baseball for Michigan next year—sealed the deal.
4*, #1 OG,
4*, #4 OT,
4*, 85, #4 OT,
4*, 96, #10 OT,
4*, #4 OT,
Bredeson is universally regarded as one of the best linemen in the country, to the extent that despite being a (very high) four-star on all four sites he's a
five-star in the 247 Composite [well, was a five-star in the 247 Composite until 247 updated their rankings right as this posted]. That's about as tightly grouped a set of rankings as you'll see for a recruit not in Jabrill Peppers territory. If Bredeson remains this highly ranked, he should get that fifth star by the end of the cycle; last year, 35 prospects were 247 Composite five-stars.
I'd wager to say the only thing holding Bredeson back from ranking even higher is his size. At 6'5", 293 pounds, he's just a tad shorter than the prototype tackle prospect. Scout, which likes Bredeson the most, ranks him as their top guard. That's probably more a concern for the NFL level than it is for Michigan; Mason Cole is even a little smaller with Bredeson and held up quite well as a freshman left tackle. Bredeson should play wherever the team needs him most on the line, whether that's tackle or guard.
Other than needing to add some size and strength, an area for improvement that applies to pretty much every O-line prospect not built like Michael Onwenu, there's very little recruiting analysts don't like about Bredeson's game. Scout's free evaluation is demonstrative:
EvaluationOutstanding overall prospect with good technique and ability to bend. Has good flexibility in his lower body and has no issue winning leverage battles even against shorter defensive linemen. Plays with a mean streak and finishes his blocks strong. Can still polish up his pass pro, and add more strength up top, but has all the tools and the intangibles to develop into a top flight college lineman. Could play tackle or guard as well.
- Body Control and Balance
- Nasty Streak
Areas to Improve
- Power And Strength
ESPN's evaluation waffles so much—he's got good hand placement except when he doesn't, and same goes for pad level—that I won't bother posting anything but the conclusion ($):
Bredeson is tough prospect with the ability to transition to the college level as an OT or if needed slide inside. Needs to continue to fill out his frame and may need to adjust to a slightly steeper jump in competition, but big man that will battle and get the job done. With continued progress can be a strong multi-year starter for a Power-5 O-Line.
Consistency with technique is almost always a relative weakness for high school OL, but it seems like Bredeson is ahead of the curve. IrishIllustrated's Tim Prister broke down Bredeson's junior film and found "not a whole lot to critique," while noticing plenty to like ($):
Shows excellent balance as a run blocker even with such an aggressive, explosive first step, which can sometimes put an offensive lineman in a top-heavy mode. Uses his hands as weapons. Hands are a hammer-like force on defensive linemen. Once he gets his hands on a defensive lineman and gets into his upper body, it’s over.
A surprisingly adept pass blocker for someone so big and strong. Doesn’t have to strain to seal the edge with his feet. Sits nicely in his pass block, and then unleashes those powerful hands. Doesn’t just get hands on a body, but really punches with force. Many of his shots to the upper body stun opposing defenders, putting them on their heels.
His only concern was how Bredeson would handle speed rushers, but added "even that's a stretch." The praise for his technique is echoed by 247's Evan Sharpley:
Bredeson showcases tremendous technique, highlighted by the exceptional use of his hands. Defenders have a difficult time with him because he is able to create space with his lengthy frame. Ample athleticism to move around the line if needed.
Pad level and utilizing proper pass-blocking angles against speed rushers are noted as areas for improvement. Bredeson has had occasional issues in space against top-ranked defensive ends in camp settings, though as 247's Steve Wiltfong pointed out after The Opening regional in Chicago—where Bredeson earned an invite to the finals—he tends to learn quickly from his mistakes:
Top50 offensive tackle Ben Bredeson took all of his reps against elite guys, went back and forth with players like Auston Robertson and Josh King. Bredeson can absolutely bend, an agile lineman who is technically sound. Good agility and balance. Bredeson also did a good job bouncing back on the second rep. In pad, he’d of been more victorious in this setting.
Rivals sums it up succinctly:
What he lacks in height, the 6-foot-4, 270-pound Bredeson makes up in technique, athleticism and intensity. He is well ahead of the curve from a fundamentals standpoint and has some of the best offensive line film in the class.
There's a chance Bredeson needs to slide inside to guard in college, but his floor appears to be excellent all-around guard.
Bredeson holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Iowa, LSU, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Stanford, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, among several others. Pretty good list, if you ask me.
Bredeson is the highest-ranked prospect to come out of Arrowhead, which has sent a couple of four-stars to Wisconsin (2004 DT Nick Hayden and 2003 QB Tyler Donovan) and a handful of three-stars to mostly Big Ten West schools.
Is O-lineman, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bredeson has a verified 40 time of 5.31, which gets zero FAKEs.
Bredeson's reps against Auston Robertson at The Opening regional in Chicago are below; he looks better in pads than he did in this particular setting, and it's worth noting these one-on-one drills tend to favor the defense:
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Bredeson's position could be determined by how Michigan fills in the O-line class around him. If they add another tackle-type to join Erik Swenson, Bredeson could begin on the interior of the line and slide out only if his pass protection proves better than the others. If they add another pure interior prospect to join Michael Onwenu, Bredeson could fit in at tackle. Either way, with Michigan's young O-line—every projected member of the two-deep except Graham Glasgow should be back in 2016—Bredeson should get a couple years to develop before he vies for the opportunity to be a multi-year starter.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Bredeson's commitment ensures that Michigan is going to have one of the best O-line classes in the country, especially since the Wolverines are the heavy favorite for four-star Terrance Davis and are right up there for four-stars Devery Hamilton and Michael Elitise. Getting one or two of those three would give Michigan a line class comparable to 2012's haul.
As for the numbers, yes, Michigan now has 15 commitments for 14 open spots. There will be more open spots by the time the season starts, and almost assuredly even more come Signing Day, when the numbers matter most. Again, I'll have a post on this later on this week. For now, enjoy that this class of fliers and lowly camp commits—oh, and six four-stars, I guess—is now ranked ninth in the country.
Today in Jim Harbaugh fire quotes. Michigan's having a camp on its own campus for a change, which provides a platform for [fire emoji dot jpeg] x 7:
"In my America, you're allowed to cross the state borders," Harbaugh says. "That's the America I know."
Sounds like a man who has recently watched Hunt For Red October. Or been on a whirlwind tour of half the country. Or both.
And then there's this:
"I don't know what that means, a brand," he says, saying instead it was about "sharing a love for football."
While I don't think that Harbaugh is quite the naïve waif he portrays himself as in that quote, an exhausted Sam Webb returned from the Summer Swarm tour reporting that 1) that was bonkers and he's not doing all of it again next year and 2) Harbaugh was rueful when it ended and wanted to do three weeks of camps next year($). It's not just about finding recruits. It is also about Sincerely Yours In Football.
He's got everyone who isn't an SEC coach on his side on this one, and it's been fun. Remember fun? Fun is good.
Speaking of. All of Jim Harbaugh's tweets can be looked at as Jim Harbaugh in a nutshell because that is what happens when you are constantly YOURSELF AT MAXIMUM VOLUME. This one may be even more definitive than most:
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) June 17, 2015
DAY 79: Still lost. Estevez feverish. Food supplies gone, eating anything vaguely caloric on the forest floor. Intestinal issues severe.
DAY 81: Estevez has died. We sit around his corpse, wondering if we will die by ignoring it… or die by consuming it.
DAY 83: Feel quite a bit better after encountering Harbaugh's Amazonian football camp. Estevez wearing jaunty hats. Does not seem particularly dead. Says he is "on that grind" far too much, though.
Site issues. Had a rough couple days there. Long story short, some search engine or someone else started loading very obscure pages deep in the site. These were so obscure that nobody had bothered loading them before. They were extraordinarily inefficient for Drupal reasons. And there were a lot of them—the "tracker" used to have 2683 pages. It now has one cached one.
I've been monitoring the logs for anything else that causes the database to fall over and die and haven't seen anything. So we should be good.
Ufer. Here is a Ufer thing from Steve Sapardanis. I put this in a draft a month ago and forgot about it, so all I know about it now is that I put "Ufer" in bold before it, so it could be about some other Ufer but probably not.
I hope that was entertaining or informative or both. I have no idea if it was.
1991 Indiana. Wolverine Historian:
Harbaugh needs an organizer. So they're hiring one:
The title: "Director of Internal Communications and Operations for the Head Football Coach."
The job, posted Tuesday on U-M's careers website, is most summarily to "assist the football coach in all areas, including day-to-day operations, communications, office management and administration."
Sounds like they're addressing a weak spot.
I attended the Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Dakota High School last Friday and had the chance to speak with a number of Michigan commits and targets. Today’s interviews include Michael Onwenu, who committed to Michigan earlier this month, and Corey Malone-Hatcher, a Michigan target with an impressive offer list.
Malone-Hatcher was unable to compete at the camp due to an administrative mix up, but Onwenu did and was dominant. You can check out a brief clip of Onwenu’s one-on-one drills here.
Michael Onwenu, 2016 OG/DT
Adam: How do you feel you did on the field today?
Onwenu: I feel I did okay. You know, you can always improve. I wanted to take more reps. I didn’t lose any reps but I wanted to take as much as I could.
Adam: I watched you in your O-line one-on-ones, but I didn’t see you take any D-line reps. Did you at some point today?
Onwenu: No, I didn’t. I wanted to, but the way they set it up it was like you had to rotate through so if I would have left it would have been…I don’t know, it would have been hard to go both ways.
Adam: In college, do you want to play on both sides of the ball?
Onwenu: If I could, I wish.
Adam: What have the Michigan coaches told you about that?
Onwenu: They haven’t told me anything yet about that. They just say when you come in freshman year and I work out at whatever I work out at and whatever I feel comfortable at, then that’s my choice.
Adam: What are your goals for the summer?
Onwenu: Shed about 20-25 pounds and just improve on everything.
Adam: What kind of feedback were you getting from the coaches out here today?
Onwenu: Well, I mean, all the coaches said I did good throughout the drills and one-on-ones. I got some good feedback.
Adam: Overall, what was your experience at this camp?
Onwenu: Overall this camp was good. I like- actually, I love Sound Mind Sound Body. Coming from the last two years, my sophomore year and junior year, and then this year, it’s been a great experience every time.
[After THE JUMP: Malone-Hatcher]