Texas A&M's loss was Ohio State's gain.
It's time for our monthly check-in on Big Ten recruiting. While Ohio State and Michigan held steady at the top of the rankings, there's been plenty of movement below them. Here's where the rankings stood at the end of May:
1. Ohio State
8. Penn State
10. Michigan State
Here's how they rank now, courtesy of 247:
Yes, Rutgers is on a tear, adding nine commits since the last update.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CBLavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi, WR Eddie McDoom.
|Thompson's Station, TN – 5'11", 175|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#75 WR, #69 FL
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#180 WR, #31 TN
|24/7||4*, #200 overall
#37 WR, #2 TN
|Other Suitors||ND, PSU, VT, Miami, Tenn, Purdue|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Purdue decommit.|
For a big chunk of his recruitment, Nate Johnson was a Purdue commit with a typical profile for a Purdue commit: a smattering of Group of Five and FBS offers, rankings deep in the wilderness of the three-star jungle, and little attention from the outside world. These days 247 has by far the most densely-packed thicket of articles I wade through to create these profiles, and after his June 25th commit there was total radio silence until November, when Vanderbilt offered him.
That was just the beginning. 87 catches for 1700 yards, 27 touchdowns, and a key role on a 15-0 state championship team tend to bring folks to wider attention. By December he was on the receiving end of a Gatling gun of offers: Tennessee. Miami. Penn State. Michigan. Virginia Tech. Notre Dame. He'd also picked up one recruiting site that was a strong advocate, 247. A very strong advocate:
…at Vanderbilt's elite camp … he was unreal. The current Vanderbilt players were out at the event and the entire team was going nuts every time Johnson would take a 1on1 rep. He was making DBs fall down, do 360s, just putting on a show. …one of the best route-runners in the country, has great hands, fantastic body control and he has a much bigger catch radius than his 5-11 size would suggest. … reminds me some of Christian Kirk down at Texas A&M.
All righty then. 247 was ahead of the curve here. By the time his first major offers came in they'd already moved him into solid four-star territory at #272, and validated by someone else noticing Johnson was pretty good they continued moving him up until he came to rest at #200.
It's unclear why it took so long for schools to catch on. Johnson's junior year—62 catches, 1300 yards—wasn't as bonkers as 2015 but neither was it easy to overlook. He also won the receiver MVP ("knows how to get open, has reliable hands and made play after play") at an Opening regional where he tested very well:
He has impressed this off-season with his route running, athleticism and strong hands. Johnson scored a 111.39 at the NIKE Opening Regional Camp in Columbus, posting a 4.6 flat in the forty, 4.03 in the shuttle, 39 vertical leap and a 35 foot powerball toss.
That verified 4.6 isn't elite, but it's plenty good enough. Donovan Peoples-Jones ran a 4.45 at the same camp. Meanwhile the shuttle and vertical leap are outstanding. Johnson's also a great triple jumper, and an interesting 247 article focused on some guys with excellent numbers in various leaping track events:
***45-9.25 Triple Jump
With a host of FCS level offers, Johnson has proven that he's capable of much more. His jump numbers are outstanding, he's tested well on The Opening circuit, he's an outstanding route-runner and he was extremely productive as a junior. What's not to like?
He's not the fastest guy ever but his athletic package is certainly four-star worthy. Ditto his production.
Schools eventually came around; ranking services not so much. ESPN is a huge outlier; their fire-and-forget tendencies come to the fore here as Johnson ends up their #180(!) wide receiver. While these evaluations are undated, this one was clearly issued before his senior year and never revisited. It finishes by saying he "will most likely get a look from a power 5 school before the recruiting process is over"; he was a Purdue commit by June 2015. As per usual the brief eval is more positive than that:
He is quick but not overly fast. … Displays a burst off the LOS and immediately after a catch. … Catches the ball well. Displays a knack for going to the ball. He does not wait, he attacks throws and catches them with confident hands, away from his body. … able to make defenders miss and gain more yards than other receivers would. Is elusive and has a knack for changing direction with quickness and authority.
The ranking is obviously absurd; the report fits in line with the others.
Meanwhile Scout didn't have an article on him until Michigan picked up interest in him and did not provide any scouting at all, not even the brief summary on most recruits' profiles. Rivals did have one thing on him before Tim Sullivan did his usual post-commit articles where he flags down the coach and a Rivals analyst, that an evaluation after he showed up at a Rivals camp in St Louis:
…continually got open deep down the field. Johnson's greatest attribute is his speed and there's no question that was on full display. He also showed strong, consistent hands and if it weren't for a few off-target passes, he wouldn't have lost more than a couple of reps all day. Johnson's ceiling is limited because of his size (5-11, 174), but his results were impressive.
When Sullivan poked them again after Johnson's Michigan commitmed, Woody Wommack described him as a "great slot receiver":
“He’s a shifty-type guy: I wouldn’t say he’s your pure speed guy, but at the same time, he’s got good football speed. He’s got really good hands, and he’s got a little bit of that elusive wiggle that people like to talk about so much. … generously listed at 5-11, … going to have to add a little bit of weight to absorb some of those hits. … could go in and be super-productive for a few years, especially if he’s paired with the right quarterback.”
His coach was rapturous, as coaches usually are:
"He's a terrific route-runner, number one. He's great in space, knows how to get separation, knows how to get open, knows how to recognize coverages. His hands were the best I've ever coached. His ability to run terrific routes and find the open spot in coverages, and then his ability after the catch is what separates him a little bit."
If this all sounds a lot like the just-profiled Eddie McDoom, yeah it does. Touch The Banner's evaluation is in the same vein:
…runs a variety of routes … gets separation off the line of scrimmage by varying his releases, and he finds soft spots in zone coverage. … He makes leaping catches, diving catches, and catches off of his shoe tops. … does a great job of fighting for extra yardage, breaking tackles, and moving his feet. I also like the way he plays the game – he runs his routes hard, is a willing blocker, and seems like a high-energy kid who plays with enthusiasm. … Johnson needs to get stronger in his upper body…There are times where he struggles to get separation because he gets overpowered at the line of scrimmage
These are both quick guys with good routes and hands who aren't 6'4". McDoom has more track bonafides that back up his football speed; I like his film better; he's a bit bigger; he gave a top 50 guy the business at the UA game. Johnson has a ton more high school production and may have gotten more impressive offers depending on exactly how commitable McDoom's were outside of M and Oregon. McDoom also did not have anyone talk about him as an A+ after-the-catch guy. Clint Brewster thinks Nate Johnson is one of those:
…elite skills after the catch … shiftiness and lateral agility in tight spaces is exceptional. Really good avoiding tackles and getting yards on the quick wide receiver screen. … Golden Tate type receiver that brings toughness and edge … plays bigger than his size. Snatches the ball nicely out in the front and has crisp hands.
Similar players with Johnson shading more towards a bubble screen merchant and slot extraordinaire and McDoom shading more towards a double-move con artist on the outside.
Johnson is another inside/outside guy; while McDoom is set to start on the outside Johnson will kick it off in the slot. Jedd Fisch told MGoBlue that Johnson was "very similar to a Grant Perry in terms of body size, skill set, and production" and that he sees him "playing inside at the outset." For his part, Johnson told 247's Barton Simmons that he doesn't think he'll redshirt and that he would play both F—which I assume is the slot—and Z—which is an outside position. He'll also be in contention for punt returns once Peppers departs.
Johnson seems relatively open to a redshirt in that 247 article but given the things people tend to say about him I suspect he'd secretly—or maybe not so secretly—be upset about not playing next year. 247 repeatedly emphasized a Dantonio-sized aspect of his personality:
Johnson has a well-earned chip on his shoulder. Despite dominating camps and putting up huge numbers on the field, the big offers and, for the most part, the big rankings haven't come his way. For that reason, he's always seemed like a kid that was going to land at the biggest name school that offered him.
This kid has always had a chip on his shoulder. He's ready.
And even Fisch invites you to read between the lines:
He'll come in with no shyness about him whatsoever, and a determination to work hard and be real good.
That chip grew to even vaster proportions when he got got Miss Universed at the Tennessee Mr. Football banquet. He was initially announced as the winner, and then Tennessteve Harvey went "whoops." They turned around and handed it to Tee Higgins. Tee Higgins, a junior. Tee Higgins, a junior wide receiver. I cited Johnson's inner D'antoni in our Signing Day podcast as a reason I was hyped about him, and while I've retreated somewhat from those expectations I still think a guy who made a gorillion catches in high school only to end up a Purdue commit for most of the cycle is a good bet to take his anger out on opponents.
Etc.: Rooming with Rashan Gary.
Why Jeremy Gallon? Gallon was a pint-sized athlete pegged as a slot receiver by the world who turned out to be equally capable on the outside; his telepathic connection with Devin Gardner led to a record-breaking receiving season. Gallon was also a player one site was really high on despite his size—in his case it was Rivals. Gallon was significantly smaller than Johnson is and spent his high school career at QB, so Johnson has some advantages, especially early.
As Fisch mentions above, Grant Perry is another good comparable as a super-productive high school receiver who projects as a largeish slot and was largely overlooked until late in the process. I try to reserve YMRMFSPAs for players who we've actually seen develop into a finished product; otherwise this comparison probably would be Perry.
Guru Reliability: Low. All over the map. Scout has nothing. ESPN's sole evaluation is over a year old. Rivals and 247 have some stuff; big disagreement on the rankings.
Variance: Moderate-minus. Size and strength could be cause him to lack effectiveness in many situations and limit him to slot business only; still seems pretty likely to be an effective contributor underneath.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Not the fastest and not the biggest and is therefore unlikely to be an all-conquering force. Excellent quicks and route running could make him an A+ second or third banana. Like McDoom, a great option to fling at those cover-four safeties that are all the rage.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I've come down a bit from where I was in the immediate aftermath of Signing Day, when I thought he was the most underrated guy in the class by a mile. I still think it's nuts for a guy with Johnson's production and testing numbers to get overlooked by three of the four services; I still expect him to have a solid career at Michigan. It does seem clear that his upside isn't incredible.
Projection: A redshirt is possible if Johnson shows up and needs some time in the weight room before he can be effective, but as mentioned above I kind of figure he's going to be one of those guys who's itching to get on the field. First year is likely to be reminiscent of Grant Perry's 2015: he gets scattered snaps in the slot and comes on towards the end of the year. Perry's existence will mean he's less prominent than Perry was a year ago, which wasn't particularly prominent.
In year two both outside spots open up. Johnson will be a candidate for them; while he's not an ideal fit physically he's got the route chops and ability to snag deep balls for outside receiver. He'll have a ton of competition from his classmates, Moe Ways, Drake Harris, and hopefully a five star or two in the 2017 class. He's probably 20% to claim a starting spot. Even if he doesn't he should be an increasingly frequent part of the rotation. He's probably hoping that Perry slides outside in year two.
Sugarcreek (OH) Garaway three-star Joel Honigford became Michigan's second offensive tackle commit in the span of a week when he pledged to the Wolverines this afternoon. Honigford is just two days removed from narrowing his recruitment to a top four of Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, and Oregon; his Crystal Ball was 100% for MSU when he made his decision.
Honigford is Michigan's 17th commit in the 2017 class and the third at OT, joining JaRaymond Hall and Andrew Stueber. His commitment bumped Michigan back up to fourth in the 247 Composite team rankings.
|3*, #47 OT||3*, #46 OT||
4*, 82, #26 OT,
3*, 86, #73 OT,
3*, #48 OT,
Scouting reports on Honigford almost universally mention that he's a big upside prospect with plenty of work to do to reach his potential, so it's not a surprise to see that his rankings contain a couple outliers. Scout and Rivals both have him about ten spots in the position rankings away from four-star status; ESPN is easily the most bullish, putting him in their top 200 overall; 247 swings pretty far in the other direction.
Honigford's size is a major part of his appeal. Every site but Rivals (6'5") lists him at 6'6" and in the 275-pound range, and he carries that weight well—he looks (relatively) skinny and has the frame to add plenty of weight.
About that size: Honigford has added quite a bit of weight just in the last year or so. This blurb from Scout's Dave Berk after the Elite Big Man Camp in February 2015 sets the tone for most of Honigford's evaluations:
Only a sophomore, Joel Honigford has a great frame at 6-foot-6, 241-pounds. During drills we came away impressed with his agility and quickness. Must get physically stronger and add bulk going forward but has a bright looking future.
Honigford has packed on about 35 pounds since then and still looks like he can add a lot more. Berk's evaluation also falls in line with everyone else's take on Honigford: good size and athleticism, big upside, needs to bulk up and refine his technique. Scout's free evaluation:
EvaluationHas the desired frame for offensive tackle at the next level. Long, lean, and has continued to fill out through his high school career. Solid athlete. Moves with coordination and balance. Can still improve technique, particularly in pass protection while adding strength and more size to his frame but he has good upside.
- Body Control and Balance
Areas to Improve
- Pass Protection
- Power And Strength
Rivals doesn't have much on Honigford despite hosting him at one of their RCS camps. Josh Helmholdt helped explain why in a board post after Honigford's commitment today when asked why the ratings and offers didn't quite line up:
Upside. His offers are about who he can be, not who he is right now as a player. At the Rivals Camp in Columbus he had a so-so performance, and he's had some so-so performances at other camps I've heard. Needs to improve at the point of attack, needs to improve his fundamentals at the position, but does not lack for any physical tools. We measured him 6-5, 277 at that RCS, and he has the frame to add more weight. He plays light on his feet and certainly has the quicks to catch the outside speed rush. Again, this is a development project, but the tools are there.
While we've documented ESPN's habit of posting scouting reports that don't match their rankings, in this case the split makes sense—while there's a lot of technical nitpicks to make, they like his ceiling:
Displays adequate initial quickness and shows good patience and balance in set, though at times can lunge and get top heavy. Needs to continue to refine, but flashes good punch. Needs to watch pad level, but displays good knee bend with enough lateral mobility to mirror rushers when gets hands on. "Bigger fish in smaller pond" to handle himself [ed-Ace: no idea], but needs to add more mass to help him anchor against power.
Demonstrates ability to get into defenders with good quickness and can come off with pad level, roll hips at contact and gain physical leverage. When gains positioning displays good knee drive to generate push, but still needs to improve size and strength as he faces bigger competition. Displays good balance and body control when asked to pull and work to second level and can locate and get a piece of targets.
It's encouraging to read that he's already able to play with good pad level, even if not consistently, and he possesses the balance and flexibility to develop into an excellent lineman. ESPN concludes that he has "promising upside" and could be either a tackle or a guard, and while he's unlikely to contribute early he can be a "good starter at the Power-5 level."
The running story of Honigford's recruitment was his pursuit of an Ohio State offer. The Buckeyes landed two blue-chip linemen early in the class, and with a small group projected for this cycle they may take as little as one more. As recently as February, Scout's main Ohio guy, Bill Greene, expected Honigford to land that coveted offer:
Joel Honigford. Offensive tackle. Garaway. This just might be a guy with so much potential that forces Ohio State to offer. Has great size and athletic ability. Plays against weak competition, but he could be the next Taylor Decker on the college level. The national offers are starting to roll in. I think he is close to landing the Buckeye offer.
247's Alex Gleitman also expected Honigford to get the call if OSU missed out on a couple top-50 targets. Honigford no longer needed to wait after the Buckeyes picked up a five-star last week:
It was a little bit of surprising news when Ohio State decided to completely move on from recruiting in-state talent Joel Honigford on Monday, rather than just telling the in-state product with 29 offers to wait a little longer for them to figure out their numbers situation.
Well, today, it became very clear as to why the Buckeyes did what they did, as the program landed a commitment from Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco 2017 OL Wyatt Davis, seemingly out of nowhere.
While Honigford isn't far enough along in his development to fit into OSU's small, five-star-laden class, that's not much of a knock—it's impressive that he was even considered given the circumstances. Michigan has a lot more room to take on a high-ceiling developmental prospect.
Honigford holds offers from Auburn, Boston College, Colorado State, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami (NTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Western Michigan. While not quite an elite offer sheet, there are some very good programs on there—that list indicates he could move up from his current three-star ranking.
Rivals is now useless, and a quick Bentley database search doesn't show any former Wolverines hailing from Garaway High. Greene's eval above indicates Honigford doesn't play against high-level competition.
Is OL, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Honigford tested at one of the Opening regionals and posted solid combine numbers:
In the meantime, the slender tackle put up pretty solid numbers at The Opening, including a 5.35 40-yard dash, 4.71 shuttle, 38-foot power ball, and 25.8-inch vertical leap.
While one doesn't normally associate jumping with O-line play, Honigford's vertical is one of the better marks for a lineman, and that kind of explosion plays well at the position.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Honigford is a dead lock to redshirt given both his position and scouting profile, as well as the fact that Hall and Stueber (and the top-level targets on OL that haven't committed yet) will be more ready to play early. He should have at least a couple years of apprenticeship ahead of him before competing for a starting job, and he has some positional versatility—there are some indications he's athletic enough to be a left tackle, and he could also be a Braden-style guard, especially if he's closer to 6'5" than the 6'6" at which he's listed. Honigford is an upside guy: Michigan will be patient with him in the hopes that he'll break out in his final two or three years of eligibility.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now at 17 commits in a class that should read the mid-to-upper 20s. The addition of Honigford means they can probably only take three of their four main targets on the O-line, which are Kai-Leon Herbert, TJ Slaton, Cesar Ruiz, and Isaiah Wilson. That's a sacrifice, but one that isn't unreasonable; going 4-for-4 on blue-chip targets isn't an easy proposition, and you never know when a spot may open up anyway.
Other major needs in the class include WR, TE, OLB, CB, and S. Here's the class as it currently stands:
Fuller – MGoBlog
When Michigan took a flier on a 3* Ohio (yes, that Ohio) commit late in the 2012 recruiting cycle, few could have predicted that he’d grow into such a great player at the college level. Despite being as skinny as humanly possible, Caris played so well in practice that they burned his redshirt; a few months later he was getting valuable rotation minutes on a Final Four team. As a sophomore, he had a breakout season alongside Nik Stauskas as Michigan ran roughshod over the rest of the Big Ten.
With his classmates – Stauskas, GRIII, and Mitch McGary – in the NBA, LeVert’s last two seasons in Ann Arbor were derailed by injury and the Wolverines acutely felt his absence. Through the first two months of his senior year, LeVert was playing at a very high level and it appeared as if his decision to return to Michigan would help him in the draft, perhaps even giving him a shot to be a lottery pick. And then he got hurt again.
In the run-up to the draft, Caris wasn’t projected by anyone to go in the first round. His injury history was his defining characteristic characteristic as a prospect, and he wrote an open letter to GMs on the Players’ Tribune essentially to explain how many obstacles he’s already overcome and what kind of player he can be when he’s healthy. Pretty much everyone agreed that he’d be a perfectly fine second round pick – which gives a player far less certainty than being selected in the first round does – that could outperform his draft slot if healthy enough to play.
I really liked him as a prospect: it’s rare to see someone with such obvious 3-and-D potential at both ends of the floor in college, plus his passing ability and handle could allow him to play as an oversized point guard. By his senior year, he’d shown it all: 45% from three on more than four attempts per game, 32.9 to 11.8 assist to turnover rate ratio, a free throw rate of 44.0 – an offensive blend of efficiency and usage along with the most active, disruptive perimeter defense he’d ever played. The big if will always linger until he strings together a few healthy seasons, but he’s definitely an NBA player if he can stay on the floor.
In last week's draft, Caris was selected 20th overall – 2/3 of the way through the first round – by the Brooklyn Nets, a team who traded Thad Young, an established veteran, to get into the draft (as their extremely valuable first-round picks are held by the Boston Celtics for a few years as the aftereffect of a disastrous trade). The Nets were evidently comfortable with his medical reports, as LeVert’s most recent surgery was done by someone who works for the franchise.
Based on the consensus of the pre-draft hivemind, it might have been considered a reach, but most considered it to be a worthwhile gamble based on the dire future in Brooklyn and LeVert’s potential to grow into an impact player down the line. The Nets – projected to finish in the bottom three of the NBA again next season – need to gamble on upside and they did exactly that. That they were willing to essentially give up their second-best player (granted, on a terrible team) for a player who’d just suffered consecutive season-ending injuries indicates how much they see in LeVert.
There will be plenty of opportunity for him. Aside from their fluid and effective low post scoring center, Brook Lopez, the roster is really bad. After buying out Joe Johnson’s hideous contract, the backcourt rotation was miserable – Shane Larkin, Donald Sloan, Jarrett Jack, Wayne Ellington, Markel Brown. Much like the situation Stauskas stepped into in Philadelphia last summer, there will be plenty of available playing time for Caris if he’s ready to go by the start of the season.
It would be shocking if LeVert didn’t get significant rotation minutes, based on their willingness to concede Young and trade in to the draft. That LeVert is an older prospect is helpful in that regard, though there’s obviously a massive jump in quality from mostly small-conference college opposition in the last few years to facing other NBA players every night. If the transition is easier for him than for other recent Michigan draftees, he could start as a rookie and put up a lot of empty stats on a bad team – consider taking Caris as a sleeper if you play fantasy basketball.
I think Brooklyn is a pretty good landing spot for him, and – on the chance that he greatly exceeds even optimistic projections – it’s somewhere where he could quickly become a foundational asset. I’m surprised that they took him in the first round, though perhaps they were unwilling to find out if one of those excellently-run late, late first round franchises liked him a lot too.
As someone who’s closely followed LeVert’s college basketball career, it’s really hard not to root for him – that his decision to return for his senior season, a risk that didn’t work out, eventually didn’t wind up hurting him in the long run is a relief. Frequently seeing him in street clothes on the sidelines was a significant dimension of the past two years of Michigan hoops, and it’s hard not to consider him as one of the most snakebitten UM athletes in recent memory. To now see him on the cusp of a promising pro career, degree in hand, ready to sign a contract that could very well wind up paying out around six million dollars – it’s a happy ending for a career marked with such misfortune. We’ll be rooting for you, Caris.
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CBLavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon, TE Devin Asiasi.
|Winter Garden, FL – 5'11", 175|
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
#75 WR, #69 FL
4*, #184 overall
#23 WR, #35 FL
3*, #421 overall
#67 WR, #57 FL
|Other Suitors||UO, UF, OSU, Bama, UK, Texas, Clemson|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. UA game.|
Let me state first off that this is a gentleman with the last name "McDoom". Therefore as a writer and person who looks at names I have a strong desire for this guy to succeed.
That said, hot damn I love this guy's skills. McDoom looks like a nightmare to cover. He's not that big; he is very fast and very quick. On top of that his route running is lethal. This Vine from the UA game is evidence of such; the video above has about ten minutes more of it:
That guy lookin' like Indiana's secondary is composite top 50 corner Chauncey Gardner.
McDoom's film has a ton of that stuff on it. His movements are abrupt; he times those movements excellently, breaking to his true destination after the defensive back commits his hips elsewhere. In the above clip he sells his route by looking back to the quarterback long enough for the CB to bite. He gets on top of defensive backs in a hurry and then one false step, or even a moment of hesitation, and McDoom is gone. He's not an insane burner, but he's plenty fast enough…
...clocked with an official time of 10.85 seconds in the 100-meter dash as a junior. Jabrill Peppers ran a 10.52 as a senior. Jehu Chesson was a 10.7-second 100-meter sprinter. McDoom's 21.72 time in the 200-meter last spring is faster than the 21.98 Peppers ran in his final state title race as a senior.
…to make his route chops count. (Jedd Fisch asserts on MGoBlue that McDoom ran "a 10.5 hundred meter dash, a sub-21 two hundred, a sub-47 four hundred," which I can find zero evidence for anywhere; some of that seems pretty dang implausible.)
Unlike some receiving prospects his highlight film has just about the entire route tree on it. He looks good whether he's hand-fighting through contact and high-pointing a fade, decelerating for a curl, or selling a deeper route before coming back for a tunnel screen. You can't get much of a read on hands from a highlight reel with drops excised; everything else looks pretty good.
ESPN, which named him a late replacement in the UA game, is unsurprisingly the most enthused about McDoom's potential:
…both quick and elusive at the same time with quality acceleration traits. … Displays quality to shake and wiggle and change-of-direction when attacking a defenders alignment. …very decisive route runner both as an inside slot and on the outside one-on-one. Wins with quickness and avoiding getting held up at the line. Can win deep due to technical prowess. … will elevate, extend away from his frame and compete in contested match-ups … sneaky good in his ability to create separation … polished and versatile target. …already a fairly precise route runner.
You may remember this scouting reports from Mario Manningham, who ruined people with his precision and quickness despite not being huge and not having elite top end speed. (Manningham ran a 4.59 at the NFL combine.) Several end-arounds in McDoom's highlight reel are reminiscent of Manningham at the Citrus Bowl. So too is the shield-and-extend technique McDoom uses to separate on a couple fade routes.
Tim Sullivan had a similar report upon his commitment:
…slippery, quick-twitch inside receiver… not a juke-inside-a-phonebooth slot, but has adequate moves to get past one tackler … solid understanding of how to get open against zone and man coverage, and uses his feel for the game to set himself up for that yardage after the catch. …doesn't have elite long speed, but he's plenty fast to stretch the field … At times, he has difficulty making natural catches with his hands, letting the ball get into his body, or double-catching it after initially bobbling.
As did Scout's Greg Biggins after taking him in at the UA game:
…definitely belonged with the best of the best in nearby Orlando. He's a quick-twitch athlete that consistently created separation off the line of scrimmage and kept defenders on their toes. McDoom has battled drops at times in the past, but he was consistent and made the most out of his opportunities. Really did a good job of sticking his foot in the grass and running crisp routes.
And Touch The Banner concurs:
…very agile, speedy, and dangerous in open space. The 4.65 forty does not sound very impressive, but he plays faster than that. The reason he looks faster is because of his acceleration and quick feet, even though his long speed is not out of this world. …very disciplined, crisp route-runner who shows some nuance in running fades, deep curls, dig routes, square outs, posts, etc.
Scout's Corey Bender:
“…McDoom's nimble feet and burst of quickness allows him to create good separation when breaking off the line of scrimmage. He has the speed to get behind defenses.”
247's Clint Brewster:
…really comfortable running all the patterns in the route tree … savvy player with a nice feel for coverage and he knows how to stem his routes and set up opposing cornerbacks to think he’s running a different pattern. There's some nice subtleties to his game that stand out on film. … the route running and innate feel for the position to be productive in college.
247's national analysts weren't rapturous but came around on McDoom after a first day at UA where he "looked good at times and average at others"; day two he "continued to impress with his top-end speed" and day three was "another solid day" thanks to his speed and route-running.
So these evaluations don't seem to match the rankings save ESPN's—must be opposite day. There is one that does, a skeptical take from Rivals analyst Rob Cassidy, who emphasizes McDoom's need to add weight and then says some stuff diametrically opposed to everything above:
“He’ll need to be a better route runner. He’s got some good speed and some good length but I don’t think he’s ever going to lead Michigan in receptions or yards. I think he can definitely contribute in the Big Ten sometime down the road. … good football speed and he looks plenty fast on tape. I don’t know if he’s going to be a guy who stands out as the fastest guy in the Big Ten conference but he’s got enough speed to make things happen in space once he catches the ball.”
That is a three-star evaluation and Rivals offers up a middling three stars. I don't know where Cassidy's bit about McDoom's route running comes from since everyone else is like "A+++++ would watch this man make toast again," but it's a coherent opinion, albeit one that's low on discussion of his skills and high on hand-waving generalities.
McDoom's recruitment was a weird one. He is the third player in this class that UF thought was headed for their class until an abrupt change in his recruitment, although in this case this was Florida apparently backing off. He fielded a bunch of Kentucky crystal balls during the fall, and then Oregon stepped in. Like Nick Eubanks, McDoom has a ton of offers that are difficult to evaluate for sincerity. He got a Bama offer and said they led after a visit; Clemson was his first offer; Ohio State apparently threw their hat in the ring. After his decommit the other three schools he was nominally considering were Tennessee, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Visits are telling, though, and Oregon was his only other official. Oregon is a pretty pretty good WR offer. The rest is unknown.
Michigan's coaches don't care. Both Steve Lorenz and Sam Webb have mentioned that McDoom was at or near the top of Michigan's board at WR; Lorenz has repeatedly stated a belief that it's McDoom who will break through earliest amongst Michigan's six-man recruiting class at WR. This was still the case as of May, after the coaches got a look at Ahmir Mitchell through spring practice:
We’re told that he excels in some of the areas that you can’t really coach or teach and that it may give him a head start compared to the others.
I assume that stuff is his general feel for the game.
At 6' or just a hair under, McDoom could play inside or out; with a number of other slot types in the class he appears destined for the outside. He told MLive he would be starting out at Amara Darboh's "Z" spot. Like a couple other guys in the class I assume that they'll get acclimated to one position early and branch out from there.
"I can't have a place that is too cold too 24/7 because I am a Florida boy."
Meanwhile this is so very Harbaugh:
During one of Harbaugh's visits to McDoom at his high school, Michigan's coach arrived just as the receiver was supposed to head to his team's banquet. Harbaugh being Harbaugh, he told McDoom he'd just come with him as a guest. But -- Harbaugh being Harbaugh -- he didn't stop there.
"He spoke to the whole team (afterward), that was pretty awesome," McDoom recalled. "He was telling stories from when he played, telling us about himself a bit. It was just really cool."
ESPN had two entirely different commit posts describing McDoom's game separated by just a few weeks; entertainingly these posts come up with different player comparisons. (Bryce Treggs of Cal and Steven Mitchell of USC, if you're interested and those names mean anything to you.)
Why Mario Manningham? Six foot quicks merchant with B+ long speed and the ability to wreck you with his routes. Manningham was much more hyped as a recruit, a universal top-100 player. McDoom was lost in the shuffle in Florida.
Freddy Canteen is another recent comparable, and one rated more in McDoom's range. Canteen was barely scouted by the time he committed to Michigan because his high school spent his junior year in prep-school limbo. His career has been hampered by both position switches and injury.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. A lot of consensus when it comes to the scouting reports, with Rivals the main outlier. Only ESPN follows through on the positive evaluations with a high ranking.
Variance: Moderate. McDoom's probably going to be a contributor but has a wide range of possible outcomes. Manningham 2.0, or useful but not amazing slot type. Take your pick.
Ceiling: High. Love his potential as an inside/outside guy who can be that cover-four-wrecking slot you need these days, and then do some Chesson-vs-Hargreaves things on the outside.
General Excitement Level: Very high. Surprise: McDoom is co-Sleeper of the Year with Josh Uche. I thought the second SotY was going to be Nate Johnson, but after going over both of them I'm more enthused about McDoom's ability.
Projection: McDoom is ready to go, give or take 15 pounds, and was really high on the coaches' board as a recruit; he will play. He'll be in apprentice mode as a freshman. In 2017 he'll battle Ways, Harris, Perry and his classmates for the two and a half starting jobs. I think he gets one. I won't be shocked if he doesn't, but the bet is on McDoom.
I expect McDoom to stick as an outside WR. Michigan has a couple other guys who are potential slot receivers in the class and three more years of Grant Perry; McDoom will get every shot to be a deep threat. As he gets more experience under his belt Michigan, he'll play more and more as a slot, especially against the MSUs of the world. The number of safeties who can get drafted into man coverage against him without being left in the dirt is small indeed, but to make that work at maximum efficiency McDoom will have to be an outside WR who occasionally shows up in the slot, possibly with a guy like Bunting or Gentry flanked outside of him.
Nico Collins gets Friday Night Lights'd
This is from AL.com and thus rather AL centric, but it's well done all the same:
Michigan doesn't get a mention except at the very tail end when he's listing his top schools, but I believe this is the second workout that Collins has been taped at where a certain Maize and Blue item features:
We'll see if that matters long term. Better than nothing.
Package or no
MI CB Ambry Thomas talks to Kyle Bogenschutz and says 1) that he's "more than open to leaving the state" and 2) that playing with MI S Jaylen Kelly-Powell is kind of a big deal:
"It's very important, that's like blood," he said. "It is very important. 10 (out of 10)."
Also MSU is "real smooth." These things don't go together, but when someone asks you about school X it's not like you say "those guys suck and their coach is an eggplant." Thomas currently plans a Signing Day decision.
California camp folk
CA RB Najee Harris, the #1 prospect in the country depending on who you listen to, came out to Michigan's LA camp and actually worked out, which is a rarity for big-timers. Isaiah Hole got some video of Harris getting coached by Ty Wheatley, and reports that Michigan seemed to help themselves out:
Pretty much the entire staff -- save for Jim Harbaugh, who spent his time interacting with all the campers -- got some face time with Harris. It was something of a cacophony in the way the staff moved from station to station, working with the bulk of the camp and then spending a little time with Najee himself. Harris seemed to really enjoy himself, especially his time with Wheatley.
Harris is a nominal Alabama commitment but showed up at the camp in USC gear and what does commitment even mean, you know?
CA TE Josh Falo seems like he's had a bad experience or two during his recruiting process:
“It's pretty up there because they use the tight end a lot,” Falo said. “[Coach Jay Harbaugh is] a relaxing dude, he's straight forward with you and he doesn't lie to you.”
Falo is one of this year's mystery recruits. I haven't seen any indication where he might be leaning. That might be good for Michigan in the long run, as they don't have a slam dunk second TE target in the class. M and Falo could circle back around late and find something mutually appealing. FWIW, Falo is on Team Hypercool, AKA team Michigan Targets And Commits Except Jaylen Kelly-Powell For Some Reason, at the Opening.
CA DE DJ Johnson is similarly mysterious; it's not often you get a California kid whose crystal ball consists of four picks split evenly between Ole Miss and Miami. Johnson has a murky top four of Michigan, Alabama, Oklahoma, and Miami. He showed at Michigan's camp as an observer and talked to Isaiah Hole:
“They told me they're going to have an attack defense,” Johnson said. “It's going to be a great one. I like what I'm hearing from them and stuff like that. It should be a great experience, hanging out with them and watching them play live when I go out there and watch them play."
He'll take an official to Michigan in the fall. Nothing would surprise in his recruitment.
CA OL Jalen McKenzie says he'll take an official visit after hitting up a satellite camp. McKenzie has a brother at Tennessee and they're the tentative leader.
Peppers 3.0, Hudson 2.0, And Other Reasonable Coach Scouting
2018 GA LB commit Otis Reese's coach talks with Brandon Brown about his game:
"We play Otis all over the place because of how multi-faceted he is," Fabrizio said. "We’ll bring him off the edge because he’s a mismatch for anyone trying to block him. We’ll roll him down into the box to help against the run and we’ll also split him out to cover the other team’s best receiver. We ask a lot of him and we try to take advantage of the wide range of abilities he has."
That gentleman is destined to be a SAM linebacker a la Peppers. I love the fact that Michigan's defense now has a dedicated slot for a hybrid space player. I'm excited to see Michigan finally deploy a modern anti-spread D.
Brown also talked to CT OL commit Andrew Stueber's coach:
"What sets him apart is that, although he’s 6-6 and around 300 pounds, is the way he moves. I know the Michigan coaches saw that in person. He won a bunch of the speed and agility tests out at the camp. Coach Brown called me up and told me how impressive he was and I said, ‘Yup! I told you so.’”
Stueber isn't even 17 yet, which means he might add another inch or two of height and is far away from his physical ceiling. His coach thinks he's a left tackle all the way. If he ends up at 6'8"—he's already measured in at 6'6.5" at an Opening regional—and able to move he'll certainly be groomed as one.
OH OL Joel Honigford released a top four of M, MSU, Auburn, and Oregon. Michigan was a hot name for him for a minute but Andrew Stueber's commitment probably means that Michigan focuses on the big fish they've got on the hook.
Michigan's offered TN OL Obinna Eze, who is another left tackle type at 6'7" or 6'8" depending on who you listen too. Wingspaaaaaan:
Anyway, Brown reports that Eze was shocked at a Michigan offer because it shows "people on the other side of the country" know about him. (Please do not get out your maps and #wellactually a recruit.) We're big in Nigeria:
"Michigan is a big institution. My mom in Nigeria knows what school Michigan is. I’m just grateful for it."
Eze worked out at Michigan's Tennessee satellite camp; his recruitment has zero shape right now. There's one Bama crystal ball in for him; meanwhile his 247 profile lists Kentucky and only Kentucky as "warm." I seriously doubt he ends up at either place. As of about ten days ago Eze was trying to get his recruitment wrapped up relatively quickly, so Michigan will have to get an unofficial real soon or an early-season official to stay involved.
VA OL Mekhi Becton is expected to stay close to home but he will visit Michigan and various other Midwest schools in the near future:
“I have my best relationships with Michigan, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Penn State and Michigan State,” Becton said. “I’m still talking to a lot.”
At 6'7", 345 he is a massive human being.
CA OL Drew Dalman visited last week. He's a three-star center and could be a Plan B if Michigan doesn't end up getting Cesar Ruiz.
Dorian Thompson-Robinson and Grudging 2018 items
— D-ROB. (@DoriansTweets) June 27, 2016
NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson hit up Michigan's LA camp. He's got his offer in hand now and continues to display a dual threat aspect to his game that is pretty enticing:
Thompson-Robinson won approximately half -- if not more -- of the drills that he participated in, including fastest man in camp and the backpedal drill. Jim Harbaugh openly acknowledged, "This is a first! We haven't had a quarterback win these drills!" The Michigan legacy was fast and showed a lot of composure in every drill he competed in.
You may remember that Thompson-Robinson had some contradictory thoughts about Michigan and Ohio State after a Midwest visit sweep a few months ago. That appears to be a moot point with OSU focused on another QB prospect. Thompson-Robinson told Sam Webb that UCLA, Michigan, and Arizona State were sticking out and that mom, an alum, was a little excited with the Michigan offer:
"I was actually in the car with my mom when I got it," Thompson-Robinson said. "She was so happy she almost crashed the car. It was a really fun time. I was really happy I got that one."
I think she's in our corner. Brandon Brown reports that Thompson-Robinson is thinking about coming up for the BBQ in August and doesn't have any other unofficials on the docket.
CA WR Jalen Hall also worked out at Michigan's camp, and is really good. This is a pretty crootin quote right here:
“I would say that (they stick out) as well as the other schools,” Hall said.
Hall's already been out to Ann Arbor with his team.
OH RB Jaelen Gill released a top 9 including M. Also now I know that Gill goes by "Squizzy Squirt" on twitter, which is really something.
MI LB Ovie Oghoufo picks up a Michigan offer. Oghoufo is Mario Ojemudia's cousin and Mario's all like cumong man:
"With Rio he has a great relationship with them so he can fill me in a lot about what they’re all about. I talked to him right after I got offered and he was like, ‘Hurry up and commit.’ He was very excited for me — it was a great moment."
Oghoufo just picked up a Notre Dame offer on his visit and has been up to MSU multiple times.
CA OL Wyatt Davis committed to OSU; FL WR Michael Harley committed to WVU; FL WR Jhamon Ausbon committed to LSU. 2018 NJ DE and LB Jayson and Justin Ademilola both committed to ND, which sucks mostly because we had crystal balls for them to Michigan.
VA DT Darnell Ewell hasn't committed yet, but after an OSU/M/ND swing this was his mom's reaction…
"Notre Dame is one of a kind … Michigan was nice too."
…so that's not happening. Also nevermind all the Baylor defectors, who were split up by Texas and Oklahoma like the jerks they are.