left: Upchurch, right: Fuller, not Jamar Adams.
After last week's roundtable, Heiko and I got into an argument over which safety position Gordon will play this year, and whether we've all been wrong to assume that the "Kovacs position" was indeed going straight to Jarrod Wilson. Let's investigate that.
Through various defenses this site has covered, I have kept defaulting to "free" to describe whatever guy is the deep man, and "strong" to refer to the one who typically plays up. With Mattison's—I'm sorry—Michigan's defense these days those terms are becoming such misnomers that we may want to stop using them.
Michigan aligns their safeties to the boundary, not the strength of the formation, so "strong" and "weak" stuff for Michigan's D usually means "field" and "boundary."
Using monuMental's program again. Beyer is at SAM just to avoid Gordonian confusion
With the offense on its left hash the "strong" side is to the field. Here's where you need your more athletic guys who can cover more ground. When the offense is on the opposite hash Michigan flips the personnel:
Everyone knows where to go as soon as the ball is placed, and then they'll move around to match what the offense shows. Whatever the offense may gain from constantly shifting the strength of their formation opposite what Michigan aligns to, the expectation is they'll lose that by squeezing their space.
The front seven isn't so predictable; most often they will align so that the strong side is with the Y tight end—usually the "strong" side of the formation—to preserve the appropriate matchups. However when the formation flips the safeties hardly ever go with it. The coaches have said they want the safeties to eventually be interchangeable, though with such a disparity in makeup between Kovacs and any other guy on the roster the roles have been more defined. The biggest change from 2011 to 2012 was Kovacs did progressively more and more in coverage. You could see it in the dramatic shift in Kovacsian tackles as the linebackers got better.
For the safeties this means the actual "strong" safety will align to the field. He'll have more space to cover and also more guys to deal with. He's more likely to end up one-on-one with a slot receiver. The boundary safety will be more likely to draw a tight end or someone out of the backfield.
What was Kovacs Last Year?
Kovacs was the boundary safety. He aligned to the weak side and usually lined up a few steps closer to the line of scrimmage than did Gordon. Here's screencaps from the first two plays of the Outback Bowl to illustrate:
That's not to say this was written in stone. Two snaps later SC aligned with trips to the strong side and Gordon came up to take away anything short and easy for the slot receiver:
No, the TE is not allowed to line up two yards behind the L.O.S. #SEC #CHEATERS
This screamingly illegal formation was a touchdown as Ryan and Gordon both followed the inside slot. Kovacs took the middle guy's post route and Raymon Taylor ended up 1-on-1 with the outside receiver and got burned.
This is a thing SC did a lot of in order to shift Michigan's defenders out of their core competencies. On the defensive last play of the game Kovacs again ended up the overhang guy where his speed deficiency could be exploited. You know how that ended. They weren't the only ones, though Michigan didn't always react the same way:
Same safety positions: Gordon is the deeper guy on the field side of the ball and the strong side of the formation—the position that's called "FS" on your EA Sports game—and Kovacs is the short, boundary guy that your game would call "SS." Note this time the front seven flipped so Morgan ended up over Eifert and Roh/Ryan were to the side of the Y tight end. So nothing is exact, but even when the formation flipped the safeties stuck to their roles. With the WLB to his side Gordon backed out to show Cov2 and ND ran a counter-right which picked on Clark; the linebackers shut it down.
Simple form: Kovacs was the boundary safety, Gordon was the field safety. What about this year?
What is Gordon This Year?
Sorry Heiko, but I think Gordon is still the nominal field safety. Here's the first snap of the 2013 Spring Game:
Gordon's the field, Wilson's the boundary. Jarrod Wilson has apparently inherited the Kovacs position while Gordon remains what he was. But something has changed. Spring Game play the fifth:
Yeah the front seven is flippy again but the safeties aren't: that is Gordon who has come up over the right TE (Williams) and is telling Wilson to "get back, get back!" Wilson then backed out of the screen. Now, the safeties switched roles plenty last year, but over the course of the Spring Game, I saw Wilson the overhang man more often than not, and this wasn't because the offense was overloading one side or another. I mean, this is a pretty straightforward Ace 2TE set.
So while Gordon's position hasn't changed, his role may have. Kovacs last year would often come down then have a deep cover responsibility. Or he'd be given complicated reads and be responsible for changing coverages on the fly much as an Air Raid offense changes receivers' routes based on what the defenders are doing after the snap. That's because he's Kovacs. The expectation this year is that Gordon will be doing much more of the fancy stuff while Wilson's job on most plays will be to not let anything over his head. The more Jarrod progresses, the more Michigan can have him do the fancy Ed Reed things and the less predictable the defense will be. Wilson may have taken Kovac's position, but for the most part Gordon has his job.
If you think the headline contains a typo, try listening to better music.
George Campbell, Mayor Of Twitter
As Michigan fans tried to decrypt Wilton Speight's Twitter teaser, Saturday afternoon bled into Saturday evening with no word about a commitment. Would it be Shaun Crawford? Sterling Jenkins? Erik Swenson? Maybe even Malik McDowell? Any would've been great; the real answer, though, elicited a rapturous response.
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) July 27, 2013
— DG (@DGDestroys) July 27, 2013
holy pants. Hoke, you are the stockiest ninja.
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) July 28, 2013
George Campbell's commitment briefly turned the entire Michigan twittersphere into Robin and Brady Hoke into the proudest papa.
Mason Cole's Instagram also features ... are those tears, Coach?
It also attracted the attention of the CEO of Twitter, Michigan grad Dick Costolo.
— dick costolo (@dickc) July 29, 2013
Modified rule: Don't tweet at recruits — unless you're the CEO of Twitter. [Side note: This is a story. Get here already, football season. Also, Matt Hayes must be stopped, and this is one of a very short list of things Michigan and Ohio State fans can agree upon.]
Why is everyone so excited? Because if "500" was an Olympic sport, George Campbell would win the gold, silver, and bronze.
Also, have I mentioned he's 6'4" and runs a 4.36 40-yard dash?
There were 3 WR's in the 2013 NFL Combine w/ a 40 as fast/faster than George Campbell. They were 6', 5'8", and 5'9". Campbell is 6'4". Wow.
— CoachBrown TheMBlock (@CoachBrown3) July 28, 2013
Yes, Campbell still has work to do when it comes to his hands and route-running — this video from the Columbus NFTC highlights both the best and worst parts of Campbell's game right now — but with two more years of high school ball to play, his potential is terrifyingly vast. Scout's Jamie Newberg provided a detailed scouting report of Campbell after his commitment, and even the areas for improvement section features one of them good problems ($):
What may be of concern: Campbell catches the ball well but is not a natural pass catcher. Sometimes he fights it but he is getting better and better. Size is also an issue because you just can’t forecast just how big this cat is going to get. He has a giant frame and long arms so there is no telling what his size will be like in three or four years. Remember, he still has two high school seasons to play before he gets to Ann Arbor. Will his growth prompt a position change? If so, how will that impact his develop?
All of these are concerns but I see them as minor concerns because Campbell is such an outstanding athlete. Recruit him now and worry about it later.
Oh no he might be even more giant and still probably really fast.
Campbell's commitment does more than just give Michigan one of the top prospects in his entire class. It also looks like he'll be a major recruiting conduit in the tradition of Morris, Speight, Ferns, et al — Campbell reportedly struck up a close friendship with 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole, and he's already reaching out to other top prospects on Twitter. Others, including 2015 MN LB/DE Jashon Cornell, ESPN's #1 overall recruit in the class, took immediate notice after Campbell tweeted out his commitment announcement.
— Jashon Cornell (@Jay_Rock16) July 28, 2013
— Jashon Cornell (@Jay_Rock16) July 27, 2013
Oh, and some other guy passed along his congratulations.
— Damien Harris (@Damien_D1Harris) July 28, 2013
That guy is consensus top-100 2015 running back Damien Harris. He committed to Michigan while I was writing this post. Brian, mercifully, handled the Hello post. Commitments come in pairs, Brady Hoke poops magic, and Michigan now has their top targets at wide receiver and running back already in the fold for 2015.
Hello there, potential überclass:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) July 29, 2013
Not a bad start to the week, you guys.
[Hit THE JUMP for much, much more on the BBQ, including reactions from Malik McDowell, Shaun Crawford, Sterling Jenkins, and Justin Hilliard, plus surprise appearances from a couple of Glenville's finest.]
Kids, Ace is busy piling all the good news from the BBQ into a post so I take the baton to profile Michigan's second five-star 2015 commitment in three days. HIGH FIVE
Sam Webb was dropping hints that someone would drop in the aftermath of the George Campbell commitment, and lo: it has transpired. 2015 KY RB Damien Harris has pulled the trigger.
Informative update coming, but for now know that ESPN has Harris the #20 player in the country for his year and 247 has him 91st; he had offers from OSU, Notre Dame, and Florida. High five.
|NR WR||NR WR||5*, #3 RB
|4*, #10 RB
|5*, #4 RB,
As you recently learned when #1 2015 WR George Campbell committed to Michigan, only ESPN and 247 have preliminary 2015 rankings out yet. Harris features in both. He's solidly a five-star at ESPN and just inside the 247 top 100, and given the scouting from Scout and Rivals I'd bet they're both closer to ESPN's rating than 247's. Rivals's article on the commit states he "is being considered for five-star status and might be the top overall running back in the country."
Also, George Campbell. And Damien Harris.
Damien Harris is such a combination of size and speed even at a young age that he was the best running back at the Army Combine in January… the Army Combine that is for juniors. There multiple attendees timed him in the low 4.4 range, which may be hand-timed nonsense but is hand-timed nonsense then compared to the same thing from guys like 2014 five-star Joe Mixon.
His coach has told everyone who asks that Damien Harris might be a mutant.
"He really has this great combination of size and speed," Clark said. "He's really powerful, but he's also the fastest young man I've ever seen. He's got Olympic type speed with his power, which makes him unique. He's got really good vision on the football field, which is one of the things that comes natural to him. And he's a 'yes sir, no sir' type of kid with a 3.0 (grade point average)."
Oh. Is there any other way in which Damien Harris might be a mutant?
"I was at Auburn in '06 and at Syracuse in '07, so I've been around major college football players. Size wise, I've never seen a kid built like this at his age. He's every bit of 5'11, 195 right now and he looks like he would be an SEC freshman-sophomore running back already. He's absolutely jacked. Mom and dad are both tall. Mom's over 6'0. I think he'll probably end up being over 6'0 and he can carry 225-230-lbs on his frame easily."
Surely we are out of ways—
"He is a freak in the weight room," Clark says. "…He's power cleaning around 250-lbs already, benching around 250 already and squatting 375-400-lbs and he's barely lifted and we full squat."
--that Damien Harris might be—
"At the end of the day, it's just his speed, with his size, is very unique - and that's not just for his age. If he were to be a junior or a senior this year, his speed with his size is still unique. With him being as young as he is, it just kind of enhances that. 'What might be possible here?' He's definitely not going to get smaller and slower, it's no question."
People other than his coach are in agreement. Allen Trieu caught him at Michigan's camp and called him a "phenom":
He's very well built, looking like a college ready kid now. He's explosive and caught the ball very well.
Josh Helmholdt mentions he has the size of a college back already, a "potent combination of power and speed" and like wow:
He does as good a job of sticking his foot in the ground and making sharp cuts as any back we have seen in the upper classes, and he can go from a dead stop to top speed in an instant. Maybe Harris' best asset, though, is his balance. He destroys arm tackles and it regularly takes 2-3 defenders to bring him down.
ESPN's evaluation… disagrees entirely with everyone including itself!
STRENGTHS: Strong, balanced runner with quick feet and well-rounded skill-set. Flashes good top-end speed and upper and lower body strength. Displays good vision finding the hole and the ability to get through tight creases for big gainers. Possesses the lateral stretch ability and edge speed to get outside and move the chains. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Not overly powerful at this stage. Lacks the ability to consistently break tackles and produce strong yards after contact. Elusiveness and suddenness are not elite. We question his current level of competition but he does dominate it. ... BOTTOM LINE: Harris is an explosive player with natural feet and vision. Has good size and will only get stronger as a downhill runner with time. Big-play skill set that should make him a coveted prospect.
I don't understand you sometimes, ESPN.
Harris grew up idolizing one Mike Hart, so thanks for that in addition to all your other Mike Hart things, Mike Hart:
“I think the best part about that was the fact that growing up I idolized Mike Hart,” Harris said. “He means the world to me. For me to be there at that camp and getting 1-on-1 instruction from him was the best part of the whole experience.”
Also, the pattern.
"I've been doing this a long time - I coached in college for ten years," said Clark. "Damien's got all the intangibles that help a young man get to that point. He's a good person, he makes good decisions, he's a good kid, he's got good work ethic, and he's a good student, as well. So all of those things kind of point that he's in the right direction, no question."
He has a 3.8 GPA, and is already a film rat:
“Student of the game,” Clark said. “Watches hours of film a week. Most sophomore running backs I’ve been around don’t really know blocking assignments and plays. He’s a student of the game like you want your quarterback to be, and he knows why you run certain plays against certain fronts. His football IQ is drastically improving.”
At this early stage Harris had offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, and Florida amongst others. Kentucky, Tennessee, Syracuse, and other schools had offered him after his freshman year.
Berea is a tiny town in the middle of nowhere that does not come across this kind of talent often.
Had 742 yards and 11 touchdowns on 62 carries as a freshman in six games. A concussion shortened his season. Last year he put up 1,778 yards on 144 carries and scored 35 touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
This one is a bit fake:
According to his coach Jon Clark, Harris clocked a 4.36 40-yard dash at 5-foot-11, 205-pounds. Harris was named the top underclassmen performer by 247Sports at the U.S. Army National Combine in San Antonio, Texas back in January.
Who do you think you are, George Campbell who is committed to Michigan? On the other hand:
Within the group the most impressive time of the morning may be from the youngest. From Richmond (KY) Madison Southern High, running back Damien Harris is a 2015 player who is already on several teams’ watch list. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound Harris ran a 4.43, which was the fastest time clocked by FOX Sports NEXT.
No Change at The Top
Madison Southern (Ky.) sophomore running back Damien Harris was one of the top overall performers at the combine. He had one of the fastest forty times by our watches (4.41/4.38) and caught the ball well in 1-1s. He also had a 4.2 shuttle and a 32-inch vertical jump after measuring at just under 5’10, and 197-lbs.
One fake? For a 4.36 40 from a sophomore running back? George Campbell?
He also has a hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
By the time Harris arrives on campus, Derrick Green will be entering his junior year; DeVeon Smith will likely be a redshirt sophomore. Green may be on track to be three-and-out, though, so Michigan will likely blood one of their two 2015 running backs in preparation for a battle with Smith the year after.
Also… uh… I think I can legitimately say this. Mike Hart, but fast.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
How about an upshot for the class before his? Michigan just dropped NJ RB Jonathan Hilliman…
Two schools in Hilliman's previous top six schools have been removed from the picture: Michigan and Alabama. The Wolverines have informed Hilliman that they are no longer recruiting the running back position while the Crimson Tide, although interested, didn't seem, to him, quite interested enough.
…and apparently told him that Michigan would skip a back in this class. Harris probably had something to do with that, and unless Leonard Fournette decides Ann Arbor is the bees' knees, Michigan will go without this year. Which is fine.
The upshot for the rest of Harris's class is that there's probably one more tailback spot available and Cass Tech RB Mikey Weber is the heavy favorite to occupy it. Oh, and also WOOOOOOOOOO
“I’ve never seen anyone dominate a game like that,” Madison Southern Coach Jon Clark said. He’s been coaching for a decade. “He played out of his mind. The game’s first five offensive plays he had three touchdowns. Two ended up getting called back because of penalties.”
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman
|Westland, MI – 6'2", 195|
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
CMU, MSU(?), UCLA(?), Georgia(?!?)
|YMRMFSPA||a poor man's Steve Breaston|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Westland John Glenn (Lloyd Carr!)|
This used to happen quite a bit, but with the continuing expansion of recruiting coverage and Brady Hoke's chops on the trail not so much lately: there's not all that much out there on Da'Mario Jones. A Central Michigan commitment most of last year, Jones played on a team that only threw rarely…
Jones’ recruiting profile has been kept under the radar by his role in Glenn’s run-heavy offense, in which he’s used as a blocker and ball carrier more than a pass-catcher. He’s currently unranked by Rivals.com, despite good speed and displaying a knack for getting open in summer camp experiences.
…and got most of his reps as a runner. He did not pop up on a lot of radars. I mean:
Jones played wide receiver - where he was targeted on just one downfield pass, a fade route that was thrown well out of bounds - and running back, where he notched 35 yards on 8 carries, including a touchdown.
Compounding matters, when Ace suggested he should go scout the kid I said "naw, man, Treadwell's coming," which we can all laugh about now but remains a bit of a facepalm from yours truly.
What is out there suggests that Jones is a slot-ish guy in the Breaston mold (ie, tallish), albeit without the ludicrous film of going to work. ESPN makes him sound like a poor man's version of our favorite punt returner:
He may not be a great speed guy, but is fast enough. Has a good solid frame to work with, needs to add strength, but possesses very good measurables. Shows adequate-to-good speed on tape. Has good height and arm length. Long strider that has good, but not great quickness and is pretty high cut. Has some ability to stop and start, but lacks elite explosion. … Will need to add some more mass to hold up at the next level. Can be inconsistent as a catcher, shows ability to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body, but also is a body catcher. … high cut build limits fluidity and lateral agility. Good, but not great with the ball in his hands.
Scout's profile makes him sound like someone else entirely, though:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
Elusiveness with Catch
Hands and Concentration
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Very good athlete who uses his tools to go up and make acrobatic catches. Has good body control, leaping ability, and good hands. He has good ability after the catch and open field skills which he has shown as a return man, running back, and a receiver. He just needs a little polish as a route runner, but he has a lot of the other tools you look for in a receiver. - Allen Trieu
This reads like a repurposed Moe Ways scouting report. Scout was by far the most enthused about Jones, FWIW, as they apparently caught a game of his in which he was actually targeted quite a bit. Jamie Newberg:
He's 6-foot-2, 195-pounds and has speed, elusiveness and great ball skills. The weather and the fact that Glenn jumped out to a huge lead limited his touches, but he scored on his first two touches, a long touchdown run where he lined up at tailback and took a pitch and the second on a 36-yard pass. He later had a jump ball in the end zone where he was ruled out, but outjumped the defender and came down with the ball. He has the physical tools you want, and I like what he can do in the open field in addition to what he does when the ball is in the air.
Touch The Banner sees him working underneath and maybe not being too good at snatching stuff out of the air:
He's capable of getting separation from defensive backs, shows good footwork and route running, and has enough suddenness to set up double moves. He's not a shake-and-bake type, but he does show a knack for making a cut upfield after running laterally. Crossing routes should be an asset where he can catch the ball over the middle, look for a seam, and then gain extra yards. He also doesn't shy away from contact, so he should turn into a plus blocker and gain yards that some receivers won't.
Notice that I said he "could be" an asset in the red zone - Jones isn't the most natural pass catcher, and he needs to work on snatching the ball out of the air. You can see in his film that when the ball is above his shoulders, he struggles to catch the ball cleanly. … Jones also shows good speed, but he won't blow the lid off a defense.
Yes, this is basically the opposite of the previous report. Low sample size. That's two votes for a Breaston-like slasher, so we'll go with that.
Jones's potentially fake 40 times do suggest he's a guy who has speed…
Jones has been clocked at a 10.9 in the 100, and ran a 4.47 in the 40 at Michigan State’s camp and a 4.50 at Ohio State’s camp.
…and I lend those a little credence since he ran a 4.61 as a rising sophomore at the National Underclassmen Combine, which was the fourth-best time at a very large event.
How about some intangible bits to make you feel better? Jones did have a number of other schools sniffing around. Early they were mostly middleweights…
The 6-2, 195-pounder out of Westland (Mich.) John Glenn verbally committed to Central Michigan back in July, but is seeing more and more interest from BCS schools on a daily basis. Schools such as Michigan, Iowa, Pitt, TCU, UCLA, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Indiana have all reached out, and it may be only a matter of time before some of them extend offers.
…but he got a flurry of interest right before signing day, reportedly landing offers from UCLA, MSU, and Georgia(!) and entertaining interest from FSU(!) and Alabama(?!?). Due to the nature of recruiting these days—"uncommitable" offers and all that—it's impossible to judge just how interested any of these schools were, but Georgia plays things on the up and up. An actual offer from Richt is a positive marker.
Jones also fits The Pattern. His coach:
"You know, you hear these clichés all the time, but it is the absolute truth that he is an outstanding young man. After every game, he comes up and shakes the coaches hands, he's a great student, teachers like him. He's a great leader in our school. He does everything right."
This is not quite an "I'd let him date my daughter" quote, but I assume that's because his coach only has sons.
"I'm a versatile receiver, and I'm not just the speedster guy," he said. "I like to be physical, I get off the line, I get off the press. I try to run clean, crisp routes, and make sure the defenders can't guard me. Once I run my route, I figure I have good enough speed to catch the ball and take it to the next level."
Why a poor man's Steve Breaston? A wiry guy around 6'1", Breaston was a high school quarterback who went to work but needed time to add weight and learn the position. Once he did that he was an excellent slot option, though he never mastered the ability to make a downfield catch until he hit the NFL.
Jones has a similar high-cut build and long-striding running style, has similar issues with inexperience since his team barely threw, and promises to be a quick-ish slot option. He is not Steve Breaston, though. Breaston was a top 100 player; Jones a generic three-star.
Guru Reliability: Low. There is very little information on him for a lot of reasons.
Variance: High. Bust potential is obvious, but late offers hint at great promise.
Ceiling: Moderate. Sounds like he will top out as a nice #2 or #3 option.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Has some upside, but has a long way to go and could get lost in the shuffle.
Projection: One of the three receivers this year will play. Who will be determined by fall camp. Jones seems to be the internet's tentative favorite, but the other two guys likely bring more blocking.
Down the road, receiving opportunities open up next year with the departure of Gallon, Dileo, and Jackson. The competition steps up significantly with the addition of Drake Harris and Moe Ways, however, and Jones is going to have to find himself a role as a slot receiver or get sparing snaps since it seems like Michigan hit on both of last year's recruits. Meanwhile, the role of the slot receiver in an Al Borges offense with a fully-stocked hybrid TE mini-fridge is unknown.
Jones looks like he'll have maybe a dozen catches a year unless one of Darboh and or Chesson doesn't work out, in which case he'll have an earlier opportunity to establish himself a starter. Third and fourth receiving options are all over the place—see the last three guys profiled plus Funchess, etc. I expect a long apprenticeship.
If the gloves fit, you must commit.
This afternoon, Wilton Speight sent out a TomVH-like cryptic tweet about some potentially big news coming from this weekend's BBQ. Despite holding Michigan recruitniks hostage for most of a summer Saturday, ALL IS FORGIVEN:
— George Campbell (@GeorgeCampbell0) July 27, 2013
George Campbell, for those unfamiliar, is the #1 wide receiver in the 2015 class, and high school teammates with 2014 OL commit Mason Cole. The "Brady Hoke can't close on elite skill position prospects" meme? Deader than dead. And don't even think about pulling a fast one, other programs:
George Campbell said if any other schools try to recruit him, "I'm committed to Michigan and that's final."
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 27, 2013
WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA okay calming down here's some actual info wait wait WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO alright serious face LOCK IT DOWN ANBENDER
|NR WR||NR WR||
4*, #1 ATH,
5*, #1 WR,
5*, #1 WR,
Only ESPN and 247 have put out rankings for the class of 2015, and they're in agreement: George Campbell is the best receiver in his class and one of the top overall prospects. His height is listed between 6'3" (247) and 6'5" (Rivals & Scout), with ESPN splitting the difference; his listed weight is anywhere between 181 and 198 pounds. His official listed measurements from The Opening are 6'3.5", 185 pounds.
Campbell first made waves at Florida's "Friday Night Lights" camp last year as a rising sophomore, earning 247's top overall performer honors over a host of 2014 prospects, including former Michigan target Alex Anzalone:
1- George Campbell, WR, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake (Class of 2015)
The 6-3, 180-pound pass catcher could be one of the top prospects in the Sunshine State for the 2015 cycle and certainly looked the part, showing off advance route running skills, an ability to get off the press and play physical. He reported a 37-inch vertical and the game seemed to move very slow for him on a night where prospects where tight and trying to impress.
Campbell made such an impression that, just two days ago, Florida's 247 outlet published a list of the five most memorable FNL performances; he made the list along with four five-stars of yore: Stefon Diggs, Ronald Powell, Cam Newton, and Tim Tebow. Not bad company, to say the least.
Since then, Campbell has torn up the (often older) competition at a wide variety of camps and 7-on-7 tournaments, forming a nearly unstoppable duo with '14 Clemson commit (and, yes, former Michigan target) Artavis Scott. Despite losing out on positional MVP honors to his teammate, Campbell actually finished one spot higher than Scott on Rivals's list of top performers at this year's Orlando NFTC:
While he was edged out by his teammate for MVP honors, Campbell looked like one of the best wide receivers at the event. He's a true deep threat and during the deep ball portion of the day he showed great speed combined with solid pass-catching ability. He still has some work to do on shorter routes when the ball comes quickly, but right now he's quite the home run hitter in the passing game.
At the same event, 247's Gerry Hamilton found just one area in need of real improvement, though it's a big one:
As has been the case for nearly a year now, the 6-foot-3, 180-pound Campbell was dominant in the testing portion of the combine running a 4.48 laser timed forty-yard dash, a 4.2 shuttle and a 37-inch vertical. When it came time to run routes, Campbell was also dominant bursting off the line, quickly getting into routes for his size and creating instant separation out of cuts. One area the class of 2015 prospect struggled at times today was finishing plays. He fought the ball at times, and didn’t have the look of a natural pass catcher.
ESPN's scouting report seems to echo this amidst the usual fawning over Campbell's athleticism and jump ball skills:
STRENGTHS: Excellent athlete with eye-popping size and speed measurables. A legit vertical threat who can stretch the field on offense. Displays a long wingspan on a very tall frame for a receiver. Runs extremely well and is a major mismatch on corners when positioned one-on-one. Shows great range and length with a quick initial burst covering ground on defense. Demonstrates good instincts in pursuit and will finish plays. Possesses good ball skills and is very solid in zone coverage closing on the pass from depth. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Can continue to refine his route running and become more consistent with his hands. Would benefit from adding bulk and strength to his frame. Not presently an overpowering downhill run defender on defense.
Why does ESPN's profile focus so much on his defense? Well, Campbell lined up at defensive end for East Lake last fall, and in June's IMG 7-on-7 championships he cracked Rivals's list of top performers... on defense:
Campbell is already one of the top wide receiver prospects for the class of 2015, but on Saturday he did his damage on the defensive side of the ball. He had at least two interceptions and also had a key pass breakup that helped his team secure a victory. He'll likely play offense at the next level, but it's clear he's a very versatile athlete.
Despite the above, Campbell should end up at receiver at the next level, though if he doesn't develop on offense he could easily find a home as a ball-hawking safety.
While Campbell's skills are still developing — remember, he's a rising junior — his athleticism is already at a very elite level. As one of just five 2015 prospects invited to this year's edition of The Opening, Campbell showed up and blew everyone away on the track:
While Noil was busy winning the overall SPARQ Championship, Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake wide out, and top Florida 2015 target, George Campbell won the fastest man competition.
The junior-to-be ran a 4.37 to take home the award.
Those are electronic times. Campbell also recorded a 37-inch vertical leap. He's almost 6'4". Al Borges is probably trying to find a way to get him on the team this fall, let alone two years from now.
Campbell held offers from Arkansas, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and West Virginia, among many others. It's safe to assume that he would receive offers from just about every program in the country if he didn't make an early commitment; as it stands, that offer list is impressive even for a decorated senior, and Campbell has yet to play his junior season.
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake, as you well know by now, also features 2014 prospects Mason Cole (Michigan) and Artavis Scott (Clemson); they have one other '14 BCS commit in three-star DB Devin Abraham. Aside from 2013 three-star and UCF signee QB Pete Dinovo, no East Lake player earned more than two stars on Rivals prior to this class.
According to 247, Campbell recorded 30 receptions for 766 yards (25.5 ypc) and five touchdowns as a sophomore last fall, while also contributing 57 tackles on defense.
FAKE 40 TIME
Campbell's 4.36 40 time is gloriously NOT FAKE AT ALL.
More highlights with single-game cut-ups are available at Campbell's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Campbell will give Michigan a pair of hyper-athletic deep threats at receiver when he joins 2014 commit Drake Harris. It's tough to project Campbell's ability to make an early impact considering he's got plenty of work to do refinining his technique in the two years before he hits campus; the good news, of course, is that there are still two years before he hits campus.
What we do know is that, in 2015, Shane Morris or Wilton Speight is slated to have Harris, Campbell, Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, Moe Ways, Freddy Canteen, Jaron Dukes, Da'Mario Jones, Csont'e York, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, and Ian Bunting as potential targets, in addition to Derrick Green and DeVeon Smith at running back. Oh, and that offensive line. Wheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Campbell is the third commit in the 2015 class, joining OT Jon Runyan Jr. and K Andrew David; 2014 grayshirt commit DT Brady Pallante will also join the team in 2015.
Campbell's presence is a boon to the 2015 class in that (1) he's George Campbell, five-star receiver, and (2) his early commitment should help attract other top talent to Michigan. At this point, it's way too early to go over numbers, so for now just celebrate the fact that HOLY CRAP GEORGE CAMPBELL JUST COMMITTED.
The ghost of Lloyd Carr haunts everything. Oh yes.
Lloyd Carr stopped @Peedi3416 and I one day on the sidewalk and randomly said, "the hardest part about winning is the expectation it brings"
— Anthony Wright (@ItsAntWright) July 26, 2013
Life advice, or just Lloyd Carr musing darkly on a life he perceives as a slate-gray expanse of clouds? Does Lloyd Carr show up at orientation, pick a bright-eyed pre-med student, and tell them "this doesn't make you an adult"? I hope so. It would be very Michigan if one of their former coaches became the Dark Oracle Of Ann Arbor.
Nine minutes of game winning field goals. Right here:
Glenn Robinson III throwing various things down. Also right here:
Kate. I wish you to see this picture. I think the basketball team has gotten their Final Four rings.
A handsome man, now handsomer.
Piling on Emmert. Mark Emmert is getting hammered from all sides these days, with the latest hits a unified front from the Big 5 conferences against the NCAA status quo and an extensive OTL article detailing the chaos inside the organization:
One source said that at least one major conference has gone so far as to send a directive to its representative on the NCAA Executive Committee -- which, among other duties, hires and fires the association's president -- to make it "crystal clear that they were not at all happy with the direction of the entire enterprise under Emmert."
He picked up the dread vote of confidence a while ago.
Meanwhile, with an obviously coordinated assault on the current state of the NCAA launched by the commissioners of the top five conferences, change is coming, and soon. Emmert himself is joining the chorus:
Emmert said he expects significant changes to how the NCAA operates to be adopted within the next year.
At issue is the ability of the richest athletic programs --- which attract the massive television rights fees --- to set policy without the smaller D-I programs stopping them because of financial concerns.
“There’s one thing that virtually everybody in Division I has in common right now, and that is they don’t like the governance model,” Emmert said. “Now, there’s not agreement on what the new model should be. But there’s very little support for continuing things in the governing process the way they are today.”
Emmert actually may have been at the forefront of this, but don't tell anyone that. He may gone about everything in the most ham-handed way possible, but given what he's been trying to do he's likely on board with Division Zero or whatever.
I am too, of course. The gap between programs that are net spenders and those that have to figure out what to do with their buckets of money is untenable, and the players should get some more of the money coming in. If this is the way to do it, great:
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Wednesday he wants lifetime scholarships for athletes to finish their educations and a non-athletic year for “at-risk” students followed by four years of eligibility.
“There’s no one talking about this being some incremental change,” Emmert said. “I think there’s an interest in some pretty fundamental change in the way decisions are made, both to accomodate those (financial) differences but also to deal with concerns people have about representation ... in the policy debates.”
Etc.: Ace points out that OSU has the best record against the spread in conference games over the past ten years, nationally. Michigan is barely below .500. Baseball brings in 16 kids, including the co-Mr. Baseballs in the state. They are 11 guys over their roster limit, though. That's just how baseball works, I guess?
Charlie Weis has an epiphany. Jordan Kovacs gets hazed. The randomness of turnovers is pretty much why Darrell Hazell got to Purdue. Bill Connolly previews State. Think he's way underrating LeVeon Bell and thus overrating MSU's line, FWIW. Connolly also does Iowa. Targeting is going to be a fiasco.