Michigan bolstered their special teams depth and added a scholarship-level punter on the cheap yesterday when Fenton (MI) punter Kenny Allen agreed to join the team in 2012 as a preferred walk-on. Allen should provide quality insurance in case Will Hagerup gets the proverbial third strike and could easily be a multi-year starter once (well, I guess if) Hagerup graduates.
|NR P||2*, #13 K||2*, #33 K||NR P|
Unfortunately, none of the recruiting websites that have Allen ranked evaluate him as a punter, but they do have a couple evaluations available, though they all agree that he's in the 6'3", 190-pound range, for whatever that's worth. Scout has this report from kicking guru Chris Sailer:
Kenny is a great combo prospect (K/P). A good athlete that shows great potential in all areas. Has the skills to be one of the very best. A hard worker, that will only continue to improve. Kenny is big, tall, strong, and athletic. A great combo prospect. Punts for great distance and shows nice consistency. Definite D1A prospect.
ESPN has this to add ($):
Kenny is a very good kicker/punter. His strength right now is his punting. He showed very well at a Kohl's training camp and will be a very good college punter. His frame and overall leg speed make him an attractive punting candidate. The ball jumps off his foot and he does a good job of presenting a consistent target to hit with his drop. Kenny is a college level punter from a talent perspective.
Sailer has a website with his own independent recruiting rankings, and he has Allen as 4.5-star prospect (five being a Division I prospect, four being Division II, and so on), and ranks him as the #10 specialist overall and #2 combo prospect (there are also two other punters ahead of him) in the high school ranks in 2011. Sailer's latest evaluation of Allen:
Kenny is a very talented young punter. He has the size and athleticism to dominate in this area. Can hit a huge ball. Also a great kicker. A top combo prosepect [sic] in the Class of 2012. Will be a scholarship pick!
Allen also came in for praise in February at Jamie Kohl's Midwest kicking camp:
Three punters that impressed were Kenny Allen, a 2012 punter from Fenton High School in Michigan, R.J. Bain, a 2012 punter from Michigan and Sean Decloux from Canada. Allen's smooth mechanics and long frame should draw college interest in the years to come.
Finally, a couple of self-evaluations from Allen himself, the first from the Flint Journal...
The right-footed kicker indicated that he has been booting field goals in the 50-yard range during the Tigers' practices this summer.
"I feel I contribute a lot," Allen said. "I've been growing, getting a lot stronger with my legs. "I've been fixing my mechanics and working out the errors.I've kicked thousands of footballs. It's like muscle memory."
...and then this fantastic quote from a paywalled article on 247Sports [emphasis mine]:
“My strength is consistency,” Allen said. “On my bad ones, it’s still good.”
So, Kenny Allen turns bad into good. I like this.
Allen held a scholarship offer from Oregon State, and Rivals reports he had interest from Alabama, Iowa, LSU, Miami (YTM), and a host of MAC schools.
Sailer reports that through the first few weeks of this season, Allen averaged 43.0 yards per punt.
Junior stats via the Flint Journal:
Allen averaged 39.1 yards per punt as a junior, with his longest effort being 71 yards against Walled Lake Central on Nov. 12, 2010.
He was 3-of-5 on field goal attempts and had 37 touchbacks. He was an unanimous All-Metro League first-team pick as a punter while earning honorable mention honors as a kicker.
71 yards? Yes, please.
FAKE 40 TIME
He's a punter.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Don't let the walk-on tag fool you—Allen is a scholarship-level punter, as the Oregon State offer
belies shows. Allen will arrive on campus when Hagerup is a junior and—barring any further off-field shenanigans from Hagerup—he should be able to redshirt in his first year on campus. That'll leave him with another year as Hagerup's apprentice, then he'll compete with Matt Wile (who has struggled thus far with his punting and could just stick to kicking) for the starting job as a redshirt sophomore. From the looks of it, Allen should help Michigan have a seamless transition after Hagerup graduates, and provide quality depth at the position in case of injury/suspension.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Allen is a walk-on, even turning down at least one scholarship opportunity to play for his home-state team, he won't factor in to the oncoming numbers crunch as the Wolverines finish out the 2012 class. The needs continue to be at wide receiver, defensive tackle, offensive tackle, and perhaps running back.
In the aftermath of yesterday's absurd, mind-blowing, incredible victory, it appeared inevitable that one of the several uncommitted recruits in attendance would get caught up in the excitement and commit to Michigan. That recruit turned out to be 2013 athlete Dymonte Thomas, who hails from Alliance (OH) Marlington and happens to be cousins with one Bri'onte Dunn. Thomas joins Shane Morris in Michigan's class of 2013.
|NR S||NR S||
NR S, ESPN U
Player rankings for the 2013 class have yet to be released, but Thomas looks like he'll be at least a four-star when they are, and he's on early watch lists by both ESPN and 247Sports.
Thomas excels on both sides of the ball for Marlington, but it appears he'll be a safety at the next level—Scout, Rivals, and ESPN all list him there, while 24/7 has him as a RB/S prospect. There's a fair amount of disparity in terms of his measurables, where he's listed as big as 6'1", 180 pounds (Scout), and as small as 5'11", 167 (Rivals), with the two other services falling in between, though somewhat closer to the former numbers. At that size, he seems to project better as a safety to me.
Sam Webb talked to his high school coach for a Detroit News article in June, and he had this to say about his junior athlete:
"The thing about Dymonte is that he has two more seasons of high school left," Marlington head coach Ed Miley told Scout.com. "If he keeps on going the way he has so far, he could end up as both the leading rusher and tackler in Stark County history. Dymonte does great in the classroom and is very popular with his teammates. I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
Thomas not only plays running back and safety at Marlington, but linebacker, defensive end, and even nose tackle(!). This article from Friday Night Ohio highlights his love of defense:
“(Dymonte) is pretty special,” Miley said. “What’s different about him for a skilled kid is how physical he is. People see him and they expect a speed guy. They expect a finesse guy. That’s not him.”
Thomas gets noticed on offense because once he gets into the open field, he’s capable of taking it to the end zone every time. It’s opposing running backs and quarterbacks who should be taking notice.
There may not be a harder hitter in Stark County. If he had to pick one side of the ball to play, and only one, Thomas wouldn’t be a star scoring touchdowns.
“I love defense,” he said. “I just like going out there and hitting people. You see people on ESPN getting hit real hard. Those plays make the highlights. I’d like to be on ESPN one day hitting somebody.”
Meanwhile, Ohio State partisan Duane Long just couldn't figure out in August why Ohio State hadn't extended an offer (and never did, as it turns out):
There is a great deal of talk about the 2013 class. I thought I would get out a few more names and I want to do it by position. I just happened to notice a couple of running backs so I decided to look at them first. Who is number one is pretty obvious. Dymonte Thomas is the number one back in the class. He is also the number one safety in the class. I have said this before and I will say it again, the most puzzling lack of an offer out there is Dymonte Thomas. Look at this film and tell me what I am missing that makes Thomas a player who does not have an early offer.
His offer list is better than most seniors to be and he has not even stepped on the field as a junior. His grades are outstanding. He is know to be a high character kid. His measurables are legit. The argument that the Buckeyes are so deep at running back carries no weight. Thomas may be a better safety than he is a running back. I think he is, and he could not care less which position he plays. Baffling non-offer.
When discussing potential 2013 five-star recruits, Scout's Allen Trieu described Thomas as "a big hitter who can cover as well."
So, the consensus on Thomas is that he's a fantastic athlete with great speed who can also bring the wood. Who wants that as a safety? Everyone. He's a big-time prospect who should garner consideration for five-star status, and when you look at the stats and the highlights below, it'll be pretty clear why.
Michigan was joined by Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Tennessee, UCLA, and West Virginia in offering Thomas early. He also had interest, but no offer, from Ohio State (much to the chagrin of Duane Long), Alabama, Florida, Cincinnati, and Northwestern. That's an extremely impressive list this early on in the process. The lack of a Buckeye offer is puzzling, and would be mildly disconcerting if Ohio State recruiting gurus weren't baffled by the lack of an offer.
Prepare to be thorougly impressed. As a freshman, Thomas rushed for 801 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries (8.8 yards per carry) while amassing 56 tackles, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries. That earned him first-team All-Stark County and all-district honorable mention honors. In 2010, as a sophomore, he broke out with 186 rushes for 1,641 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as 132 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery. He was again named first-team all-county, and added second-team All-Ohio Associated Press Division III, All-Northeast Inland first-team, and All-NBC first-team honors. Not bad. Not bad at all.
FAKE 40 TIME
Thomas has been electronically timed running a 4.57 at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, and he looks every bit that fast on film (plus, you know, that's an electronic time, which is obviously far more accurate than your trigger-happy scout with a stopwatch). One FAKE out of five. ESPN also lists Thomas with a 4.47 shuttle time and a 29.5-inch vertical leap.
ScoutingOhio has extensive highlights from Thomas's sophomore season, featuring him playing both offense and defense:
There's also a shorter set of highlights from both his sophomore and freshman seasons. A mute is recommended for each of those videos. Also: Watch him run a very long way in a very short period of time as some unnamed female fan screams, "That's my man, baby."
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I'm going to go ahead and discuss Thomas's prospects as a safety, because it appears at this point that he's a better player at that position and he really likes hitting people. Marvin Robinson, Thomas Gordon, and Carvin Johnson will all be seniors when Thomas begins his freshman season, and Josh Furman (redshirt junior), Tamani Carter (junior/redshirt sophomore), and Jarrod Wilson and Allen Gant (2012 commits) will be on the roster as well, so there isn't a need for Thomas to immediately step in and contribute.
The next year, however, he should be right in the thick of things when it comes to a starting job—Furman has yet to show anything in his career, while Carter and Gant were both three-star-level recruits. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Wilson and Thomas as Michigan's two starting safeties come 2014. Thomas has all the physical tools to be an all-conference safety and more, and I expect the recruiting rankings, when released, will back that up.
If Thomas were to play running back, his path to early playing time could be even more clear. Unless Michigan picks up a running back commit in 2012 (perhaps Dymonte's cousin?), only Fitzgerald Toussaint, Stephen Hopkins, Thomas Rawls, and Justice Hayes will be on the roster as scholarship tailbacks. Toussaint has shown the most promise, but is also made of glass. Hopkins is fumble-prone and has been in and out of two different coaching staffs's doghouses. Rawls is an interesting prospect, but was a middling three-star recruit, while Hayes seems like a better fit at slot receiver or as a third-down specialist than an every-down back. If he plays running back, Thomas could see the field as early as his true freshman season, and he's got the same high-ceiling potential there as he does at safety.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's far too early to discuss the ramifications for the class of 2013, but the elephant in the room is the potential impact on recruits in Thomas's own family. From Webb's DetNews article:
One way that comfort could be enhanced is if Thomas' cousin, Canton Glen Oak five-star senior tailback Brionte Dunn, winds up at the school he picks.
"We talk about it a lot — going to the same school," said Thomas. "We thought it would be pretty cool to go to the same school and play with each other like we used to when we were young."
Though Dunn has remained steadfast in his Ohio State commitment, he's still taking visits, taking one to Penn State for their loss to Alabama yesterday. In Webb's commitment post from last night ($), Thomas says he believes that he'll convince his cousin to join him in Ann Arbor. We'll have to wait and see how that shakes out, as Dunn has played things close to the vest so far, but Thomas committing can only help Michigan's cause in trying to pull in the four-star running back.
Weeeee, defensive tackles. MO DT Ondre "Pee-Wee" Pipkins has pledged to Michigan's 2012 class.
4*, #12 DT,
4*, 5.8, #19 DT
#4 Missouri, #246 Ovr
|3*, 78, #45 DT||
4*, 94, #16 DT,
#3 Missouri, #149 Ovr
The best three sites that have rated Pipkins place him in about the same place within his position group. The primary disagreement is where that 16th-18th DT fits in the grand scheme of things, with 24/7 Sports the most optimistic, and Rivals barely slotting him into their Top 250. ESPN, clearly, is without a clue. As you'll see, he's been dominant ever since the Army Combine.
ESPN (per typical) is the odd service out on his height, calling Ondre merely 6-2, while the other three sites agree that he's 6-3. 24/7 Sports is the outlier on weight, crediting him at "merely" 305 pounds, while the others all put him in the 320-325 range. 6-3, 320 seems to be your consensus weight.
He was the subject of a Sam Webb article back in April:
"Pipkins is a big-bodied space-eater that can command double teams, but he's quick enough and light enough on his feet to penetrate and disrupt," said Trieu. "Once he learns to really use his hands and consistently play under people, he's going to be an even tougher guy to move and block. Right now he's rated the No. 16 defensive tackle nationally, but he does have a chance to move up higher. Big kids like him that are 320 pounds and move the way he does are very rare."
His coach agrees with Allen's assessment:
"Ondre is strong and quick off the ball, and when he can latch onto an opponent and stay low, he can take care of some gaps for sure," Reynolds told Scout.com. "He gets double-, sometimes triple-teamed, which allows our linebackers to flow freely. He plays with a good motor. His job is to draw the double- and triple-team, but he is very disruptive in the backfield. We're going to do some things next year to try to open things up for him."
He even told Sam how Michigan plans to use him:
"(Michigan assistant) Coach (Greg) Mattison said I'd have the chance to play right off the bat because I'm the kind of defensive tackle that can move around and play multiple positions. They're only taking one nose guard and I can be that nose guard and come in and play for four years. That's mainly what they tell me -- that I can just come in and play nose for a straight four years, graduate, and take a chance of getting to the NFL."
Last spring, he impressed at the National Underclassmen Combine in Kansas City:
Ondre Pipkins (Park Hill) is a physically imposing 6'2 319 lb d-lineman with the skills to pay the bills. He has great quickness for somebody his size, good lateral movement and strength (bench pressing 185 lbs 21times). Pipkins was a force to be reckoned with and is worth looking out for.
He won the defensive line MVP at that event. Pipkins was a "star" at the Army Combine ($, info in header).
Tom Lemming likes his game:
“He’s one of the two best players in Kansas City,” said Lemming, who has covered the national recruiting scene for more than 30 years. “He can play both sides of the ball. I think he could an All American guard on offense or a very steady defensive tackle.”
Considering the #1 player in Kansas City is also supposed to be the best player in the nation (WR Dorial Green-Beckham), that's high praise. Ondre has been firmly stock-on-rise for a long time, so this commitment is big for Michigan.
Ondre's a Saginaw native, who went to school in Rochester Hills his sophomore season. That explains Michigan and Michigan State interest. Alabama, Florida, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio State... need I go on? He has a huge offer list.
UPDATE: Hey, those were the stats for long-lost recruit Wayne Morgan. Hooray for copying and pasting!
I couldn't find easily-available junior stats on Pipkins.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists a 5.15 time for his 40-yard dash, something totally reasonable for a guy his size whose athleticism is one of his strengths. A mere one FAKE out of five.
Oddly for a high-ish profile guy, there's very little on him. This video, entitled "Ondre Pipkins Highlights" doesn't seem to be him at all.
He's featured in the first 7 or so reps in Rivals's OL v. DL Army Combine highlights, but other than that, I can't find a whole lot of freely available stuff.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Pipkins is a much-needed piece of this class, and he'll have a chance to contribute almost immediately as a member of the DL rotation in 2012, with a good chance to take over a starting position upon Will Campbell's graduation following that season.
If he's as good as the combines would lead us to believe, he has definite NFL potential, and a good chance to make All-Big Ten teams as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Finally comes the DT. Michigan's needs are filled - aside from at least one wideout - and can focus on just taking top-top prospects for the remainder of the class, regardless of position.
At long last, OH DE Chris Wormley has joined Michigan's class of 2012. He's been favoring Michigan over Ohio State over the rest of the field for quite some time now, and it's a good feeling to finally have him wrapped up.
|4*, #14 DE||
|4*, 80, #16 DE||
4*, 96, #3 SDE,
#3 Ohio, #57 Ovr
Rivals's ranking is the outlier here, and we'll explore a bit why that's the case in a moment. ESPN has him barely outside of their 150 (he's the #16 DE, and the #14 is 101st overall).
The premium sites are split on his height, between 6-4 (Rivals, 24/7) and 6-5 (Scout, ESPN). I would guess that the shorter height is a little closer to accurate, if only because Scout notoriously overrates height. As for weight, there's a wide range with 24/7 Sports all the way down at 225, while the rest of the sites are in the 250/255 range. Take a look at a picture of Wormley and try to convince yourself he's 225. 24/7 Sports is just wrong, yo. ESPN:
He is a kid with good size for a high school prospect with nice height and bulk. His current size may suggest he could out grow the end position and it is possible, but we feel he has the tools to stay at end for the long haul... He is a solid tackler. Wormley is also a good pass rusher. His quickness off the ball helps him, but once in motion he displays a good feel for getting to the quarterback. He is able to attack the shoulder and is active with his weapons and displays the ability to utilize moves like the club and rip as well as the push-pull and will also flash the ability to be able to counter inside.
Tremendous size and ability. Likely a strongside end, but could also play inside. Ideal five-tech. Turned it up another notch in terms of motor and consistent effort as a junior. When we saw him as a sophomore, he just overpowered his opposition. Last year, because I think he saw a few top prospects and, he started to turn up the intensity. He's a naturally massive kid and moves well for that size.
He is indeed naturally massive, to the point where some analysts were worrying he'd grow out of a natural position. Allen lists his strengths as "Disengaging Skills," "Size," and "Strength," while labeling "Lateral Range" as his only weakness. That speaks to a kid who has a lot of natural strength/ability, but isn't going to run anyone down from behind. As a strongside DE or even 3-technique tackle, that shouldn't be much of a problem.
Allen went into more detail in the Detroit News:
"He's a big-bodied kid who gets off the ball pretty well and is a good overall athlete for his size," said Scout.com Midwest Regional Manager Allen Trieu. "I think with his frame and growth potential, he'll be more of a strongside defensive end or five technique or defensive tackle in college. He's not your long, lean, wiry edge rusher like his teammate (Ohio State commitment) Kenny Hayes, but he can project to a couple different spots in a couple different systems."
For the record, he's listed at 6-6, 260 in that article. He's not going to be a terror off the edge, but certainly has the ability to be a pocket-closing defensive end or a defensive tackle who gets serious penetration.
I have seen great plays that put him at the top of others lists. I also see him disappear for long stretches. One game early in the year the headline had fans all worked up about Wormley because he had a number of sacks. In between you'd not know he was on the field.
In that article, Long said he wouldn't mind missing on Wormley, but he quickly changed his tune:
Wormley has moved into that must-have group with McMullen and Adolphus Washington... Washington and Wormley are the unstoppable ones. They are the ones that can dominate games. It is a matter of them letting it go on every play. That is what I see missing. If they are coachable kids, and there is every reason to believe they are, a coach can get them to bring it on every play, they will not be around college football for very long. Wormley is a manchild. His best plays look cartoonish with bodies flying all over the place in his wake. Such a great frame. He can get so much bigger. I don't think he has been in the weightroom much. He doesn't look like it. The word upside is everything in recruiting. Wormley is the epitome of upside.
Long also picked Wormley as one of his "starting 22":
Strong Side Defensive End - Chris Wormley, 6-4, 250, Toledo Whitmer. Wormley is the one kid in this defensive line class who brings me quickly to that most important word in recruiting, upside. Seeing him in shorts and t-shirt is when this kid really impresses the most. He is 250 and looks 225. Where his body can go and still be as athletic and fast as he is right now at 250 is what has everyone so excited about him.
Magnus disagrees with his physical appearance, but does agree on the motor:
First of all, if he was 250 as a sophomore, then he's 265 or 270 in his junior year. It looks like he put on some weight, and it doesn't necessarily look like pure muscle. Secondly, it looks like he's either favoring some part of his body or he just lacks aggression.
The lack of aggression is presumably something that can be coached up, or at least turned into less of a possible problem should Chris move to 3-technique tackle. Either way, there's a reason even the biggest Ohio State homers have been calling him a top-3 prospect in Ohio despite conceding him to Michigan for quite some time: this is an elite-type player to everyone but Rivals. The weird thing is that the local guys seem far higher on Wormley than national pundits, and I'll trust the guys that see him more frequently (especially since they're much higher on him).
The question is the consistency, and whether he can live up to his enormous potential. If he can, I think you'll see Rivals fall more in line with everyone else, and Chris will be a unanimous solid 4-star. The second big question about Chris is what position he ends up playing. Strongside DE and 3-tech tackle are the strongest contenders.
For a kid that we've been hearing about for the past 2-3 years (that's right, he was on the radar even as a freshman), it's a little surprising to see how few offers Chris has received. Of course, there's also a chance that some bigtime schools knew he was either Michigan or Ohio State-bound, and didn't bother sending him an official letter. For an Ohio kid, holding an offer from the Buckeyes is just about all you need to know in order to believe that he's a top prospect. However, the lack of offers is a weird question mark.
That said, he held offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan State, Ohio State, and his hometown Toledo. He also had interest but no offers from the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Penn State. There's also a chance (as mentioned above) that some of these schools didn't have a definite position for him, and therefore didn't offer.
Scout has sophomore stats:
Had 59 tackles and 12 sacks as a sophomore.
Through three weeks of October last fall, he had 40 tackles and 7 sacks. I have not seen full junior stats for Chris, but he was named defensive player of the year in his district (ahead of his teammate, 2011 OSU signee Ken Hayes). He's also an elite thrower in track - pictured at right.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Chris, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chris has plenty of physical gifts, and it was surprising to see him not listed as a 5-star when the initial rankings came out, given how much we've heard about him. That means, of course, that the expectations are high.
With few strongside defensive ends on the roster right now (following the graduation of Ryan Van Bergen after the 2011 season), there's a good chance that he could step in and get some immediate playing time as a true freshman. He's probably not an every-down player at DE, but platooning with another player or two is not out of the question.
Following a freshman year that sees significant playing time, Chris will have an entire offseason to continue molding his body and learning the playbook. That means even more time as a sophomore, more likely as a full-time starter.
As an upperclassman, Chris should be a strong contender for all-conference and even All-American honors. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him leave college early to enter the NFL Draft.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Woo defensive lineman. Michigan still has needs at defensive tackle, quarterback, and receiver. Other than a true DT and a wideout, they can be verrrrry selective about who they accept commitments from. It'll probably be almost exclusively elite prospects from here on out, mixed with a couple sleepers that the staff is high on.
Caution: this draft is from June, so some portions may be slightly out-of-date. If I see anything glaringly wrong or in need of update, I'll fix it.
UT FB Sione Houma committed to Michigan today, showing that Brady Hoke was VERY SERIOUS INDEED about landing a blocking back in this crop. That brings Michigan's commitment total for the 2012 class to 20, with a class of 23-26 on tap (though there aren't that many spots available yet).
|2*, NR RB||NR RB||NR RB||Not in Database|
So, uh, I think it's fair to say this kid is a bit under-the-radar, no? Oddly, it seems that Michigan is recruiting him strictly as a fullback, although all three sites that have heard of him list him as a running back. And, well, they might be onto something. He's listed at a consensus 6-0, 215ish, which is really small for a fullback, unless his frame is really underdeveloped. Considering Michigan has offered a 6-3, 245-lb kid as a tailback for next year's class, it is quite curious indeed.
As a high schooler, he's the A-back (dive man) in a wishbone offense. That may be why schools think he's capable of playing fullback, but it also means he hasn't done a whole lot of lead blocking at this point. His video shows exactly what you'd expect: a guy who gets the ball surrounded by defenders, and instead of trying to go around them, he just keeps his legs churning and grinds out tough yardage. He's not going to go down on first contact, but that's more a result of effort and power, rather than impressive balance.
What is impressive is his ability to pull away from defenders should he happen to get through the first line of defense cleanly. He also shows the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, an important skill in a West Coast(ish) offense.
Apart from Michigan, it was mostly local(ish) schools that had offered. Utah and Utah State were joined by PAC-12 member Washington as the other schools that had extended offers to Sione.
Georgia Tech (noted fullback-users) had also showed interest, but did not extend an offer.
Scout and Rivals have the exact same stats for him, so I'm guessing they come straight from his coach's mouth:
As a junior Houma rushed for 1,211 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Without knowing how many carries that spans, it's impressive, but we can't be sure quite how impressive it is (his highlight reel embedded below says only 1,064 yards and 7 TDs, for the record). He was named first-team all-state.
FAKE 40 TIME
Once again, Scout and Rivals have the exact same information, so it's likely to be straight from the source: 4.53 seconds. If Michigan is indeed looking at this kid as a fullback, I would guess it's because he isn't very fast (the competition in Utah probably isn't the greatest either, so take the highlights with a grain of salt), so... four FAKEs out of five.
For a kid that the recruiting sites know next-to-nothing about, there certainly is a lot of video available on him. Highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan has a couple fullback options in the class of 2011 (be they position-switchers or preferred walkons), which means they'll have at least a year in the system - and possibly a year on the field - on him by the time Sione enrolls next fall. That spells immediate redshirt, especially since he needs to bulk up to play fullback.
After that, however, your guess is as good as mine. A couple years on special teams (he would make a good coverage man with his toughness and surprising speed) are likely if he can't beat out those ahead of him. If he can, four years of starting is probably in the cards.
Fullback is not a glory position, and he's not going to be a Kevin Dudley-type masher, either. What he will bring is more ability with the ball in his hands, either running or catching it. That provides an offensive versatility, particularly because he could also be the lone back in sets where the running back motions, etc.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The staff seemed intent on landing a fullback in this class, and they got one. Defensive tackle is still the biggest need for 2012, and other positions are rounding out nicely. Brady Hoke says this will be a nearly-full class of 23-26 kids, so the staff can fill a couple needs, while only worrying about elite prospects.
5*, #6 OT,
#4 OT, #18 Ovr
4*, 80, #20 OT,
4*, 96, #8 OT,
#2 Ohio, #52 Ovr
There's a bit of a range in the sites' opinions of this kid. Scout and Rivals (which, to be fair, are the most-established recruiting sites) have him in the top 25 prospects in the country, and he's a 5* to Scout and the guy directly ahead of him in Rivals's overall rankings has five stars. Taking one step back from that is 24/7 Sports, which still likes him, but not nearly as much, calling him a good-not-great 4-star, and outside of their national top 50. ESPN is the most down on him, barely including him in their ESPNU150, and ranking 19(!) offensive tackles ahead of him (as a comparison, the other sites combined have 15 OTs ahead of him, DJ Humphries, Andrus Peat, and John Theus the only ones ahead on all three sites).
In terms of size, there's near-unanimity between the services. All of them say he's 6-5, and weights have a HUGE range from 300-305 pounds, with two votes cast for 302. Thus, 6-5 and 302 pounds seems to be just about perfect.
Let's kick off the evaluations on a negative note, as ESPN is by far the least impressed:
Kalis is a tough run blocker capable of controlling defenders with his upper body playing strength. Has the size with enough athleticism for the offensive tackle position at the major level of competition. If edge speed becomes a factor this prospect could end up inside at the offensive guard spot.
And there we see the first reason that he's probably not an elite prospect to them: he might play guard, a way less important/glamorous position on the football field.
This guy is a tough customer; displays a nasty finishing attitude while dominating his present level of competition. His arm length and short set ability should serve him well in pass protection; can bend and play flat footed, displaying the ability to play stout vs. the bull rush. Although his playing strength is a positive we see the need to polish his initial location and arm extension in pass pro.
Oddly, they say he doesn't have the length to play tackle, then praise the length of his arms. In a single-game report, they also praised his pass-blocking. Scout, on the other hand, admits that's one of his shortcomings, listing "Arm Length" as his only area for improvement (I guess they think he's got access to a medieval stretching rack?). His positive points are considered "Feet," "Nasty Streak," and "Power and Strength," echoing the ESPN evaluation of those aspects. Allen Trieu on his abilities:
Kalis is a tough, strong lineman who dominates consistently. He plays the game hard and is an excellent run blocker and drive blocker. He plays with good leverage and finishes his blocks strong. He shows the ability to pull and lead, and is coordinated and athletic in the open field. He has good feet all around, which is also evident in pass pro. If there's a knock, it's that he may not be long enough for left tackle. - Trieu
That arm length is starting to sound like a liability, but with his excellent feet, guard is sounding more and more like a possibility with everything I see. Duane Long discusses his game on Bucknuts:
One of the best offensive line prospects it has been my pleasure to evaluate in my time scouting players in Ohio. One thing that I believe has helped the Ohio State offensive line become better is bringing in players who like to play football. When I am talking about offensive linemen liking to play football I mean they like beating people up.
This speaks more to his nasty streak than anything, but calling him among the best all-time is a big deal; Long has been evaluating Ohio prospects for a few years, so that "all-time" puts Kalis among Aundrey Walker, Andrew Norwell, the late Matt James, and Marcus Hall. Long got more specific later in the process:
One of the finest tackle prospects I have seen in my time covering players in Ohio. I have yet to see Orlando Pace's equal but other than him I see Kalis in the same argument as Korey Stringer, Alex Boone, Marcus Hall and Andrew Norwell. He is very mobile, doing a great job of getting downfield and blocking on the second level. At the point of attack he is a dominating run blocker.
A report from Long before Kalis's commitment:
He is as technically sound as any lineman I have seen in the last couple of years. Once he gets his hands on a defender it is over. He is going to punish him until the whistle blows.
His father is former NFL lineman Todd Kalis, who (oddly enough) played for former Ohio State coach John Cooper at Arizona State. Sons of NFL players typically are a bit more polished than others, as Long implies. Duane's one question mark? If he has the ability to play LT, a recurring theme in other evaluations. Long couldn't contain his excitement after watching Kalis's physical play in the State Championship game:
Kalis should not be allowed to play against high school players. What he does to opponents borders on assault. He beats up the opposition... I don't like to project offensive linemen to play as freshman. Kalis is one that I think can. Love the nasty. Love the motor.
He'll play in the Army All-American Bowl ($, info in header).
Long story short on Kalis: an elite run blocker, mostly unknown as a pass blocker (from the sound of things, St. Eds doesn't pass a lot, and Kyle has played on the right side to date). He has the mobility the pull-block, and with shorter arms, might be a better fit as a guard, but a great one.
I like this part. Here are a few of Kalis's top offers: Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Wisconsin. Those schools are either recruiting powerhouses, reigning National Champions, or Offensive Line Of Doom machines, so that offer sheet is very impressive.
Some of his other offers include Arizona State, Cincinnati, Illinois, Iowa, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, Pitt, and West Virginia. Penn State showed interest, but did not yet offer Kyle (though there's a good chance it's due to his long-standing commitment, rather than a negative evaluation of his talent).
Kalis is an offensive lineman, and therefore doesn't have stats. However, Lakewood St. Ed's is one of the top programs in Ohio, and Kyle played a key role in leading them to a State Championship last year. They're MaxPreps's #9 team this season.*
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have listed a 40 time for Kyle, so I get to give out my default five FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio, which has taken to posting obnoxiously-short videos:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
This kid is a 5-star (or close to it) for a reason. He has the potential to play as a true freshman, and with Michigan's questionable depth at offensive line, he could see a backup role in his first year on campus. There are a couple RT/G prospects in the class ahead of him though, so hopefully he can take a year to learn.
After that, however, three interior linemen depart, and Taylor Lewan could also be out the door to the NFL Draft if he has an excellent redshirt junior season. Playing time should be easy to come by, even if it's only a key backup role.
As an upperclassman (or redshirt sophomore), I wouldn't be surprised if Kalis took an iron grip on a guard spot, and became a dominating Big Ten offensive lineman. With his recruiting rankings, it's hard to project anything short of potential multi-year all-conference honors, and possibly even an early entry to the NFL Draft.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The need at offensive line is all-but completely taken care of. Michigan will stay after several blue chips -- 5-star IL OL Jordan Diamond would be a very nice final piece of the puzzle, as a versatile lineman that can play pretty much any position -- but otherwise that big need has been filled.
Class needs remain re at defensive tackle and wideout, with smaller needs at QB and RB - positions the coaching staff could take a pass on if they can't land anyone elite.
* [Ed-M: Michigan was looking at three more of Kalis's teammates for 2012. Two - tight end Sam Grant and OL Tyler Orlosky have committed elsewhere (BC and WVa. respectively). DT Greg Kuhar is a 3-star DT deciding between Northwestern and West Virginia, and seems to be behind other M offers for his position).