is there such a thing as an etsy genuis? if so, this is it.
According to Sam Webb ($, info in header), Josh Helmholdt ($), and also Drake Johnson himself, the Ann Arbor Pioneer running back was just offered by Michigan and committed this morning. Johnson becomes the 24th member of the class of 2012, leaving four spots left in what's expected to be a 28-man class.
Photo credit: Angela J. Cesere, AnnArbor.com
|2*, #133 RB||NR RB||2*, #153 RB||NR RB|
As you can see, Johnson is very much an under-the-radar prospect, garnering two-star ratings from Scout and ESPN while not being ranked at all by Rivals or 24/7. The consensus on his size is about 6'1", 205, though when I saw him last weekend (more on that later), I thought he looked a little shorter and a bit under 200 pounds, but that's one man's impressions from the bleachers.
There's not a whole lot out there on Johnson, as one might expect for a sleeper prospect, but ESPN has a full evaluation ($):
This is a productive guy with good inside and outside running skills; we see the ability to shed and pull through tackles; is productive returning punts; flashes good underneath coverage skills as an outside linebacker and should be an effective special team's player. From a deep alignment this prospect displays good vision; is quick locating and getting into creases showing the elusiveness needed to make first tacklers miss in space. His quick feet and balance allow him to get outside where he does most of his damage; runs with and over the pads, downhill, slashing style; we see a short burst when in traffic with the deceptive long speed needed to outrun opponents at his present level of competition. Appears to have natural hands; is productive running the shuttle pass and seam route from a slot alignment; can catch in traffic while demonstrating the ability to adjust to throws out of his frame. This guy flashes the toughness needed to be an every down back, capable of staying on the field in long yardage situations.
One thing I certainly agree with here is Johnson's ability to play every down—he is essentially Pioneer's entire offense, regularly toting the rock 30+ times a game. His speed is also without question a strength, as Johnson is the two-time defending state champ in the 110-meter hurdles. In an article by Mick McCabe, Johnson says his track conditioning plays a big part in his ability to be a workhorse back:
In the past three games, he has gained 1,074 yards, and he has scored at least four touchdowns in each of the past four games.
This kid shouldn't be able to get out of bed the morning after games.
"I guess it's conditioning to get ready for it," Johnson said. "I did a lot more running because I run track, too. I spent an extra amount of time this summer just doing track workouts so I would be ready to carry the ball a bunch of times, because Coach had told me I was going to be carrying the rock a lot."
In a complete stroke of luck, I watched Johnson play in the district final against Temperance Bedford last week, and my prediction that he'd be a preferred walk-on at best clearly missed the mark. Here were my impressions of his game:
As a Pioneer grad, I hate to say this, but Johnson looked to me like a track athlete playing football, and not a player who should garner a BCS-level scholarship offer. His straight-ahead speed is very good, and that's all he needed against Bedford, but Johnson practically has to stop running entirely to make a cut—he really doesn't have any juke moves, instead choosing to bounce outside and run as fast as he can—and he also fumbled the ball three times (losing one) despite not taking any huge hits.
While Johnson usually fell forward, he also tended to go down on first contact, and instead of taking on hits he'd try to spin off contact, even against smaller defenders. The only time he really fought for extra yards, he ended up fumbling—he often carries the ball away from his body and seems to forget about ball security when he's in traffic. Pioneer listed him at 6'1", 215, and Scout has him in that same range, but he looked closer to 5'11", 190 to me (comparing him to his teammates and using the same roster, so take that with a grain of salt). Johnson is a heck of a high school player, and he's tasked with being the entirety of the Pioneer offense, but I see him as a preferred walk-on at best for Michigan.
I stand by my scouting report, and you can judge for yourself in the highlight video below. He's got the frame and the speed to be a BCS-caliber back, but I'm not sure I see the tools for success—namely in agility, power running, and ball security—necessary to deliver on that potential. Obviously, I'd love to be wrong here, especially when talking about a fellow Pioneer.
Before Michigan swooped in today, Johnson held just one scholarship offer for football (he's also a highly-sought track prospect), and that was from Eastern Michigan. Rivals lists interest but no offer from Army, Syracuse, and Toledo. One thing to note is that Johnson did not go to any football camps ($) after his junior year because of track, which could help explain the lack of evaluations/ratings/offers.
Johnson has put up some ridiculous numbers for Pioneer, rushing for 2757 yards and 37 TDs (plus one receiving) so far this season, which leaves him just 133 yards shy of the single-season state rushing record with an upcoming regional final against Detroit Catholic Central this weekend. As a junior, Johnson rushed for 2200 yards, according to Allen Trieu ($). Part of the numbers can be attributed to his huge workload—last weekend, he rushed 36 times for 348 yards and four touchdowns, and carried the ball on all but five or six of Pioneer's snaps—but his elite speed helps him break off huge runs with regularity—he also had a 95-yard touchdown run against Bedford.
FAKE 40 TIME
Since Johnson hasn't attended football camps, there's no 40 time reported on any of the four recruiting services, so no FAKEs to hand out. There are, however, very real numbers from his track career, and they are impressive:
55m hurdles - 7.76, set AAU Indoor National Record.
60m hurdles - 8.09, ranked in top ten in the country, indoor 2010
110m hurdles - 14.16, fastest freshman time run in the country. Placed 3rd at MHSAA Outdoor State Championships. Highest place for freshman hurdler in Michigan ever.
He's fast, yo.
Highlights from the first nine games of this season:
A combo video of sophomore and junior highlights lives here. You can also see his victory in the Division 1 110-meter hurdles state final (he's in white with the purple stripe, and also the guy running faster than everyone).
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
You've seen my thoughts on Johnson—I'm surprised he a got a scholarship offer at this point in the process—and I think he'll be a depth and special teams player for Michigan. His lack of agility and real power is disconcerting if the Wolverines expect him to become a feature back, though his speed and size make him an intruiging prospect regardless—he could find a home as a returner or special teams demon while trying to work his way up the depth chart at running back.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now down to four remaining open spots in the 2012 class, and there's still a very definite need for two receivers, with Michigan still very much in the mix for Jordan Payton, Amara Darboh, Monty Madaris, Jehu Chesson, and even Stefon Diggs. The question will be how they use their remaining two spots. Sam Webb said on WTKA this morning that he doesn't expect Johnson's commitment to affect how Michigan will pursue Bri'onte Dunn, and that makes sense to me—I'd be surprised if the coaching staff felt settled at running back with just Johnson in the fold.
If Michigan misses on Dunn, there are still two spots for another offensive lineman and a defensive back. If they don't, it'll be a tough decision for the coaches to figure out which position they prioritize higher (I'd guess O-line, but it would be difficult—and potentially impossible—to turn down Yuri Wright or Shaq Thompson if they were ready to commit and a spot was open). This almost surely rules out the possibility of the Wolverines taking two more offensive linemen in the class.
I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure. I will keep my composure.
Well, I tried, but when Michigan hauls in their biggest basketball recruit since either LaVell Blanchard (1999) or Jerod Ward (1994) it's time to get excited. Mitch McGary chose the Wolverines today over Duke and Florida live on ESPNU, and lo, there is much rejoicing in Ann Arbor.
5*, #1 C,
5*, #1 C,
#3 C, #5 Ovr
All four services are in agreement that McGary is 6'10" and around 250 pounds (except ESPN, which has him at 225, which seems implausible), and all are in agreement that he's really, really good at basketball.
How good? Let's get to the evaluations, starting with ESPN:
McGary is a physically imposing presence in the paint with good size, tremendous upper body strength, and limitless energy and physicality. He is proactive seeking out contact inside, a consistent finisher, and high volume two way rebounder. He is incredibly active with a terrific motor and great toughness. The lefty is skilled enough to stretch the defense to 18 feet, has the dexterity to dunk with both hands in congestion, and sets big screens both on and off the ball. He runs well in straight lines and has pretty soft hands around the basket.
That's their "strengths" blurb, while areas to work on include developing a more polished post game, using his right hand more (he's a lefty), and his basketball I.Q.—they cite that he plays with "blind aggression," which seems to make sense when you're a 6'10" NBA prospect with outstanding mobility and finishing ability, but that's just me.
UMHoops caught McGary—as well as his AAU teammate and best friend, now-fellow 2012 commit Glenn Robinson III—at the Pittsburgh Jam Fest this spring:
McGary’s uncanny combination of size, strength, athleticism and coordination is extremely impressive because it allows him to do so much on the court. He loves to rebound the ball and push it up the court himself. He attacks the basket with a nice face-up game, although it’d be nice to see him play more with his back to the basket.
His decision making needs work as he often tries to do far too much before turning the ball over.He also tends to float to the perimeter a bit too much and loves to settle for jump shots despite having the tools to get a much better look at the basket. Overall, McGary was extremely impressive and he is on the verge of blowing up if he hasn’t already. The lefty’s flaws are correctable and easily outweighed by his size and talent.
I love imagining a 6'10" power forward leading the fast break, and now I don't have to, because he'll be doing it for Michigan and you can see him run the break in the highlights below. Also taking note of his precocious athletic talents was Eric Bossi of Rivals, who saw McGary at the NY2LA Summer Jam in July:
What a total animal this guy played like on Friday. First, the five-star big man broke Texas PRO in the first half with his ill-tempered length-of-the-court drives and rebounding, and he was able to rest himself for the championship after racking up 14 points and 16 boards. Then, looking as fresh as he would if he was playing his first game of the summer, he went out and dominated the paint in SYF's win over Dream Vision in the championship game. Bottom line, McGary is a competitor with a non-stop motor, great hands, great skill and even greater will.
ESPN's Paul Biancardi liked McGary's motor enough to deem it the best in the 2012 ESPN100, and also noted McGary's Novakian enthusiasm even when he's on the sideline:
It is difficult to find players who bring all-out effort and energy on a consistent basis, but McGary does it better than anyone. Not only does he bring energy to his own game, he gives it to his teammates. His motor never stops as he constantly works the backboard, runs the floor and dives on the floor for loose balls. His enthusiasm even carries over when he's on the bench as he cheers on his teammates and remains vocal. McGary has talent and physical tools, but his motor makes him special and will make him money one day.
Maybe the gritty grit grit stuff isn't coincidence, as McGary hails from Chesterton, Indiana, home of—you guessed it—Zack Novak, who hosted McGary on his official visit. McGary transferred after his junior season from Chesterton High School to Brewster Academy, a powerhouse school in New Hampshire, but I'm now strongly suspecting there's something in the water in Chesterton.
More scout drooling—plus a very interesting comparison—from Coast 2 Coast Recruiting:
When watching Mitch McGary play, it’s easy to envision a young David Lee. Whether he is effortlessly running the floor, shooting left-handed fadeaways, abusing the rim with powerful dunks, or blocking shots into next Wednesday, all punctuated by electric yells, it’s a beautiful sight to any basketball fan. The newly sculpted 6’10 250 pound power forward/center started tearing through the basketball world in the past three months at the NY2LA Swish ‘N Dish, The Adidas May Classic, The Pittsburgh Jam Fest, the Jayhawk Invitational, and most recently, the NBPA Top 100 camp.
I'm totally fine with the Lee comparison as long as it's related to offense—Lee was a McDonald's All-American in 2001 (and the slam dunk contest champ that year) who went to Florida and was drafted in the first round (30th overall) by the Knicks, and he became a 20-10 guy for them, but his lack of ability on the defensive end played a role in him getting shipped to basketball purgatory at Golden State last season. On the offensive end, Lee is a 6'9" PF/C with great athleticism for his size, a decent mid-range jumper, and he's an absolute demon on the boards.
Finally, I had to end with this quote by Scout's Brian Snow from today's timely Sam Webb article [emphasis mine]:
"To put it bluntly — (at Michigan) he'd be the starting center and the best player on the team the moment he walks on campus," Snow said emphatically. "I really don't see a scenario in which that isn't the case. He is probably the hardest playing kid in the country. There's absolutely no prima donna to him at all. He'll run through a wall for you, he'll dive on the floor. Then he is a pretty good athlete. He can really face the rim and handle the ball, especially against centers. He also scores down low, blocks shots, and he is one of the better rebounders in the country.
"We're talking about a kid that can do it all from the low post," said Daniels. "He can run, he has good hands, he plays hard and with energy, he rebounds, blocks shots, and he can score. Whatever school gets Mitch is getting a heck of a player and a major impact-type guy as soon as he sets foot on campus."
Dylan also posted UMHoops's final scouting impressions of McGary and several other scouting reports (a couple of which appear above) yesterday in anticipation of Mitch McGary Day. It's well worth a read, and since I got half these links from Dylan, you should feel obligated to click over and give his fantastic site a read, especially on a day like today.
McGary boasted six offers, and they're from a who's who of basketball powerhouses: Aside from Michigan, he had scholarship offers from Duke, Florida, Kentucky, Maryland, and North Carolina. I suspect that offer list would've been much larger had McGary not reclassified from a 2011 to a 2012 recruit—transferring from his hometown of Chesterton to Brewster Academy in New Hampshire in the process—and blowing up relatively late by basketball recruiting standards.
Dylan posted an extensive video archive with a solid ten videos. Lots of good stuff there, and here's one of my favorites:
Yes, he ole'd a defender with an around-the-back dribble on the break and finished with a two-handed dunk from halfway to the free throw line. That was not a hallucination, unless I am also hallucinating, which hopefully is not the case.
Also, obligatory video of McGary shattering a backboard and then revealing his incredible nickname, "White Thunder":
/BOOM Tractor Traylor'd (RIP)
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He's gonna start. I know, I'm going way out on a limb there. Here's what Michigan's lineup will likely look like for the 2012-13 season (McGary's freshman year), with the not-entirely-safe-but-certainly-not-crazy assumption that Tim Hardaway Jr. sticks around for his junior season:
PG: Trey Burke (backup: Carlton Brundidge)
SG: Tim Hardaway Jr. (Matt Vogrich/Nick Stauskas)
SF: Evan Smotrycz (Glenn Robinson III)
PF: Mitch McGary (Evan Smotrycz/Jon Horford)
C: Jordan Morgan (Jon Horford)
That's, well, a really good team. Big Ten contender, dangerous in the NCAA tournament good. And if you believe Brian Snow, McGary will be the best player on a team featuring a junior Tim Hardaway Jr.—you have permission to get hype, people. McGary should be contending for all-conference honors as soon as he steps on campus, and has the potential to do even more than that.
As for whether or not McGary will stick around beyond his freshman season, that's certainly in question. From Nick Baumgardner at AnnArbor.com:
[McGary] would provide instant impact. For how long? That remains unclear. Plenty of national analysts have pegged McGary as a potential "one-and-done" prospect, though [ESPN recruiting analyst Dave] Telep said, "I don't think it's unrealistic to say he could be (in college) for two years."
I'll take two years of McGary in a heartbeat, obviously. It's easy to accept these things if a player is likely going to have a huge impact right away, especially when it means Michigan will likely be on the radar of future top recruits in a way they haven't been in over a decade.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
McGary joins forward Glenn Robinson III (Rivals's #34 overall prospect) and guard Nick Stauskas (#79) in the class of 2012, and that will wrap things up with a dramatic flourish for that year's group. The Wolverines are already full for the class of 2013, with four-stars Derrick Walton and Zak Irvin and three-stars Mark Donnal and Austin Hatch (although Hatch's status as a 2013 recruit is in doubt after the tragic plane crash—he will likely reclassify as a 2014 player if he can continue his basketball career) already in the fold.
Yes, Michigan is already moving on to the 2014 class. Beilein Uber Alles. Really, the job the Beilein and assistant Bacari Alexander did with this recruitment was phenomenal by all accounts. I had to pull another quote from Sam Webb's article, because it should get you extremely excited for the future of the program (as if you're not already):
"What I really like about Michigan is its coaching staff, especially Bacari Alexander," said McGary in his ESPN blog Wednesday. "He's probably one of the most underrated coaches in the country. He really knows what he's doing with the big men. I just like that I can trust the coaches there, and I actually like that they're not on the biggest stage yet. That gives me the opportunity to go there and make a huge impact from day one."
Cue the Muppets, if Brian hasn't posted them already.
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.