"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Alabama bangs, Michigan commit.
Michigan's next commitment has been the subject of much speculation since Maurice Hurst Jr. pledged to the Wolverines on Saturday and proclaimed he'd be joined by another imminently. Now the guessing game is over, as Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi has announced his choice to become the 20th commit in Brady Hoke's class of 2013, via GBW's Sam Webb. The consensus four-star is Michigan's second defensive tackle in the class, joining Hurst and defensive end Taco Charlton on the D-line.
4*, #15 DT,
4*, #2 DT,
|4*, 81, #23 DT||
4*, 94, #7 DT,
Poggi is univerally regarded as a four-star, and only ESPN doesn't consider him one of the top 150 recruits in the country. Rivals is the most bullish, putting him all the way up at #52 overall. All save ESPN list Poggi at 6'4" and between 260 and 270 pounds; ESPN is a serious outlier at 6'3", 245.
Football runs in the family for the Poggis; Henry's father, Biff, is his coach at Gilman, while his older brothers Sam (Duke) and Jim (Iowa) each earned BCS football scholarships. His father, for what it's worth, says Henry is the best player in the family.
ESPN's evaluation isn't particularly glowing, largely due to concerns about Poggi's size and potential status as a tweener ($):
As a D-Lineman he flashes a good initial burst, but is inconsistent and can be a beat slow at times. He does need to watch his pad level, but displays the ability to fire off the ball low and gain leverage. He is a hard nose player who can make good contact and be tough at the point of attack. He is active with his hands, but needs to do a better job of consistently separating from blockers. He is a coach's son and comes across as a fairly smart player who reads schemes well and can get himself in good positions. He is a physical and high effort player who works to get around the ball. He is a good tackler who tries to drive through the ball carrier and wrap-up. He does display some rigidness and could struggle in space to quickly re-direct and wrap ball carriers up. As a pass rusher he comes up-field hard. Will try and attack half-a-man and displays the ability to be violent with his hands. ... While Poggi looks to carry his weight well, he may be somewhat limited in the good size he can add making him an undersized D-Tackle or more of a swing player if he stays on defense at the next level.
Poggi will likely come to campus as a three-tech DT, but there's also a chance he ends up at five-tech DE if he can't add the necessary bulk to play on the interior. The criticisms about his technique shouldn't be of great concern; remember, he's a junior in high school and Michigan has three defensive line coaches to work out any kinks at the next level.
Rivals—unsurprisingly, given his comparative rankings—was much more positive in their evaluations of Poggi than ESPN; here's MDHigh.com's Wayne Yarborough after scouting a Gilman game last October ($):
At 6-4, 255, Poggi has a great frame; he's a tall, thick defender with a wide base, stout legs and broad shoulders. He plays with a low pad level, which makes him difficult to move off the ball. He also has tremendous upper- and lower-body strength, allowing him to collapse the pocket and toss offensive linemen around like a dog with a chew toy. Indeed, Poggi can be a bully up front; he likes to scrap inside and goes at it like he has a massive chip on his shoulder. What's more, Poggi is very nimble for a big man. He showed surprising quickness and closing speed on stretch runs and a relentless rush on passing plays.
Gilman assistant coach Hank Russell echoed the praise for Poggi's strength, pad level, and motor in a March article on MDHigh.com ($):
Henry (6-3, 250) is a big, country-strong lineman who moves extremely well for his size. He has quick, heavy hands and gets off blocks exceptionally well. He is very powerful at the point of attack and can [overwhelm opponents]. Then Henry has a non-stop motor; he just will not stop coming at you. [Fundamentally], he plays with a low base and consistently keeps his pads low. He has great lower-body strength, which makes him very difficult to move off the ball. He's just a tough kid to block; he can [occupy] multiple blockers and break through double-teams.
Russell also told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Poggi "plays with incredible passion and has a non-stop motor." In short, Poggi may not have ideal size for a tackle, but he has great strength and pad level, relentless energy, and very solid athleticism for a lineman.
Poggi chose Michigan over Alabama and also held offers from the likes of Auburn, Cal, Florida, Iowa, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and others. Needless to say, he's got a strong list of suitors.
Poggi recorded 49 tackles, 11 TFL, ten sacks, and a forced fumble as a junior in 2011.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 4.70 40 time for Poggi, which merits a three FAKEs out of five.
You can see some additional highlights in this video feature on Poggi in which he also answers a few questions. His dream prom date will be met with approval around these parts, I'm sure.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Here's where I get lazy and slightly modify what I said about Hurst on Saturday:
If he ends up at three-tech,
HurstPoggi should get a redshirt year since Michigan brought in Willie Henry, Matt Godin, and potentially Chris Wormley at the position in the 2012 class. After that redshirt year, he'll be in position for fight for time against those three and a senior Kenny Wilkins; given that he's got a higher recruiting profile than all the '12 recruits save Wormley, he's got a good shot at contributing as a redshirt freshman.
Hey, that worked. Poggi could also end up at strongside DE, where he'd be competing against Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Keith Heitzman for time. Neither position that Poggi projects to play has much at all in the way of upperclassmen, so he's got a good shot to make a relatively early impact regardless of where he ends up. That said, a redshirt year will likely be a necessity to allow him to add some good weight.
If Poggi comes in at the three-tech, I assume the coaches will see how Hurst holds up at the nose unless Michigan takes another lineman who better fits there.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now have three or four spots remaining, in all likelihood. One of those is reserved for IL WR Laquon Treadwell, while it's becoming clear the coaches would like another defensive back in the class—MD CB Kendall Fuller and FL CB Leon McQuay III are the top targets, while AZ CB Cole Luke and NJ CB Nadir Barnwell are also possibilities. Michigan also is in the market for another running back—or at least an elite-level back—with the coaches pursuing VA RB Derrick Green and TN RB Jordan Wilkins.
I'd expect the class to be filled out with a receiver, running back, and cornerback, with the coaches taking a best player available type or possibly a strongside DE if there's another open spot. The options should narrow down considerably with so little room left in the class, a process we've already seen in motion along the offensive line and at linebacker.
Image credit: Brendan Hall/ESPN.com
As anticipated, Westwood (MA) Xavarian Brothers DT Maurice Hurst Jr. has committed to Michigan while visiting campus today, according to a report by 247's Todd Worly ($). Hurst is the son of former New England Patriots cornerback Maurice Hurst and is also a cousin of former St. Louis Rams superstar tailback Marshall Faulk. He becomes Michigan's 19th commit in the class of 2013 and the first at defensive tackle, perhaps the biggest position of need remaining in the class.
4*, #23 DT,
|3*, #30 DT||3*, 77, #32 DT||4*, 90, #19 DT|
Hurst's rankings are split between Scout and 247, which see him as a four-star and around the #20 defensive tackle in the country, and Rivals and ESPN, which have him as a three-star and in the area of #30 at his position. All four sites list Hurst at 6'2", with his weight ranging from 275 (Scout/ESPN) to 290 (247). WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings wrote a recent feature on Hurst detailing his rise from a "pudgy" 5'9" freshman to a 6'2" BCS prospect and pegged his current weight at 290 pounds ($).
Hurst first started emerging on the scene around this time last year, impressing Rivals.com's Mike Farrell at the Northeast Five-Star Showdown ($):
Hurst is the son of the former New England Patriots cornerback of the same name and you can tell he has athletic genes. He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well. At times he can be too upright and present too much of a target. His footwork is excellent and he has natural balance, and he is very good at responding quickly to the initial punch of offensive linemen. He also showed a good motor.
Impressive athleticism is a common thread throughout Hurst's evaluations—as you'll see in his highlights, he's nimble enough to line up at running back in high school. ESPN's evaluation highlights his explosiveness while pointing out a few areas for improvement mostly pertaining to his technique ($):
You would like to see more consistency but displays a good first-step that can allow him to quickly get penetration. He is at his best when he can fire out and primarily be a penetrator that disrupts schemes. Flashes the ability to be tough when taking on blockers as he can quickly fire out low and gain leverage and with solid strength hold his ground. While he does possess a quick first-step he can at times almost as quickly pop up and play tall and needs to work to consistently keep his pads down. He does display some rigidness and while he can get penetration he displays adequate ability to quickly change direction. He gives good effort and stays after the play showing the ability to take proper angles in pursuit. Displays solid long speed. He will try and wrap-up as a tackler and displays strong hands for drag down types. As a pass rusher he is capable of getting a quick hard charge up-field to get pressure. Will flash the ability to try and work some moves to help work past, but needs to continue to develop in this area to help when he can't just quickly blow past blockers.
As is evident on his tape, Hurst is a very disruptive presence on the interior of the line, a guy who uses his leverage and quickness—a la Mike Martin—to work his way into the backfield with regularity. In November of last year, Scout's Bob Lichtenfels tabbed Hurst as the top prospect in the East region who hadn't yet earned recognition as a top 100 player, comparing him to another collegiate standout ($):
Westwood (Mass.) Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., I hate comparing players to kids we've seen in the past, but watching Hurst reminds me of watching Marvin Austin. Kids who are 6-2/275 are not supposed to be able to move the way he does. Not too mention when he isn't wreaking havoc in the other teams backfield he is playing in his own backfield. Not many kids that size can pull that off.
Hurst has an invite to the Army All-American Game, a potential sign that his rankings will be on the rise in the future. His combination of size and athleticism is sure to turn some heads.
Hurst chose Michigan over fellow finalist Virginia, and he also held offers from Michigan State (where he visited yesterday), Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Boston College, UConn, Duke, Maryland, Mizzou, N.C. State, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple, Vanderbilt, and others.
Hurst tallied 61 tackles, 13.5 TFL, nine sacks, and four forced fumbles as a junior en route to being named first-team all-state.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists Hurst with a 4.88, while his highlight tape credits him with a 4.92. Both seem pretty reasonable for a tackle noted for his athleticism; I'll give those a two FAKEs out of five.
Pretty epic fat guy touchdown at the :25 mark.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hurst is reportedly being recruited as a three-tech DT, though he has the size to potentially play the nose down the road if needed—that may depend on who else Michigan adds to the class. If he ends up at three-tech, Hurst should get a redshirt year since Michigan brought in Willie Henry, Matt Godin, and potentially Chris Wormley at the position in the 2012 class. After that redshirt year, he'll be in position for fight for time against those three and a senior Kenny Wilkins; given that he's got a higher recruiting profile than all the '12 recruits save Wormley, he's got a good shot at contributing as a redshirt freshman.
If, say, Michigan brings in MD DT Henry Poggi as a three-tech and slides Hurst over to the nose, he'd be right in the mix to back up Ondre Pipkins from the moment he arrives on campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Hurst fills a huge need along the defensive line, but the coaches will likely bring in another defensive tackle, with the top target being Poggi. TX DT Hardreck Walker, who just got bumped up to four stars on Rivals, is another possibility.
The remaining needs are another wide receiver—that spot is currently being held for IL WR Laquon Treadwell—as well as potential depth at strongside DE and in the defensive backfield. For the most part, Michigan can continue to target the best players available. The pace of recruiting should slow considerably with the Wolverines already having filled 19 spots in what should be a 23-24 player class.
Our long regional nightmare is over, as Michigan has finally* netted commitment #18 in the class of 2013. Scout's Allen Trieu broke the news this afternoon that Harper Woods (MI) Chandler Park Academy WR Csont'e York—first name pronounced "Son-Tay", according to Sam Webb—pledged to Michigan after receiving an offer yesterday while on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor. York becomes the second receiver in the class, joining Jaron Dukes, and his stock is on the rise after a couple standout camp performances in recent weeks.
|3*, #67 WR||NR WR||NR WR||3*, 88, #69 WR|
As you can see, York is currently flying under the radar—ESPN didn't even have him in their recruiting database until today—with only Scout and 247 even bothering to rank him. Chandler Park isn't exactly a football powerhouse, however, playing in Michigan's Class B in the Charter School Conference, so he fits the profile of a sleeper recruit. Every service but Scout lists York at 6'3", with his weight at 185-190 pounds (Scout says 6'2", 180).
As mentioned above, York really burst onto the scene in recent weeks, earning offers from Michigan, Cincinnati, and Syracuse within the last 48 hours by excelling on the camp circuit. He was #5 on Barton Simmons's list of top performers at last weekend's Columbus NFTC,
where he took home wide receiver MVP honors [EDIT: Sorry, misunderstood Sam Webb's Tweet; he said York was deserving of MVP honors, but they actually went to OH WR Gary Brown]:
The 6-2 prospect took countless reps, winning most of them and showing great ball skills, route-running and mismatch size. York has impressed us in several different settings and he deserves a lot more college interest than he is receiving.
Simmons wasn't the only scout lauding York after last weekend, as he also made Scout's Bob Lichtenfels's top ten ($):
York made everything look so easy that we started to take it for granted. By the end of the camp his circus catches were looking routine. He is very smooth in and out of his breaks. Possesses very good ball skills and gets separation from the defender. He uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball. Smooth, gliding type of runner. Not sure how good his top end speed is, but he is very tough to cover on the short to intermediate routes.
As you'll see on his film, York's ability to go up and catch the football is excellent; while it's an easy comparison to make, he's certainly reminiscent of a slightly taller, skinnier Junior Hemingway. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt scouted York at April's NLA 7-on-7 in Pittsburgh, where once again he was amongst the top prospects ($):
There were several big wide receivers making spectacular catches downfield on Sunday, and maybe none as interesting as York. At 6-foot-3 and 185 pounds, York is a great-looking, big wide receiver. His size gives him the ability to be physical with cornerbacks at the line of scrimmage, then go downfield and outmuscle them for the football. He made several spectacular grabs along the sideline and in the end zone, showing outstanding body control and a great pair of hands.
While I don't expect Michigan's passing game to continue to rely so much on the jump ball post-Denard, it's good to know that York could thrive in such an offense. He's also got the size and strength to be a very solid possession receiver. Allen Trieu has a free assessment on York's Scout profile:
Long, lean receiver who does a great job of tracking the football, adjusting to passes in the area and controlling his body to make tough and acrobatic catches. Has great hands and leaping ability. He's not a 4.4 guy, but has a solid burst and can create separation both underneath and downfield. He's not one who will give you a ton after the catch, but he has all the tools to be a productive college receiver.
York's strengths are listed as Body Control, Hands and Concentration, and Size, while his areas for improvement are Elusiveness with Catch and Speed. He sounds pretty similar to Dukes in terms of style of play; this coaching staff seems to have a specific type of receiver in mind unless they're track-star fast like Devon Allen or just plain elite like Laquon Treadwell.
York only held offers from Bowling Green and Toledo before Michigan, Cincinnati, and Syracuse joined the fray this week. Again, sleeper status here.
A quick Google search didn't turn up any stats. I'll update if I come across any, though judging by his film he scored a whole bunch of touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time, FAKE or otherwise. ScoutingMichigan has a profile for York with a self-reported 40 time of 4.52 (thanks to ScoutExile for pointing this out). If that's a hand-time it's in the right range given the scouting reports. If it's electronic, that probably merits a three FAKEs out of five.
Jump balls and touchdowns aplenty.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed, but York appears to fall into the same general category as Dukes: solid floor given his good size and hands, limited star potential due to a lack of top-end speed. Like Dukes, York will have every opportunity to see the field when he steps on campus thanks to Michigan's depth, as the only scholarship receivers on the roster will be Jeremy Jackson, Jeremy Gallon, Jerald Robinson, Drew Dileo, and this year's freshmen, Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. The only remotely proven commodity among that group is Gallon, who will be a senior when York is a true freshman. Given York's current under-the-radar status, it's foolish to attempt to project beyond him having a shot to see the field. Luckily, I should be able to see him play at least once this fall and get a better feel for how he performs in a game situation.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has two receivers in the class, and they'll almost certainly take one more—Treadwell is the prohibitive favorite to take that last spot. After that, Michigan should have room for 4-5 more players, and the biggest area of need is at defensive tackle. Strongside DE is also a priority, and the Wolverines could also make a push for more help in the secondary. The last couple spots will likely be filled by the best players available, as Michigan now has that luxury after filling most of their major needs very early in the process.
*Tongue-in-cheek, obviously. Michigan could take one commit per month from this point forward and have a full class before the regular season is over.
Image via 247Sports
Michigan picked up their 17th commit of the class of 2013 tonight, as Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon made his long-awaited pledge to the Wolverines:
"It’s awesome! I’ve kind of known throughout my whole recruitment that Michigan has been my #1 school. To finally get the commitment out of the way and saying I’m going to be a Michigan Man is just awesome."
Gedeon joins Mike McCray among linebacker commits in the class. Of the 17 Wolverine commits, 13 of them—including Gedeon—are on the ESPNU 150 Watch List.
4*, #13 OLB,
4*, #8 OLB,
4*, 90, #21 ATH,
Gedeon will be a four-star across the board as soon as ESPN comes out with an actual list,
and only 247 seems to think he doesn't crack the top ~250 players in the country [EDIT: Gedeon is listed at #255 overall on his 247 profile, so he's universally regarded as a top ~250 recruit]. His listed size ranges from 6'2", 200 lbs. (Scout) to 6'3", 220 (247), with recent articles pegging him at about 6'2, 215. Recruiting: Not the most exact science.
Gedeon is an extremely versatile athlete for Hudson, lining up all over the field for them on offense. His best position, of course, is linebacker, and he sounds like a player who will end up at the WILL for Michigan. First up with the evaluations is Mark Givler of Rivals ($):
At the college level, Gedeon will play linebacker and showed good instincts, toughness, and athleticism last Friday night. Gedeon's best position at the next level will probably be middle linebacker where he he has the toughness to fight through traffic and get to the ball carrier. Though getting sideline-to-sideline probably isn't his best strength, he does it well enough and covers well enough that he should be a well-rounded linebacker at the next level.
His size—and the glut of larger inside players in the class ahead of him—means Gedeon will probably end up on the weak side, where his athleticism and coverage ability will be a strength. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt broke down Gedeon's tape last September and saw improvement over his camp performances ($):
We saw Gedeon at two camps in the off-season. In early season film, though, he has looked even more athletic than when we saw him running around in just shorts and a t-shirt. At each new evaluation, Gedeon seems to have lost a little of the stiffness we saw out of him in our first evaluation. He may not quite be the 6-3, 215 pounds he is listed, and he does not blow running backs up, but Gedeon can run with backs and tight ends and will make for an athletic linebacker at the next level.
Again, athleticism and pass coverage are mentioned as positives; considering the WILL is occasionally tasked with sticking to a slot receiver, those skills are at a premium.
Gedeon has placed well in both initial state of Ohio rankings for the class of 2013. Scout has him at #11 in the state, one spot behind fellow commit Jake Butt. Here's Allen Trieu's take on their top-ranked linebacker:
Gedeon is a fantastic athlete as evidenced by what he's done all over the field from running back to receiver to linebacker. He can definitely run and play a sideline to sideline game. He may not play the same level of competition as some of the other top linebackers on the board, but we feel he has the most upside of the bunch.
Bucknuts has him all the way up at #7, and Mark Porter echoes the sentiment of every other evaluation we've seen ($):
“Overall, he is a great athlete. His junior highlights were outstanding. He makes plays all over the field. He’s almost a throwback type. He’s just a tough, hard-nosed football player.”
In case you didn't glean this from the above, Ben Gedeon is a very good athlete.
To go with his Michigan offer, Boston College, Duke, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Pitt, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, and Virginia extended scholarships to Gedeon.
Gedeon earned first-team all-state honors last season with 120 tackles to go along with over 1,400 rushing yards and 27 total touchdowns. As a sophomore, he was a third-team all-state member after amassing 105 tackles, five sacks, 500 rushing yards, 300 passing yards, and 300 receiving yards.
FAKE 40 TIME
I actually couldn't track down a 40 time for Gedeon. ALL OF THE FAKES, I guess.
There's also a sophomore highlight reel from 247Sports; though it doesn't have any defensive plays, you can see Gedeon lining up at tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Gedeon doesn't have ideal size for the MIKE or SLB spots, but his athletic ability and coverage skills make him a perfect candidate for the WILL. He's a near-lock to redshirt given his need to put on weight and the fact that James Ross and Kaleb Ringer should end up on the weak side from the class of 2012. Desmond Morgan will be a returning starter as a true sophomore next season, and Ross is a future star, in my opinion.
Where Gedeon could make an early impact is special teams, where he can put that athleticism and versatility to good use. I expect he'll be a contributor in that area after a redshirt year, and from there he'll battle with Ross and Ringer for a spot in the rotation. As a redshirt junior, he should get a crack at the starting lineup.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has now filled their two open spots at linebacker—the coaching staff was clearly confident they would take Gedeon, having told four-star LBs Alex Anzalone and Shane Jones they were full prior to his commitment—though all indications are that they're reserving a spot for E.J. Levenberry (likely a SLB), one of the best players on the board at any position.
As for the class in total, the Wolverines now have 17 players committed in what will likely be a 23-24 man class. The biggest needs are along the defensive line and at wide receiver, where Michigan will likely take two more prospects for each group.
Photo via cu.tribtoday.com
As reported last night by Sam Webb, Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith pledged to become the 16th member of Michigan's class of 2013. Smith is the second running back in the class, joining Detroit Catholic Central's Wyatt Shallman, and he's the 14th recruit among the Wolverine commits to garner a four-star rating from at least one recruiting service.
Smith has multiple Big Ten ties, as both his older brothers (Lance at Wisconsin, Maurice at Michigan State) played for schools in the conference before later transferring. Despite growing up deep in Buckeye country and having brothers play for two conference foes, DeVeon grew up a Michigan fan.
4*, #7 RB,
|3*, 89, #31 RB|
Early on in the process, there's quite a disparity in the rankings on Smith. Scout—the most recent service to update their rankings—is by far the most bullish, putting Smith up at #58 overall and the seventh running back in the class. ESPN has him on their top 150 watch list, but on the other end of the scale, 247Sports has him as a middling three-star and Rivals has yet to rank him. Expect this to change in the future; Smith has earned rave reviews from Midwest scouts covering Ohio.
All four sites list Smith at 5'11", and only Rivals (195) doesn't list him at 210 pounds. As a high school junior, he already has the size to see the field at the collegiate level.
"He's a powerful kid with a low center of gravity and he runs hard and with attitude. He can run between the tackles and he doesn't waste a lot of time getting north and south. He's a guy that you can feed the ball to throughout a game. His balance and ability to break arm tackles really stands out. He's not a burner, but I think his speed is better than advertised. He's a classic I-formation, pro-style tailback."
As you'll see on his film, Smith may not have track-star speed, but he has little issue tearing through tackles at the high school level. While that speed comes into question, Dave Berk says he's a home run threat in the writeup for Scout's top 50 players in Ohio, where Smith ranks #3 ($):
Two-way player who projects as one of the top running backs in the Midwest. Has good size at 5-foot-11, 210-pounds showing speed, power and balance. Capable of taking each carry to the house for a score or making the big defensive stop.
Size, balance, and power appear to be the main strengths in Smith's game, and he has enough speed to be dangerous when he breaks into the open field. This sentiment is echoed by Mark Porter as Bucknuts ranked Smith as the #5 2013 prospect in Ohio ($):
“He is a well built back. He can run well between the tackles. He can take a lot of punishment. He would be your traditional Big Ten back who can play in bad weather and grind out yardage. He would be a good fit in Ohio State’s new offense. As a junior, he was much quicker than he showed the year before. He has some spring to his step. He is very powerful and thickly built.”
Before Smith's junior season, Duane Long had some concerns about Smith's size and speed, but loved his natural ability as a runner ($):
I would argue Smith is the most naturally instinctive runner in the class. Very quick feet. Good balance and runs with good power. I think Smith stands a good chance of moving up this list because my reservations are about his body and speed. He is a very muscular kid at a very young age. I am concerned he will be a ‘tweener. The older he gets without growing into a ‘tweener the better his chances of moving up. His speed is a question. I think speed is the most overrated thing with backs but they have to be fast enough. We will see if Smith is.
Long had Smith listed at 6'0", 210, so I think he was worried Smith would grow into linebacker range. That didn't happen, so the only concern moving forwards is top-end speed. Given the rest of the package that Smith provides, plus the growing evidence that sprinter's speed isn't necessary to excel at running back—see: Mike Hart, among others—he still has the skill-set to be an excellent Big Ten back.
Smith's offer sheet wasn't especially long, but he has one that should stand out: Ohio State. Along with the Buckeyes and Wolverines, Smith had offers from Bowling Green, Indiana, Purdue, and West Virginia.
As a junior, Smith was second-team All-Ohio in Division II after amassing 2,150 yards and 25 TDs on 189 carries. That followed up an 1,800-yard sophomore season and a freshman year spent racking up just under 1,000 all-purpose yards at the varsity level.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bucknuts lists a 4.5-second 40 time for Smith, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five considering the concerns about his speed.
Short junior highlight reel:
And film from a pair of Warren Howland games last season:
Smith certainly passes the eyeball test when it comes to a running back; his build and strength for a junior is impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Smith is going to walk on campus in 2013 and have a chance to play. If his Scout ranking is ultimately the one that holds up, he'll be the highest-rated back on the roster barring a later commitment by Ty Isaac, and only Fitzgerald Toussaint (a senior in '13) and Thomas Rawls (a three-star in '11) really project as every-down backs in the classes in front of him. It wouldn't surprise to see Smith earn the backup role as a freshman before taking over full-time for Toussaint in 2014. With the Wolverines not picking up a true star at running back in the last couple classes, Smith will get every opportunity to earn time and excel in Michigan's evolving offense.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ah, I was kinda dreading this section. First of all, Michigan now has 16 commits in a class that should get to 23 or 24. With the remaining spots, the Wolverines need two more receivers, a nose tackle, a strongside DE, and a linebacker (probably Ben Gedeon). That takes Michigan to 21, and a potential third tight end would move that number to 22. This leaves one or two spots for the best players available. LB E.J. Levenberry has a spot waiting for him. S Su'a Cravens likely would as well.
The big question, however, is what this means for Ty Isaac. I've been told Michigan will take just two tailbacks in the class—Wyatt Shallman very much included—but we'll see if that changes for a five-star like Isaac. Despite the rumors, it wouldn't appear that a crowded backfield would be an issue for Isaac:
“Competition makes you better. If you don’t have someone behind you pushing you to be better, you might get sloppy. If I’m the only back in the class, yeah that’s cool with me… but if I’m not, it’s not a turnoff and I’m not scared of it. I would expect people to be disappointed in me if I was talking like that. As a coach if I heard somebody say that, I’d understand. But at the same time, to me that sounds like you’re scared of competition.”
Deveon Smith on #Michigan possibly recruiting another RB after his commit: "They didn't talk about that at all.It doesn't even matter."
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) March 18, 2012
We'll have to see how it plays out. Regardless, Michigan has a pair of four-star backs in the class who bring the MAN in MANBALL.
Sam Webb is reporting that Warren (OH) Howland RB DeVeon Smith committed to Michigan today. Smith becomes the 16th member of Brady Hoke's class of 2013, and the 14th to earn a four-star rating from at least one recruiting service. It is St. Patrick's Day and the CCHA title game is in full swing, so the informative portion of this post will be coming tomorrow.