This is maaaaybe premature there, ESPN. Maryland #1 FWIW.
According to Sam Webb, Michigan just picked up their eighth commitment of the 2014 class—and third in the last week—in Paramus (NJ) Catholic OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty. Bushell-Beatty joins Mason Cole among offensive line commits in the class; like Cole, he also has an elite high school teammate being recruited heavily by the Wolverines—in his case, five-star corner Jabrill Peppers, for whom the recruiting tides appear to be shifting in Michigan's favor.
Update of the informative variety:
|3*, #45 OT||3*, #29 OT||
4*, 83, #10 OT,
4*, 90, #17 OT,
There's a clear split in Bushell-Beatty's rankings, though Scout is more of an outlier here than they initially appear—the #28 OT on Rivals is a four-star, so JBB is just one spot away there. ESPN and 247, meanwhile, have him easily within their top n lists. The reason for the divide is almost certainly that Bushell-Beatty has played all of one season at the varsity level; until he amasses more game film and hits the camp circuit, opinions could be all over the place.
There's a similar disparity when it comes to his measurables: Rivals and Scout both list JBB at 6'5", 295 pounds, while ESPN and 247 both have him at 6'7", with the former listing him all the way up at 330 lbs. and the latter at 310.
You'll be shocked to read that a player who's got one season of varsity football under his belt is described as "raw"—here by NJVarsity.com, which listed JBB as #14 in-state junior in March ($):
14.) OL Juwan Bushell-Beatty - Paramus Catholic
Bushell-Beatty has a Division 1 frame and moves decently for someone his size. He is still a bit on the raw side, but last year was only his first playing at the high school varsity level. What he showed last year was just a glimpse as he has plenty of room to grow as an offensive tackle. He is just learning the finer points of the game but has enough athletic ability and natural tools to be considered a solid BCS-level prospect.
ESPN's evaluation suggests that Bushell-Beatty could end up at either guard or tackle in college, depending on his development in pass protection ($) [emphasis mine]:
Bushell-Beatty possesses good height and bulk as an O-Line prospect and with some time in a college weight program looks to have a frame that can still support a little more good size. In the run game he can smother defenders and gain more positional leverage, but when he gets good placement with his hands and keeps his pad level down he can push defenders off the line. He does need to work to improve placement and pad level as he can pop up, get tall, not roll his hips into blocks, stop his feet on contact and not consistently create the push he is capable of. When blocking down can wash defenders down the line of scrimmage. Can work to second level with good control and get a hat on targets in his track. In pass pro can use his length and strength well. Uses his reach well and displays very good upper-body strength and can deliver a violent punch that can knock edge rushes off course. Flashes the ability to punch and lock on, but would like to see that more from him. His kick step is effective enough, though he can turn shoulders a little quickly and be a bit of a waist bender but makes it tough for rushers to get into his frame. Flashes the ability to slide with rushers once locked on but demonstrates adequate lateral mobility. Displays good awareness and some finishing nastiness.
It's not a surprise to see pad level as an issue for a raw tackle prospect who may still be growing; that's something that should improve with experience, and same goes for most of the technical issues that ESPN points out in JBB's game. It sounds like his run blocking is currently ahead of his pass blocking, which is typical for a player at this stage and also bodes well should he kick down to guard.
Given this quote from Bushell-Beatty's head coach, it sounds like he's taken quite strongly to football after some initial trepidation, per 247's Steve Wiltfong ($):
“We were like listen buddy you’re playing football,” [Paramus Catholic head coach Chris] Partridge said. “I give him all the credit in the world. We weren’t easy on him. He pushed through it and it wasn’t easy for him. He pushed through it and he’s mean and he’s getting it and it’s good to see that as a coach. We took a chance with starting him and giving him that spot and it worked out.”
“He was very raw,” Partridge began. “He’s now getting better and better. He’s a kid that can develop and be a big-time national kid. If he makes the strides he made from last year to this year he’ll blow up.”
In case you're non sensing the theme at this point, JBB is very much a developmental prospect. With his frame and raw potential, he could grow into a special player, but he's going to need a few years to refine technique—with Michigan's recent offensive line recruiting, there are few places better suited to letting a prospect marinate for a while before they're ready to see the field.
Bushell-Beatty's list reveals that Michigan isn't the only school that sees big-time potential in him—Florida, Florida State, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Rutgers, Tennessee, and West Virginia also extended offers before his commitment, and he also fielded interest from Ohio State, Penn State, and Pitt.
Led by Jabrill Peppers, Paramus Catholic won last year's state title in the New Jersey Non-Public Group 4 division, which includes football powerhouses like Don Bosco Prep. Despite their recent success, Paramus Catholic hasn't produced a ton in the way of BCS recruits—before this 2014 group, only 2011 four-star DT Marquise Wright (Rutgers) and 2010 three-star OL Dan Foose (Florida State) committed to BCS schools since 2002, per the Rivals recruiting database.
Offensive lineman, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
No available 40 time, not that offensive linemen tend to run 40 yards in a straight line during game situations unless they happen to be donkey-riding Manti Te'o.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
It's hard to say anything definitive about a prospect who's played one year of varsity football. That said, I like what I see from Bushell-Beatty, who's got an ideal lineman frame and appears to be a natural when it comes to certain aspects of line play, most especially in how he uses his hands. He'll have to develop significantly in pass protection to become a blindside tackle option; the potential is there, but it seems more likely he'll slot in at right tackle (or left, if lefty Shane Morris is the QB) or bump down to guard.
Regardless of where he ends up, JBB will assuredly take a redshirt year and likely a couple years after that before he competes for a spot on the two-deep; Michigan has too much depth and talent on the line to expect a relative football newcomer to make a serious push for early playing time.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now have a couple of commits who could play multiple positions on the line: Mason Cole is likely a guard but could also play tackle, while JBB is ideally the opposite if he develops. Michigan should take one, perhaps two, more lineman and be set for this class, especially considering they took a sixth OL last year.
The other upshot, of course, is that Michigan has another edge in the recruitment of Peppers. At worst, the Wolverines appear to be neck-and-neck with Stanford, and only one of those schools has Peppers' high school teammate in the fold. I still expect Peppers to visit Palo Alto before making a decision, but it's looking increasingly likely that he ends up in Ann Arbor. Yes, that would be very nice indeed.
Detroit Country Day receiver Maurice Ways has committed to Michigan. Surprise! He's the second receiver in the class, joining Drake Harris, and is in much the same mold: long, rangy, downfield threat.
Let's do it.
|3*, #50 WR||3*, #54 WR||NR||3*, #86 WR, #9 MI|
Yes, sometimes Michigan does recruit consensus three stars. Ways is currently one of them. He doesn't look like one on film, though. He's long, lanky, and lopes away from the competition with long strides; he's a guy who makes you think "catching radius" all the time. He looks like a guy who would get an early offer from Michigan.
The catch appears to be, uh, catches. The stuff they don't put in the highlight film, like a this Country Day playoff game($) Tim Sullivan caught last year:
Junior wide receiver Maurice Ways caught two passes for 29 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception. He also dropped four passes. …
Ways definitely looks the part of a big, physical wide receiver at 6-3, 185 pounds. Though he's not a burner, he has good speed and agility. The question mark on Ways will continue to be his hands (he had a key drop in a previous game as well). He's reminiscent of former Michigan standout Braylon Edwards in that he'll make spectacular catches regularly, but drop easy balls with just as much frequency. Of his four dropped passes, at least two should have been reeled in, and he had a good chance at the other two, as well. He needs to improve his concentration in order to realize his potential as a wideout.
Oh, look, hives! On my skin! Thinking about that dropped pass against OSU that should have gone to Jason Avant! Hello, hives! We are going to die, all right?
The other game Sullivan caught($) also featured a crucial drop. Ways didn't get as much separation as you'd like but at 6'3" with a "very long wingspan" and leaping ability, he is a matchup problem, hopefully one like the guys Ways models himself after:
“I model my game after Calvin Johnson with our same body types and play-making ability,” said Ways. “I watch film on him a lot and try to emulate my game after his, and also A.J. Green.” … “Basketball was my first love,” Ways said. “But I noticed that I had talent in football and could go further in this sport. Rebounding in basketball is like going up for a jump ball. Blocking out is like blocking a defender.”
As long as he's catching the ball.
Ways has a good excuse for the drops and route-running issues: he's raw. He was gunning for a basketball scholarship when he entered high school and only focused on football last year:
"This is my first year on varsity," he explained. "… It's a big role, and I had to mature fast, had to learn the offense fast. The game speed is faster than JV of course, and the physicality is better. It makes me have to think more to try to manipulate defense in terms of route running."
Somewhat oddly, Trieu's take on Ways's Scout profile lists "hands" as an asset.
Kid with a great frame and height. Has filled out his body, but needs to continue to do that and add strength. Shows good ball skills and uses his natural athleticism to track down the ball and can go up and get it in traffic. No timed speed on him, but shows ability to get downfield on film and also makes some things happen after the catch. Relatively inexperienced, so needs to continue to work on route running and technique. - Allen Trieu
247 predicted he would be a riser this spring:
Maurice Ways, WR, Franklin (Mich.) Detroit Country Day
If you follow recruiting even passingly in the Midwest, you’ve heard of the big, talented Derek Kief at wide receiver. We’re hear to tell you that you need to know the name Ways too if you don’t already. … With the way he moves on film, the ball skills he shows and the big play ability he threatens, Ways could see his offer list triple over the next month.
Both Steve Lorenz of 247 and Sullivan projected that their rating services would move Ways up in the near future. How much? The guess here is that vague four-star-but-not-ranked area.
Rutgers, Iowa, and Kansas were the other BCS schools. Ways had a number of MAC offers as well. He visited Ohio State a couple times; the Buckeyes seemed to have sincere interest but had not offered yet. The wanted him to camp.
You are aware of Detroit Country Day, surely. They were state runners-up last year. Michigan's only recruit in the past decade or so to come from DCD was Kenny Demens, thought they have acquired a number of walkons—including the spectacularly-named O'Neil Swanson III—in recent years.
Ways had an impressive 51 catches for 957 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. It helps that he had Rutgers commit Tyler Weigers throwing to him. Not a lot of schools in Michigan have a D-I to D-I connection going on.
Before that, he was on JV.
FAKE 40 TIME
Doesn't have one. Divide by zero fakes.
Rivals has a couple games of full-game highlights($) behind their paywall. It has some of those aforementioned drops. Braylon vibe: confirmed.
EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THING
Ways is a member of the Greg Oden "is that guy 45?" club.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ways will be put in the same opportunity-laden environment as a freshman that Harris will be. Amara Darboh is poised to lock down a starting job with a strong performance this fall, and Jehu Chesson will have a couple years on this class's PT candidates. Other than that, it's wide open with the three sleeper sorts from last year going up against the more athletic 2014 guys. I'd guess Ways gets a redshirt unless he ends up ahead of Harris. With Harris higher-ranked and planning to enroll early, that's approximately a 1/3rd shot.
Long term, he has plenty of upside what with the size and catching radius, and no one actually know how fast he is. You'd think that would be one of the easiest things to get right, but when Chesson was a recruit the main knock on him was his speed. Chesson tore up the track after his LOI and is now getting buzz from players and coaches as a fast-as-hell deep threat($). Also: Braylon. So… yeah.
He should spend the next year having the jugs machine throw babies at him. We'll see where we go from there. Could be big time, could be Tyrece Butler 2.0. Filed under boom or bust.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ways and Harris help restock Michigan's outside receiver corps pending the departure of Jackson, Gallon, and Dileo in the offseason. That only gets them to seven players for 2.5 starting spots, so they're still looking. They could use a slot, and FL WR Artavis Scott fits that bill nicely. PA WR KJ Williams, another lanky outside threat, may have missed the boat. Mutual interest with AZ WR/TE Mark Andrews also just ended abruptly.
I actually wouldn't be surprised if Michigan took a fourth receiver somewhere along the line unless attrition is super-low. The numbers everywhere else project to be fine, and depth at WR comes in handy.
By the way, Michigan pass targets in the last two classes go 6'7", 6'4", 6'4", 6'6", 6'4", 6'3", 6'2", and 6'2". Al Borges is going to find Tacopants and starve him off the roster.
Yes, I have a prepared Hello post for somebody. No, it is not IL TE Ian Bunting. Michigan was thought to be trailing in his recruitment, but a visit this weekend flipped the kid unexpectedly and now he's all committed and such($). Here is a picture.
The 6'7" Bunting is a four star to 247 and ESPN (where he's 113th), a three star to Scout and Rivals. He plays exclusively wide receiver in high school but everyone is recruiting him as a Funchess-style flex TE. A more informative update is coming.
|3*, #17 TE||3*, #14 TE||4*, #5 TE, #114 overall||4*, #11 TE|
A wide split in opinion probably due to the fact that Bunting is a 6'6", 215 pound kid that requires some projection if he's going to be an effective college player. That uncertainty leads to three-star rankings, especially when Bunting missed a big chunk of his sophomore and junior years with injuries. I couldn't find details on his sophomore year; his junior issue was a sprained ankle. He only played four games.
That didn't matter to college coaches, who were hurdling over each other to offer the guy. Not only did Bunting have the big three in the Midwest he also got a USC offer(!), especially impressive given their restricted class size. Nebraska, Oklahoma, Oregon, and many others jumped on board as well. ND's Scout site thought Bunting was their top target($) at TE. Mwa ha ha.
It was a little tough to find scouting out there; almost all of it came from 247 or Bunting's own mouth as he responded to the "scout yourself" question over and over again. Injuries, I guess.
What is out there emphasizes size and hands and routes. Rivals' take from a January camp:
4. IAN BUNTING, TE, HINSDALE (ILL.) CENTRAL
We have seen Bunting run at wide receiver in the past, but the 6-foot-7, 215-pound prospect has started to accept that he is headed to the tight end position in college and he performed well there on Monday. Bunting's speed creates mismatches with linebackers, and he complements that by being an outstanding route runner who possesses soft hands. His strength at the point of attack was better than expected, and he did a great job of getting off the line of scrimmage in one-on-one drills.
247 caught him a few times, mostly at Core 6 events: Wiltfong caught him at a Cincinnati event:
4. Ian Bunting: It’s a talented a year at tight end in the state of Illinois and the 6-foot-6, 210-pound Hinsdale Central standout may end up being the best one. He was dominant during 7-on-7 play, running away from the smaller defensive backs. Bunting has really good ball skills and catches everything thrown his way.
That #4 is no shame when Jamarco Jones, Clifton Garrett, and Malik McDowell are at the same event. An earlier camp:
10. Ian Bunting, TE, Hinsdale (Il.) Central
The 6-foot-5, 215-pound Bunting continued to show that he is a sure handed flex tight end prospect. He ran precise routes in the short passing game, and caught the ball with soft hands and arms extended against attached coverage on numerous occasions. Bunting … was the top performer of the tight end prospects.
Hinsdale (Ill.) Central receiver/tight end Ian Bunting stands in at 6-foot-7, 190 pounds with a frame to really fill out. Despite his size, he does a great job of sinking his hips and getting in and out of his breaks. In agility drills, he was better than a lot of the smaller receivers. .
While the Core 6 White team struggle to find a rhythm on offense, Hinsdale (Ill.) Central four-star tight end Ian Bunting was one of the more impressive players there, as he can beat you in many ways in the passing game. Short passes and over the top, Bunting has fantastic hands and ball skills while running very well.
Bunting is a big high school receiver who will make a move to tight end in college and could be a highly-productive receiving target in that role. His strength at this stage is very much as a receiver and he displays very good hands with the ability to consistently extend and snatch the ball away from his body. Possesses good body control and can adjust and grab tough, off-target passes, and demonstrates the ability to pluck effortlessly on the run. He will attack the ball in the air, high-point it and shows he is willing to take a hit to make the catch. Can track the ball vertically well and make the over-the-shoulder grab.
Hands, hands, hands. Coaches' eyes must bug out at this fact:
How would you describe yourself as a player?
"I'm definitely a mismatch [threat]. I can take on a cornerback and I'd be a foot taller than him, but also, a lot of kids that are my size aren't quick but I've got really good feet actually for my size and great hands too. I've been playing a bunch of different sports all my life, so it's really helped me become a better athlete all around and keep my agility at a high level even though I'm a lot bigger and taller than a lot of the other receivers that'll be out there. I also have great leaping ability and big hands and feet. I wear XXXL gloves -- although I might have to go XXXXL next year cause they're getting kind of small (laughter) -- and have size 17 feet."
He told an OU site that he plays corner on defense. Yup.
So… this is good. A 6'7" guy with skillet-sized hands, body control, and not-quite WR athleticism who is already a good route-runner is going to be awesome once he's a linebacker-flattening weight. Can I make a sleeper of the year prediction on a guy who's 10 months away from signing and is four stars on two sites? No? Well, fine. Guy seems badly underrated, is what I'm saying.
Bunting's offers side with the more impressive rankings. Aside from Michigan he also had offers from Notre Dame (that very early), Ohio State, USC, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Nebraska, Wisconsin, Missouri, Oregon, and others.
Hinsdale Central hasn't sent Michigan any prospects in the Rivals era. They did send Jack Allen to Michigan State a couple years ago; Allen's brother Brian just committed to the Spartans. Awkward.
Bunting only had four games last year, in which he caught 16 passes for 412 yards($). Over 100 yards per game and 26 per catch? Okay, we'll take that.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bunting lists his 40 at 4.63 on Hudl, which I award two FAKES out of five for a 6'6" kid.
His abbreviated junior year:
There's also an interview with Chantel Jennings:
Bunting also has a Hudl profile with separate blocking and receiving highlights.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Bunting should have an opportunity to redshirt with Devin Funchess, AJ Williams, and Jake Butt all on the roster for at least two more years once he arrives. He'll use that year to pack on weight, probably cool his heels for another year as Funchess and Williams play their senior campaigns, and then emerge into Funchess 2.0—maybe 3.0. Michigan is going to have no shortage of huge targets at TE in the near future.
A further prediction: if Bunting hits the camp circuit and stays healthy as a senior he'll jump everywhere save ESPN, who already projects him as a near top-100 player. He's got the profile of a guy who blows up what with the injuries and college coach trident fight over him.
The injury thing is probably just bad luck. Anyone can acquire the dread high ankle sprain, and that sort of thing doesn't develop into a chronic thing often, if at all. I get why a couple of the sites are cautious with his ranking as a result, but it's more that they don't have as much data on him than fear he won't be able to stay in one piece.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With two tight ends in each of the last two classes and a smaller group this year, Michigan is probably done at TE for 2014. Maybe they would still take a Helm or a Mark Andrews, but only late, at which point those guys are likely off the board.
A side note not just in this class but on Michigan's recruiting in general: this is another guy who Michigan has come from behind on very quickly. 247's prediction crystal ball was 100% ND until today, when Steve Wiltfong got wind of the change and got a flip in just before the news dropped. For a certain sort of kid, the Michigan visit just about ends their recruitment. Bunting's take($) from Allen Trieu's article:
"When I went there and visited and got to spend a lot of time with the coaches, players on the team and got to spend the night with them. It felt like home. It felt like the right place for me. My parents came with me and they both loved it and the coaches were so nice and welcoming and it really had a good sense of family there which is one of my favorite parts about game of football is brotherhood and the bond with the teammates and could definitely sense that it was there. Not just with the kids, but coaches too. I got to meet all the coaches' families and it was just the right place for me."
That's how you snatch a kid who compares himself to Tyler Eifert($) out from ND's nose.
Snatching a kid like Bunting from Notre Dame and Ohio State was a nonexistent occurrence under Rodriguez and frankly pretty rare under Carr, too—remember Charlie Weis's inexplicable winning streak over Michigan? That's done. Ohio State's winning their share of battles, but four of Michigan's six commits so far this year are head to head wins over both ND and OSU—everyone save Mone and Speight. (With Michigan hot on the trail of McDowell, Hand, and Lawrence Marshall I'm assuming Brady Pallante's grayshirt doesn't get upgraded.)
Grand Rapids (MI) Christian wide receiver Drake Harris announced his commitment to Michigan today on Twitter:
Just officially committed to The University Of Michigan!
— Drake Harris™ (@drizzygetbusy01) April 14, 2013
Harris, of course, initially committed to Michigan State as a two-sport athlete—he's also an excellent basketball player—but decided to open up his recruitment when he chose to focus on football in college, saying he wanted to compete for a national championship. It appears that Harris believes he's got a better shot of doing that in Ann Arbor than East Lansing.
Harris was in Columbus on Friday. As in, like, two days ago. But sure, Buckeye fans, there's no chance this ends in disappointment:
— mgoblog (@mgoblog) April 14, 2013
Something tells me that next trip isn't actually happening.
Anyway, informative update ahoy!
4*, #3 WR,
4*, #4 WR,
4*, 97, #3 WR,
Harris is regarded as one of the four best receivers in the country by each of the services that have released rankings; if he maintained his overall ranking on Scout and 247, he'd be in position to earn a fifth star by Signing Day (he's just one spot away on Scout as it is). All but Scout (6'3", 175 lbs.) list Harris at 6'4" and 180-185 lbs.—he fits the Borges ideal of a big, athletic outside receiver.
On Harris' Scout profile page, his strengths are listed as "Body Control", "Hands and Concentration", and "Route-Running Skills", with strength his only listed area for improvement. Midwest analyst Allen Trieu provides this free scouting report:
Has truly elite ball skills. Height, leaping ability and body control allow him to go up and adjust to passes most would not come down with. Is a glider on the field, and as a result, is faster than most will give him credit for. Can get deep, and is also good after the catch. Smooth, polished route runner who understands how to set up defenders and create separation. Willing and effective blocker, but must add weight and strength. - Allen Trieu
When putting together a list of each region's top prospects, Scout's staff mentioned Harris as one of the Midwest's best players ($):
Harris is a great athlete who is very natural at going up and getting the ball and does everything on the field as smooth as can be. He answered questions about his level of competition in the state title game, where he dominated despite being double teamed by a good team.
About that state title game...
Grand Rapids Christian’s Drake Harris set an MHSAA championship game record with 243 yards and one touchdown on eight receptions. Harris finished with over 2,000 receiving yards for the season; only the 12th person nationally to do so.
Grand Rapids Christian defeated a very solid Orchard Lake St. Mary's squad in that game; OLSM featured a very solid junior corner named Jalen Watts-Jackson, who has an Idaho offer and could see increased D-I interest. Harris, well, destroyed everything.
ESPN's evaluation echoes Scout's discussion of deceptive speed; again, strength and bulk are the only major areas of concern ($):
Possesses great height and wingspan with below average bulk, average strength and deceptively good top-end speed. Can build the speed off the line of scrimmage to run past defenders if given cushion. Can cover five yards in two strides consistently. Long-legged athlete with above-average quickness that will improve with increased strength, but he already has the initial quickness to escape press. Will run the short crossing routes and make catches with good concentration in contact situations. Has very good hand-eye coordination and focus. Snatches the ball out of the air in awkward positions. He is a natural hand plucker away from his frame, but will cradle some catches at times. Has shown quick feet and good body control to provide definition at the break point and to get his feet down on the sideline and end line. Not much wiggle, but surprising acceleration to outrun defender's angles.
His ability to haul in jump balls also comes in for high praise.
Tim Sullivan caught Harris last fall against East Grand Rapids; despite needing to add strength, Harris displayed good toughness, and Tim correctly predicted that he'd end up focusing on the gridiron over the hardwood ($):
His combination of height and speed made him an excellent deep threat for the Eagles, and though East Grand Rapids spent a lot of time bracketing him in coverage, he still managed to get behind the secondary on a couple occasions. Often, when an athlete considers himself a basketball player first and a football player second, you expect a bit of toughness to be lacking. That wasn't the case with Harris, who was willing to go over the middle and take a hit while still holding onto the ball. He also put in full effort on the rare occasion that he was asked to block. ... In all, it might not be long before Harris considers himself a football player first and a basketball player second - he's just that good on the gridiron.
Harris showed the ability to catch the ball away from his body, as well. To sum it up, Harris is a lanky, deceptively fast athlete who provides a solid deep threat, jump ball ability, and even the willingness to block and run routes over the middle. Once he gets into a college weight program, it appears he'll be the complete package at wide receiver.
In addition to Michigan, Harris held offers from Alabama, Cal, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, among several others.
Grand Rapids Christian won the Division 3 state championship last fall, led by Harris and 2014 offensive lineman Tommy Doles, who also holds a Michigan offer. Despite their recent success, GRC hasn't produced a BCS commit—or anyone ranked above a two-star—in the Rivals era.
According to 247, Harris caught 91 passes for 2015 yards (22.1 ypc) and 25 touchdowns in his junior season, numbers that are impressive to say the least. As a sophomore, he hauled in a mere 45 receptions for 950 yards (21.1 ypc) and ten TDs.
FAKE 40 TIME
Because of his focus on basketball until recently, Harris hasn't hit the football camp circuit hard, and there's not a readily-available 40 time for him based on a quick Googlestalk. His highlight tape lists a 4.39-second 40, which I'm giving four FAKEs out of five (that's an elite electronic time for an NFL wide receiver).
There's also a highlight package from last year's state title game:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
There's going to be plenty of opportunity for Harris to make an immediate impact when he steps on campus; in 2014, Jeremy Gallon, Drew Dileo, and Jeremy Jackson will have graduated, leaving an as-of-yet unproven group of receivers, none of whom have Harris' blue-chip recruiting profile. It also helps that he plans to enroll early, per TomVH. If he lives up to the hype, Harris should at least compete with Amara Darboh, Jehu Chesson, and perhaps one or more of the 2013 wide receiver signees for a starting role, and it'd be a surprise if he didn't see the field as a freshman. From there, he's got NFL potential and should be a big-impact player for Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Harris is Michigan's fifth commit—the first at wide receiver—in a class that currently is expected to have around 16 members, at least until that number goes up due to attrition. Harris fills the biggest need in the class as an elite, field-stretching receiver; other needs include strongside DE (where Michigan is in good shape for five-stars Da'Shawn Hand and Malik McDowell) and inside linebacker (Michael Ferns projects to the strong side, and M will take one more). Otherwise, the coaches can largely focus on bringing in elite talent regardless of position, as Brady Hoke and Co. have done an extremely impressive job of filling in the many holes on the depth chart in the last couple of classes.
Football player, state champion wrestler.
As the basketball team made their way to the Final Four, the football team picked up a grayshirt commitment from Naples (FL) Barron Collier defensive lineman Brady Pallante. As a grayshirt commit, Pallante will pay his way through school during the 2014-15 scholastic year—during which time he cannot participate in team activities—before joining the team on full scholarship for the 2015 season. If it makes it easier, just consider him the first commitment for the 2015 class, and one who'll get a head start on the academic side of things.
|NR DT||NR DT||NR DT||2*, 77, #78 DT|
Pallante, as you can see, is not a high-profile recruit, and his offer list—only Appalachian State gave him a non-grayshirt offer—is in line with his early rankings. The four services peg Pallante at 6'1" and between 255-278 pounds, making him a pretty stout interior lineman in the Rob Renes mold.
If you see the above and are wondering why the coaches offered a scholarship to an unranked kid from Florida, Pallante—a lifelong Wolverine fan—camped at Michigan last summer and impressed the coaches, as well as making WolverineNation's list of top performers ($):
2014 Brady Pallante -- He's a Florida kid who definitely turned some heads in Ann Arbor on Monday. He has a good combination of size and speed, which Michigan is always looking for.
Pallante won a state championship in wrestling last winter, and apparently reminded the coaches of a certain former Wolverines with a similar pedigree on the mat, per Scout's Kyle Bogenschutz ($) [emphasis mine]:
Pallante, 6’1, 275 pounds finished an impressive junior year with 59 tackles, six sacks, and four forced fumbles, all from the interior of the defensive line, exactly what Michigan envisions him doing at the next level as a one technique.
“The coaches up at Michigan said I remind them a lot of Mike Martin,” said Pallante. “Coach Hoke just sat down with me and said, ‘we’re looking for a guy who can replace Mike Martin at nose guard and a guy that works hard and is a tough kid’.”
Actual scouting evaluations on Pallante are scant; the only one I can dig up is from 247's Clint Brewster, who broke down Pallante's film after his commitment ($):
At about 6-foot-1 and 260-pounds, Pallante has the short/stout frame you want for a defensive tackle to be able to get underneath offensive lineman and gain leverage. Pallante is very quick off the ball and has a number of moves in his arsenal to beat an offensive lineman. He has a brawlers mentality in the trenches and can stand his ground against the run.
Pallante's speed and strength are also noted as positives, while his size is his most apparent area for improvement.
As said above, Pallante's other offer was from Appalachian State. Rivals lists interest, but no offer, from Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Purdue, and UCF.
Per Scout, Pallante recorded 59 tackles, six sacks, and four forced fumbles in his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time. Rivals does have some lifting numbers: 370 lbs. bench max and 580 lbs. squat max.
Pallante doesn't have highlights on YouTube, but you can see an extensive junior reel on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Pallante could conceivably play either nose guard or three-tech, though it sounds like the coaches have him pegged as a nose, where he can utilize his leverage to hold the point of attack on the interior. Michigan has pulled in a nose guard in each of the last three classes (incl. 2014) in Ondre Pipkins, Maurice Hurst Jr., and Bryan Mone. When Pallante is able to join the team in 2015, he'll be operating behind those guys. At this juncture, it's tough to project him as much more than helpful depth at a position that usually rotates at least a couple of players, but we'll see where he's at after his senior season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Pallante accepted a grayshirt offer, his commitment doesn't affect the numbers for the 2014 class, and it's far too early to take a guess at the 2015 numbers with any real accuracy.
Michigan received their first commitment to the basketball class of 2014 yesterday in Fort Meyers (FL) Bishop Verot forward Ricky Doyle, who received a scholarship offer while visiting for the Indiana game. It was Doyle's first visit outside the state of Florida, but he told UMHoops's Joe Stapleton that he saw everything he needed to make a decision:
What made you choose Michigan without going on all your other visits?
“When I was visiting the campus, I couldn’t think of anything wrong about it. Like, I was in the training room thinking wow, this is awesome. The coaching staff was awesome. They’re a great group of guys and I can’t wait to work with them. The staff, the gym, they had everything. Why wait when it’s right in front of you?”
While Doyle is the first prospect to commit to the 2014 class, one-time 2013 commit Austin Hatch has reclassified to 2014 after he was involved in a tragic plane crash in 2011. Doyle's pledge means the Wolverines are committed to the max 13 scholarships for the 2014-15 season, but that assumes zero attrition from the current roster, and raise your hand if you expect Trey Burke to play his senior season at Michigan. Thought so.
|3*, NR PF||NR PF||3*, 78, #29 PF||NR PF|
As you can see, Doyle isn't a high-profile recruit; he decided not to play AAU basketball, which goes a long way towards explaining his lack of exposure. Three of the four sites list him at 6'9" (Scout says 6'7") and all have him in the neighborhood of 230 pounds. Given that his game isn't perimeter-oriented, he should be a five (center) in John Beilein's system.
With the lack of AAU exposure, there isn't a ton in the way of scouting out there on Doyle. ESPN's evaluation discusses his potential as a post scorer, pegging him as a mid-major prospect with room to develop into a high-major option ($):
He's got a history of basketball in the family. His father had a cup of coffee with the Detroit Pistons before playing overseas. He's receiving good coaching in high school and improved from his freshman to sophomore season. Could be a kid who plays pick and pop to mid-range. Runs well and changes ends with decent touch in the lane. Like that already owns a hook shot and has ways to score in the lane.
Not a bad athlete but not an exceptional one either. Still needs to continue to cultivate his interior post moves and work in the weight room to gain a measure of explosion to help versus size.
A good student, Doyle is a legit mid-major prospect and because of all the history and improvements, he could wind up at a high level as a second post option.
Scout's Andre Barthwell caught up with Doyle's high school coach, whose evaluation largely mirrors the above—Doyle isn't an exceptional athlete but has good potential as a post scorer—and includes quite the NBA comparison ($) [emphasis mine]:
“Ricky has a great feel for the game,” said Herting. “He is really good with his back to the basket. Down low he can score with either hand and he is a very good three point shooter. He just doesn’t shoot it because that is not what we need from him on this team. He is very a fundamentally sound rebounder in terms of boxing out. He is working on his face up game and his foot work for more quickness. That isn’t to say he doesn’t have quickness he is working on it to get better at. With what he can do out on the floor his upside is huge can only get better that’s what you like about him and the direction his game is going in."
“He is a versatile player who can post up and pop out and hit the 10-12 foot shot,” Mr. Doyle added. ["]Ricky can handle out on the perimeter as well. Coach Jim Larranaga from Miami says he seen Dirk Nowitski when he was young, and that’s who Ricky reminds him of. Ricky has a seven-foot two-inch wing span with a size 18 shoe, and his doctor said that his growth plates have not closed so he is still growing."
If Doyle can develop that three-point shot he could be an option as a stretch four, though Beilein would probably prefer a little more athleticism at the position.
UMHoops had freelance writer Carl Bleich scout Doyle last November, and Bleich came away very impressed with Doyle's post game:
Doyle’s back-to-the-basket skills are second to none for a player his age. He is proficient finishing with both hands and has an array of post moves to choose from. He can also catch the ball in the post, face up and score consistently coming across the lane as well as showed on multiple occasions against LaBelle. He took just one shot outside of the paint in Thursday’s game but has showcased a smooth mid-range jump shot in the past that indicates that he is comfortable offensively outside of the paint.
Bleich also praised Doyle's defensive instincts and ability to box out, which should be welcome news to Michigan fans after watching the Wolverines for the last month.
Per UMHoops, Doyle held offers from Boston College, Stanford, Virginia, Purdue, Penn State, and Miami (YTM). He also had significant interest from Kansas State, Washington, and USC. That's a pretty solid offer list for a three-star/unranked recruit that didn't play AAU ball during a critical evaluation period.
According to MaxPreps, Doyle averaged 21.7 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per game while shooting 71% from the field and 67% from the line this season, though he only played nine games due to a foot injury. As a sophomore, he averaged 15.2 points and 8.6 rebounds per game, shooting 66% from the field and 65% from the line.
Camp highlights from last summer:
UMHoops also has sophomore highlights and single-game film on their commitment post.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Doyle doesn't come off as a player who's going to rise to the top of the rankings or be a star in college, but you can bet John Beilein sees something in him that the recruiting services haven't—his track record with early commits (see: Trey Burke, Glenn Robinson III) speaks for itself.
As said above, Doyle projects to the five in Beilein's system; when he hits campus, the returning post players will be redshirt senior Jon Horford, junior Mitch McGary, redshirt junior Max Bielfeldt, and sophomore (2013 commit) Mark Donnal. Only McGary and Horford seem guaranteed anything beyond role player status at that point, but it'll also be hard for Doyle to crack the rotation right away, especially if he's got work to do in the weight room before he's ready to hold up against Big Ten big men.
If Doyle lives up to his reputation as a skilled post scorer, he should have little trouble carving out a role down the road for a program that's lacked an interior scoring threat for quite some time. Continuing to develop a mid-range game should further improve Doyle's chances of seeing significant time; from there, how he develops physically and athletically will determine how big an impact he has at Michigan.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
UMHoops has the full scholarship breakdown—while Michigan appears full right now, expect at least two more spots to open up with the inevitable departure of Trey Burke and near-certain attrition that comes with any college program.
Michigan hosted their three top remaining targets last weekend along with Doyle: five-star MS SG Devin Booker, four-star IN SF Trevon Bluiett, and four-star OH SF Vincent Edwards. All three have outstanding offers and the Wolverines are very much in the mix for each of them.