in town for free camps
As Blue in South Bend just tweeted to me, recruits come in pairs of pairs now, as the Wolverines picked up their third and fourth commits of the day in Cass Tech teammates Jourdan Lewis and David Dawson. I'll start with Lewis, a cornerback who really impressed while playing across the field from incoming freshman Terry Richardson.
Lewis lining up against 2012 Michigan commit Devin Funchess (Eric Upchurch/MGoBlog)
|NR CB||4*, 90, #21 CB|
Lewis will likely be a four-star prospect across the board when all is said and done, and Rivals regards him as a top-200 prospect early in the process. He's listed at anywhere between 5'9" and 5'11" depending on where you look, but having seen him three times this past season in person, I can vouch for him being right around 5'11"—he had a good couple inches on teammate Terry Richardson. For a Tech CB that's huge. There's more of a consensus on Lewis's weight, as three of the four sites list him at 170, which sounds about right.
Lewis has played varsity football for Cass Tech since his sophomore year, but he wasn't really on the recruiting radar until an impressive performance at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp last June, chronicled here by Josh Helmholdt ($):
...cornerback Jordan Lewis (sic), has not made as many camp appearances, and thus is not as widely known, but the 5-foot-11, 170-pound prospect should end up generating the same level of interest. Cass Tech has produced a BCS Conference cornerback prospect in four of the last five classes, and Lewis should keep that streak alive. Lewis' overall athleticism is off the charts, and he showed great ball skills in one-on-ones.
Lewis had the unfortunate distinction of being listed as "Lewis Jordan" on the Cass Tech roster for all of last year, and the spelling of his name is routinely bungled.
While Lewis was noted as an outstanding camp performer after SMSB, there were still questions about his on-field ability, but he began to answer those starting with Cass Tech's season opener against Farmington Hills Harrison. Allan Trieu said after the game, "He's a fast, athletic kid, who is not the biggest (5'8, 165-lbs), but makes a lot of plays. He had some nice returns, a couple tackles and an interception on a diving attempt. He holds a Toledo offer, and is a BCS prospect in my opinion." Josh Helmholdt listed Lewis as the #5 performer of the Big Day Prep Showdown—and the top junior, after three Michigan commits and Aaron Burbridge—and gave this evaluation ($):
The 5-11, 170-pound Lewis is very shifty and shows good agility in the open field on offense. His speed is unquestioned, but he also had more pop in his hits than we expected, knocking several ballcarriers backward with good form tackles. His ball skills were also on display with a shoelace interception that stopped a promising Harrison drive. What Lewis will need to improve the next two years is his play recognition, but that will come with experience and the junior had little of that before this season.
I also took in the game, and you can find my full report—as well as a few highlights—here. I thought Lewis was Cass Tech's best player on the field in that game, and I thought much the same when I saw the Technicians face off against Warren De La Salle and Shane Morris in the state playoffs:
Lewis was the best player on the field on Friday, recording three pass breakups and a critical interception (included in the video highlights above), where he read where Morris was going beautifully and made a great play on the ball. Lewis has a couple inches on Richardson, and while he's still quite skinny, he's able to play a more physical game while still exhibiting good speed and agility.
With Richardson doing such a great job blanketing receivers on the opposite side of the field, Morris often tried to throw at Lewis, but the junior was ready—he did a great job of staying right with the receiver, waiting until the ball was there, then reaching around and knocking it away without committing a penalty—his pass breakups all felt like a carbon copy of the previous one. Lewis is the next in line in the Cass cornerback pipeline, and he looked worthy to take up the mantle previously held by Richardson, Dior Mathis, and Boubacar Cissoko, though he has a little bit of height on each of his predecessors.
[Ed-S: That mantle:
Overall, Lewis brings outstanding athleticism to the cornerback position, and his coverage skills improved markedly over the course of last season. He's also not afraid to come up and make a hit, and once he adds a few pounds he could be a plus defender against the run.
Lewis had just two offers—from Michigan and Toledo—when he committed, but he made it clear from the beginning of the process that the Wolverines would be tough to beat. Rivals lists interest from Alabama, Iowa, MSU, Ohio State, Tennessee, and Wisconsin, so clearly some big-name schools started to take notice of his ability.
Lewis recorded eight interceptions as a junior and also had a big impact on the other two phases of the game, scoring six times as a receiver and five as a returner (three kickoff and two punt).
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists him a 4.40, which is faaaaaast. Lewis possesses tremendous athleticism, but I'll have to hang a three FAKEs out of five on that one until I see some confirmation from a camp that uses electronic timing.
Also, check out the 0:40 mark of this video to see Lewis picking off Morris in their playoff matchup.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With only J.T. Floyd graduating from the cornerback ranks after 2012, Lewis should be afforded the luxury of a redshirt. After that, he should be right in the mix for playing time with Courtney Avery and Terrence Talbott gone after 2013; he could very well be competing with Richardson for a starting spot across from Blake Countess. Lewis impressed me even more than Richardson in the three games I watched them play this season, and he has the potential to be an impact corner early in his career.
Lewis is also a very proficient return man; he could carve out a role in that capacity as well, especially on kickoffs, though it could be difficult to find a spot there with Dennis Norfleet on the roster. Still, Lewis was one of the most impressive prospects I saw in all of 2011, and he's a huge get for this class.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan will likely go after one more corner after only bringing in one player at the position—Richardson—in 2012. The Wolverines are already in the mix for several elite CB prospects, including five-stars Kendall Fuller and Vernon Hargreaves III, and Michigan also has a good shot at Tre Bell and Ryan White. Michigan can be pretty picky with this last corner spot, so look for them to try and fill it with a top-flight player.
Including Dawson (post coming soon), Michigan now has filled seven spots in the 2013 class: one QB, one RB, one TE, two OL, one CB, and a safety. They'll likely take 20-22 players in this year's class, barring greater-than-expected attrition.
Brady Hoke continues to prove that in recruiting, at least at Michigan, commits come in pairs. After Kyle Bosch committed earlier today, Novi (MI) Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman announced on Sam Webb's radio show this afternoon that he also pledged to the Wolverines. Michigan now has five commits in the class of 2013, and four of them are already garnering four-star ratings from at least three recruiting services.
|4*, NR DE||
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 92, #9 SDE,
As you can see, Shallman is a four-star recruit across the board, though his position is very much up in the air; Michigan reportedly recruited him as a running back, but he also played on the D-line in high school and is listed at DE by Scout, ESPN, and 24/7 (though the latter also lists him as a fullback). All four sites agree that Shallman stands at 6'3" and somewhere between 245-255 pounds, though watching him this year I think he's at or above the higher end of that range.
Shallman was plagued by a hamstring injury for much of his junior year, so it's difficult to find any evaluations of him as a tailback. There is one, however, and it's... mine. Here goes me:
Shallman is at his best running North-South, and while he doesn't have top-flight speed, he does get to the second level of defenders in a hurry. When he reaches the back seven, he has a tendency to put his head down and try to bowl defenders over, which often works but also limits his big plays—to his credit, however, there wasn't a single run in which Shallman didn't fall forward for at least an extra yard or two.
I was impressed, as I pointed out earlier, with Shallman's agility. He's not going to utilize a lot of fancy jukes or spin moves, but his go-to move—the quick jump-cut as he approaches an oncoming defender—worked really well for him. Shallman isn't going to make a lot of guys completely whiff at the next level, but he's shifty enough to get defenders off-balance, and with his power that's enough to shed tackles—Inkster defenders were bouncing off of him all night.
Though he only was asked to do this on a couple of plays, Shallman showed that he was a capable lead-blocker, getting to the second level and pushing his man several yards downfield on a couple of occasions. I didn't get to see him in blitz pickup, as Inkster couldn't generate a pass rush on the few occasions the Shamrocks attempted a pass, but his strength is definitely an asset in the blocking game.
In that game, Shallman finished with 72 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries, including a very nice 25-yard TD run in which he juked two guys (unfortunately, I wasn't able to get video of the game). He seems like the type of player who could plow ahead and pick up decent chunks of yardage, though he's not as much of a big-play threat, and he echoed that sentiment when I talked to him after the game:
ACE: You watched the game against Western. What do you think about the offense, and how do you think you can fit in and make it better?
WYATT: Right now they're still running more spread because of the personnel that they have, they don't really have the 'I' type of thing that they were talking about to me, because they want me to play tailback. When they did go to the 'I', it was very interesting because they were getting six-yard chunks, and that's the type of football I like. I like lining up, going straight ahead, and hitting some people straight in the face, so that's what I like to see.
In case you can't tell, Shallman loves contact and is not afraid to dole out punishment on either side of the ball.
The other evaluations mostly focus on Shallman's ability as a defensive end. Since there's a decent chance he could end up there by the time his Wolverine career is over, they're worth looking at. Here's Josh Helmholdt discussing Shallman after last year's season opener ($):
We did not get to see the 6-3, 250-pound junior tote the football as we had hoped - he was suffering from a hamstring injury and only played on defense - but once he checked in on the defensive line late in the first quarter, Shallman did not come out until the game was well in hand. At times he looked to be protecting the leg, but mostly he went all out and looked sharp. His athleticism for a big prospect is outstanding and his speed is well above average for the defensive end position. We're still not sure if tailback is an option in college, but Shallman is definitely a high-end defensive prospect with a great motor.
Shallman played sparingly on defense when I watched him play, so I'll trust the more experienced scouts when it comes to judging his ability on that side of the ball. His athleticism for his size is a definite plus; while he doesn't have ideal speed for a tailback, he's more than fast enough to put on a good speed-rush from the edge. Here's Allen Trieu on Shallman after his sophomore season:
The 6'3, 248-lb Shallman could be a fullback or defensive lineman at the next level. Since fullback is not a position every school uses, we're projecting him as a tackle, where he played last year. He's a very good player. He's aggressive and has a quick first step.
Trieu also scouted the same game as Helmholdt ($), saying Shallman "looked good [on defense]. He was active, got good penetration and made a couple plays at or behind the line of scrimmage."
Along with Michigan, Shallman held offers from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Syracuse. He also had interest from Cal, Florida, Georgia Tech—a very interesting suitor if they were looking at him for running back—Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Wisconsin, among several others.
As a sophomore in 2010, Shallman toted the rock 53 times for 355 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. He also 32 tackles (six TFL), two sacks, and a forced fumble.
I'm still trying to track down junior stats, but I'll update the post if I come across them.
FAKE 40 TIME
From a July 2011 Sam Webb feature in the Detroit News:
At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, Shallman is far from your typical ball carrier. He'll routinely outweigh many opposing linemen, but don't think for a second that makes him a plodder. The Shamrock standout runs a 4.7 40-yard dash, has a 38-inch vertical and a shuttle time of 4.1 seconds. That makes him pound-for-pound one of the best athletes in the state regardless of class.
ESPN lists Shallman as running a 5.11 (though they do list an impressive 4.18-second shuttle), and I've also seen him listed at a 4.9 elsewhere. I'll give the 4.7 a four FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights from both sides of the ball:
You can also find Shallman's sophomore highlight reel here.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Shallman is a tough prospect to peg down. He certainly isn't your traditional running back, though he could be used very effectively either as a change-of-pace/short-yardage back or a second weapon in the backfield, either in a dual-tailback set or as a fullback. He has experience at both tailback and fullback, and we could see him used in several different roles as a Wolverine.
The big question is whether Shallman will be able to stick at running back; at around 260 pounds as a high school junior, it's tough to see him staying there if he arrives in Ann Arbor much larger than that. Given that he's a four-star DE prospect, it certainly wouldn't be an issue if it worked best for him to shift over to defense. A potentially apt comparison is former Texas Longhorn Henry Melton, another four-star athlete who was 6'3", 275 pounds coming out of high school. Melton began his collegiate career as a massive tailback, averaging five yards per carry and scoring ten touchdowns on just 87 rushes as a freshman. He continued to grow, however, and by his junior year he had shifted to DE, where he started ten games—recording ten TFLs and four sacks—as a senior. Melton was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears and has 9.5 career sacks as a 295-pound defensive lineman.
It's tough to say at this point where Shallman will end up. If he can keep his weight down, I could see him being an Owen Schmitt-style threat out of the backfield. If he gets much bigger, I think he's better suited to play on the defensive line, where he could stand out at end. My guess is we'll see him start his Wolverine career at running back, but don't be surprised if he's a position-switch candidate down the road.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Shallman gives Michigan a bruising backfield presence, and now they'll focus on bringing in a talented all-around back as a complement. Joliet (IL) Academy four-star Ty Isaac appears to be the top player on Michigan's board, but they've offered several other blue-chip running backs as well, including DeVeon Smith, Justin Davis, Derrick Green, and Keith Ford. Expect the Wolverines to take one more back, likely from among that group; Isaac and Smith seem like the best bets to end up in the class.
Overall, Michigan has now filled five spots in what should be a 20-22 player class. There's still a need for 3-4 more offensive linemen, a couple big-time receivers, and depth across the board.
According to both 24/7's Steve Wiltfong and TomVH, Wheaton (IL) St. Francis OL Kyle Bosch committed to Michigan on his visit this afternoon. Bosch joins QB Shane Morris, S Dymonte Thomas, and TE Khalid Hill as the fourth member of the Wolverine class of 2013.
4*, #9 OT,
150 Watch List
4*, 95, #7 OT,
Every recruiting service but Scout has put out extensive early rankings for the class of 2013, and in those Bosch acquits himself well, making the top 100 in all three (here is ESPN's, which is hard to find [$]). He's one of the ten best tackles in the country, and those guys will usually make a strong push for the top 50 overall recruits by the end of the year. All four sites list Bosch at 6'5" and between 280 and 285 pounds; he has the frame to play either tackle or guard, and 24/7 goes so far as to list him at both positions.
Bosch has been hitting the camp circuit and turning heads since his freshman year of high school. More recently—January of this year, to be precise—he participated in the Marines' Junior Rank Diamond Flight camp in Chicago, and Scout's Allen Trieu said he stood out above all the other underclassmen at the event:
"Leading the way was Wheaton (Ill.) St. Francis' class of 2013 offensive lineman, Kyle Bosch," said Allen Trieu, Scout.com Midwest regional manager, "He has excellent technique, is strong, and plays mean and physical. He told me most schools see him as a tackle, while a few see him as a guard. I can see why some schools would project him inside, but I think he could play either depending on the school. Regardless, he is ahead of the curve and really impressive."
Bosch reportedly went undefeated in one-on-one pass blocking drills at the camp," a remarkable feat considering his high school team only throws the ball an average of four times per game." He's used his combine experience not just to show off his skills, but to hone them as well. His coach echoes the sentiment that he plays with an edge ($):
"I think the biggest thing is that he has such a high motor," said [St. Francis coach Greg] Purnell. "He's a very intense football player, and I think a lot of times, bigger kids like that take a while to develop that. But he has an intensity level that I've never seen in a big guy. He loves contact. That, to me, is the big difference."
Rivals Midwest analyst Josh Helmholdt, meanwhile, is most impressed with Bosch's technique:
“We have not seen many offensive linemen in the Midwest early,” said Rivals.com Midwest recruiting analyst Josh Helmholdt, “but the 6-5, 275-pound Bosch stood out because he is well ahead of his years technically."
Strong, versatile, technical, and mean? Please and thank you.
Elsewhere, Tom Lemming called Bosch "the best sophomore lineman [he's] seen since Chance Carter," a class of 2010 defense end who committed to Northwestern. Lemming noted that Carter leveled off in his final two seasons; it doesn't appear the same will be the case for Bosch at this juncture. In December, TomVH named Bosch as the #2 offensive recruit with a Michigan offer, behind only Ty Isaac and ahead of standouts like Ethan Pocic, Logan Tuley-Tillman, Laquon Treadwell, and Adam Breneman ($). Magnus/Thunder gives his scouting report of Bosch over at TTB, projecting him to guard while comparing him to former Michigan All-American tackle Jeff Backus.
Bosch held 21 offers from all over the country when he committed: Alabama, Arizona, ASU, Boston College, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Notre Dame, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, and West Virginia. No matter what point you're at in the process, but especially this early, that's one heck of a list.
No stats for offensive linemen, obviously, but Bosch was named all-area and all-state in 2011.
FAKE 40 TIME
24/7 lists a 5.25 40 time, which doesn't sound at all unrealistic for an offensive lineman lauded for his athleticism. I'll give it a token two FAKEs out of five, only because I don't know the source of the time.
WARNING: This junior highlight reel, while short, contains an excessive amount of violence.
Bosch also has a more extensive sophomore highlight film that you can see here.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With Michigan going after so many elite tackles in this class, I see Bosch ending up at guard as a Wolverine, though he could play left tackle—assuming he's starting at the same time as the lefty Shane Morris—and excel there as well. At 6'5", and with Michigan pursuing so many prototype tackle prospects, I don't see him protecting the blind side, but he's one of the more college-ready prospects you're going to find at this stage in the process.
With Patrick Omameh, Ricky Barnum, and Elliott Mealer all graduating after 2012, Bosch should immediately provide depth at guard. Depending on where the coaches decide to use Kyle Kalis, he could be in the mix for playing time as well. At the very least, Bosch fits the profile of a prospect who should be a multi-year starter and compete for all-conference honors down the road.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan will take at least three, if not four or five, more offensive linemen in the class. The Wolverines appear to be in the drivers seat for tackles Logan Tuley-Tillman and Chris Fox, while the highest-ranked lineman in the Midwest, Ethan Pocic, is on campus this weekend. They are in the mix for several other top prospect, as well, though at least one lineman is going to have to project to center—unless that player is Bosch, the Wolverines may have some tough decisions to make about which linemen they take (and how many) this year.
According to 24/7's Steve Wiltfong, Michigan has picked up their third commitment in the class of 2013 in Detroit Crockett TE Khalid Hill. Hill received his offer from the Wolverines today and also had one from Central Michigan. He joins Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 teammate Shane Morris and Dymonte Thomas among Michigan's 2013 commits.
|NR TE||NR WDE||NR TE||3*, 86, NR TE|
Hill doesn't have rankings from three of the four recruiting services yet, but that shouldn't be of major concern—it's still very early in the process and the vast majority of juniors still haven't been evaluated. Three of the four list Hill at 6'2" (Scout has him an inch taller) and his listed weight ranges from 223-235 pounds—I'd guess he's closer to the higher number based on the picture above.
Hill was a standout at the Maximum Exposure combine at the Silverdome in December and he apparently developed a strong rapport with his future quarterback ($):
The other Hill at Crockett, Khalid Hill, already has good size. At 6-2, 230 he is big enough to be a good blocker in the run game, but what is most intriguing about him is his ability to run routes and catch passes like a receiver. Hill was clearly one of the top pass-catchers in attendance and has seemingly developed a real chemistry with Shane Morris.
In case you're wondering what "the other Hill" refers to, Khalid's brother Khalil—I'm sure that never gets confusing—plays cornerback for Crockett. Khalid's highlight tape, which you'll see below, jives with this evaluation; he's very adept at finding space over the middle and displays soft hands for a high school tight end. Rivals.com's Josh Helmholdt was also impressed by Hill at Maximum Exposure, naming him among the top performers of the event ($):
Hill has all the physical tools to be a Division I tight end, he just is a little on the short side at 6-foot-3. We'll see how he grows, but Division I programs are already showing interest.
Magnus has his evaluation of Hill up over at Touch the Banner, and he praises Hill's route-running and hands while having this to say about his future position and blocking ability:
With a short frame, it's likely that he's headed for the U position, which is an H-back type role. His size might be an advantage when playing in space or lead blocking from the move position, but he may struggle to add enough weight and strength to be an every-down tight end. He gets a little bit lackadaisical with his blocking at times, and he's going to have to be more consistent with his effort in the running game. That can be fixed with coaching, though.
Hill has the body to be able to play as a freshman if needed. He's not the most fundamental or explosive player, but he's not wispy like Devin Funchess and might be more college-ready immediately. I expect him to play a role somewhat like that of former Michigan tight end/H-back Aaron Shea.
Hill also took home MVP honors among tight ends at Michigan's summer camp in 2011, so the coaches were able to get an up-close evaluation that surely helped him land an offer. ESPN has yet to write up a scouting report on Hill and a tap-dancer of the same name is making a Google-stalk difficult, so for now the above camp reports are as much as I can find on Michigan's newest commit. Now that he's made his decision, I'm sure we'll read much more on him in the very near future. Since he plays at Detroit Crockett, I'll also likely be checking out at least one of his games in the fall.
Hill held one offer—from Central Michigan—before he pledged to Michigan today. Michigan State also reportedly showed interest. Considering how early in the process it is and the fact that Hill's camp appearances were in-state, the short offer list shouldn't be of much concern. His Michigan camp MVP honor says all you need to know about what the coaches think of his ability.
Hill caught 29 passes for 448 yards and six touchdowns in 2011. He also added 55 tackles, nine TFLs, and six sacks while playing defensive end.
FAKE 40 TIME
Hill posted a 5.11 40-yard dash time at the Nike SPARQ Combine in Massillon (OH) last February, where he also recorded a 4.84-second shuttle and a 28.5" vertical leap. He looks faster than that 5.11 on film, and since that's an electronic time at a combine I'll give it a one FAKE out of five. If anything, he's probably a little faster at this point.
From a quick perusal of the film, Hill impresses with his ability to go over the middle and his soft hands, though he could do a little better at catching the ball away from his body. It's tough to evaluate his blocking from the few highlights available, but he seems pretty powerful while also possessing surprising athleticism for a player of his size.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence at this point is flimsy indeed, but Hill looks like a solid all-around tight end who's a real threat as a receiver. He's a little shorter than ideal for the position, which may limit his effectiveness as a downfield threat. Hill has solid bulk for a junior, however, and he shows no fear in going across the middle and extending to make the tough catch. Michigan will once again be in need of an infusion of depth at tight end after Brandon Moore graduates following the 2012 season, so Hill will have every opportunity to contribute early in his career, especially if A.J. Williams eventually outgrows the position.
Without much to go on beyond one camp appearence and his junior film, I can't say much more about how he projects, though his lack of height will likely limit how high he can go when full class of 2013 rankings are released. That said, this is a nice pickup at a position of need, and Hill fits the mold as a versatile player who can line up along the line, at H-back, or even split wide. Given that he has over a year-and-a-half to add weight before his freshman season, Hill should have the size to be an immediate contributor by the time the 2013 season rolls around—we'll just have to wait and see if he has the ability.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's still too early in the process to really project the number of open spots, but expect Michigan to end up with around 20-22 scholarships to fill for 2013, and they've now landed three commits. Given the need at tight end, I expect the Wolverines to take one more player at the position, so this commitment doesn't mean that they won't continue pursuing players like Adam Breneman, Jake Matuska, and Jake Butt.
I had just been complaining to Seth about Michigan overlooking the diminutive speedster in their backyard, and lo and behold Detroit King's Dennis Norfleet woke up and faxed a letter of intent to Michigan. Norfleet is 5'6" on a good day but "simply electric."
If you're wondering how a guy like that fits into a pro-style offense, think Darren Sproles. When Michigan has a passing offense to be feared, a guy like Norfleet can take advantage of the space underneath to tear up defenses trying to defend against four verts.
More later as I assemble a full post here.
|4*, #19 RB,
|4*, #5 APB
|4*, #7 APB
Dennis Norfleet is not tall! He is short. When sites are being generous they say he's 5'7"; when they're not he's 5'6". Only one source, that SpartanMag, has bent the truth all the way to 5'9".
But who cares? If you're 5'9" or 5'6" the only way you latch on to a major scholarship offer is by being the quarkiest of quarkbacks. Norfleet is that:
One of the most explosive players in the class, Norfleet has great acceleration, open field elusiveness and a natural knack for making defenders miss. Has excellent skills in the pass game, and is a dangerous receiver. Is also a great return man. He is not the biggest back, although solidly built, but he is a guy who can be used in a variety of roles, including slot receiver.
Three out of four scouting services agree with that assesment; ESPN is notably less enthused. Their evaluation was last updated in early June, though, before Norfleeet tore through a bunch of 7 on 7s and his senior year. Since he didn't go to an All Star Game (by choice—Norfleet runs track and going to one would kill his eligibility thanks to some outdated MHSAA regulations), ESPN never checked back in.
Anyway, they think he's Dennis Norfleet except not explosive:
Flashes good quickness and explosive but lacks great top-end speed and a second gear. … For his smaller size you would like to see more elusiveness and speed in the open-field. Looks to lack really loose hips. Does not appear to have difference-maker qualities when projecting at the major college level or the size to handle high carries and run between the tackles.
This is an opinion shared by no one. Select highlights from his 7 on 7 tour of the country:
- PITTSBURGH: "There are a select few players who can make defenders in position totally whiff in one-hand touch, 7-on-7 football. There may be only one Dennis Norfleet, who seems to make a play or two like that every game. On one particular play, Norfleet put a move on two defenders at one time, splitting the pair and taking the ball in for a touchdown"
- RUTGERS: "Norfleet also has good hands out of the backfield, makes people miss even in touch football and he was also solid on defense. He may not be big, but he can be a special scat back in a spread offense."
- SOME PLACE CALLED BADGERSPORTS: "Norfleet is one of the better pass-catching running backs in the country. He was comfortable running the wheel route and taking it deep as well as catching swing passes and turning them into yards. He is incredibly quick after the catch, showing great burst in getting to the edge."[Caveat: does say "not the fastest player for his size."]
- MIDWEST SHOWCASE: "Although small in stature, Norfleet is hard to check in press coverage because defensive backs have trouble getting their hands on him. After creating separation at the line of scrimmage, Norfleet's speed and quickness in and out of his cuts usually allow him to find plenty of space to catch the football."
And those were just the camps that recruiting analysts were at. Last summer Norfleet hit up 7 on 7s($) at Florida, LSU, Alabama, and Mississippi State as well. A lack of offers from those schools should dampen your enthusiasm, but I don't care much. Tiny backs get lost in the shuffle all the time.
After all that, Norfleet put some pads on and annihilated Brother Rice($) in the Big Day Prep Showdown event at Eastern, causing Josh Helmholdt to deploy all the love he'd saved up by not thinking Chris Wormley is great:
The open-field jukes and stop-and-start plays he breaks off into long gains make the highlight reel, but what is less recognized is that Norfleet is a great between-the-tackles runner. He has powerful legs and the burst to exploit the smallest of holes. Norfleet showed once again that he can be an every down back, carrying 34 times for 230 yards and two touchdowns.
Helmholdt is alone in his belief that Norfleet can work within the tackles, but he has seen him an awful lot, and calls him a "phenomenal receiver" in that electric article linked above.
Finally, high school opponent coach quote:
"He's better than anybody we got, he looks like Barry Sanders of high school to me," said Allen Park coach Tom Hoover. "He's for real. We don't have anybody good enough to catch him. He was beating our guys, and we haven't seen that all year. The flow goes there, you have to get here. You've got to go 5 feet, he's got to go 20, and he beats you there."
Until yesterday, Norfleet had been a Cincinnati commit, selecting the Bearcats over Michigan State and Tennessee presumably because he felt the UC spread was a better fit for his talents.
This year he rushed for 2,033 yards and 27 touchdowns as King reached the D2 semifinals. As a junior it was 1880 yards and 31 touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
Norfleet also put up outstanding testing numbers at Alabama, running a 4.41 40-yard dash, a 4.17 shuttle and posting a 33-inch vertical jump. His play impressed Crimson Tide running backs coach Bobby Williams and had several other coaches on staff commenting on his play.
I give it two fakes out of five.
Senior clips are above. Here's his junior highlight reel:
He's also got sophomore film up.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Yessssss. Schools should recruit guys like Norfleet like they do kickers: have at least one on the roster at all times and maybe stash a second away so you've always got a quality specialist. With Justice Hayes Michigan now has two bullets in the space-player chamber.
Norfleet will instantly be in the mix for both return jobs. While Jeremy Gallon is likely to hold on to punt return duties, kickoff returns could use a jolt of athleticism after Martavious Odoms and Vincent Smith split duties this year.
As far as a role on offense, he'll probably spend a year backing up Vincent Smith before fighting with Hayes for third down back. If Michigan really is moving to a "pro style" offense they'll have to define whether that means aimlessly running power over and over or pairing guys like Hayes and Norfleet with Shane Morris to create a Brees/Brady-style deadly passing spread. Survey says: some of both. Norfleet could have an impact in the former and will be a centerpiece in the latter.
Note: if you're one of the folks hoping that Michigan will retain some spread aspects to its offense even after Denard is gone, this is the kind of player who can force that to happen. I would greatly enjoy an offense that used Morris and the crew of receivers he's busy recruiting for 2013 as an every-play weapon you have to react to and then hit you underneath with Norfleet when you did.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
What rest of the class?
Etc.: Cincinnati was really excited about him but can't even be mad because of Stacey. TTB doesn't like the way he jogs into the endzone. I'll take that as an issue. This has nothing to do with anything but when you run across a comment like this about Jake Rodrigues in a "Summer Camp Risers" article, well… man:
Jake sucks. He has padded stats. His 5 month old son needs him to stay home and in his life. Stop chasing dreams. You are a dad. The opening players couldn't understand how he even made it there. OADDED STATS, he is no QB.
Jennifer Hairstylist would like to be Jennifer Rodrigues, and that ain't happening. Rodrigues signed with Oregon.
[UPDATE: There is some dispute as to whether or not Henry has committed. Tom texted Henry, who said he hasn't committed yet and was looking to announce on Tuesday ($). Sam Webb, on the other hand, confirmed the commitment with Ted Ginn, Henry's head coach at Glenville. Sounds like Henry will end up at Michigan either way and there was some miscommunication between him and Ginn about the announcement, but I'll let you know if circumstances change.]
Sam Webb is reporting on Twitter that Glenville (OH) DT Willie Henry, who visited and got an offer over the weekend, has committed to Michigan. Henry becomes Michigan's 24th commit of the class of 2012 and projects to fill a spot at three-tech defensive tackle. The last Glenville product to join the Wolverines was another three-star defensive lineman, current DE Frank Clark—let's hope Henry is able to impress the coaches as much as Clark did last year.
|3*, #38 DT||3*, NR DT||3*, 75, #97 DT||3*, 83, #75 DT|
Coming from a high-profile program in Glenville, Henry has had his fair share of exposure, and all four services agree that he's a low-to-mid three-star prospect. The general consensus on his size is that he's in the area of 6'3", 270 pounds, so he'll have to put on some weight if he's going to land at defensive tackle.
He appears to have the frame to do just that, according to ESPN's evaluation ($):
Though Henry needs to keep developing his frame and add some more good mass he does possess good natural size and looks to carry more bulk than is listed. As a defensive tackle he flashes a good get-off, but can be inconsistent and while at times he shows a nice burst at other times he can be a beat late and needs strive to be more consistent in his get-off. He can tend to play high and needs to work to keep his pad level down. When he does work to stay low he can get overextended and needs to do a better job of playing with better bend and generating more power from his lower body when he engages blockers. When he can gain leverage he is a tough guy to move, but he seems to make things hard on himself at times. He looks to have a solid reach for his build, but needs to do a better job of bringing and using his hands to keep blockers from getting into his frame. When he is active with his hands he can battle and be tough to handle, but with a tendency to pop up and lead with the shoulder and lose his hands he can let blockers into him and can be pushed back. Demonstrates adequate ability to locate the ball though doing a better job of separating from blockers could help to find the ball better. Displays marginal short-area change-of-direction skills.
As is expected with a sleeper prospect like Henry, improving technique will be key if he is going to contribute down the road, and it sounds like he has a fair amount of work to do in that regard. This is when it's quite handy to have three defensive line coaches on the staff. Scout, who ranked Henry the highest out of any recruiting service, has a more positive take on his game. They list athleticism, foot quickness, and pass-rushing ability as his strengths, with size as his area for improvement. Allen Trieu likes Henry's athleticism and, in contrast to ESPN, praises his jump off the line:
Henry is an athletic player who is light on his feet, has good coordination and closing speed. He is disruptive and gets good penetration because he has good get off. He shows a good motor and foot speed in pursuit. He has to add some bulk and strength to be able to anchor against the run, but he flashes, makes some big plays in the backfield and is a good interior pass rusher.
Trieu evaluated Henry at the Columbus NIKE Football Training Camp last May, where he competed alongside the likes of Ondre Pipkins, Danny O'Brien, Mario Ojemudia, and Adolphus Washington, and said he "produced outstanding results in the 1-1s. He’s quick and agile, and used that to win every rep he took."
John McAllister of MSROhio notes that Henry spent his winters focused on basketball, which could help explain his solid athleticism and his need to add weight, and he echoes the praise for Henry's quickness:
Listed at 6'3-270, he uses his athleticism and quickness to beat offensive linemen. Really like the way he uses his hands to separate. Plays pad under pad. Needs to improve his change of direction, but his closing speed on his pass rush is excellent. He agrees that his quickness is his strength. A weakness is that he feels that he must play hard every down. Going both ways on a high level program is hard. He wants to play hard every play. Conditioning and pacing himself is important. Honestly, evaluating him, he does not take many plays "off."
To sum it up, Henry fits the mold of a raw but talented D-line prospect: athletic, quick, and with a good frame, but in need of some serious coaching on technique.
Henry held offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisville, Marshall, Ohio, Pitt, Syracuse, and Toledo. Obviously, that's a lot of MACtion, but offers from the Illini, Pitt, and Syracuse stand out.
No stats were available through an initial Google-stalk. If you spot any, post them in the comments and I'll update the post.
FAKE 40 TIME
ScoutingOhio lists Henry with a 4.78 40-yard dash. That would be outstanding for an interior lineman, even one who played TE and DE in high school, so I'll give that four FAKEs out of five and hope I'm wrong.
Henry boasts a rather extensive, and impressive, senior highlight film:
These are only highlights, obviously, but he looks very quick off the ball.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As stated earlier, Henry should land at the three-tech at Michigan once he puts on some weight. It's always tough to project these sleeper recruits as anything more than useful depth for the squad, but Henry looks like a player who could contribute down the road as a situational pass-rusher—if he can keep his burst and quickness after adding 20-30 pounds, he could be a real handful for interior offensive linemen. With Ondre Pipkins slated to hold down the nose and command double-teams for the next four years, Henry could see a lot of single-blocking if he eventually sees the field, and he has the athleticism to take advantage. Given the need to add weight and refine his technique—as well as the strong class of defensive linemen already in the fold—it's safe to assume that Henry will redshirt and likely take at least a couple of years to crack the depth chart.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Henry's commitment leaves up to four open spots in the class of 2012, but at this point there aren't four obvious candidates to fill those spots. With Josh Garnett, Armani Reeves, Alex Kozan, and Sam Grant all committing elsewhere over the past week, only Jordan Diamond remains as a clear option to join the class. He announces on February 3rd, two days after signing day, so we'll see if any other surprises pop up in the interim. There are no huge needs remaining for the class (more on that tomorrow), though getting at least one more offensive lineman—Diamond, in all likelihood—would alleviate some depth concerns. Other potential positions to watch would be tight end, wide receiver, and cornerback, though as I said there are no current targets on the radar, at least when it comes to the recruiting services. We'll have to wait and see if the coaching staff has other plans or if they choose to pocket a couple scholarships for the 2013 class.