not so much
So this is a deeply bizarre thing: The Wolverine is reporting that Grand Blanc RB Justice Hayes has seen the snake oil and committed to Michigan just a couple days after dropping his ND commit.
I'm all UFRing this Wisconsin debacle and Tim is away from the computer tonight so the full "Hello: Recruit" post will have to wait for tomorrow morning but in brief, Hayes is a highly-touted RB in the same mold as Demetrius Hart, the #84 overall player to Rivals and #3 "all purpose back"—Hart is #1. ESPN has him a 4-star 79 and #22 running back. Scout has him a 4-star, the #14 running back and #118 overall player.
Literally everyone reading this post is thinking "can he play corner?" He's 5'10", so hypothetically, but everyone ranks him as a tailback and ESPN's evaluation doesn't mention defense at all, so even if he ends up switching it will be after a while. Hopefully by that point the secondary won't be Kosovo in pads.
Michigan was looking for a second RB in this class but people thought it would be Thomas Rawls, not Hayes. Michigan appears to have picked up a duplicate of a player they've already got but both guys are widely praised for their receiving talents and could bounce back and forth—this commit likely ends any thought Michigan will pick up a slot in this class.
More tomorrow from Tim.
Both premium sites are reporting that FL CB Dallas Crawford has committed to Michigan. Yay!
|3*, #32 CB||3*, 5.7, #23 CB||4*, 80, #8 CB, #142 Overall|
Scout blurb on Crawford:
Crawford is an elite play-maker at QB and DB. He is a three year starter at QB, but projects to DB or WR at the next level. He has a tremendous natural ability to break on the football and can elevate to go get it(with great hands). His instincts are second to none and he has excellent pop as a tackler. Crawford lacks ideal height at 5'10, but is very strong on that frame. -Geoff Vogt, Florida Recruiting Analyst
They list his strengths as "Burst out of Breaks," "Instincts," and (perhaps most importantly for Michigan fans) "Tackling Ability." His only area for improvement is "Size," which, good luck with that.
As for that size, he's listed at 5-9 180 by Scout, and 5-10 185 by Rivals and ESPN, so I'll side with the majority there and give him the extra inch and five pounds. ESPN's evaluations are always breathless, but their talk on Crawford goes beyond that:
Crawford is simply one of the more instinctive defensive backs we have seen around the football in this class. A great overall athlete with excellent footwork and ball skills.
Before going any further, these are the things Michigan fans have been complaining about for the current DBs, no? Of course the height could be an issue, but ESPN says that he "plays taller." Without lifting their entire evaluation, we skip right to the moneyshot:
Crawford is still very scheme versatile as he could play corner or safety, a potentially great nickel and just a valuable defender in sub-packages. Simply a great playmaker with a nose for the football and some coveted intangibles.
Michigan picked up some smaller (Avery and Talbott) and a taller corner in the class of 2010, but Crawford is the third smurf-ish DB in the 2011 group. There's a chance he could stay at safety in college, but it seems more likely that he ends up on the corner.
Crawford's coach compares him favorably to Brodrick Jenkins, a South Fort Meyers product who now plies his trade at West Virginia:
“I tell all the programs that Dallas is as good as Brodrick. You better take him,” Redhead said. “He’s very talented. He’s got great grades. He’s going to make a great DB, slot receiver/running back in college. He’s just one of the best athletes, period.”
Crawford is also a productive QB for his high school, something that often correlates with good instincts (see: Avery, Courtney). He was profiled as the area's Most Outstanding Athlete as a junior:
It’s rare to see a quarterback, particularly one as gifted as Crawford, play so much on both sides of the ball. Coaches don’t like to risk injury to their star players more than they have to. For Redhead, though, it’s a risk he’s willing to take. Crawford’s athleticism at all positions make him a threat whenever he’s on the field, and Redhead says he’d be dumb not to let Crawford realize his full potential.
“He’s not going to help us standing next to me on the sidelines,” Redhead said. “He does some things I don’t think are possible. He’ll do some things where you say, ‘Don’t do that,’ but he comes out smelling like a rose. He’s so athletic and such a hard worker that it’s just easier for him.”
“Dallas is a phenomenal player,” Barron Collier coach Mark Ivey said. “He has an extremely strong arm and such great, athletic foot work. On defense, he’s an extremely powerful hitter.”
While he’s more than happy to help his team score points, Crawford calls himself a defensive player at heart. Being a quarterback has made him a better safety, he said, allowing him know what the opposing signal-caller is thinking.
An athlete that's too good to ever take off the field? An offensive star who considers him self more natural on defense? Yes, please.
Crawford's offer list has many mid-to-high level BCS programs, but very few upper echelon schools. Rivals has Georgia Tech, Iowa, Miami (YTM), and North Carolina as headliners, though Scout also credits him with LSU and Tennessee.
Crawford picked Michigan over the Hurricanes and Hawkeyes, not a bad pair of schools to beat out for a DB. That top three extended back to the summer.
Crawford's primary duty for South Fort Meyers is at quarterback, and he threw for 2,629 yards and 25 TDs while running for 422 yards and 5 TDs as a junior. On the defensive side of the ball, Crawford finished his junior year with 43 tackles and 10(!) interceptions, so he's no slouch as a high school DB, either. He was first-team all-state as an athlete, and the area defensive player of the year and 1st-team QB, all-district at free safety, and the Broxson Award winner as the Area MVP. Accolades: he has them.
He's been putting up good numbers in his senior season as well, so tune in for Friday Night Lights early next week to find out.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites have a listed 40 time for Crawford, which makes them not so much fake but imaginary. I'll use my powers to credit him with a 4.1-second time, so I can dole out the coveted five FAKEs out of five to myself.
Realistically, he's a guy known more for his quickness and football speed than being a straight-line burner, so a time in the mid 4.5s is probably likely. Sam Webb estimates this much in the Detroit News.
Here's his junior year:
I couldn't find any free senior video on the tubes.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Though Delonte Hollowell is ranked higher by Rivals, I think Crawford is probably the better corner in this class, and the most ready to earn immediate playing time. Instincts and quickness should help him to a key role on special teams as a true freshman, on coverage teams and potentially as a return guy. Michigan has three freshman corners this year that are all playing, and JT Floyd and Troy Woolfolk will both return from injury next year. There may be the luxury of a redshirt, as playing time in the secondary will be hard to come by in his first season, except in blowouts (unless the "undersized safety" suggestion by ESPN comes to fruition).
If Crawford doesn't redshirt, he'll have a bit of experience going into his sophomore year, with one of the corner positions opening up. He'll be in a battle with Courtney Avery, Terrence Talbott, and Cullen Christian for that spot. As a junior and senior, he'll get significant minutes in the secondary, even if he doesn't have a starting job.
Should he redshirt as a freshman, he'll get a bit of playing time on special teams and mop-up duty when he sees the field in 2012, then push for more playing time each year before locking down a spot as a junior and senior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan's recruiting at the corner position is almost certainly finished barring attrition or position changes, though they'll probably look for a safety or two to finish out the secondary. That means defensive line and linebacker become the areas of extreme focus. Michigan has about 21 scholarships to give out, and with 12 guys committed (13 if you count Antonio Kinard), they can be pretty selective about who gets the final spots.
...Speaking of players to fill the final spots, Crawford is teammates and friends with top WR/S Sammy Watkins. Landing Dallas may help the Wolverines beat Miami and Clemson for Watkins, which would be a major bonus to picking up a solid DB. Scout's experts think Watkins may follow Crawford.
After a long, strange recruitment, FL RB Demetrius Hart is (finally) committed to become a Michigan Wolverine.
|4*, #9 RB||4*, 5.9, #1 All-Purpose RB||4*, 80, #9 RB|
Hart is in the running for this year's "Marvin Robinson/Ricardo Miller Memorial Underrated Award," as the prospect that Michigan fans get really excited about early in the process, only to become disappointed when the recruiting services don't agree. He's still a four-star prospect, most likely, but that's a far cry from the National Top 10, where it seemed like Hart would end up.
On the Orlando Sentinel's Central Florida Top 100, he's fluctuated from anywhere between #2 and #14, and is currently #4. The big board provides the following brief comment:
Has all the moves and the grades
Both positives, in this guy's humble e-pininon. There's a little more detail on the Sentinel's profile page for Hart:
Hart is a playmaker in every sense of the word and will likely set the school's record for all-time leading rusher this season [ed: He did, along with records in single season touchdowns and career touchdowns]. Hart is a running back/receiver/return-specialist for the Panthers.
Some of Hart's disappointing rating can be attributed to his size, which doesn't translate to the running back position at the college level:
Despite his size Hart has owned central Florida the last two years.
That, of course, didn't stop him from getting offers to play either RB or slot from a number of top programs (about which more later). In an interview with ThaRinger.com, Hart broke down his game a little bit:
“Basically, a lot of schools when they recruit me, they recruit me for kick returner, punt returner, things like that but I also play running back. I’m more of an outside runner but I can run up the middle. I can do it all. I’ll put my head down and run through some people, so I can do a little bit of both.”
“I think my strengths are I can see the whole field. I can read a defense real well, watch a lot of film and I have speed so I can get around the outside or I can get through holes. I know how to be patient and wait on things like for blocks to happen and stuff like that. I think one of my weaknesses are just trying to get those extra few yards and taking that contact. I know as a running back you shouldn’t do that too many times, just try to preserve yourself and also just depending on my O-line to be there. I’m pretty good with reading the blocks so sometimes I kind of get ahead of them. Sometimes I see what they don’t see and I try to make a play on it, so that’s what I’m going to try and work on this spring.”
ThaRinger also gives its opinion on Hart:
He’s a smooth athlete with good speed and acceleration and he changes direction as good as anybody. He is also much more physical than his size would indicate. He definitely doesn’t shy away from contact. But perhaps his best attribute is his vision and he admits that when asked what his strengths are and what he would like to work on to continue his development.
He's versatile, excelling from the tailback position, as a receiver out of the backfield, and in the return game.
His coach provides a short-but-sweet comment on Hart:
"Dee is a student, and he's a tremendous competitor. There's a whole lot to like about him."
Scout.com talent evaluator Bill Greene echoes the coach's sentiments:
"Hart's physical ability, speed and quickness, are easily identified, but after watching him for two days there is much more to this impressive athlete," said Scout.com recruiting analyst Bill Greene. "His leadership ability, infectious attitude, and desire to win far outshine his impressive physical gifts. Demetrius Hart is a winner, on and off the field. He will be an outstanding addition to whichever college he chooses."
That drive for success has shown itself in the weight room, where he's packed on weight to become more of an every-down back:
Hart has been working hard this off-season. He has added 18 pounds since this time last year.
“My playing weight last year was 170 pounds. I have actually gotten faster. My quickness is the same. It’s just God given.”
Tying it all together: Shifty running back prospect with great hips who could also project to slot receiver or cornerback. Very good (but not great) speed, good balance, and improving ability to pound the ball inside.
Think of any football power, and there's a damn good chance they offered Hart. That includes the last two national champions, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Clemson, Georgia... the list goes on. His impressive offer list says what should be obvious by now: this kid is a Big Deal.
As his recruitment wound down, he had several "final" lists of schools. Alabama, Auburn, and Florida started the party, with Florida replaced by Michigan shortly thereafter. Auburn dropped off the list, but resurfaced about a month ago.
Hart has been a highly productive player in each of his seasons at Dr. Phillips High School. As a sophomore, he ran 111 times for 758 yards (6.83 ypc) and 16 touchdowns. He also played in the return game and was a cornerback on defense.
Hart is the all-time leader at Dr. Phillips in just about every rushing and scoring category. His junior stats include a game that he missed completely, and one for which he was injured and missed the fourth quarter.
Somehow I didn't managed to find exact junior year stats, but he gained about 2,000 yards rushing, receiving, and returning, and scored 20 total touchdowns. Five of those touchdowns came in the return game, and at least three came receiving. Hart split carries with 2010 Colorado State signee Marvin Ford. He was named 1st-Team All-Central Florida and 2nd-Team All-State.
Hart has been even more productive this season(!), with 813 all-purpose yards on 89 touches (9.13 yard per touch) through just four games. Much, much more detail on his season in next week's Friday Night Lights post.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits Hart with a 4.43 40-yard dash time, and Scout says 4.50, both of which are fast but plausible (and therefore no fun). ESPN is even less bullish, pegging him in the 4.65 range.
Hart is known as a speedster, but not a blazer, so all these times range from realistic to pessimistic. I have no choice but to dole out just a single FAKE.
Here's his junior year:
There's also video available from the Nike Gridiron Kings 7-on-7.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hart plans to enroll early, which gives him a better opportunity to contribute on the field early in his career. However, in his freshman year, Michigan will still have a bunch of running backs on the roster in senior Michael Shaw, redshirt junior Mike Cox, junior Vincent Smith, and sophomore Stephen Hopkins. That means carries will be limited, but Hart might be able to find the field in other ways.
With his receiving and returning abilities, there's a darn good chance that he'll be a starter or major contributor on special teams, and he could see some time in the slot. Couple that with a handful of carries in Michigan's stacked backfield, and it's not hard to see Hart get some good PT as a true freshman. However, with Michigan's depth at all of those positions, it's not necessary for Hart to play much as a freshman, unless the coaches want him to get his feet wet for the future. He could redshirt that season, then have a chance to play extensively the next year.
Hart's talent may be too much to keep off the field. He will probably get shuffled in during his true freshman year, become a big part of the rotation as a sophomore, and then have the opportunity to star as a junior and senior. As with Steve Slaton before him, Hart could become a Heisman contender before leaving Rich Rodriguez's program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The depth shown above is an indication that Michigan doesn't have a huge need for running backs in the class of 2011. If the coaches find another running back that they really like, they might take one (maybe Thomas Rawls?), but with 11 commits already in a class that should only go to about 22, the spots will likely be used elsewhere.
Hart's Dr. Phillips High School has put out plenty of talent in the past few years (Kenny Shaw of Florida State and a trio of Colorado State signees in the class of 2010, a trio of D-1 players in the previous class), and that trend looks to continue into the future.
Hart's commitment may not have an effect on Alabama commit S Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix, the #1 defensive back prospect in the cass of 2011, but the Wolverines are looking at several other teammates, including WR Chris Gallon and S Roderick Ryles. Michigan is also looking at 2012 QB Nick Patti, whose father is influential in the Dr. Phillips community. Hart's commitment could solidify the Dr. Phillips pipeline that Ricardo Miller helped start (prior to his move to Ann Arbor).
Despite the coaching staff and team being in Europe, John Beilein still managed to snag a commit from 2011 OH SG Trey Burke today.
|3*, #22 PG||3*, #27 G, #127 Overall||95, #22 PG|
Burke joins fellow guard Carlton Brundidge in the 2011 class.
UMHoops does a much more thoroough writeup on Burke, so check it out (image also from UMHoops).
After a brief server outage, here come the Hello. GBW is reporting that FL OL Tony Posada out of Tampa Plant High School has committed to become the 10th member of Michigan's 2011 recruiting class.
|3*, #75 OT||NR OL||3*, 78, #34 OT|
At 6-5 and already over 320 pounds, Posada is expected to be an offensive tackle at the next level. We'll get started with the ESPN evaluation:
Posada has great size along with enough explosion and playing strength to dominate defenders at his present level of play. Has the height and weight we like to see for the offensive tackle spot at the major level of competition.
He has a number of strengths:
Flashes explosion off the ball with good pad level and fit for his height; brings his hips with a good base and the leg drive necessary to sustain contact.
His agility is also singled out as a positive, though they say that quicker pass rushers, primarily from the linebacker position, could give him trouble. Other points to work on:
Will need to work on all aspects of punch, location and extension however his arm length and quick hands should be an asset.
Uh, that's actually really brief. ESPN, per usual, gives the above raving review, then follows it up with a lofty... #34 offensive tackle ranking. How can a guy whose only weaknesses are "might have trouble picking up a blitzing linebacker" and "has a little technique work to do on his hands" be ranked so low?
Elite Scouting Services puts a decidedly non-elite effort into breaking down his game:
Up front the offensive line for Plant will be led by Tony Posada. He is a big kid who moves well. Posada also played very well in their state title game. He will have the chance to really blow up this fall if his play on the football field continues to improve.
Tony also has enough flexibility to move inside and play offensive guard, which is always a plus when recruiting offensive linemen. The more spots a recruit can play, the more opportunities he might have with a program. Coaches like linemen who provide multiple possibilities instead of being tied to one position and having to then recruit other linemen to fill a specific need.
Tony is a bulldozer; think somewhat of a taller Justin Boren. The biggest difference is stength.
Despite "stength" being listed as one of his weaknesses, he has shown impressive strength in winning a regional title in the shot put, then finishing sixth in the state. Still, if there's even the slightest question about his strength, that 320-some pounds is not all good weight.
Posada was offered early, at least back in February. Kansas, USF, and Wake had also offered at that time. According to his Rivals profile, his other BCS-level offers included the likes of Duke, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisvulle, Missouri, Rutgers, South Florida, Tennessee, and Texas Tech.
The conventional wisdom on Posada was always that a Florida offer would be nearly impossible for him to turn down. When it became clear that an offer from the Gators was never going to come (despite performing impressively at their camp), Michigan became the heavy favorite. However, South Florida came on strong in the end, causing Michigan to stave them off down to the finish line.
Posada is an offensive lineman, and therefore doesn't have stats. He was, however, part of a dominant Tampa Plant running game last year (more on Plant in a moment). TJ Glover and James Wilder both ran for nearly 1,000 yards, and the team on the whole rushed for 2,945 yards on their way to a state title.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals credits him with a 5.39-second 40-yard dash time. That doesn't sound FAKE at all, but given the fact that he's well over 300 pounds, it still qualifies for one FAKE out of five.
There are no Posada-specific highlight reels available, but a bunch of Tampa Plant material is out there (Posada is #75):
Here's another game, and you can peruse Youtube for more.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
There's a huge disparity between descriptions of Posada and his actual rankings. He's certainly not under-the-radar, playing at one of the most visible programs in the nation. So what does it all mean? I would guess based on photographic evidence and measureables that he has to get in much better shape to be ready to play in college, in addition to the technique work mentioned above.
Tony's an offensive lineman, so he would probably be a lock to redshirt even if he didn't have conditioning and technique question marks. During his first year in Ann Arbor, he'll work to rectify those issues.
After a redshirt, Tony would hopefully be in decent shape to play (he certainly has good size). There will be more playing time available at tackle than guard, and he's a combo prospect who projects at either position. As a redshirt freshman and sophomore, he could get some playing time before sliding into a starting position as a junior and senior.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Posada is offensive lineman #3 of four or five in the class. That means there's only room for a couple more. Chris Bryant,
Jordan Walsh, and Nick Martin seem like some of the most realistic prospects to fill any remaining OL spots.
Offensive recruiting is almost completed (a tight end, and outside receiver, and Dee Hart are probably the only three positions left on that side of the ball). Defensive tackles, another linebacker or two, and defensive backs are the emphasis from here on out.
Plant is a powerhouse program, routinely pumping out tons of talent. In this year's class alone, 5-star RB James Wilder and 4-star QB Phillip Ely will graduate from Plant. Getting a foot in the door for future years can't hurt Michigan's recruiting efforts. The Panthers will play on ESPN on August 27, against Manatee in a preseason state title rematch.
Houston linebacker Kellen Jones has just committed to Michigan. Tim's taken to writing up Hello posts before the kids even commit—dangerous!—so I'll let him get online to give you the rundown, but in brief: Jones is a 6'2", 230-pound middle linebacker, a four star ranked #195 overall by Scout. ESPN has him as a 79 and Rivals a generic three-star.
Sorry for the delay, I'm out of town for a cousin's wedding. -
|4*, #11 MLB, #47 Texas||3*, 5.6, #32 ILB, #80 Texas||3*, 79, #33 OLB|
First things first, the measureables: All three sites are in agreement on his height and weight, at 6-1, 210 (ok, Rivals says 209). Rivals and Scout call him a middle linebacker, but ESPN says he's more of an outside guy. Let's see why:
Flashes "shoot the gap", downhill ability vs. the inside run but not the big tough inside linebacker type who consistently stacks at the point.
That's something that can certainly be improved upon, and Scout also lists "size" as one of his areas to improve. The other is "pass coverage skills," though his strengths of "athleticism" and "speed" mean that, once he earns a bit of technique and play-recognition, he should be OK in that department. Let's finish up with the Scout profile:
Amazing on the blitz, he is as instinctual as you can find. He has a feel for getting through blocking and getting in to attack the quarterback, also good at blocking kicks. His size is okay but it is not above average. Good speed he uses it to his advantage on blitzes and coverage. Does a great job of working through blocks... Jones says he can bench 315-pounds and squat 515, earning him the nickname “Superman.”
Jones: “I’m able to read the play and can react fast. I’m a great blitzer and run stopper. I can also tackle and don’t let the guy get away.
“I’m working on my change of direction speed. I want to improve my hip flexibility and get better at pass coverage.”
Instincts and athleticism are at a premium for defenses under Rich Rodriguez, even if it means giving up a little size. He'll fit right in as that goes. Back to the ESPN profile for a more comprehensive breakdown of his game:
Note: although Rivals ranks him #80 in Texas, AggieYell.com pegs him all the way up at #35 in the Lone Star State.
Jones had tons of offers, and was as high-profile as any 3-star prospect (Rivals and ESPN) can be. Hometown Houston, Wyoming, and Boise State were his only non-BCS conference offers, but he also had 15 from auto-qualifying schools. From the PAC-10, Arizona, Stanford, and future member Colorado offered, SEC schools Arkansas and Vanderbilt offered, Virginia was the lone ACC offeree, and Illinois, and Purdue joined Michigan as Big Ten offers. In his home turf the Big 12, Baylor, departing Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Texas A&M all sent him offers.
The Michigan offer was the Big One, and as soon as he got on campus, he was convinced that Ann Arbor was the place for him.
His Scout profile gives an idea of 2009 stats:
Last season Kellen Jones finished with 75 tackles in nine games played. He also had 22 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovered, an interception, a safety, and six sacks. Also getting the attention of college coaches are his six blocked kicks, four punts and two field goals.
Junior Honors: First Team All-District; First Team All-State
Very nice stats, especially considering "OMG TEXAS FOOTBAW." The ability to force action with turnovers and sacks is especially encouraging.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals says 4.6, which is reasonable, all things considered. He plays fast on film, but as for laser-timed, verified times, that's still pretty fast. I'll say two FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones is a little below optimal size, but Obi Ezeh exits after 2010, and no other middle linebacker has proven himself yet. He'll have a chance to contribute early, especially if JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens don't displace Ezeh this year.
I don't see a redshirt for Jones, as he'll spend his freshman year on special teams and in some backup situations. Hopefully, he'll be physically prepared to contribute right off the bat (an early enrollment would be excellent, though I haven't seen indications that he's planning to do so). Within a couple years, Jones should challenge for a starting role at inside linebacker, even if he starts on the outside to get acclimated to the college game. If he can stay healthy, All-conference honors are a possibility...
But there are past injury issues, including concussions. When it comes to an issue of "kid's future" v. "football team's success," everyone should side with the kid.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Sadly, I can no longer copy and paste the "hey we still need offensive linemen and linebackers" portion from previous Hello: X posts. Jones looks like a good fit at middle linebacker, and Michigan has nabbed a couple OL recently as well. Those are still the main positions of need in the class, but no longer the top priorities.
Michigan can stand to wait on a few kids they want (Zettel, Hart, and hopefully a few big-timers down the road), while accepting commitments that seem to be in the near future (Posada). The class is at or around half-full now, so the coaches can hold off and hope a good season generates interest from some top guys.