Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Southfield (MI) DE/LB Lawrence Marshall, a former Ohio State commit and presumed Michigan State lock, has committed to... Michigan, of course, per fellow commit Michael Ferns and confirmed by the various recruiting outlets. Marshall was on campus today with Ferns and receiver commit Moe Ways, a long-time AAU teammate of Marshall's who's been recruiting him hard lately.
Marshall was expected to make a decision soon, but the choice wasn't supposed to be Michigan—according to 247, he's visited East Lansing eight (eight!) times since the beginning on February, and all six of the 247 experts to weigh in predicted he'd choose Michigan State.
Where's the threat? Oh, it's right here, and it's devouring us alive.
4*, #12 DE,
|3*, #19 WDE||
4*, 83, #12 DE,
4*, 91, #12 WDE,
As you'll see in the scouting section, Marshall is a relatively raw prospect with plenty of upside, so it's not surprising to see a major outlier in his rankings prior to his senior season; while the other three services have Marshall safely within their top lists, Rivals pegs him as a three-star ranked three spots below the last WDE four-star (Gelen Robinson, incidentally). His listed measurables range from 6'3", 215 lbs. to 6'4", 230—based on recent camp reports, the latter figure is probably more accurate.
With the rankings for Marshall largely based on his potential, his senior season and future camp performances could spur plenty of movement in either direction.
Allen Trieu's free report on Marshall's Scout profile is a good place to start—his listed strengths are athleticism, backside pursuit, and lateral range, with "techniques and moves" as his area for improvement:
Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. Plays with hand down in high school, but may be a stand-up rusher in college. Has not been asked to drop into coverage much, but that's something he may be asked to do at the next level. Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there. - Allen Trieu
I believe Marshall is more likely to end up at weakside DE—playing with his hand down—than standing up at outside linebacker, so this note from Trieu after an Adidas camp in March brings up an important point ($):
He's very long and athletic. He needs to still get stronger. Big, physical offensive linemen had success when they got their hands on him, but his feet and quickness are very impressive.
Until Marshall adds the requisite size and technique, he'll have a tough go against big offensive linemen. In college, that's every offensive lineman.
His athleticism, however, makes him a tantalizing prospect as an edge rusher. Steve Lorenz named him one of the top performers at the first HYPE Showcase in Canton, citing his size/speed combo as the primary reason, a couple weeks ago:
DE Lawrence Marshall (Southfield, MI/Southfield): Marshall was the headliner and for the most part performed as such. He continues to build himself up and has become a potentially lethal combination of size and speed. He still can occasionally struggle against bigger defenders a bit, but still usually gets to the tackling dummy without much of an issue.
And at the aforementioned Adidas camp Marshall even took a couple reps on offense... at wide receiver:
Southfield (Mich.) High Top247 defensive end Lawrence Marshall took a few reps at defensive end before moving over and showing his athleticism at receiver. The 6-foot-3, 225-pound Marshall was rocked up and continues to add size each time we see him.
The fact that Marshall is consistently adding size is, of course, also a major positive at this point. In fact, according to a report from Rivals' Josh Helmholdt during Marshall's junior season, while Marshall needs to add size his strength may actually be a positive ($) [emphasis mine]:
DE Lawrence Marshall, Southfield, Mich. (2014):: The last few weeks have been especially fruitful for Marshall. Although his team made a second-round exit from the Michigan high school state playoffs, a wave of new scholarship offers has helped assuage the agony of defeat. Among the most recent to offer are Big Ten programs Indiana and Michigan State, and the appeal of Marshall is evident on junior film. At 6-foot-4 and 205 pounds, Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.
That was five months and 20-or-so pounds ago. If Marshall continues to get bigger, as is expected, I don't think there will be much question about him playing on the line when he gets to campus. His athletic ability gives him much more potential if he's playing defensive end—where it's harder to find such an athlete that can also hold the point of attack—than if he's thrown into Michigan's deep pool of linebackers.
Marshall also held offers from Michigan State, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Oklahoma, Pitt, Syracuse, and Tennessee, among several others.
Southfield High School (Class A, Division 2) has been an above-average program for the last several years but hasn't had a lot of success in the state playoffs—last year, they fell to Oak Park in the second round. Marshall is the highest-ranked prospect the school has produced in the Rivals era—and that's going by his three-star Rivals ranking. Other notable prospects include 2012 TE Ron Thompson, who chose Syracuse over Michigan, and 2012 Cincinnati cornerback signee LEVITICUS PAYNE.
According to 247, Marshall recorded 79 tackles, 15 sacks, and four interceptions during his junior season.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a FAKE (or real) 40 time.
Marshall's tape very much falls in line with the scouting reports. He's got a great burst off the line and gets to the football in a hurry; he's also hardly touched on a good number of these plays and needs work on technique—when he gets to Michigan, he won't be able to simply run right past offensive linemen.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, Marshall is a high-ceiling, boom-or-bust recruit. The potential is there for him to be a highly impactful edge rusher, but first he must add weight and refine his technique. [Insert praise of Michigan's D-line coaching here.]
It's possible that Marshall ends up at strongside linebacker, though I like him a lot more as a weakside end. Still, he has some positional flexibility and at the very least should turn himself into a situational pass-rusher. This comparison has been made elsewhere, but his size/speed combo and raw potential are very reminiscent of Frank Clark, this year's presumed starter at weakside end. Unlike Clark, Marshall should have a couple years of seasoning before he needs to see the field with Mario Ojemudia and Taco Charlton in the two classes ahead of him. From there, it's all about maintaining his athleticism while adding bulk and refining his technique—if he can do that, he's got double-digit sack potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
I covered Michigan's defensive line situation in great detail yesterday; the short version is they'll happily take Marshall, Malik McDowell, and Da'Shawn Hand should the latter two also decide on the Wolverines. That would give Michigan one complete line in the 2014 class with Marshall (WDE), McDowell (3-tech/SDE), Bryan Mone (NT/3-tech), and Hand (SDE/WDE). This is by no means guaranteed to happen, but at this point it's difficult to not at least consider it a definite—and pretty damn awesome—possibility. Even if Michigan misses out on Hand, that's a heck of a D-line haul if they can keep McDowell in-state, which at this point is the expectation.
As for the class as a whole, Michigan now has nine commits (not including grayshirt Brady Pallante) in the 2014 class, which currently has room for 14 players but should end up closer to 20 when all is said and done. We know the Wolverines will take one more linebacker—probably either Chase Winovich or Kyron Watson—and probably a third offensive lineman, and spots will be held open for McDowell and Hand. Other priorities include a third receiver and, say, an elite defensive back (ahem).
STAT OF THE DAY
Percentage of ESPN 150 commits to total commits: Michigan: 88%, LSU: 50%, Florida: 44%, FSU: 44%, TAM: 30%, Tenn: 16%, Texas: 14%
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) May 11, 2013
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.