I'VE HAD JUST ABOUT ENOUGH OF YOU SONNY
As first reported by TomVH, St. Clairsville (OH) linebacker Michael Ferns committed to Michigan on Wednesday, becoming their first commit in the class of 2014. Ferns had recently named a top three that also included Notre Dame and Penn State, and a very positive unofficial visit for the BBQ at the Big House likely pushed him to make a pledge.
|NR MLB||NR ILB||NR ILB||
4*, 93, #5 ILB,
Only 247Sports has released rankings for the class of 2014, so our lone national data point for Ferns has him pegged inside the top 100 prospects overall and top five at his position. All save ESPN list him at 6'3", 235 pounds—ESPN has him 20 pounds lighter, likely an outdated figure—which has him easily on track to be a college-sized strongside linebacker by the time he hits campus.
While the national services aside from 247 have not released rankings, OhioPreps already has a top 25 list for the class of 2014. Ferns is second, behind only fellow linebacker Dante Booker, and Marc Givler suggests that those two have separated themselves from the rest of the class.
Other information on Ferns is scarce, as he hasn't hit the camp circuit and St. Clairsville is a small school that hasn't produced much in the way of D-I talent*. We do get one player comparison courtesy of Scout's Dave Berk ($):
Standing 6-foot-3, 235-pounds, Ferns reminds some of current Irish inside linebacker Jarrett Grace, at least in terms of his physical stature. However, Ferns shows a unique skill set for a player of his size.
While St. Clairsville High School is far from one of Ohio’s top big-school programs, Ferns athletic ability could easily transfer to a bigger program as he shows on film the ability to play several positions on both sides of the ball.
Grace was a 2011 recruit on the 3/4-star borderline; at 6'3", 240 lbs., he's very comparable in terms of size. Grace's ESPN scouting report($) praised his athleticism and play recognition, and as you'll see in his film those are also two areas of Ferns's game that stand out.
Besides the above, most of the articles on Ferns focus on his intelligence both on and off the field. He's made it clear from the beginning of his recruitment that academics are the top priority—which he backed up with a top three of Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn State, as well as an offer from Stanford—and he plans to study pre-med. 247's Steve Wiltfong details this side of Ferns in an article rather unfortunately titled "Ferns Is Freaky On & Off Field"($):
Growing up, Ferns always saw his parents on the computer messing around with this new sensation known as the internet. The two-year old didn’t want to be left out.
“He wanted to play on the computer so bad, and he’d keep asking us what words were,” the elder Ferns said. “It just got to the point where he taught himself how to read so he didn’t keep asking us. He was in diapers. We bought him reading programs for kids ages 4-5, and it wasn’t three weeks later we were buying the programs for ages 6-8. Over the course of a month, he was on the internet. At that time it was dial up, but he wanted to do it so bad.”
“I was always a little ahead of the time,” Ferns added. “I remember being in diapers on the computer. I’d say I was a little advanced back in day.”
Ferns has grown a bit since then, and now his intellect is paying dividends on the football field [emphasis mine]:
“He’s 6-3, 230-pounds and runs like a deer,” McClean said.
“Besides just his size advantage, he can do a lot of different things. We lined him up at three different positions on offense. On defense he’s an intellectual person, he can handle things a lot of people couldn’t do. He’s like a coach on the field from his linebacker spot.”
That astute play, when combined with impressive athleticism, could make Ferns a candidate for early playing time. According to Scout's Allen Trieu, who posted a scouting report on Ferns after his commitment, the only thing stopping Ferns could be Michigan's depth chart ($):
Upshot: He's going to come in college ready in terms of size and speed. If he adjusts to the speed of the game and learns the defense, he has the tools to play early. Not sure if the depth chart will allow that because there are so many linebackers, but he has what you look for in an early impact guy.
Trieu compares Ferns to freshman Joe Bolden, a 2012 Under Armour All-American who's already pushing for playing time at WLB, and says he's a "pretty safe bet" for four stars.
Magnus broke down Ferns's sophomore film and came away impressed:
I really like what I see on Ferns's film. He plays both ways for his high school team, although keep in mind as you watch that St. Clairsville is a small school with fewer than 700 students enrolled; the competition is not excellent. Ferns plays some fullback, tight end, wide receiver, and linebacker. He shows very good instincts as a linebacker. Ferns the younger plays downhill nicely, showing quick initial reads and stepping up into holes that open. He keeps his shoulders square to the line of scrimmage and is a very solid tackler. He also does a nice job of side-stepping blockers and using his hands to shed when necessary. His change-of-direction skills are also apparent as an offensive player, where he swivels his hips pretty well to slither past defenders.
So, while scouting on Ferns is still limited, what we see suggests he's got the size, athleticism, and instincts to excel at the collegiate level.
*The only other St. Clairsville player in the Rivals database (dating back to 2002) is 2013 3-star WR Dan Monteroso, a Boston College commit.
Ferns built up an impressive offer list for a junior-to-be, choosing Michigan over Notre Dame, Penn State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Purdue, Stanford, Virginia, Wake Forest, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and a handful of MAC offers.
Ferns tallied 136 tackles as a sophomore while also chipping in 441 yards on 31(!) rushes and 301 yards on 15(!) catches. He had 88 tackles as a freshman in 2010.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time is listed for Ferns on any of the four recruiting sites.
As you can see, there's little not to like in the film, though the lack of high-end competition is apparent.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
While Michigan has recruited extremely well at linebacker over the last couple classes, Ferns could have a relatively clear path to the two-deep if he lands at strongside linebacker. That spot is currently manned by Jake Ryan and Cam Gordon, and Ryan will be a senior (I know, right?) when Ferns steps on campus. Unless Royce Jenkins-Stone bulks up significantly, at that point Mike McCray will be the only player standing between Ferns and a spot in the rotation.
It's also possible that Ferns ends up at middle linebacker, a position where he can better show off his instincts. While Joe Bolden and potentially Jenkins-Stone stand in the way there, Ferns could get a three-year separation from those two if he takes a redshirt year (assuming Bolden and RJS play this year, a much safer assumption for the former).
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
At this early juncture, it looks like Michigan is in line for a relatively small class in 2014, but with a year-and-a-half before signing day a great deal can change. One thing we're pretty sure of is that the Wolverines can afford, once again, to be picky at linebacker; unless there's unexpected attrition, Ferns will likely be joined by one other linebacker recruit, likely a guy who projects to the middle.
watchu talkin' bout, Penn State?
Well, I was wrong about Penn State implosions not having a direct effect on Michigan's roster: OH CB Ross Douglas decommitted from Penn State two seconds after the sanctions were announced, got an offer from Michigan today, and committed about two seconds after he got it.
Douglas is a four star at three of the four recruiting sites; at 5'10", 180 he's more in the Courtney Avery mold than the lanky guys Michigan's already acquired. More details in an INFORMATIVE UPDATE forthcoming.
#21. Does a lot of tailbackin' in high school. via
|3*, #42 CB||4*, #22 CB, #222 overall||4*, #30 CB||4*, #25 CB|
Ross is a four star to everyone but Scout; no one puts him in the top 200. FWIW, Ross was in the initial 24/7 top 247, right at the tail end. He's probably just outside it right now.
Given his size, which is listed at 5'10" and gives off a vibe of generosity, the rankings imply his skill level is high but the height puts a cap on his ceiling. The level of disagreement here is far smaller than for, say, Gareon Conley, who is either awesome or not awesome depending on who you listen to.
ESPN's evaluation backs up the high floor, low ceiling guess:
Plays and pursues fast but lacks ideal top-end speed and does not project to be lock down cover corner in college you want to leave on an island. Shows a good nose for the ball and is at his best playing the pass in front of him. Displays good footwork and balance as well as closing burst. Lacks a tight, fluid waist and doesn't always look smooth in transition when locked down in man but he can recover with burst and proper inside positioning to make a play on the ball. Does a good job using his hands and leverage in tight coverage. Aggressive and effective in press; will reroute and take away the inside release. Competes for the jump-ball when challenged deep in one-on-one coverage but can struggle versus taller receivers. We didn't see great leaping or ball skills. This is a solid second level defender.
Douglas attended the Columbus NTFC at which David Dawson and Malik McDowell drew raves, and did well for himself:
4. Ross Douglass, CB, Avon (Ohio) High School – The defensive back group in Columbus was very strong and had a lot of depth to it. On this day, Penn State commit Ross Douglas was our pick for the top player of the talented group. He doesn’t have the height and length that is ideal in a corner prospect but he was the most fluid and natural defender in coverage at the event.
Douglas has great feet, flips his hips with ease and he also has some make-up speed to recover in tight spaces. The only thing he seems to be missing is that prototype height.
DB: Ross Douglas, 5-10, 179, Avon (Ohio)
Breakdown: It was Douglas' ability to cover in the slot that grab the eyes of the coaches. He is very quick and showed an understanding of zone coverages.
And Barton Simmons responds to a question:
Douglas is awesome he's just a little bit undersized.
Helmholdt on the NIKE camp:
Douglas is so consistently clean in coverage that you almost forget he is out there. Not hearing your name called is a good thing at the cornerback position, and the public address announcer is not saying "Douglas" very often. The 5-10, 175-pound prospect is not a flashy player. He stays in great position in relation to the wide receiver throughout routes and makes throwing the ball in his direction very unappealing. Douglas has all the speed he needs to stay with receivers and his technique is near flawless.
We're getting a picture here. It's a picture of Courtney Avery.
FWIW, he attended The Opening, and told Allen Trieu($) that he plans to enroll early:
"The plan right now is to graduate early. I'm on track right now. I'm taking a summer class and I'm doing very well in it, so I'm on track to do that. They said if I come in and just bust my tail, there will be an opportunity for me and that's exactly what I'm going to do."
No reason that plan would have changed, unlike his plan to go to Penn State. Douglas said he was "120% solid" to PSU in April, but the situation changed slightly after he said that.
Douglas obviously had a Penn State offer. Wisconsin, Nebraska, and Tennessee also offered. Michigan and other regional powers had not checked in with offers but they didn't have much time: Douglas pulled the trigger on his PSU commitment in February and was on the market the second time for all of a day.
* 38. Ross Douglas, defensive back, Avon – Douglas (5-10, 180, 4.4) was a third-team All-Ohio pick in Division II. Douglas helped Avon reach the Division II state title game. As a junior, he carried 175 times for 1,019 yards and 15 touchdowns and added 10 catches for 150 yards and another score. On defense, he had 40 tackles, 13 pass break-ups and one interception.
Yes, that is Bucknuts ranking him the #38 player in the state.
FAKE 40 TIME
4.4? FOUR FAKES!
You'll be surprised that the soundtrack is RAWK instead of rap. I was, at least.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Douglas's commitment gives Michigan a whopping four cornerbacks in the class. Douglas is the second short guy (Jourdan Lewis is the other) to go with tall guys Channing Stribling and Gareon Conley. Meanwhile, only JT Floyd exits after this year. Michigan is loading up at corner.
So it might be tough for all of these guys to see the field… except when it's not. Cornerback is a spot with three starters these days, and Michigan is preparing for the days when they'll take on some future NFL quarterback in a BCS bowl. I get it. I remember Football Armageddon. I like it.
Michigan has three distinct corner positions:
- Field corner: plays to the wide side of the field, often against the best WR the opponent has to offer. Less run support responsibility.
- Boundary corner: plays to short side of the field. Usually a bigger guy better on the edge.
- Nickelback: plays over the slot. Has safety help virtually all the time. Priority is underneath routes and quickness. Doesn't have to be tall.
Douglas seems like a nickel, Lewis a field corner, and the other two boundary corners unless one of them turns out to be really really good in which case he can play field corner and flapjacks for everyone.
At nickel, Douglas has to deal with one year of Courtney Avery and a couple of Delonte Hollowell; after that he has a surprisingly clear path to a starting-ish job. I think Michigan would prefer it if they had two bigger guys on the outside, but the emphasis placed on that third corner spot is obvious… and reassuring.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Here's your upshot: Michigan is done save for a receiver they hope will be LaQuon Treadwell.
Douglas's commitment all but erases any chance Michigan will go after a Penn State transfer who has more than one year of eligibility left. They want to add a receiver, they probably will get Treadwell, and they are already banking on attrition to get the 24 guys currently budgeted on campus. They're preparing for a reasonable level now, but adding further guys would be pushing it*.
Exception: if Frank Clark's stuff escalates into a career termination event Michigan may look to a Zettel to nerf the damage.
*[Obligatory oversigning note: Michigan is not going to sign guys they don't have room for because of Big Ten rules, and they converted all their scholarship offers to multi-year. The risk here is pissing off a kid you promised a scholarship to, whereupon he goes somewhere else. That's an order of magnitude less cynical than the Alabamas of the world. But it is something less that perfect moral rectitude and makes me a little uncomfortable.]
Gerund fans rejoice, as NC CB Channing Stribling picked up a camp offer and pulled the trigger immediately. Tremendous is first past the post.
Gene, tell us what we've won!
8 in white. Via the News-Record.
|2*, NR CB||NR||NR||3*, #95 ATH, #40 NC|
Kid may as well be wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Only one site bothered ranking him in the range of BCS-level college prospects and even they throw up their hands at what position he'll play in college. ESPN has no evaluation for him. The only 247 article on his profile is an honorable mention from a camp designed to find under-the-radar prospects. He was under even that radar. Scout hadn't posted an article on him until he showed at Michigan's camp. Rivals wins a prize for being the most up on the kid by posting one short article($) on him in February. You get the idea. This is a classic camp sleeper.
It's pretty obvious why: at 6'2", 165, Stribling is liable to break in half if the wrong gust of wind catches him. He's a CB/WR at Butler and will come to Michigan as the second very tall corner in the class (OH CB Gareon Conley is the other) after getting raves from the seemingly infinite camp observers.
Some of those raves follow. Tuesday recruiting already featured Sam Webb's take on him as a "camp riser($)":
Channing Stribling, CB, Matthews (NC) Butler, 2013 – How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for such a powerhouse program is a mystery. Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size. Though not a blazer, he has good football speed. Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball schools. Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.
Another rising senior to do very well among the defensive backs was Channing Stribling of Matthews (N.C.) Butler. He is more of a long and lanky athlete with excellent height and reach, but he will need to add weight to play at the next level. Nevertheless, he showed excellent athleticism and was able to hang with the best receivers there.
Aaaaand that's it as far as scouting type stuff. As I said, Guy Fawkes.
As befits a who-dat camp find, Stribling had few offers at the time of his commitment. 247 lists NC State but that's dubious; when he talked to Scout($) yesterday he told them he had offers from Ball State and some FCS schools. Here are the schools he felt were at least looking at him:
"I am still waiting on my first offer to arrive but the interest has been strong for a while and I am hoping my first offer comes soon," said Stribling. "I have been talking the most to North Carolina, North Carolina St, Duke, Miami FL, Minnesota and Florida. I have taken visits to both UNC and Duke already and I am looking to see Florida and Miami FL here very soon. I believe more schools will become interested as I attend more camps and give coaches a better chance to evaluate my talents."
He had a productive junior season, catching 37 passes for 636 yards and eight TDs with 37 tackles, six interceptions and 14 PBUs on D.
FAKE 40 TIME
Listed at a fairly realistic 4.56 at NCSA. One FAKE.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Flimsy indeed in this case. Michigan's latest forays into who-dat camp corners have worked out pretty well, what with Courtney Avery establishing himself a contributor already and Jeremy Clark getting the upgrade from grayshirt to regular shirt. [Ed-S: Even the obvious comparison, James Rogers, did end up becoming a contributor]. Stribling's a risk but in these cases where the coaches have seen the guy up close and personal for three days the "trust the coaches" mantra is more than an annoying rhetorical device. The people with the most in-depth, up-to-date information on Channing Stribling are Michigan's coaches.
So he's got a shot. He'll have to wait for it, obviously, with a redshirt to pack on some pounds all but certain. At his size he could play WR or S if corner doesn't work out; Michigan would very much like him to stick at the position they're projecting him for right now since 6'2" corners are rare commodities.
I also predict I figure out what FINAO stands for by the end of his career.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
What rest of the class? Michigan's sitting on 22 commits as of late June and will add two, maybe three more. Stribling likely closes out defensive back recruiting—enjoy Vandy, Leon McQuay.
Michigan is now looking for a strongside defensive end, I guess, and another wide receiver who will hopefully be LaQuon Treadwell. That would take them to 24, a number that would require Michigan to lose four more guys before February. If they lose another they'd be hunting for BPA. They may be doing so already with the slot vaguely ticketed for SDE.
Via the Rubio Long Snapping Flickr
In a commitment that caught pretty much everyone off guard, Ottawa (IL) long snapper Scott Sypniewki has committed to Michigan on a full scholarship, as first announced by long-snapping guru Chris Rubio and confirmed by multiple outlets. Sypniewski is the 21st commit in the class of 2013 and (surprise!) the first long snapper. A bit more info on his commitment comes via Scout's Allen Trieu ($):
"They said they need one. They just lost their starter, Tom Pomarico. They have one guy who is going to be a senior and they were going to bring in two walk-ons. They've seen my film and knew I was good enough to start there and that's why they offered me a scholarship."
No further explanation is necessary, I'm sure.
|NR LS||NR LS||NR LS||NR LS|
Sypniewski, unsurprisingly, is not rated by any of the recruiting services. Chris Rubio Long Snapping, however, specializes in this sort of thing, and they've got him as the #2 long snapper in the 2013 class (Taybor Pepper was 6th) and a five-star prospect. Sypniewski is listed at 6'1", 230.
The above link comprises almost all of the available scouting information on Sypniewski that a 15-minutes Google-stalk could turn up. It is, shall we say, laudatory:
Sypniewski is a man on a mission. Body is looking thick and muscular. He is moving well and snapping rockets. Attitude on this kid is amazing. Tell him to do something and consider it done. He has a good time but is full of rage when he is snapping. Love it. Ball is smooth, on target and crisp. He gets set and BOOM! the ball is in your hands. Very impressed with him and he is a no brainer scholarship kid!
Sypniewski is just flat out fantastic! Ball is like a missle yet very easy to catch. Movement is flawless and he is snapping with ease. Looks like he is not even trying but, before you blink, the ball is right on your hip. Accuracy, consistency and speed are all excellent. A tad lighter on his feet could bump him up and I am being picky. Sypniewski is terrific and is snapping with a TON of confidence. I am fully expecting him to stick his chest out and dominate in Vegas. 4/12
There's also this, er, juicy tidbit [emphasis mine]:
Excellent job by Sypniewski. Body is becoming athletic and thick. Huge legs and butt. Great for a Long Snapper. Ball, when he snaps the ball HARD, is absolutely fantastic. Blocks extremely well for his age when he gets back. Tremendous personality. Does a great job of improving every single time. Great worker and will be a great teammate to those around him.
The Wolverine's Andy Reid caught up with Rubio—who's been coaching Sypniewski since 2009—shortly after his commitment for additional insight ($):
Rubio said Sypniewski's strengths are his size and strength in the blocking game and, most importantly, the speed and fluidity of his snaps.
"He's fantastic," Rubio said. "His snap is just so smooth, but it's still a such a rapid movement. You almost think there's no way it could be coming this quick, because it's still so smooth. It's just boom, hits you."
"I would like to see him work on his footwork, continuing to get downfield after the snap. But, in all honesty, he really doesn't need much right now to make the step up to the next level."
Sounds like he could be an early contributor, as current snapper/folk hero Jareth Glanda will be a redshirt senior when Sypniewski gets on campus. I won't really attempt to add anything else to the scouting of a long snapper, especially since—as you'll see below—there's an astounding amount of film on the kid. He's got a 15-yard snap time of .69 seconds, [Ed-S: This is 44 miles per hour. Four FAKES out of FIVE!] which I imagine is very good but have zero context for saying so.
UPDATE: There are a couple of other long-snapper rankings out there, and it appears there are large disparities between the respective lists—if I had to guess, these rankings vary wildly depending on whose camps these prospects attend. Sypniewski comes in at #14 on Kohl's Professional Camps snapper rankings, and indeed, you must attend one of their camps to be included. Here's their writeup:
Scott has a solid frame with very good mechanics. His overall SS and LS accuracy is good and he is consistent with his snap speed. Scott finished with an average snap time of .74 seconds at the Midwest Showcase Camp in December of 2011 with his best snap time recorded at .70 seconds. Scott has good footwork and a quick ball release which allows him to get back into protection quickly. He has great lower body explosiveness with good ball rotation. Scott will be a good fit for any protection scheme.
Prokicker.com, meanwhile, doesn't have Sypniewski in their top 25 for the class of 2013, though if his reported snap times are close to accurate, he's should probably be in the top couple spots.
[H/T to mgouser goblueritzy92 for dropping those links in the comments.]
Sypniewski's Scout profile, which probably was created 15 minutes ago, lists no other suitors besides Michigan.
FAKE 40 TIME
None listed, unfortunately. All of the FAKEs.
Yes, we've got highlights:
Oh, and it doesn't end there. For 15(!) more videos of Sypniewski snapping, click here.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When Sypniewski arrives on campus, Michigan will have Glanda as a redshirt senior at long snapper as well as 2012 preferred walk-on Tyler Tokarsky. Tokarsky, for what it's worth, says his plans to attend Michigan have not changed despite the news of Sypniewski's commitment. Sypniewski and Tokarsky should battle for the starting job in 2014, then hopefully we'll never hear from either again barring any improbable catches on fake field goals.
If you remember, Michigan did have a second preferred walk-on snapper lined up for the class of 2012, Taybor Pepper, but he chose to attend Michigan State when Mark Dantonio offered him a scholarship.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now sit at 21 commitments in a class that should reach 23-24, though one has to wonder if there's any concerns about extra attrition given the offer to a position normally filled by walk-ons or players who change positions. Michigan will likely still take a wide receiver—there's still a spot reserved for Laquon Treadwell, at least—and they could also add a cornerback, running back, or strongside defensive end.
Alabama bangs, Michigan commit.
Michigan's next commitment has been the subject of much speculation since Maurice Hurst Jr. pledged to the Wolverines on Saturday and proclaimed he'd be joined by another imminently. Now the guessing game is over, as Baltimore (MD) Gilman DT Henry Poggi has announced his choice to become the 20th commit in Brady Hoke's class of 2013, via GBW's Sam Webb. The consensus four-star is Michigan's second defensive tackle in the class, joining Hurst and defensive end Taco Charlton on the D-line.
4*, #15 DT,
4*, #2 DT,
|4*, 81, #23 DT||
4*, 94, #7 DT,
Poggi is univerally regarded as a four-star, and only ESPN doesn't consider him one of the top 150 recruits in the country. Rivals is the most bullish, putting him all the way up at #52 overall. All save ESPN list Poggi at 6'4" and between 260 and 270 pounds; ESPN is a serious outlier at 6'3", 245.
Football runs in the family for the Poggis; Henry's father, Biff, is his coach at Gilman, while his older brothers Sam (Duke) and Jim (Iowa) each earned BCS football scholarships. His father, for what it's worth, says Henry is the best player in the family.
ESPN's evaluation isn't particularly glowing, largely due to concerns about Poggi's size and potential status as a tweener ($):
As a D-Lineman he flashes a good initial burst, but is inconsistent and can be a beat slow at times. He does need to watch his pad level, but displays the ability to fire off the ball low and gain leverage. He is a hard nose player who can make good contact and be tough at the point of attack. He is active with his hands, but needs to do a better job of consistently separating from blockers. He is a coach's son and comes across as a fairly smart player who reads schemes well and can get himself in good positions. He is a physical and high effort player who works to get around the ball. He is a good tackler who tries to drive through the ball carrier and wrap-up. He does display some rigidness and could struggle in space to quickly re-direct and wrap ball carriers up. As a pass rusher he comes up-field hard. Will try and attack half-a-man and displays the ability to be violent with his hands. ... While Poggi looks to carry his weight well, he may be somewhat limited in the good size he can add making him an undersized D-Tackle or more of a swing player if he stays on defense at the next level.
Poggi will likely come to campus as a three-tech DT, but there's also a chance he ends up at five-tech DE if he can't add the necessary bulk to play on the interior. The criticisms about his technique shouldn't be of great concern; remember, he's a junior in high school and Michigan has three defensive line coaches to work out any kinks at the next level.
Rivals—unsurprisingly, given his comparative rankings—was much more positive in their evaluations of Poggi than ESPN; here's MDHigh.com's Wayne Yarborough after scouting a Gilman game last October ($):
At 6-4, 255, Poggi has a great frame; he's a tall, thick defender with a wide base, stout legs and broad shoulders. He plays with a low pad level, which makes him difficult to move off the ball. He also has tremendous upper- and lower-body strength, allowing him to collapse the pocket and toss offensive linemen around like a dog with a chew toy. Indeed, Poggi can be a bully up front; he likes to scrap inside and goes at it like he has a massive chip on his shoulder. What's more, Poggi is very nimble for a big man. He showed surprising quickness and closing speed on stretch runs and a relentless rush on passing plays.
Gilman assistant coach Hank Russell echoed the praise for Poggi's strength, pad level, and motor in a March article on MDHigh.com ($):
Henry (6-3, 250) is a big, country-strong lineman who moves extremely well for his size. He has quick, heavy hands and gets off blocks exceptionally well. He is very powerful at the point of attack and can [overwhelm opponents]. Then Henry has a non-stop motor; he just will not stop coming at you. [Fundamentally], he plays with a low base and consistently keeps his pads low. He has great lower-body strength, which makes him very difficult to move off the ball. He's just a tough kid to block; he can [occupy] multiple blockers and break through double-teams.
Russell also told Scout's Kristen Kenney($) that Poggi "plays with incredible passion and has a non-stop motor." In short, Poggi may not have ideal size for a tackle, but he has great strength and pad level, relentless energy, and very solid athleticism for a lineman.
Poggi chose Michigan over Alabama and also held offers from the likes of Auburn, Cal, Florida, Iowa, Michigan State, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M, USC, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and others. Needless to say, he's got a strong list of suitors.
Poggi recorded 49 tackles, 11 TFL, ten sacks, and a forced fumble as a junior in 2011.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 4.70 40 time for Poggi, which merits a three FAKEs out of five.
You can see some additional highlights in this video feature on Poggi in which he also answers a few questions. His dream prom date will be met with approval around these parts, I'm sure.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Here's where I get lazy and slightly modify what I said about Hurst on Saturday:
If he ends up at three-tech,
HurstPoggi should get a redshirt year since Michigan brought in Willie Henry, Matt Godin, and potentially Chris Wormley at the position in the 2012 class. After that redshirt year, he'll be in position for fight for time against those three and a senior Kenny Wilkins; given that he's got a higher recruiting profile than all the '12 recruits save Wormley, he's got a good shot at contributing as a redshirt freshman.
Hey, that worked. Poggi could also end up at strongside DE, where he'd be competing against Wormley, Tom Strobel, and Keith Heitzman for time. Neither position that Poggi projects to play has much at all in the way of upperclassmen, so he's got a good shot to make a relatively early impact regardless of where he ends up. That said, a redshirt year will likely be a necessity to allow him to add some good weight.
If Poggi comes in at the three-tech, I assume the coaches will see how Hurst holds up at the nose unless Michigan takes another lineman who better fits there.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The Wolverines now have three or four spots remaining, in all likelihood. One of those is reserved for IL WR Laquon Treadwell, while it's becoming clear the coaches would like another defensive back in the class—MD CB Kendall Fuller and FL CB Leon McQuay III are the top targets, while AZ CB Cole Luke and NJ CB Nadir Barnwell are also possibilities. Michigan also is in the market for another running back—or at least an elite-level back—with the coaches pursuing VA RB Derrick Green and TN RB Jordan Wilkins.
I'd expect the class to be filled out with a receiver, running back, and cornerback, with the coaches taking a best player available type or possibly a strongside DE if there's another open spot. The options should narrow down considerably with so little room left in the class, a process we've already seen in motion along the offensive line and at linebacker.
Image credit: Brendan Hall/ESPN.com
As anticipated, Westwood (MA) Xavarian Brothers DT Maurice Hurst Jr. has committed to Michigan while visiting campus today, according to a report by 247's Todd Worly ($). Hurst is the son of former New England Patriots cornerback Maurice Hurst and is also a cousin of former St. Louis Rams superstar tailback Marshall Faulk. He becomes Michigan's 19th commit in the class of 2013 and the first at defensive tackle, perhaps the biggest position of need remaining in the class.
4*, #23 DT,
|3*, #30 DT||3*, 77, #32 DT||4*, 90, #19 DT|
Hurst's rankings are split between Scout and 247, which see him as a four-star and around the #20 defensive tackle in the country, and Rivals and ESPN, which have him as a three-star and in the area of #30 at his position. All four sites list Hurst at 6'2", with his weight ranging from 275 (Scout/ESPN) to 290 (247). WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings wrote a recent feature on Hurst detailing his rise from a "pudgy" 5'9" freshman to a 6'2" BCS prospect and pegged his current weight at 290 pounds ($).
Hurst first started emerging on the scene around this time last year, impressing Rivals.com's Mike Farrell at the Northeast Five-Star Showdown ($):
Hurst is the son of the former New England Patriots cornerback of the same name and you can tell he has athletic genes. He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well. At times he can be too upright and present too much of a target. His footwork is excellent and he has natural balance, and he is very good at responding quickly to the initial punch of offensive linemen. He also showed a good motor.
Impressive athleticism is a common thread throughout Hurst's evaluations—as you'll see in his highlights, he's nimble enough to line up at running back in high school. ESPN's evaluation highlights his explosiveness while pointing out a few areas for improvement mostly pertaining to his technique ($):
You would like to see more consistency but displays a good first-step that can allow him to quickly get penetration. He is at his best when he can fire out and primarily be a penetrator that disrupts schemes. Flashes the ability to be tough when taking on blockers as he can quickly fire out low and gain leverage and with solid strength hold his ground. While he does possess a quick first-step he can at times almost as quickly pop up and play tall and needs to work to consistently keep his pads down. He does display some rigidness and while he can get penetration he displays adequate ability to quickly change direction. He gives good effort and stays after the play showing the ability to take proper angles in pursuit. Displays solid long speed. He will try and wrap-up as a tackler and displays strong hands for drag down types. As a pass rusher he is capable of getting a quick hard charge up-field to get pressure. Will flash the ability to try and work some moves to help work past, but needs to continue to develop in this area to help when he can't just quickly blow past blockers.
As is evident on his tape, Hurst is a very disruptive presence on the interior of the line, a guy who uses his leverage and quickness—a la Mike Martin—to work his way into the backfield with regularity. In November of last year, Scout's Bob Lichtenfels tabbed Hurst as the top prospect in the East region who hadn't yet earned recognition as a top 100 player, comparing him to another collegiate standout ($):
Westwood (Mass.) Xaverian defensive tackle Maurice Hurst Jr., I hate comparing players to kids we've seen in the past, but watching Hurst reminds me of watching Marvin Austin. Kids who are 6-2/275 are not supposed to be able to move the way he does. Not too mention when he isn't wreaking havoc in the other teams backfield he is playing in his own backfield. Not many kids that size can pull that off.
Hurst has an invite to the Army All-American Game, a potential sign that his rankings will be on the rise in the future. His combination of size and athleticism is sure to turn some heads.
Hurst chose Michigan over fellow finalist Virginia, and he also held offers from Michigan State (where he visited yesterday), Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio State, Boston College, UConn, Duke, Maryland, Mizzou, N.C. State, Purdue, Rutgers, Temple, Vanderbilt, and others.
Hurst tallied 61 tackles, 13.5 TFL, nine sacks, and four forced fumbles as a junior en route to being named first-team all-state.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists Hurst with a 4.88, while his highlight tape credits him with a 4.92. Both seem pretty reasonable for a tackle noted for his athleticism; I'll give those a two FAKEs out of five.
Pretty epic fat guy touchdown at the :25 mark.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hurst is reportedly being recruited as a three-tech DT, though he has the size to potentially play the nose down the road if needed—that may depend on who else Michigan adds to the class. If he ends up at three-tech, Hurst should get a redshirt year since Michigan brought in Willie Henry, Matt Godin, and potentially Chris Wormley at the position in the 2012 class. After that redshirt year, he'll be in position for fight for time against those three and a senior Kenny Wilkins; given that he's got a higher recruiting profile than all the '12 recruits save Wormley, he's got a good shot at contributing as a redshirt freshman.
If, say, Michigan brings in MD DT Henry Poggi as a three-tech and slides Hurst over to the nose, he'd be right in the mix to back up Ondre Pipkins from the moment he arrives on campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Hurst fills a huge need along the defensive line, but the coaches will likely bring in another defensive tackle, with the top target being Poggi. TX DT Hardreck Walker, who just got bumped up to four stars on Rivals, is another possibility.
The remaining needs are another wide receiver—that spot is currently being held for IL WR Laquon Treadwell—as well as potential depth at strongside DE and in the defensive backfield. For the most part, Michigan can continue to target the best players available. The pace of recruiting should slow considerably with the Wolverines already having filled 19 spots in what should be a 23-24 player class.