Ellenwood (GA) Cedar Grove ILB Elysee Mbem-Bosse and Miami (FL) Columbus DE/OLB Joshua Uche both announced their commitments to Michigan this evening, becoming the 23rd and 24th members of the 2016 class. Tonight's commitment post features Mbem-Bosse; Uche's will go up tomorrow morning.
Mbem-Bosse is the third inside linebacker in the class, joining Devin Bush Jr. and Dytarious Johnson at a position of significant need. He chose Michigan over Auburn and Oklahoma, among others.
|3*, #26 ILB||4*, #15 ILB||4*, 80, #13 ILB||
3*, 86, #31 ILB,
3*, #17 ILB,
There's a split in Mbem-Bosse's rankings; Rivals and ESPN each list him as their second-to-last four-star among ILBs, while Scout and 247 place him well into three-star territory.
He brings plenty of size to the position. Scout and 247 list him at 6'3", 232 lbs., Rivals at 6'2", 228, and ESPN at 6'3", 230.
The consensus is Mbem-Bosse has the size, power, and tackling ability to potentially see the field early; the question is whether he's fluid enough in coverage. ESPN isn't so sure:
Will move laterally and keep his shoulders square to take on blocks and locate ball carrier but shows some tightness opening and turning in pursuit. Uses his hands to shock blockers and disengage to wrap up ball carrier. Shows good instincts and diagnosing skills versus full flow power-schemes with downhill action.
Has short area power to deliver a heavy hit when in proper position. Has the ability to jolt runner and use hands to dislodge the ball. Shows the ability to drag down runners with strong hands.
Shows good awareness in underneath zone coverage. Gets to the ball quickly with his ability to react to routes developing in front of him. We do not see the hips or fluid transitional skills to project high as a man coverage LB at the next level.. Shows good timing to blitz between the tackles.
Mbem-Bosse is a thumper ready to make the jump physically to the college level and has a lot of tools desired in an upper-tier middle linebacker. With continued flexibility through his hips he should climb our board.
In this film evaluation, Auburn legend Pat Dye's former offensive coordinator, Jack Crowe, calls Mbem-Bosse a "big, dominating player at the second level" over clips from his junior highlights, which mostly feature him stuffing the run but also show a deep zone drop and hit on a receiver:
UGASports.com surveyed the state of Georgia in March of 2015 and identified Mbem-Bosse as a promising prospect flying under the radar—though not for long:
Mbem-Bosse is starting to catch the attention of colleges all over the country. He is a physical, downhill linebacker that can run. Gets sideline to sideline quickly, and is not afraid to come up and strike. Has the length to play on the outside also and speed to play on the inside. Alabama and Georgia has been showing a lot of attention as of late.
The Tide eventually came through with an offer, though given they're the favorites for two five-star linebackers (Ben Davis and Lyndell Wilson), it's doubtful that offer is committable.
Son of a Coach's Jamie Uyeyama has a lengthy, free evaluation of Mbem-Bosse's junior tape that is a highly recommended read. It's detailed and critical, but there's still plenty of good in there:
There aren’t going to be as many players who can stuff the inside run quite like Mbem-Bosse. He does a great job of scraping through the trash to find the football and arrives at the ball violently when he gets to it. He is a very good tackler that [hits] through people.
He needs to use his hands better to not let blockers get to his chest, but he attacks them and is not afraid to take on a guard or fullback. He will absolutely blow up the iso. My main concern with him versus the inside run is that he sometimes will take false steps and does not recognize his keys in terms of pulling guards or down blocks on a consistent basis. He isn’t a good enough athlete to recover with false steps at the next level and must improve in this area.
He concludes that while Mbem-Bosse "has the tools to be a solid starting inside linebacker eventually," it could take him "a year or two" before he reaches that level. Like ESPN, he likes Mbem-Bosse as a blitzer but has questions about his ability in coverage.
Mbem-Bosse's profile reminds me a bit of Desmond Morgan's; he has a couple inches on Morgan with a similarly stout build, and based on his film I think he has a higher ceiling.
Mbem-Bosse holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Duke, Florida, Georgia Tech, Illinois, Iowa, Iowa State, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisville, LSU, Michigan, Minnesota, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Mizzou, Nebraska, NC State, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt, Virginia, Wake Forest, and Wisconsin, among others.
Cedar Grove boasts another 2016 four-star in Auburn DT commit Antwuan Jackson. They've sent 16 other prospects to Power 5 programs since 2002, per the Rivals database, including former NFL tackle Marcus McNeill (Auburn).
High school stats weren't readily available.
FAKE 40 TIME
Mbem-Bosse's Hudl page lists an unverified 4.58, which gets three FAKEs out of five.
These highlights are dated from December 2014 but it appears there are clips from his senior season in there:
Single-game reels from his senior and junior years can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Mbem-Bosse will get an opportunity to crack the two-deep right away with Ben Gedeon as the only returner with significant experience at inside linebacker on the roster. He'll compete with Mike McCray, Chase Winovich, Noah Furbush, Reuben Jones, and Devin Bush Jr. for playing time. Ideally, he'd be able to take a redshirt year and work on his reads and coverage, but the roster may not afford that luxury, especially if Mbem-Bosse proves he can at least be a two-down run-stuffer from the outset.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Mbem-Bosse and Uche bring the total number of commits to 24 in a class that looks increasingly likely to reach 30. Mbem-Bosse's commitment should end Michigan's pursuit of linebackers Jonathan Jones, who's expected to wind up at Notre Dame, and Dontavious Jackson, for whom Michigan has seemed to be an afterthought even though they made his final five.
Top remaining targets include DT Rashan Gary, ATH Jordan Fuller, CB Lavert Hill, DT Boss Tagaloa, TE Devin Asiasi, WDE Connor Murphy, S Khaleke Hudson, TE Chase Allen, WR Eddie McDoom, WR Donald Stewart, NT Michael Dwumfour, WR/DB Pie Young, and K Quinn Nordin. It looks very likely DT commit Jordan Elliott ends up at Texas, and with other attrition still expected, Michigan could have as many as 10-11 spots to fill to wrap up the class.
Photo via Scout.
Three-star Baltimore (MD) Gilman OT Stephen Spanellis had made a habit of catching people off guard. First, he picked up a Michigan offer, and the news flew so far under the radar that I can't find a story reporting it on any of the four recruiting sites. Then his official visit last weekend went down in similar fashion. Last night, he flipped his commitment from Virginia to Michigan, and as you can tell from the timing of this post, he wasn't expected to announce so soon. For that, we can thank the snowpocalypse:
"I felt like I was leaning towards Michigan," he said. "I was going to take the official visit [to Virginia] this weekend if it wasn't for the snow, but then I felt like I didn't want to wait until next weekend to take the visit because I was ready to be done with the recruiting process. I was sure that Michigan was the place for me.
"It's a great academic school and the tradition there speaks for itself," he added. "[Head] Coach [Jim] Harbaugh I would consider him one of the five best football coaches in the world period. Any time you can be part of something that is excellent, it is something you need to think about doing."
Spanellis is the 22nd commit in the 2016 class and the fourth on the offensive line, joining Ben Bredeson, Michael Onwenu, and Gilman teammate Devery Hamilton.
|3*, #100 OT||3*, #36 OT||3*, 75, #60 OG||
3*, 86, #92 OG,
3*, #61 OG,
The recruiting sites are split on whether Spanellis is a guard or a tackle; all have him as various levels of three-star, with Rivals easily the most bullish—in their position rankings he's ten spots away from four-star status, while he's well off that mark everywhere else.
Spanellis has plenty of size. Scout and Rivals both list him at 6'6", 290 pounds; ESPN at 6'5", 313; and 247 at 6'5", 330. He's got the look of a right tackle or guard, depending on his ability to protect the edge.
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Photos: Isaiah Hole/247 (L) and David Long (R)
Jim Harbaugh and company climbed to the top of Los Angeles (CA) Loyola CB David Long's list over the last couple months, and this evening the top-100 prospect announced his commitment to Michigan on ESPNU. Long, a one-time Stanford commit, chose the Wolverines over Washington; Notre Dame also made a strong push for him after his Stanford decommitment.
Long is the 21st commit in Michigan's 2016 class; with today's decommitment from Antwaine Richardson, Long is currently the only cornerback in that group.
4*, #5 CB,
4*, #9 CB,
4*, 83, #5 ATH,
4*, 95, #8 CB,
4*, #8 CB,
Long's rankings are in a relatively tight grouping; that consistency helps push his composite ranking to the upper bounds of that spread. For what it's worth, if ESPN had ranked him as a corner instead of an athlete, he'd be the #11 CB in their position rankings.
Scout, Rivals, and 247 all list Long at 6'0" and either 170 or 175 pounds. ESPN pegs him at 5'10", 176—they even go so far as to say he "lacks ideal height" in their evaluation. I'm not going to attempt to guess a player's height based on film and still photos; he's not Jeremy Clark, but he looks tall enough—he's definitely bigger than Jourdan Lewis—and he plays the ball well in the air.
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HELLO: DYLAN CRAWFORD
Michigan added another All-American to the class this afternoon when Rancho Santa Maragarita (CA) Catholic WR Dylan Crawford announced his pledge during the first quarter of the Army game. Crawford is the 24th commit in the 2016 class and the fourth at receiver, joinging Brad Hawkins, Nate Johnson, and Ahmir Mitchell (as well as ATH Chris Evans, who's expected to compete at the slot).
The Wolverines have long been at or near the top of the list for Crawford, and when fellow finalist Oregon filled up their receiver spots, it became apparent he'd choose Michigan. He's mentioned that he'd still like to take visits to Georgia, Miami, UCLA, and Washington; we'll see if that comes to pass now that he's a commit.
4*, #24 WR,
4*, #25 WR,
4*, 82, #23 WR,
4*, 94, #21 WR,
4*, #20 WR,
Crawford's rankings are so consistent across the board that both his position and overall ranks on the 247 Composite are higher than those given to him by any of the four recruiting services.
He's been to enough camps that there's a close agreement on his size: the consensus is he's 6'1" and somewhere in the 185-pound range. He weighed in at 183 at The Opening in July.
Crawford has been a frequent camp participant over the last couple years, so there's no shortage of scouting reports on him. Scout's Brandon Huffman pegged him as a national-level recruit back in the summer of 2014, when Crawford was one of the top underclassmen at the Oregon NFTC:
Crawford was neck-and-neck with [Trevon] Sidney, his good friend, for most of the afternoon, and the only thing that really separated them were just a couple of more acrobatic catches that Sidney made. But Crawford was just as consistent, just as explosive and just as polished as Sidney was. We've seen Crawford a ton this spring and this may have been the best we've seen him throughout. He's every bit the national recruit he's already become.
Crawford played his high school ball with Stanford QB commit and one-time Michigan target KJ Costello, and the pair were tough to stop on the 7-on-7 circuit. 247's Barton Simmons saw him as a versatile threat who can line up outside or in the slot after the Pylon 7-on-7 tourney. Rivals' Blair Angulo on the SoCal Elite tourney last March:
Crawford is one of Costello's favorite targets, everybody knows it, and not many people seem able to stop it. He's a strong route runner where he cuts extraordinarily well and he does a great job setting up cornerbacks. The four-star is also exceptional at catching low passes by getting his hands under the ball and scooping it. Sometimes, he lets the ball get into his body, but most of the time Crawford rips it out of the air and has proven time and again to be a top-notch receiver.
In addition to his route-running and catching radius, Crawford impressed Angulo with his big-play ability later in the camp season at the RCS Los Angeles:
The group of receivers was loaded, but Crawford managed to stick out once again with his ability to stretch the field. The four-star wideout made numerous plays deep, including a few leaping catches that appeared effortless. Crawford has a well-rounded repertoire that should make him one of the most productive players in the area once he regains eligibility this fall following his offseason transfer.
The returns haven't always been positive on the camp trail; Crawford has been a little quiet at a couple of the bigger events. 247 moved him down after The Opening despite great test results:
While Santa Margarita (Calif.) Catholic receiver Dylan Crawford put together strong testing numbers, making the Top 10 of the entire camp, he was quiet during the 7on7 portion and never really asserted himself. We still love Crawford's ability and athletic traits but he's dropped outside the Top100 until we see the production improve.
While this is on a limited sample, Rivals had him as a "stock down" guy after Monday's Army game practice because of issues hanging on to the football:
Physically the 6-foot-1, 175-pound Crawford was one of the most impressive looking wide receivers on the West. He has an easy, fluid stride and gets in and out of his breaks well. The issue Monday was Crawford fighting the football. Even easy passes with no defensive backs in the vicinity were being dropped, and priority No. 1 for a wide receiver is catching the football.
Crawford bounced back on Thursday, earning a top performer spot for the West squad from 247:
Strong performance from the California wide receiver. He looked to go through the motions throughout much of the first two days of practice, but he took his game to new heights on day three. His effort really stood out today. He got free a lot during 7-on-7 and 11-on-11 and made sure to finish each run when the ball came his way. That effort will help him find the field early next year, whether that’s at Michigan, USC, Oregon, Arizona State, Stanford, or another top program.
ESPN really likes Crawford's route-running and doesn't seem too concerned with his hands:
Is very shifty with wiggle and fluid change-of-direction to use at the top of stems into and out of breaks. Comes off the ball rapidly and can get on the toes of defenders quickly to eat up cushion, attack alignment and get vertical. Wins a lot of deep routes with a step or so largely in part to proper technique. Is likely quicker than fast overall, but knows how to use his feet, hips and burst to gain separation.
Possesses efficient and reliable ball skills on both sides of the ball. Is very adept at tracking the deep ball over the shoulder. Shows good focus when contested. Has a reasonably wide catch radius to adjust to balls thrown outside of his frame. Transitions quickly after the tuck. Looks to be more comfortable plucking on the move than coming back to the football.
Rivals noted another strong aspect of Crawford's skill-set when Angulo scouted a Santa Margarita Catholic game in September:
Four-star wide receiver Dylan Crawford didn't have a big night as a pass catcher but he still left his mark, paving the way for some big runs with effective blocking on the edge. The Rivals250 prospect was not only willing to block, but also fiery when it came to the task. He said afterward he realizes receivers have to be well rounded at the next level and he has worked hard at making his presence felt even when the ball isn't in the air.
In a game where Angulo said Costello struggled to find a rhythm, Crawford still made an impact in a victory.
As long as his hands don't become an issue—and it sounds like his issues at Monday's Army practice were out of character—Crawford boasts all the skills necessary to make an early impact for Michigan as a slot receiver.
Crawford held offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Hawaii, Illinois, Miami, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Oregon State, SMU, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Utah, Washington, and Washington State—a great selection of West Coast offers with some strong national programs also involved.
Crawford and Costello are far from alone as Santa Margarita Catholic prospects who've earned a spot on Power 5 programs. The school also produced current USC center Max Tuerk, former San Diego State and current Dallas Cowboys tight end Gavin Escobar, and ten other Power 5 signees since 2002, according to the Rivals database.
According to MaxPreps, Crawford caught 51 passes for 822 yards (16.1 YPC) and seven touchdowns in ten games as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
Crawford posted the fifth-best SPARQ score during initial testing at The Opening last summer despite some trying circumstances, per Scout's Greg Biggins:
Dylan Crawford was one of 10 participants out of the 166 who tested to qualify for NIKE Football Rating Championship. At 6-1.5, 183 pounds, the athlete clocked a 4.45-40, 4.01 in the shuttle, jumped 37” in the vertical and threw the power ball 42’.
“I just got out of a walking boot that I was in for three weeks too,” Crawford said during the event. “I wasn’t able to run at all for the last month, this was really the first time I was able to do it so I was definitely happy with how I did. I know I can run even faster too so it was very encouraging for me to make the top 10 out here.”
Crawford didn't quite perform as well in the finals, posting a 4.61 40 and a 4.23 shuttle, though he improved his power ball toss (44.5') and vertical leap (40.1"). Posting a zero-FAKE, electronically timed 4.45 40-yard dash coming off an injury is pretty darn impressive regardless, especially in combination with those other testing scores.
Mid-season senior highlights:
Full junior highlights:
Sophomore highlights can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As the highest-ranked and most polished of Michigan's current receiver commits, Crawford appears to have the best chance to see the field as a freshman. Grant Perry is the only player on the roster who's seen snaps in the slot, where Crawford best projects. Crawford, Nate Johnson, and Chris Evans should battle with Perry for that job and perhaps some backup snaps if the coaches want to utilize the position more in 2016.
Crawford is also a candidate to compete on the outside when Jehu Chesson and Amara Darboh graduate after the 2016 season. With his skill and versatility, it's hard not to see him making an impact—and perhaps locking down a starting job—by his second year on campus.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
With Signing Day less than a month away, Michigan has narrowed their focus to a small group of prospects to close out the class. While the class now stands at 24 commits out of a planned class of 27, a few more spots are expected to open up due to attrition from within the class. There's a slim, but non-zero, chance that Michigan adds a huge piece to the class later this afternoon in five-star GA TE Isaac Nauta, who's expected to choose Georgia but has indicated his final decision was much more difficult than many thought. He'll announce sometime during the fourth quarter of the Army game.
Other top targets include five-star DT Rashan Gary, four-star CB David Long, four-star CB Lavert Hill, four-star ATH Jordan Fuller, four-star WDE Levi Onwuzurike, four-star WDE Connor Murphy, four-star TE Devin Asiasi, four-star DT/OL Boss Tagaloa, four-star ILB Dontavoius Jackson, four-star TE Jacob Mathis, three-star ILB Jonathan Jones, three-star WR Pie Young, three-star OLB Khaleke Hudson, and three-star TE Chase Allen.
Here's the class as it currently stands:
Kareem Walker (center) with fellow NJ native Ahmir Mitchell. [Isaiah Hole/247]
Michigan has once again fought off Florida State to land their second top target in as many days. After Devin Bush Jr. committed yesterday, top-ranked Wayne (NJ) De Paul Catholic RB Kareem Walker's announced his Michigan pledge this afternoon. The Wolverines have been in the driver's seat for Walker since his October official visit eventually spurred a decommitment from Ohio State, where he'd committed during last season's national title game; Auburn and Florida State emerged as contenders but Michigan managed to fend them off.
Walker is the 23rd commit in the 2016 class, the second at running back (joining Kingston Davis), and the fourth from New Jersey (Brad Hawkins, Ron Johnson, Ahmir Mitchell). If Michigan closes out like they hope, Walker won't be the last to join the class from the Garden State.
5*, #2 RB,
4*, #1 RB,
4*, 87, #1 RB,
4*, 94, #2 RB,
4*, #1 RB,
Every site but 247 has Walker as one of the very top prospects in the country, and even though 247 is a significant outlier they still consider him the second-best running back in the class. There isn't a Leonard Fournette or Reggie Bush level of can't-miss back; Walker is a cut below them as a prospect but still obviously quite good.
Walker has a solid, college-ready build; he's listed at 6'0", 200-210 pounds by all but 247 (6'1", 210).
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Michigan survived a late push from Florida State to land one of their top overall targets in the class, four-star Hollywood (FL) Flanagan ILB Devin Bush Jr., who announced his commitment to the Wolverines in a ceremony this afternoon. Bush, the son of former FSU and NFL safety and current Flanagan head coach Devin Bush, joins teammates Devin Gil and Josh Metellus in the 2016 class, which now sits at 22 commits.
Bush is the second linebacker in the class, along with three-star Dytarious Johnson, and as an early enrollee he'll have every opportunity to make an instant impact at Michigan's thinnest position group.
|3*, #13 ILB||
4*, #5 ILB,
4*, 82, #12 OLB,
3*, 88, #19 ILB,
4*, #11 ILB,
As you can see, there's a major split in Bush's rankings; Rivals and ESPN have him as solid four-star while Scout and 247 place him in high three-star territory. Bush's size—listed at 5'11", ~225 pounds everywhere but Scout (6'0", 215)—is the likely cause of the difference in opinion; those listings are apparently a little generous on length, as Bush measured in at 5'9", 227 at The Opening.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative stuff.]