Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Possesses excellent dunkface (via PennLive)
First reported by Sam Webb and confirmed by multiple sources, 2014 Allentown (PA) Central Catholic G Muhammad Ali Abdur-Rahkman committed to Michigan while on his official visit this afternoon.
Abdur-Rahkman picked up heavy interest from the Wolverines as they prepared for the potential losses of Nik Stauskas and Glenn Robinson III; once those two declared for the NBA Draft, MAAR's recruitment hit the fast track. He becomes the fifth member of Michigan's 2014 class, joining Kam Chatman, Ricky Doyle, Austin Hatch, and DJ Wilson.
|3*, NR SG||NR SG||2*, 64, #101 SG||NR SG||NR SG|
As one would expect from a prospect picked up as a late-cycle contingency plan, MAAR flew under the radar of most of the recruiting services, with only ESPN even bothering give him a complete ranking—and they don't even list his weight. The other sites are in relative agreeance regarding his measurables; all list him at 180 pounds, with Rivals and 247 pegging him at 6'4" and Scout shaving off an inch.
Unsurprisingly, scouting reports on a largely overlooked prospect are hard to come by—there's not a single scouting-related article on him on Rivals, Scout, or 247. ESPN's evaluation was last updated in June 2013, so while it gives us a starting point, it doesn't include any progress MAAR made during his senior season [emphasis mine]:
He's extremely versatile with the size and length to offer minutes at any of the three perimeter positions, and is a match-up problem virtually anywhere on the court because he's capable of making plays for himself and others over top of smaller guards and has the speed, quickness, and handle to go by most bigger wings. He's equally versatile defensively where his size, length, and ability to cover the court might even be bigger weapons.
He's a dribble drive player on the offensive end, and not yet a consistent outside shooter. That flaw in his offensive repertoire is likely to be exposed much more at the next level when the game slows down and he's not able to get out in the open floor with the same frequency. Even at that, he's going to be much more effective in an up-tempo system at the next level.
He has a very intriguing combination of size, length, quickness, and smooth handle but he's going to have to continue to get more skilled on the perimeter in order for his game to translate as well to the college level.
The inconsistent jump-shooting is a concern for any guard coming in to play for John Beilein, though MAAR's drive-oriented game at the very least gives U-M a different type of player to put out there, especially if he lives up to his reputation as a defensive stopper.
The most recent, thorough analysis of Michigan's latest addition comes from UMHoops, which posted a scouting report on MAAR this week, as well as the video embedded later in this post. The whole thing is obviously worth your time; Dylan praises his transition game and passing ability, sees room for improvement in his shooting and ballhandling, and comes away with this conclusion:
Abdur-Rahkman might not be the traditional Beilein wing, but he would bring a lot of things to Michigan’s backcourt that are currently lacking. He looks like a natural fit to play the two-guard spot, but down the line he could potentially slide to the three or the one. Michigan’s inability to contain dribble penetration last season was no secret and Abdur-Rahkman might be able to shore up some of those concerns – especially down the line. He’s already physically mature (he’ll turn 20 in September) which means he could be ready to play at a college level, but also that he’s been able to bully younger players at the high school level.
That last bit means MAAR is probably closer to his ceiling than your average incoming freshman, which can be a benefit in the short-term but does add some concern for how much he'll improve over the long haul.
Sam Webb asked Abdur-Rahkman for a self-evaluation this week, and he had no issue noting the areas of his game that need improvement ($):
I’m more of a facilitator, get in the lane, drive and kick, find the big guys inside. I can play defense. I’m a good defender – perimeter. I can shoot a little bit…I need to get better. Dribbling better, but need to get better. Midrange is pretty good.
Despite his scoring acumen, note that MAAR calls himself a facilitator first and foremost.
Coach/teammate evaluations are difficult to trust entirely for obvious reasons, but do at provide insight into how a prospect handles himself in the locker room, and Abdur-Rahkman comes in for high praise in that regard:
“He is a complete player,” [Central Catholic head coach] Dennis Csencsits said. “Not only does he lead us in scoring but he leads us in assist, he is a very good rebounder so he is a really well-rounded player, very smart, very savvy basketball player.”
Although he continues to excel on the court, Abdur-Rahkman’s teammate says the “friendly and outgoing” star has been their mentor.
“Muhammad has helped me become a better leader and a better teammate,” sophomore point guard Zay Jennings said. “Just learning some basketball [techniques] that he does, overall, he is just a good teacher and a good leader.”
As you'll see, MAAR was a scoring machine in high school, but the stats, film, and quotes show that he's an unselfish player, as well.
About those stats—they're quite impressive:
Barring a major surprise, Abdur-Rahkman will be named to the Pennsylvania all-state team next week [Ed: he was], making him the first player in Lehigh Valley history to be an all-state selection four times.
He also was a unanimous choice as The Morning Call's player of the year for the second consecutive year.
The 6-foot-4 swingman was the driving force behind one of the greatest seasons in Lehigh Valley basketball annals.
With Abdur-Rahkman averaging 23.6 points, 4.1 assists and 6.2 rebounds per game, Central Catholic became the first area boys team to win its first 29 games, sweeping the Lehigh Valley Conference and District 11 3A titles en route.
The dream season ended with a 60-50 loss to eventual state champion Neumann-Goretti, but few will ever forget this Central Catholic team or the talents of Abdur-Rahkman.
He finished with 2,136 points — the most in CCHS history and the sixth most in District 11 annals.
That article contains more background on MAAR and focuses, once again, on his humble demeanor and unselfish play. This quote from Abdur-Rahkman sums it up:
"The numbers don't mean much to me," he said. "I'm just glad we won four district titles. That was our goal. We put in a lot of hard work and we just got better each year. One day it will all hit me what we've accomplished but right now, hard work is what I want to be remembered for."
Before picking up the Michigan offer on his visit, Abdur-Rahkman held offers from Bucknell, Delaware, Drexel, George Mason, Lehigh, Robert Morris, and VCU, according to ESPN.
The UMHoops scouting video is a must-watch:
Brian posted his impressions on it earlier this week:
MAAR's shot selection here would be terrible except he's in high school and the shots he's getting off are probably better than wide open looks from a number of his teammates. And he puts down a lot of his terrible, terrible shots. It's the open ones, whether it's at the free throw line or generally, that seem to need work. As UMHoops notes, one of the games here features five threes from MAAR, which is a major outlier for a guy who hit 1.9 a game.
We could see some improvement in MAAR's shooting once the onus for creating most of the team's offense no longer falls on him.
Also, a four-second assessment of his athleticism reveals that...
...yup, he's athletic.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Abdur-Rahkman needs to develop on the offensive end, but he still might see the floor next season—his physical maturity should help him there. While the worries about Michigan's depth for 2014-15 have focused on the frontcourt, Jon Horford's transfer and the NBA losses have created a ripple effect that leaves the backcourt a little thin, especially at the two. While Caris LeVert will play the vast majority of those minutes, Zak Irvin—the presumed starting three—may have to play more minutes at the four than the two, especially if Mitch McGary decides to go pro.
That leaves MAAR as the only backup guard aside from Spike Albrecht and Austin Hatch, and it's unlikely Hatch is going to be ready to play after returning to the court this past season. I doubt Beilein used a scholarship on a 20-year-old freshman at a position in need of depth without plans to utilize him immediately; even with the iffy jump shot, MAAR should carve out a niche role as a defensive specialist who can get out and lead the break. How he's utilized from there will depend largely on the development of his offensive repertoire.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one remaining open scholarship for next season. I'd be surprised if they took another recruit in the class. It's more likely they'll look to add a transfer if the right player shows interest, and if that doesn't happen they can pocket the scholarship for 2015-16, which currently has just one open spot—though that figure could grow given the distinct possibility Mitch McGary and Caris LeVert are NBA-bound by that time.
EDIT: Or I'm totally wrong, as Sam Webb just tweeted out the latest offer news:
#Michigan has offered 2014 New Hampton (N.H.) Prep guard Aubrey Dawkins
— Sam Webb (@SamWebb77) April 19, 2014
This can mean a few things: the transfer front isn't looking so good, Beilein expects further attrition, or the coaches just really like Dawkins. We'll see.
After going without a commit since November, Michigan reeled in a big one today when four-star Richmond (VA) St. Christopher's CB Garrett Taylor announced his pledge to the Wolverines on Twitter. It appeared Taylor favored Stanford as recently as a month ago, but a subsequent Michigan offer and campus visit—which he called the best of any he'd taken—sealed it for the Maize and Blue.
— Garrett Taylor (@gtaychillin) March 24, 2014
Taylor is the fifth overall commit in the 2015 class and the third defensive back, joining CB Shaun Crawford and S Tyree Kinnel.
[So as not to step all over the basketball post, hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
Per Core 6 Athletes, 2016 Downers Grove (IL) South OT Erik Swenson committed to Michigan last night—yes, this is the pledge Brandon and others have been hinting at for the past couple days. Swenson is considered one of the top prospects in his class at this very early juncture; he visited Michigan for last summer's technique camp and the Notre Dame game, giving such glowing reviews of the school that he's long been thought of as a Wolverine lock.
Swenson is Michigan's first commit in the class of 2016. I guess I have to start deploying the "2016 recruiting" tag now.
|4*, NR OT||NR OT||NR OT||NR OT||NR OT|
As you can see, none of the four recruiting services have released rankings for the 2016 class; Scout named Swenson one of their initial four-star recruits—it's worth noting they only awarded six prospects five-star status—while Rivals named him as one of ten recruits to watch in the class and 247 placed him on a similar list of just six recruits; at this early stage, he's one of the most highly-regarded prospects in his class. Five-star status isn't out of the question by any means once his class gets evaluated more completely.
Swenson's listed measurables range from 6'5", 289 pounds (Rivals), to 6'7", 285 pounds (Scout and 247), with ESPN falling in between. Recent reports have listed him as large as 6'7", 290, and he's still just a sophomore in high school; dude is big.
Swenson has caught the eyes of scouts since he was in 8th grade and has started on the Downers Grove South varsity squad since his freshman year, so despite his youth there's actually a decent amount of scouting on him. Back in May, Illinois recruiting guru EdgyTim named Swenson first when discussing underclassmen to watch at the Rivals Chicago camp ($):
OT Erik Swenson (6-foot-7, 290 pounds) Downers Grove South 2016- just look at the sheer measureables and for a freshman in high school the overall size and potential of Swenson is off the charts. Now, this is NOT just your typical overhyped/overgrown kid who can't block the sun on a bright mid August day. Swenson showed last fall starting for the Mustangs that he's quickly becoming a technically savy blocker and is just getting better and better.
At that camp, Swenson was named the #2 performer($) among underclassmen despite being at least a year younger than most of his competition; Josh Helmholdt said Swenson was "raw in some of the technical aspects of the position, but he [played] light on his feet."
Participating against prospects as much as two years older than him at the Core 6 Big Man Camp, Swenson again impressed scouts, including 247's Steve Wiltfong:
Freshman offensive tackle Erik Swenson has all the tools to be highly recruited. At 6-foot-7, 285-pounds, he has a great frame, moves well, delivers a strong punch and held his own against the likes of [2014 Ohio State SDE commit Dylan] Thompson.
Swenson picked up his much-coveted Michigan offer later that month; the Wolverines were the second school to offer, following Illinois. That was before he even returned to Ann Arbor for June's technique camp, in which Allen Trieu said Swenson "continue[d] to show that he is ahead of his years."
By the time Swenson was named as one of Rivals's ten prospects to watch in the 2016 class in September, he'd picked up a couple more offers from top programs ($):
College coaches started getting excited about Swenson immediately after his freshman season, and he has already picked up offers from Illinois, Michigan, Notre Dame and Ohio State. Measuring 6-foot-5 and 289 pounds at the Chicago Rivals Camp Series presented by Under Armour last May, Swenson has all the tools of a dominant future left tackle. He plays light on his feet, can locate in space and is already showing the patience to not overextend. That is not to say Swenson is a finished product, but physically he has nothing limiting him from being an elite left tackle prospect.
Tim Sullivan made his way down to Illinois to watch Swenson in actual game action; he noted that Swenson has plenty of room to add weight, especially in his lower body, despite the fact that he's already 290 pounds with little bad weight on him, and came away very impressed with both his run- and pass-blocking ($):
Impressively, Swenson is equally adept at run blocking and pass blocking. He drives very well when the ball is run behind him (the game-winning touchdown run features him caving half the Morton defense, allowing some of his fellow blockers to clean up the remaining Morton players), and has a solid pass set without overextending himself.
Playing with a lower pad level was noted as an area for improvement, as it quite often is for young linemen.
Michigan appears to be getting a prototype left tackle with Swenson's huge frame and quick feet; if he improves from a technical standpoint—and remember, he's just finishing up his sophomore season—he could develop into a truly dominant lineman. That's certainly the goal, based on this quote from his father, the spectacularly-named Swen Swenson, to GBW's Josh Newkirk after Erik picked up his Michigan offer ($):
“Erik is a left tackle and it’s matter of dreaming of playing in the Big House, and falling in the footsteps of Jake Long and soon to be Taylor Lewan, who will probably go No. 1 in the draft next year if he stays healthy. Those are kind of hard footsteps not to want to follow, are they?” sail [sic] the elder Swenson.
Indeed, Swen. Indeed.
Swenson held offers from Notre Dame, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Illinois, Northwestern, and Akron in addition to his Michigan offer, according to Rivals. Scout also lists an Oregon offer; 247 shows interest but no offer from the likes of Florida State, Iowa, Michigan State, Nebraska, UCLA, and Vanderbilt.
Downers Grove South has produced three players ranked three-stars or better in the Rivals era (2002-present), all of whom went to Illinois. That includes 2003 five-star OL Martin O'Donnell, a four-year starter at guard for the Illini and a first-team AP All-American as a senior; he decided to give up football after his college career due to injuries.
OL, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
None listed that I can find.
YouTube has highlights of a freshman Swenson, looking like anything but a freshman, in his first year as a varsity starter:
Single game cut-ups from this season are available on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Swenson is pretty clearly a left tackle prospect with a ton of potential; at this point in his development, that's about as much as I'm willing to project. His size, coupled with the fact that he's fared so well against older competition at various camps—not to mention as a starter from day one at the varsity level—bodes well for his ability to contribute at a relatively early stage when he reaches college. Michigan hasn't even finished recruiting offensive linemen for the 2015 class, so any conjecture about the depth chart is pretty worthless right now.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ditto for this. Swenson will be one of the highest-rated recruits—and quite possibly the flat-out highest-rated—in Michigan's 2016 class; beyond that, there's still far too much left to unfold in the 2014 and 2015 classes to say much here.
Wilson pictures are thin on the ground. Via Rivals.
CA SF/PF DJ Wilson has committed to Michigan. Informative update…
IS ALREADY HERE, YEAHHHH
|3*, #135 overall||3*, NR||3*, NR overall
|3*, #219 overall
Wilson's ratings are pretty meh. He's a skinny 6'9" kid who was injured for much of the all-important evaluation periods the last couple years and put up about ten points a game when healthy. So those rankings are legit, for generic club X.
For Michigan, he's a fit for what they want to do and may outperform the middling-at-best expectations above. John Beilein likes three things: length, shooting, and intelligence. Wilson brings all three in spades. His AAU coach:
"D.J. can shoot it, handle it and pass it at 6'9 and is just scratching the surface in his basketball career. He is going to surprise a lot of people. He's a great kid and an extremely hard worker who wants to be really good at his craft. Schools just wanted to see if the back was an issue and clearly it's not."
At 6'9", he's a jumbo wing in the extreme or good-sized stretch four. He's got a sweet jumper with range out to three, and he's a 4.0 student who took an official visit to Columbia. The one in New York.
That back issue held him out for the entirety of last year's AAU circuit, which held his rankings down. He missed a big chunk of this year's, as well. This is from late July:
The last player into the 2014 Rivals150 at No. 150, D.J. Wilson has been sidelined by injuries for most of the past six months. Finally healthy, the 6-foot-8 combo forward from Sacramento (Calif.) Capital Christian is starting to show some things. …
What jumps out immediately about Wilson is his ability to stroke deep jump shots and the ease with which things seem to come to him on the offensive end. Because of his size and skill, he plays as a both a plus-sized wing or a face-up four who can stretch defenses and knock down shots.
Another evaluation from that tourney:
DJ Wilson had the college coaches buzzing with his play. Standing at 6’8” with a skinny frame, Wilson showed off a text book jump shot and went 3-3 from behind the line in a strong first half performance. His shot was smooth and effortless with range several feet behind the arc. When pressured Wilson used a pump fake to drive to the basket and finished with a soft floater.
Has a knack for doing a lot of things on the court and being very efficient. Wilson rebounds the ball well, handles, looks to get contact in the paint, and shows a nice touch with his left. Uses his length to his advantage on defense as well.
Here a lack of ridiculous athleticism is made up for by sheer length and craft.
A lack of assertiveness and questions about his energy level are the other consistent complaints, which get referenced even when he's playing well. Scout:
…back on the court Saturday and looked really good. Wilson hasn’t stopped growing and has now hit the 6-foot-8, 6-foot-9 range, only adding to his value as a prospect. Wilson played harder than he has in the past, scored on the offensive glass and hit three triples off the catch. He’s a project but no doubt has upside.
ESPN's evaluation loves his upside ("quintessential frame with long arms and overall great length"; "great ball skills"; "impressive" three point shot") but lingers on a lack of energy exerted on both ends of the floor, especially when it comes to rebounding and defending. Hopefully that's an evaluation impacted by the lingering back issues.
Those back issues are a concern, as they had the specter of something chronic with their duration and consistent flare-ups. The CU Rivals site has the best description of what went down there:
The spring was a successful one, until injuring his back and having to sit out the July live period. An inconsistent recovery looked to be completed when Wilson averged 15.4 points per game over the first seven of the season.
But problems with his back creeped back up, eventually keeping him out of this past spring evaluation period because of inflammation.
"I could have played but I'd rather wait until summer," he said of sitting out the spring. "I didn't want to risk anything."
FWIW, his doctor told Wilson that the injuries were "things that only happen once."
Likes ice cream.
Wilson had offers from Gonzaga, Cal, Colorado, USC, Harvard, Columbia, and a few others. There were reports that everyone who lost out on Chatman (Oregon, USC, and Arizona) tried to get Wilson to dump his M visit and visit them this weekend, FWIW.
FAKE 40 TIME
Square root of negative one fakes. You can't write i these days without getting it autocorrected at the start of a sentence.
Junior year video:
UMHoops scouting video:
Wilson features extensively in a recent Capital Christian workout video that is for hardcore folks only:
One-on-ones start at about seven minutes and are the most interesting bit. Also the difference in Wilson's body from video one to this recent one jumps out; guy has done a lot of work despite the back injury.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If you're still betting against Beilein's ability to unearth talent, you're hanging out at the penny slots swearing a lot. Don't sweat the rankings too much. Wilson's a high-upside project who fits well with Beilein's system and is a good bet to maximize his potential. He's an academic fit who should be able to generate shots with his brain in Beilein's system, and his injury makes it likely he's underrated.
ESPN compared Kam Chatman to Tayshaun Prince, but it's Wilson who's eerily reminiscent of the lanky 6'10" shooter and long-armed devil, down to that baby hook in the lane that is one of Prince's go-to moves. Wilson brings the stretch four shooting and good-enough driving ability that Prince does; he's skinny and lacks crazy athleticism but is also good enough in those areas.
The downside here is Evan Smotrycz: a quality-shooting stretch four with the ability to get to the basket who's allergic to rebounds and defense and eventually drives Beilein so crazy he bites his head off like a bat. Then he transfers to Maryland. Wilson, not Beilein. Or the bat. Bat's dead, bro.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Wilson fills one of Michigan's combo forward slots; since they were willing to take both Wilson and Donte Grantham it seems they will woo a few guys going forward, most prominently Australian transplant combo forward Jonah Bolden.
Bolden's recruitment will end in the spring; Michigan's pursuit of a shooting guard is going to conclude much more quickly, with both IN SG James Blackmon Jr and MS SG Devin Booker likely off the board by the end of the month. If Michigan gets one of those plan A SGs it's status quo—unless there's attrition, Bolden or bust for scholarship #5 and only if Bolden plays like a must-take—but if they miss on both they might hold onto scholarship #4 if they feel confident in Bolden and confident they can get away with a class consisting almost entirely of skinny combo forwards, especially if OH SG Javon Bess is off the board to Michigan State by then.
Can they? I think so unless they're getting early entry vibes from Stauskas. He'll have two more years when this class arrives, as will Caris LeVert. You could even slide Zak Irvin down if you wanted; Michigan does just fine with SGs who are more shooter than penetrator, and gol dang if that's not a huge lineup.
Huber Heights (OH) Wayne defensive back Tyree Kinnel waited a while for Michigan offer; though the Wolverines began looking at him during his freshman season, Kinnel went without one through several campus visits and even Michigan's technique camp this summer. After an outstanding performance at Ohio State's Friday Night Lights camp last month, Kinnel finally received the offer he coveted, and today he became Michigan's sixth commit in the 2015 class and their second in two days following Shaun Crawford's pledge yesterday.
4*, #24 CB,
|NR CB||3*, NR S||4*, 90, #18 S||
4*, #20 S,
Rivals still hasn't released 2015 rankings; the other three sites are split on both Kinnel's talent and his future position. Scout likes him as a cornerback and puts him well within their top 300; 247 pegs him as a safety and has him just outside their Top 247 (the #16 safety is #241 overall); ESPN also has him as a safety and gives him a three-star rating.
Scout lists Kinnel at 5'11", 170 lbs., ESPN at 5'11", 183, and both Rivals and 247 have him pegged at 6'0", 190; he's got the size to play either safety or corner. According to multiple reports, Michigan recruited Kinnel as a safety; Ohio State was looking at him as a bigger corner, and with the Wolverines looking for similar attributes from their cornerbacks it's possible he could end up there as well.
Although Kinnel has started at Wayne since his freshman year, there's surprisingly little scouting material on him from anything aside from last month's Friday Night Lights camp. Since that's the most recent look at him, we might as well start there; here's Scout's Dave Berk on Kinnel's FNL performance ($):
Damon Webb would be hard to knock as the top defensive back at Friday Night Lights, but Kinnel was extremely impressive in coverage. Much like he stated, I agree that he can play either safety or cornerback at the next level, and that will all sort itself out over the next two years of high school football. Kinnel is a bigger corner, and college programs love this size out on an island. He is one of Ohio's top 2015 prospects, and he certainly raised his stock with his performance at Friday Night Lights.
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt delves into more detail about Kinnel's coverage skills ($):
The 6-foot, 190-pound Kinnel appears headed for the safety position in college, but he has excelled this summer in camp settings where he is asked to cover like a cornerback. His best attribute at this stage is his break on the football, but the rising junior also shows fluid hips and the speed to cover downfield. He is thickly built and has the frame of a future college safety, but his coverage skills may allow him to play anywhere in the defensive backfield at the next level.
Like Berk, Helmholdt had Kinnel behind only Damon Webb among defensive backs at FNL.
One more bit from FNL from Rivals Ohio analyst Marc Givler ($):
Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne defensive back Tyree Kinnel continues to turn in special performances on the camp circuit and was outstanding once again showing the size and strength of a free safety but the cover skills of a corner. It won't be long until Kinnel is a 20 offer kid.
Kinnel's excellent performance in one-on-one WR/DB drills at FNL—a true test of a defensive back's man coverage ability in a drill that favors the receiver—negates the only negative from ESPN's evaluation that isn't the usual call to add bulk that applies to just about every high school prospect:
STRENGTHS: A savvy player with good instincts and vision. Shows good playing speed and strength. A playmaker in defending both the run and pass. Excellent in zone coverage reading the QB's eyes and making a break on the football. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will benefit from adding bulk to his frame. Lacks experience in laying [sic] man to man coverage. ... BOTTOM LINE: Kinnel is a solid all-around safety that does many things well. Shows the potential to be productive in man coverage with good physical tools.
ESPN gave Kinnel a three-star rating and has yet to give a specific grade or include him in their position ratings, so I don't think they're done evaluating him; then again, this is fire-and-forget ESPN we're talking about, so who knows.
Here's Berk again from a Sam Webb feature in the Detroit News pointing out an important area for improvement:
“I project him as a safety with solid ball skills,” said Berk. “At the same time he is aggressive, has good strength, and is able to support the run extremely well. He needs to work on better tackling technique, but overall he has got all the skills that you’d see in a top level safety at the next level.”
Considering Kinnel has shown a willingness to come up in run support and be effective in doing so, and he's got two more season of high school ball before he gets to Michigan—where he'll be coached up even more on technique—this isn't something I find particularly concerning.
Steve Lorenz caught up with Kinnel's high school position coach after his commitment to get a few more details about his game, specifically his advanced knowledge of football for a rising junior ($):
"He's a person who is still learning the game, but you don't get a player like Tyree very often," Powell said. "He has the size and speed, but he has something that you can't teach a lot of players: he has the instincts to see things before or as they are happening. This gives him the ability to make reads quicker and make plays. He knows how to disguise coverages and he knows how to read opposing offenses. As his position coach, I've given Tyree the permission to call audibles on our coverage. This off-season he really improved in that aspect and can pick up the tendencies of a quarterback with relative ease. He's ahead of his age in terms of understanding the game. The other intangible he has that I really admire about him is his passion and love for the game itself. He's a young man who goes out every day and works his tail off."
Powell also said he expects Kinnel to be named captain, a high honor for a junior, and relayed a story from a recent intrasquad scrimmage in which Kinnel, disappointed with the play of the defense, actually ordered the first team off the field and brought the second team on with the full approval of the coaching staff. Again, The Pattern™ emerges.
Kinnel had offers from Arkansas and Kentucky when he made his commitment, as well as interest from Michigan State, Ohio State, Tennessee, and West Virginia.
Huber Heights Wayne is a solid program in Ohio's Division I, making it to the state championship game (and losing, unfortunately) in 1999 and 2010. Their most notable football prospect is current Ohio State QB Braxton Miller; the school also produced former Wolverines Terrence and Terry Talbott, both of whom had injuries cut their college careers short.
Cincinnati.com has a game-by-game breakdown of Kinnel's sophomore season, in which he recorded 30 solo tackles, a fumble recovery, and two interceptions.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 40 time of 4.40; this has the look of a self-reported time and I can't find any electronically-timed combine figures, so this gets a solid four FAKEs out of five. While I don't doubt Kinnel's speed, 4.4-flat is an elite time for a college player, let alone a high school junior.
As usual, more highlights and individual game cut-ups are available at Kinnel's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
If Kinnel, as expected, ends up at safety he'll have the opportunity to compete for playing time at a relatively early juncture. When he arrives in 2015, Michigan will have a senior Jarrod Wilson and juniors Dymonte Thomas, Delano Hill, and Jeremy Clark on the roster, plus a 2014 recruit (Montae Nicholson is currently the top candidate to fill the open safety spot in the class; Erick Smith and JuJu Smith are other, less likely options). That should afford Kinnel a redshirt year and then a one-year apprenticeship as a backup before he competes for a starting job; unless Michigan decides to move one of their young corners to safety, he's got a relatively clear path to playing time.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Slightly edited from yesterday's Hello post:
With a very small projected class and plenty of depth in place, the Wolverines would likely take just one more defensive back—NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick is a top national target who's shown some interest in Michigan, and five-star CA CB Iman Marshall has an offer in hand, though he's a longshot. [EDIT: I should also mention four-star MI ATH Brian Cole, who projects to corner and is strongly considering both Michigan and Michigan State—the Spartans may actually be the team to beat for him; he's still a more realistic option than Fitzpatrick or Marshall at this juncture.]
Kinnel is Michigan's sixth commit in the '15 class (seventh if you count grayshirt DT Brady Pallante); that group may only expand to 15-17 signees, so Michigan will be very selective about whom they offer. Top priorities include quarterback, at least one more offensive lineman, defensive end, and outside linebacker.
As expected, Lakewood (OH) St. Edward cornerback Shaun Crawford announced his commitment to Michigan via a live stream on ESPN's Recruiting Nation, choosing the Wolverines over fellow finalists Florida State, Miami (FL), and Tennessee. Crawford is the first defensive back and fifth prospect overall to commit to Brady Hoke's 2015 class.
4*, #10 CB,
4*, 83, #5 ATH,
4*, 91, #17 CB,
4*, #9 CB,
Of the three services that have released 2015 rankings, ESPN is the most bullish on Crawford, and all are in agreement that he's a solid four-star who easily makes their top-n lists. Rivals is the lone site that hasn't unveiled 2015 rankings; their Ohio state recruiting analyst, Marc Givler, gives us an idea of where Crawford might be end up there:
@FergodsakesUofM He is my No. 3 junior in the state of Ohio.
— Marc Givler (@MarcGivlerBG) August 21, 2013
ESPN also has Crawford as the third-ranked junior in Ohio; if Givler's opinion holds, Crawford should end up ranked in the #50-overall range on Rivals.
Crawford's size has been and will be a topic of much discussion, especially given Michigan's recent proclivity for recruiting big cornerbacks; all four sites list him at a diminutive 5'9" and 165-175 pounds. Most corners that size have issues playing man-up on larger receivers and holding up in run support. With Crawford, the latter part, at least, is not an issue...
...because his highlight tape is essentially eight minutes of this:
Crawford can bring the wood and he's got the play recognition ability to make a big impact in the run game and defending the flats. But don't take it from me. Take it from everyone else. Here's Givler again after taking in a St. Edward scrimmage last week:
Shaun Crawford is as good in run support as any corner I've seen come out of Ohio the last few years.
— Marc Givler (@MarcGivlerBG) August 17, 2013
Rivals analyst Josh Helmholdt after watching St. Edward in a game last fall ($):
Shaun Crawford, ATH, Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward (2015): The 5-foot-9, 165-pound Crawford plays both wide receiver and nickel cornerback, but I listed him with the defense because that is where he was most effective. Crawford had a few drops on offense, but he is an outstanding open-field tackler on defense.
Crawford on Crawford ($):
Playing as a sophomore at St. Ed's is not exactly a common thing and making an impact on both sides of the ball as a sophomore is even more uncommon. So where does Crawford like playing the most?
"I like playing corner the best," he said. "I just like hitting people."
You get the point.
Of course, tackling is but one small part of playing cornerback — the whole covering receivers part is a pretty big deal. Bucknuts's Duane Long ranked Crawford as his #8 rising junior in Ohio, and the writeup makes it sound like he probably should've been higher on the list ($):
8. Shaun Crawford, Athlete, Lakewood St. Edward: As much as it pains me to rank a Michigan lean in my top 10, Crawford is too good to ignore. He has all the tools. He is the best cover corner in Ohio regardless of class but I have a hard time placing a player with this much game-breaking ability on defense. Crawford is just as impressive on offense. Crawford has the hips and feet to be an elite cover corner but he is such a fine tackler he could be a safety. His speed is something special.
Someone is going to get a great player whether he plays offense or defense. Right now it looks like Michigan. An offer might help the situation. He was supposed to be a huge Michigan lean and has an offer. What is he waiting on? Maybe we have it wrong. Maybe we are looking at an Ohio kid being brought up to speed on life after football for someone who intends to return to Ohio. We will see. Love to see this one in Scarlet and Gray.
Yes, that second paragraph is particularly delicious.
Crawford's cover skills are bolstered by his top-notch speed; he was regarded as a big-time track prospect before he even got to high school and has since posted electronic times of 10.80 seconds in the 100-meter dash and 21.80 in the 200. Between his speed and willingness to throw his body around, Crawford's dispelled many of the concerns about his height, as evidenced by this quote from Scout's Bill Greene:
Said Greene, “That’s the only drawback (to his game) -- his height. But it doesn’t bother me because I’ve seen him play live and he is a great football player.
“His speed is amazing, but he’s got hips so he can turn and run. If he does false-step or get beat, he’s got lighting speed to catch up. And he will come up and hit people. There is no worry about if he can tackle coming up from the corner spot because he comes up and hits people. So he is a great athlete and a great kid. He comes from a great family, he is unbelievable in the classroom (and) he is a leader. There is nothing not to like about Shaun Crawford.”
Run support: check. Cover skills: check. Track-star speed: check. Fits The Pattern™: check.
Greene added in the same article that "[i]f he was 6-1 he would probably the top cornerback in America," and noted that Crawford plays against some of the best high school competition in the country at St. Edward. Crawford's height may hold him back a little against taller college receivers, though it seems that it'll be more of an issue for NFL scouts; he's an elite talent with a skill-set that covers for his lone apparent shortcoming.
Crawford held offers from Arkansas, Cincinnati, Florida State, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Northwestern, Penn State, Tennessee, and West Virginia. Ohio State and Notre Dame both showed interest but didn't offer prior to his commitment, much to the dismay of Duane Long in the former case.
Lakewood St. Edward is one of the top programs in Ohio's Division I, producing a number of top recruits in recent years and winning the state title in 2010. Notable former prospects include five-star Michigan guard Kyle Kalis (2012), five-star Ohio State tackle Alex Boone (2005), four-star Ohio State safety Nate Oliver (2007), four-star Northwestern defensive tackle Nate Kuhar (2012), four-star Iowa safety Diauntae Morrow (2007), and a long list of three-stars that contains former Michigan target and 2012 Oklahoma signee TE Sam Grant.
According to 247, Crawford recorded 66 tackles (three for loss), a sack, two interceptions, two forced fumbles, and a fumble recovery in his sophomore season. He also netted 438 yards and five touchdowns on 24 catches as a receiver.
FAKE 40 TIME
Crawford ran a laser-timed 4.51 40 at February's Nike Combine in Massillon, a very impressive figure that gets zero FAKEs out of five. He posted a 37.4-inch vertial leap at the same combine; that leaping ability should help him in defending taller pass-catchers.
Sophomore highlights courtesy of ScoutingOhio:
Here's video of last weekend's scrimmage courtesy of OhioPreps — Crawford appears with big hits on the two plays beginning at the :55 mark, a short touchdown catch at the 2:30 mark, consecutive TFLs at the 3:13 mark, and another huge hit at the 4:00 mark. Not bad for a day's work:
More clips, including individual game highlights, are available at Crawford's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Despite his size, Crawford is an ideal candidate to play boundary corner. He's got the speed and cover skills to match up with outside receivers and more than enough tackling ability to hold up on the edge. Much like Michigan is doing with Dymonte Thomas this year — and may do again next year with Jabrill Peppers — the coaches could also give Crawford a first-year internship at nickel if he's ready to see the field that early before moving him to the outside.
When Crawford arrives on campus, Michigan will have a senior Blake Countess, a junior Terry Richardson, this year's freshman crop of Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, Jourdan Lewis, and Channing Stribling, and of course 2014 commits Jabrill Peppers and Brandon Watson. That's a lot of older players to pass on the depth chart, though if Crawford continues to develop it could be tough to keep him off the field regardless. I really like his game and expect him to be a multi-year starter.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has one defensive back in the fold for 2015 and could very well add another tomorrow in Tyree Kinnel, a 3.5-star safety prospect who could also project as a bigger cornerback. With a very small projected class and plenty of depth in place, the Wolverines would likely take just one more defensive back — NJ CB Minkah Fitzpatrick is a top national target who's shown some interest in Michigan, and five-star CA CB Iman Marshall has an offer in hand, though he's a longshot.
Crawford is Michigan's fifth commit in the '15 class (sixth if you count grayshirt DT Brady Pallante); that group may only expand to 15-17 signees, so Michigan will be very selective about whom they offer. Top priorities include quarterback, at least one more offensive lineman, defensive end, and outside linebacker.