Hoke was top notch at this aspect of his job.
2013 recruiting profiles
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill.
|Novi, MI – 6'3, 250|
4*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
OSU, MSU, Cinci, Syr
or Mike Alstott
or Tim Jamison
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace interview. Ace scouts CC vs OLSM.|
|Notes||Detroit CC (Mike Martin). Twitter.|
There is also a sophomore reel.
Wyatt Shallman is the weirdest multipurpose offensive tool Michigan acquired in this class, mostly because it took everyone—including me—about six months to believe he was an offensive tool at all. The recruiting sites considered him a defensive end before he committed. When 247 debuted its 2013 rankings, Shallman was #149 as a DE. On Rivals, he was in the same range at the same spot.
Shallman is at his best running North-South, and while he doesn't have top-flight speed, he does get to the second level of defenders in a hurry. When he reaches the back seven, he has a tendency to put his head down and try to bowl defenders over, which often works but also limits his big plays—to his credit, however, there wasn't a single run in which Shallman didn't fall forward for at least an extra yard or two.
I was impressed … with Shallman's agility. He's not going to utilize a lot of fancy jukes or spin moves, but his go-to move—the quick jump-cut as he approaches an oncoming defender—worked really well for him. Shallman isn't going to make a lot of guys completely whiff at the next level, but he's shifty enough to get defenders off-balance, and with his power that's enough to shed tackles—Inkster defenders were bouncing off of him all night.
…because guys who are near top-100 players at defensive end play defensive end, end of story. Catholic Central coaches had to make some hard decisions about Shallman when he spent most of his junior and senior years battling hamstring injuries; they used him mostly as a defensive end, exclusively so for a large chunk of his senior year. Tim Sullivan caught CC's game against Brother Rice and saw zero snaps for Shallman on offense. When ESPN noted him as a standout from the road last year, it was after a two-sack game on defense.
But Michigan isn't totally crazy here. Ace caught games from Shallman as a junior and senior and though he made a lot of progress as a DE, Ace still thinks he's best on offense. When OSU offered him, it was as an H-back. His trainer is Mike Barwis, and Barwis makes it sound like he's got potential:
"Physically, he's impressive," Barwis said of Shallman. "Kids his size tend to be sluggish and lumber, but he is very explosive. That isn't common." …
"If someone is looking for a big power back and they want to slam it down their throat, he can do that," Barwis said. "He's going to be a big, explosive, fast, power back. We did that with Owen Schmitt at West Virginia.
"You have your stealth speed back like Steve Slaton, and the next thing you know you give the ball to this tank and he's running a 4.6, hits you in the mouth, and he's gone."
In Michigan's case, they'll have Power A and Power B (and Power C, probably), but you get the idea.
ESPN went back and redid Shallman's profile last February, focusing almost exclusively on offense—and probably going off junior tape:
Has great size and athleticism for the fullback position at the major level of competition; in fact we definitely see tight end potential. … Shows good flexibility, agility and balance as a ball carrier; for his size, he displays good vision and quickness getting up into the line from a regular fullback alignment; can pick and slide while continually gaining ground up to the second level; flashes the wiggle to make first tacklers miss in space however he lacks the burst or second gear needed to clear traffic and break into open space. This guy is a tough between the tackles, power runner capable of moving the pile and shortening the game in the fourth quarter. Does a good job blocking off the edge; brings his feet, rolls his hips and blocks through opponents.
Receiving is the main area for improvement.
Shallman's coach echoes the ESPN eval:
"As a running back, he's got very good speed," Mach said. "He's powerful. He's got the ability to break tackles, not go down on the first hit and get the extra yard. I think he'll be a tough running back."
And Scout does as well:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Light on his feet for a big man, Shallman projects as a big tailback at times and a fullback at others. Is a good athlete who catches the ball out of the backfield well. Good lateral quickness and agility for a kid who's 245-lbs. Will need to continue to learn and improve as a blocker, but does a solid job in that department as well. Has dealt with some injuries in his career.
Michigan may actually be a little crazy, actually, because their pitch to Shallman was running back, emphasis on "run":
"A lot of these teams were saying H-back or possibly even tight end," Shallman said. "So when he said, 'We want you at running back, we want you at tailback,' that really struck home."
One thing the Michigan coaches really like about Shallman is his size. Jackson told Shallman that it was rare to find someone with a body like Shallman's who is as explosive as he is.
Later Shallman would slighly clarify that running back would be amongst a number of positions he would feature at:
What the coaches have told him about when/where he'll be playing: Running back, U-back position where I can play tight end, fullback, running back.
Months of Shallman insisting Michigan saw him as a running back eventually caused three of the four sites to rank him as one of the top fullbacks in the nation; Rivals, the holdout, tossed him in the ATH pile. He held on to a fourth star because of his potential as a pure athlete, and ended up the top fullback because nobody saw him as a tailback and fullbacks don't get four stars. It's a little incoherent, but I feel for the sites on this one.
So… defense. When Shallman committed Michigan was yet to acquire the services of DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, two highly-rated tailbacks who figure to push piles about as well as Shallman while bringing more big play potential to the table. Meanwhile, fullback/H-back is plenty crowded with Houma, Kerridge, and Hill currently also underclassmen.
Since the rest of those guys seem exclusively RB/FB types, it would not surprise to see Shallman move to the defensive end spot a lot of sites had him ticketed for before his commitment. There, he is probably the best fit at WDE. Notre Dame was recruiting him as a "CAT" linebacker, their equivalent in a nominally 3-4 system:
“They like me at the CAT linebacker position – which is kind of a linebacker/defensive end hybrid and a pass rushing specialist in their defense,” Shallman said. “They think my size and athleticism really translates well to that position.”
I'll spare you the digression on how ND's 3-4 isn't really that far from Michigan's 4-3 under down to the LB/DE hybrid, as that's beyond the scope of this post. SAM and SDE are also possibilities, with SAM more likely than SDE, where Shallman will always be undersized.
On defense, he's got pass-rush upside. Barwis shouldn't have dragged this guy out, but Barwis did so Barwis:
"The thing that makes him a unique prospect is that he's extremely quick twitch and explosive," he said. "Brandon Graham is a freak athlete, but Brandon is extremely quick twitch. This kid has that as well. Not to the degree that Brandon did when he went to the NFL, but I didn't see him when he was 15, either."
Josh Helmholdt caught DCC's 2011 opener (ie, Shallman's junior year) against Fordson, in which he impressed:
At times he looked to be protecting the leg, but mostly he went all out and looked sharp. His athleticism for a big prospect is outstanding and his speed is well above average for the defensive end position. We're still not sure if tailback is an option in college, but Shallman is definitely a high-end defensive prospect with a great motor.
Ace caught the OLSM game and came away with a glimpse at a mini-RVB:
Shallman is quick off the snap and plays much lower than he did last year, and he did an impressive job of getting leverage on his blocker and using his hands to break free; I didn't see him get pushed back more than once or twice on Friday. …
Perhaps most impressive was Shallman's ability to fight off blocks, as St. Mary's tried to cut him all night. He displayed great balance in fighting off low blocks; I don't remember him getting cut to the turf once.
Sullivan caught a game against an all-run Brother Rice offense:
Shallman had the strength to bull through offensive linemen - impressive for a guy who is probably not a lineman in college - and was able to two-gap his blocker on several occasions, maintaining leverage for runs that went to either side of him. On the pass rush, he was quick off the ball, and though he didn't have a wide range of moves to get by his blocker, he was able to harass the passer, even if it only resulted in one sack.
That' doesn't mean Shallman was perfect. … he was sometimes lackadaisical in pursuit down the field, and didn't show off a high motor. He also displayed only flashes of a killer instinct and defensive mentality.
Not sure if that's the persistent injury. Both of the other evaluations praise Shallman's motor.
The injury thing is a thing: after two solid years of hamstring issues you have to worry if that might become a chronic issue. Michigan might do well to give the guy a bit of an easier year just so he can get totally recovered before throwing him in the fire.
“I like anything that big, that strong, that fast,” Jackson said of Shallman. “I talk to a few people where he worked out and they said he is the most powerful guy that they have ever seen at that young age.”
This man must be a running back.
Why Aaron Shea? Well, yeah:
Hoke compared Shallman (who measures at a whopping 6-foot-3, 245 pounds) to Aaron Shea, a former Michigan fullback and tight end who went on to play in the NFL. The Wolverines like his ability to be multidimensional on the field -- someone who will be effective in multiple facets such as knocking people off the ball, catching out of the backfield and usage as a single back.
A (slightly) converted tight end, Shea was more on the Khalid Hill end of things, though. Shallman may find a niche as a pounding even-more-thunder back a la Mike Alstott or Owen Schmitt. Dare we say Toby Gerhardt?
Guru Reliability: Low. Most are in the same range but it's clear they've punted on actually ranking him by thrusting him into the FB spot like they did Brandon Minor. Meanwhile, extensive injury and a total lack of camps mean I don't put much stock in their rankings even if they do like the guy.
Variance: Very high. Could be anything from Mike Alstott to Owen Schmitt (minus the self-helmet bashing, probably) to Aaron Shea to Tim Jamison to Guy Who Doesn't Play At All.
Ceiling: Moderate? Doesn't seem to have out-and-out star potential anywhere, but could develop into a fringe All Big Ten player on either side of the ball.
General Excitement Level: Moderate? I punt. Likely to be a contributor somewhere, though.
Projection: I'd imagine a redshirt is likely what with the multiple injuries and lack of offensive snaps as a senior. He is in the range of guys who get drafted on to special teams, though.
After a presumed redshirt year, your guess is as good as mine. WDE appears to be in good hands for the next few years, but so does RB/FB. Is he going to take carries away from Derrick Green? Is he going to take U-back snaps from a considerably more advanced receiver in Khalid Hill? Given Shallman's athleticism the answers there are "maybe situationally." His best bet early is proving himself more of a dual threat than his challengers at U-back—ie, Kerridge can't be a threat as a receiver, Hill can't block, Shallman is less of a tipoff when he's in. Or playing defensive end. Or, I don't know, making omelets at Bursley. Multifunctional.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt.
|Detroit, MI – 6'2", 235|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#32 TE, #21 MI
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#8 H-back, #9 MI
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#31 TE, #14 MI
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Ace scouts East Village.|
|Notes||Transferred from Crockett to East Village Prep, FWIW.|
Recommend the John Woo-approved touchdown at 20 seconds. Also, Scout's Josh Newkirk put together a reel of his performances at one 7-on-7 tourney that's impressive both for its length and some of the catches Hill brings in:
We're in the thick of this year's crop of hybridized, NFL-style versatile offensive players. You know, the guys that will let Michigan crank you from a big formation on one play and flip to a four-wide the next with limited personnel switching. Khalid Hill will live in the heavier end of Michigan's formations, moving to and fro across the line of scrimmage, blocking and heading out into pass patterns. SB Nation has an excellent primer on Hill's job description I recommend you take in all of, but the short version from the man who kind of invented the spot himself:
This takes you back to [former Redskins Coach Joe] Gibbs' description of the modern H-back: "An H-back has to have good hands and be super smart."
Bonus items include bone-shattering blocking (taken for granted at the NFL level, I imagine) and the ability to get vertical from time to time; Hill hits on at least a few of these categories. According his coach, he has them all…
"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."
…but coaches tend to get excited about their kids. To the scouts!
The one he's definitely got: hands. Virtually every report I've collected praises them first off. 247's Clint Brewster:
The first thing that really jumps off the tape about Hill is his catching radius. He can scoop a pass up off of his shoelaces or go up and make a tough catch well over his head. Hill also has good arm extension when making a catch, not allowing the ball to get close to his body. Hill is quarterback friendly and really makes an inaccurate pass look easy to catch with his natural adjustments. After the catch Hill shows an excellent burst of speed and can really make a bigger defender miss a tackle or plow over a smaller one. Hill does a great job of getting vertical on seam routes when lined up in the slot or attached at the line of scrimmage. Hill runs precise routes, really getting good separation from his opponent with sharp cuts and head nods.
Regardless of how he lines up he can help move the chains as a receiver. He has good hands and demonstrates that he can consistently extend for the ball. … good quickness and is active with his hands in working to clear past defenders who may try and hinder his release. He is a solid route runner best suited as a short-to-intermediate target. He has solid speed, but comes across as a kid who is a little quicker than fast and doesn't look to possess the ideal long speed to be a vertical threat. After the catch he will quickly get turned up-field and fight for what he can get.
You'll note an almost total lack of blocking notes in both evaluations above, and that's for a reason: ESPN says that's an area that "could use some real development."
But back to the receiving. Ace took in East Village Prep's opener, in which Hill went for a 65-yard TD, and reported back:
Hill's first catch of the season was a slant route that he took 65 yards for a touchdown; the throw was slightly behind him, but he reached back and plucked the ball out of the air without breaking stride, then turned on the burners and outran the entire Oak Park secondary. It was a very impressive effort that showed off Hill's potential as a receiver.
Hill looked very comfortable working over the middle, whether he lined up at tight end, H-back, slot, or wide receiver; he's at his best finding open space in the heart of the defense. His hands look good as well, as he caught everything thrown his way, making sure to catch with his hands instead of his body. When running routes, Hill showed why he earned a Michigan offer.
That is a piece of skill Michigan fans have recently seen out of Drew Dileo in a guy 50 pounds heavier and a half-foot taller: a rare quality. But back to the blocking issues.
However, Hill ran into problems when asked to run block. He had a difficult time staying engaged with defenders and knocking them off the ball; on several occasions, he never found someone to block at all.
Is it good news that Hill was such a valuable receiver as a high school player that his blocking can lack so badly? Well… maybe. In hybrid land a lot of these guys get picked for the one skill they have because coaches think they can fix the other bit. As we learned with Funchess last year, though, a mismatch guy is only a mismatch if he can block.
Once Hill can do that, though, he has potential to "surprise" defenses. Another recurring theme in the evaluations is continued references to his surprising—always surprising—athleticism. Scout's eval:
Scout.com Player Evaluation:
Hands and Concentration
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Stocky kid with surprising quickness and athleticism for his build. Very light on his feet, has great route running skills and ability to catch the ball as a tight end or H-Back. Soft, reliable hands and good run after the catch schools. Will have to learn to block potentially from the backfield as he may see time there in college. Not your traditional tight end at 6'2, but has the skills to be a matchup problem. - Allen Trieu
The ever-popular "size" area for improvement and more references to his developing blocking skills feature.
Tim Sullivan caught him at a 7-on-7 event:
He looks like a defensive lineman … but has quickness and speed that are bound to surprise those who think he's just a big man playing tight end, rather than a true athlete. He isn't going to run by many safeties, but makes quick, sharp cuts to get open in the middle of the field, or toward the sidelines as an outlet on some plays. He has the frame and leaping ability to make high catches over the middle - and the fearlessness to jump and make plays with his body exposed.
Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.
You get the idea. Let's continue attacking the horse, though:
Steve Wiltfong: "The sure-handed Hill knows how to get open, and was the go-to guy for Morris throughout the weekend."
Brewster at SMSB: "Hill does a great job getting in and out of his breaks. He did a nice job of getting separation from his defenders and snatching the football with his arms extended to not let it get anywhere close to his body."
Sullivan at the Columbus NFTC: "Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. "
Ace at SMSB: "Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body."
I declare this horse deader.
Hill camped as a junior, which got him on Michigan's radar. He won the positional MVP there, no doubt a help as Michigan evaluated him for their early offer. It didn't hurt that Hill and Shane Morris rolled around the 7-on-7 circuit on the same team, as Ace mentions obliquely above. Morris developed faith in Hill to the point that you can get a 3 and a half minute highlight reel out of one 7-on-7, as you see above, while other guys on the Max Ex team (like C'sonte York) can only squeeze out a minute and a half by adding some practice reps in.
As a senior, Hill may have added some blocking skill after a shoulder injury forced an interesting, temporary position move:
“Two weeks ago the A-C joint in my shoulder got sprained in a game and I couldn’t do anything but block, that’s the only thing that didn’t hurt,” Hill began. “So I told my coach to put someone else at tight end and I’ll play offensive tackle. Same thing happened last year when I hurt my knee- I moved to tackle. I just want to be on the field to help my team in any way possible. It’s all about the team.”
(File under The Pattern as well.)
Sullivan caught one of his later games and focused on his blocking, which was much-improved in his eyes:
[Hill] was far more aggressive and willing to punish defenders in this game, and played a big role in opening up holes. He also used his hands to prevent the defender from disengaging, which allowed him to seal the edge.
Hill still shows a tendency to get off balance at times in his blocking, especially on the edge. While it's unlikely to harm the team in any significant way, that can limit big runs if they break into the secondary. On a similar note, he was beaten in space a couple times, but given his athleticism, that should be an easy fix to make.
He still had issues making second-level blocks after coming off combos, FWIW, something Ace noticed when he scouted East Village as well.
So… Hill has some developing to do as a blocker, especially because most of his activity is going to be of the lead variety from now on, something he hasn't done much of yet. That'll delay his bid for playing time; once he gets that down he has the potential to be a guy linebackers swear to themselves about when they try to take a block and he flits by. Hill has the potential to be a premium piece of the offense when space gets constricted.
Etc.: Junior stats: 29 catches for 448 yards, six TDs. Lingo ahoy!
"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."
That's immediately post-commit.
Why Phillip Lutzenkirchen? Auburn's red-zone touchdown machine is the best I've got on the college level. Lutzenkirchen spent his days on the Plains blocking on short yardage and slipping out into uncovered pattern after uncovered pattern. His catching ability was superb for a guy his size and he brought enough wood as a blocker to convince AU opponents to sell out against the run, much to their detriment.
Lutzenkirchen is in the same height range but did top out at nearly 260 pounds; Hill may end up ten pounds short of that.
Guru Reliability: High. Lots of camps, and while there's a little divide in the rankings (Scout has him just a few players away from a fourth star; Rivals ranks him below an in-state tight end headed to Air Force) everyone says he's the same player.
Variance: Moderate. Will be a blocking back and guy who catches some short stuff, occasionally getting into a wheel route; blocking must develop.
Ceiling: Low-plus. While Hill can be a useful cog, that seems to be the limit. Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn to block, though.
General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Is kind of a fullback, and how many kind-of-fullbacks are going to be on this roster? On the other hand, seems like a red-zone efficiency piece, and who doesn't like red-zone efficiency?
Projection: Probable redshirt since most of the evals mention he has a long way to go as a blocker. He does fit the profile of a guy who will get time on special teams sooner rather than later, though, so nonzero chance he ends up covering kicks. A serious role in the offense will have to wait.
How long is a mystery. He's got Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge in front of him in terms of seniority, and Kerridge got a lot of playing time in which he showed some promise as a Kevin Dudley-style linebacker eraser… as a redshirt freshman. It'll be a battle for Hill to pass him full-time.
Situationally… yeah, there's room, especially after Gardner graduates and Shane Morris presumably ascends to the throne. A couple years down the road Hill will presumably be accustomed to blocking out of the backfield and his 7-on-7 running buddy will be looking for him in practice whenever they're on the field together.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson.
|Pickerington, OH – 6'6", 231|
4*, #145 overall
4*, #144 overall
4*, #179 overall
3*, NR overall
Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, NW, Tenn, Iowa, Notre Dame
|YMRMFSPA||Kyle Rudolph/Tyler Eifert|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace interviews him.|
Early enrollee. Army AA. Twitter.
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes Al Borges sits in his basement watching film of the various tight ends and H-backs he's brought in and starts laughing maniacally? Dumb question. Better question: does Al Borges do anything but?
Yes. He goes to a lot of hockey games, for one. But anyway.
This site has proposed that Al Borges's goal as an offensive coordinator is to whipsaw defenses from one end of the spectrum to the other, and guys like Funchess and Jake Butt are key in this effort. You're a Michigan fan, so let me just mention the names Rudolph and Eifert. You get it. Tyler Eifert in particular was used as both a traditional tight end and a oh-god-I'm-5'9"-this-is-a-geological-feature-I'm-checking outside receiver in his last couple years at Notre Dame. Mismatch is the watchword here, and Michigan's going to keep bringing in and bulking up 6'6" guys until they get it. When Mark Porter needed a comparable, he went to the ND well:
“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”
In Butt Michigan has… well, that guy or Devin Funchess again. Scouting reports consistently praise his receiving skills before the end bit where they mention that he's a glorified wide receiver at the moment. ESPN:
…lean and will need to fill out his lengthy frame and add a good deal more mass. … He is not one of those receivers who just effortlessly plucks the ball from the air, but overall he does have a good pair of hands and will work to catch the ball away from his body when he can. … excellent arm length and demonstrates the ability to extend and catch the ball outside of his frame. He will do a good job of going up to get the ball and with his height he can be a tough matchup in jump ball situations. He displays above average straight-line speed, and while he needs to keep developing as a route runner he does display good movement skills in space. … will also need to contribute as an inline blocker and that will likely need some development in this area…. will need to continue to improve playing strength, lower pad level and work to deliver a pop with explosive hip roll on contact.
ESPN isn't as gushy as a couple other evaluators are about the receiving aspect to Butt's game. In an environment where erratic quarterback play can distort receiver stats extensively—especially for guys who make their living in the middle of the field, where interceptions lurk—Butt was crazy productive, with 68 catches for over 900 yards as a senior. While that's not quite Drake Harris carpet-bombing, I've been doing these a long time and usually tight end have stats like 15 catches for 200 yards because asking a high school quarterback to throw to a tight end is basically asking him to throw a pick-six.
Anyway, those stats come from a polished receiving package. Scout's eval notes body control, hands, and concentration as assets:
Has the height, athleticism and hands to be a real receiving threat from the tight end spot. Does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and can go up high to make grabs in traffic. Runs good routes and isn't afraid to run into traffic. Is a tough, aggressive and willing blocker who just needs to add some strength and bulk to improve in that department.
He earned an Opening invite off his performance at an NFTC in Champaign:
TE: Jake Butt, 6-6, 231, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio)
Breakdown: Butt was unstoppable off the line and looked like a receiver in the open field. The Michigan commit is one of the most polished tight ends seen on the NFTC tour this year.
Rivals named him to their list of "Summer Standouts" after a "terrific" camp season and a performance at the Opening at which he "more than held his own."
Scout on the occasion of his Army selection:
He has excellent size and speed and shows the ability to run, showing excellent body control, concentration and field awareness. He has decent speed for a big receiver. Butt is dependable and showed at the The Opening that he can be a valuable target in the passing game.
Butt was picked for the Army game but missed most of the practice week and the event itself with a cartilage issue in his ankle. In the brief period of time he showed out, he impressed Helmholdt:
"He went Monday and looked outstanding, both in blocking drills and running patterns. He is so well rounded. He definitely has the ability to handle defensive ends from the tight end spot, blocking, then on pass patterns, he has great ability to go downfield and make catches.
"One time he was 40 yards downfield, and I swore the ball was overthrown. He never broke stride, caught it over his shoulder. He's going to be a very accomplished pass catcher."
247 was a voice of dissent, and since I don't think the national guys are crazy enough to let anyone from Bucknuts near their rankings (Butt dropped from 10th in their eyes to 21st over the course of that senior season in which he was putting up 900 receiving yards as a TE) I'm guessing that meh evaluation is based on this Todd Worly evaluation that evaluates him as a defensive player as much as an offensive one and knocks his "inconsistent" motor, which, like, come on: guy is on the field for every play. The tight end bit:
He wasn't forced to attempt any highlight-reel catches Friday night, but he clearly possesses reliable hands, as he's comfortable catching the ball outside his frame on a consistent basis.
Weaknesses: He is pretty raw at this point, and will need some time to develop in Ann Arbor. While he possesses the ability to bend, he doesn't consistently play with it.
…He is not a dominating blocker at the high school level because his get off isn't overly explosive, and he doesn't regularly play with the knee bend he's naturally capable of.
I didn't see anything else on their site to indicate why they were the outlier here. The focus there seems more on the blocking and his overall play, not his potential as a seam-stretching guy. FWIW.
Butt enrolled early and weighed in at around 230, so if Michigan deploys him this year that is suboptimal. As Funchess discovered last year, if you can't block a linebacker you're just a large, slow wide receiver instead of a matchup nightmare. Butt may find a role as the other tight end in certain sets. Let's let him explain it:
“They are going to play me at the “Y” and “U” positions on offense,” said Butt. “The “Y” is more like a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage and the “U” position is more of a hybrid that can be moved around everywhere and even line up in the backfield. I’m really excited about it because that will give me a chance to show my versatility and also help out as a blocker.”
Michigan's tight ends on a continuum from Y to U: AJ Williams, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill. Insofar as the U position degenerates into a fullback-with-benefits situation you can add Shallman, Kerridge, and Houma to the U end of the list.
Early, Butt will moonlight as a passing-oriented U-TE, adding the capability to play inline as he moves into his upperclass years. Given the comments about his frame above, Funchess's surprisingly static weight, and Butt's trajectory…
"On offense, we use him as a tight end, we flex him out and use him in the backfield as an H-Back to block out counter plays," Phillips said. He's a terrific athlete. He's our starting outside linebacker as well, and we very rarely sub him out. He's in great shape. The thing about Jake is, he's only 16, he just turned 16. He's 225 pounds now, and he was 190 a year ago - he could easily be 245 a year from now."
…it won't be a surprise if Butt ends up being a bigger guy than Funchess as early as next year. That was February 2012; a year later Michigan listed him at 231, but get him in a college weight program and muscles expand.
"Jake is a tremendous worker, in the weight room and on the field," Phillips said. "I've coached numerous Division-I players and four guys that went to the NFL, and Jake is a harder worker than all of them."
Part of his production can be attributed to his natural athletic ability. Phillip adds that in his 25 years of coaching Phillips he has never had a player who works as hard.
"Jake competes every single play, every single practice," Phillips said. "From the stretches to the runs to the warmups to the drills to team sessions, he goes hard."
A pattern has ceased emerging and just sits there, impressing you with various aspects of its personality.
They really hoed me on NCAA! They made
@bigjakeyB_1 the same strength as me! Back to lifting tomorrow
I'm faster then
@TheSupremeTaco and stronger on NCAA guess we know who really ran picktown
I feel for the guys who didn't make it in at all though.
Why Rudolph/Eifert? Thought about Funchess, but we don't really know how that's going to end up yet, and Butt does not quite match Funchess's outrageous length.
For a better picture of what a guy like Butt might end up like, the ND guys are good comparables. Both came out of high school at 6'6", 220-230. Rudolph was an all-world recruit, Eifert a generic three-star. Split the difference and you get Butt. Both added 30 pounds over the course of their high school careers and went in the first couple rounds of the NFL draft.
Guru Reliability: High. Save the 247 outlier, basic consensus. Healthy, productive high school career, some camps, Army game performance was limited.
Variance: Moderate. Whenever you're talking about putting a bunch of pounds on a tight end you threaten to take away the receiving ability that would make him excellent.
Ceiling: High. NFL frame and athleticism.
General Excitement Level: High. Yup.
Projection: Is Al Borges tight-end mad enough to put Butt on the field this year? Survey says… maybe. If he wants a goal line blocker, a spare OL is going to be a better option; if he wants a Stanford-like package the problem with that is going to be similar to the problem Michigan had last year: dudes can't block well enough to put defenses in a bind. Meanwhile Borges has other options at that U spot and it would be nice to get another year of separation between Funchess and Funchess 2.0.
But the situation here is a bit like QB. With only two non-freshman TEs on the roster an injury would force a noob on the field, so you need to be prepared for that eventuality. I bet he plays.
Going forward he's always going to be battling with Funchess for the starting spot, but that's going to be a distinction without much of a difference as the two guys grow and become more complete players.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox.
|Plymouth, IN – 6'5", 290|
4*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
3*, NR overall
Nebraska, Pitt, Minnesota, Illinois
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post.|
Decommitted from Pitt for Nebraska, then decommitted from Nebraska. Also, 'murica.
Nothing embeddable. Does have a hudl page.
Wait… what is… three stars? Is that how you say? What? Yes, it's true: some recruiting services think a 2013 Michigan offensive line commit is a middling prospect. We cannot use the well-established script this time out. Panic!
Even so, Samuelson was decently well regarded for… uh… three stars. He got a fourth from Scout and was the first guy with three at 247. In our hybrid eyeballin' star system he'd get 3.5. This would qualify as a lot of Big Ten teams' highest-rated lineman. Here he's sixth. Viva Brady Hoke.
Samuelson watchwords include "blue-collar," "tough," etc. Trieu:
“Absolutely he could bring with him toughness and a blue-collar work ethic. He really has the mental makeup of an offensive lineman. He’s a hard worker and a tough kid. He is a grind it out and get the job done kind of player.
“Samuelson is not going to go to any combines and put up ridiculous numbers. He’s not going to have that stellar 40-time or shuttle time, but he’s the kind of player that you win with especially in the Big Ten."
It does say something that the primary teams on him before Hoke swooped in were Pitt, now in possession of the Wisconsin offensive braintrust, and Nebraska. Scout liked those grinding aspects enough to bump him to four stars, again emphasizing he is a "tough, hard-nosed lineman" and his "blue collar" nature.
ESPN's evaluation is pretty positive relative to their "meh" rankings:
Is quick out of his stance when releasing up on linebackers or pulling to trap; flashes the ability to reach on offset down linemen and get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders. Can get tossed at times needing to improve his agility and balance when playing in space. This guy is a tough customer who finishes with the effort we like to see when evaluating offensive linemen. His long arms should be and asset in pass protection.
They have a lot of technique questions and think he's a little bit stiff, FWIW. That evaluation conflicts with some others, which—get this—actually say a high school lineman has good pad level. Josh Helmholdt:
"He's an above average athlete for the position. He really moves his feet well. He plays with great leverage. I think that something that really stands out in his film is that he's always up underneath the pads of the defensive lineman. He just does a lot of things well. I wouldn't say there's any one thing that makes you say 'wow', he's just a well-rounded offensive line prospect."
I think a high school lineman underneath dudes pads is a wow experience but like okay. Clint Brewster also praised his "well above average technique" and mean ol' block finishing—another pattern. A negative: Samuelson's team barely passed, so protection is an unknown. Another from Allen Trieu:
"He plays at a small school that is a little bit in the middle of nowhere. It took some schools some time to find out about him. I think that one of the major areas of concern that was holding schools back from offering was level of competition."
As the scouts say, this is the kind of guy Wisconsin and Nebraska have plucked out of the Midwest for years. His weird recruitment—a quick commit to Pitt followed by a decommit to Nebraska and a decommit to Michigan, no camps at all—is of the variety that holds down reported offers and scouting interest.
At Michigan, Samuelson will play… somewhere. ESPN's profile contains a first:
Samuelson plays effectively at the guard position showing the upper body playing strength needed to control defenders when single blocking. However his size and athleticism appears better suited for the offensive tackle position.
His coach agrees.
"We run the football a lot, but Dan is really long and his arms are long. If you look at him you'd say he was a tackle, but he plays guard for us. So he could play anywhere. I think the sky's the limit for Dan. I think that he could be a real special player on the next level."
Scout projects him at guard, FWIW. The point is Samuelson also comes off the 6'5" swing guy assembly line and could play anywhere on the line according to Funk. Given the recruiting rankings and the odd fact that his high school used him on the inside—almost never the case for high-level D-I prospects—he's probably going to end up at guard, technically. Michigan seems to go with a next-guy-in setup that has sixth and seventh linemen that will pull into the lineup no matter who goes out. Samuelson will train at guard and tackle.
It does seem like Samuelson will stick around even if the depth chart looks brutal for much of his career. Staying close to his family was a major reason he decommitted from the Huskers and he knew what he was signing up for when he made that decision. His coach:
"The thing that separates Dan from a lot of the other kids is he wants to be good. Sometimes you get a big kid that's a superior athlete at the high school level, they're 17 or 18 years old, and they don't have a real strong work ethic. Dan wants to be good, he wants to prove himself. I think that's something that's going to carry him over when he gets into that program and into that strength training program, I think he's going to do really well."
Even if he doesn't start for a while, having a kid like that in your back pocket is a huge asset.
Etc.: The pattern from his coach:
He has been a multiple sport athlete in high school, and he is a great kid. He has never been in trouble, he is a really good student and he has got all of the intangibles. He looks the part… I can tell you that.”
Why Rueben Riley? Riley was a G/T swing guy who probably should have been a guard but was forced into action as a not-very-good right tackle, where his pass protection was exposed. His athleticism was pretty meh, his recruiting rankings in the generic three-star range.
Samuelson has an inch or two on Riley and could have higher upside on the outside with his long arms. I'm just looking for a run-oriented swing guy with middling recruiting rankings. OL YMRMFSPAs are hard.
Guru Reliability: Low. Relatively large swing in opinions, zero camps, not a highly scouted area.
Variance: High. Poor competition in Indiana, never really pass blocked.
Ceiling: Moderate. Punt!
General Excitement Level: Sorry sorry sorry: low. OL are weird and all that but I'm finding it hard to see a situation where Samuelson sees the field early given the strenuous competition. See below. Not that Samuelson cares what I think:
"I'm not scared at all (of the competition)," the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Samuelson said by phone this week. "I knew who's there, and that they're great, but it never scared me. I never looked at it that way.
"I looked at it like two years down the road, this school could be like Alabama, where no one can stop us because of our line."
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
Then he's in the melee. Seems to be a heavy underdog to start as a redshirt freshman, and if that doesn't happen he's got a wait in front of him. The 2014 line projects to be a junior (Miller), three sophomores (Braden, Magnuson, Kalis), and a freshman (no idea but Bosch or Dawson if you put a gun to my head). If those projections are wrong the net effect will be to make the line younger, not older, unless Chris Bryant comes out of nowhere.
So… Samuelson is probably hanging around as the seventh or eighth lineman for a long time, with injury and washout his best shot at starting until he's a fifth year player. But OL are weird, you know the drill.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch.
|Parker, CO – 6'6", 297|
4*, #118 overall
4*, #142 overall
4*, #134 overall
4*, #137 overall
OSU, FSU, MSU, Iowa, Mizzou
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post.|
Army game, but did not play due to ACL tear. Twitter.
At this point you can probably recite this bit with your eyes closed: OFFENSIVE LINEMAN SIGNEE X is huge, agile, and one mean sumbitch on the field, whereas off the field he rescues kittens from nefarious, head-tilting Ohio State fans; he got four stars from every recruiting service as a result; Michigan got him over an Ohio State or Alabama offer; he's about 6'5" and could play inside or out because he has the feet of a tackle and a guard's hatred of anything in pads.
What can I say? Chris Fox fits the mold. He says so himself.
“I am the meanest player you will ever meet” Fox said confidently. “That’s the way I play. I just play mean. You go into beast mode with good technique—you’re dominant.”
Everyone agreed to the point where his ratings are downright creepily in sync: all four services ranked him in a range from 118 to 142nd nationally. He was considerably higher to start, but kids in Colorado kind of get lost in the shuffle and Fox blew out his knee late in his high school season, so he couldn't get in any face time in front of scouts at the All Star things. The drop is both reasonable and perhaps not indicative of Fox's talent level.
Meanwhile, I should take quotes from all these articles and see if anyone can figure out who they're talking about other than Logan Tuley-Tillman. Cue coach:
"When he's out there, he really wants to dominate. I mean dominate," Murphy said. "So, if he can put you on your back and make sure you know who put you there, that's what he's going to do. And he does it a lot. We're talking pancake blocks. I wouldn't want to be a defensive lineman, man, I really would not.”
"The thing that most people have told me that stands out the most is how physical he is," Huff said. "He really is trying to destroy people when he hits them. He's not just a big body. He's a real football player for sure."
Scout's Brandon Huffman:
“…once he puts those pads on, he transforms into this angry guy. He is very nasty. He is a real physical kid. He won’t play after the whistle but will play up until that whistle stops blowing. He’s got more of that guard mentality. He would much rather scrape it up with defensive tackle then a speed guy on the edge. He’s also very technically sound. He’s very fundamentally sound. He has great bend. He’s got great hand placement."
…physical and aggressive O-line prospect … He has good height, looks to have a solidly built frame and displays very good upper and lower body strength. He displays the ability to quickly get out of his stance and into defenders, and can deliver a good initial pop on contact. Flashes the ability to engage with good hip roll and drive defenders off the ball with sustained leg drive. … Displays good feet and can react to and handle quick movement. ... A tenacious blocker who looks to finish and bury opponents. In pass protection, he uses hands well and can deliver a good punch. He is able to maintain a good base and shadow rushers.
Pad level tut-tutting is present, as always. They project him to right tackle with possibilities at guard.
Unlike Bosch, Fox showed out at a number of camps as a rising senior. At the Top Gun thingy he was a cut above the rest of the OL along with ND commits John Montelus and Steve Elmer, a "very solid all-around prospect" who settled in at right tackle:
…Fox worked almost exclusively at right tackle on Friday, and looked comfortable in that spot. He could also be of service at the guard position in college, but right tackle appears to be his best position. Fox used his strength to dominate most defensive ends he went against on Friday, but he also showed quick feet in handling speed rushers. The only times he got caught was when a rush end would make a second move across his face, but after getting beat early he corrected that and never let it happen the rest of the day.
…a massive player with a solid base, and despite that mass, he moves very well. He's already built like a college lineman, and has time to add strength before contributing in college - even though he probably doesn't need to. Fox was one of the few players to win a rep against 2014's top player, Da'Shawn Hand, and was not soundly beat on any rep.
Rivals put him on their "All Lobby Team," noting his massiveness again and calling him a 300-pounder with little bad weight. Also, uh:
There seems to be toughness inherent in the way he's built physically.
I'm not sure how that works but okay.
Fox was an excellent example of what camps are useful for these days. Michigan actually offered him at the 2011 edition of the same—ie, basically at the same point they offered John Runyan Jr.—and impressed him enough that he pulled the trigger on last year's Ace-murdering Commitmas. By the time his recruiting year rolled around Michigan had already done the work to snatch him away from OSU.
One reason Michigan could do that is Fox was already enormous as a sophomore, when a CU evaluator called him "just huge" and projected he would play at a "darn good 330" en route to rapture and an eyebrow-cocking comparison:
… an athlete for a big man his age and his size--moves well, flexible, is a big time knee bender, and he is a mauler - loves contact - not afraid to mix it up but athletic enough to shut down Stephen Gibson when he tried some moves and speed rushes at CU's camp. Fox plays with a level of violence and passion you don't see very often in high school offensive linemen. It's a beautiful thing to watch. …
Most like: Jake Long
Fox doesn't seem to have added any height since then, which makes him a bit less of a Long comparable. As mentioned above, he's being projected at right tackle with sprinklings of guard:
…we think he projects best on the interior of the line. He’s a physical and nasty player who moves well in space. He’s very athletic for a big man, has a great frame, plays with a motor and has a great upside to him.
Michigan will throw Bosch, Dawson, and Fox into a blender; all will work at both tackle and guard and a couple will end up being designated sixth and seventh OLs no matter who goes down. Versatility is a theme here: other than Tuley-Tillman, everyone profiled so far has the ability to play inside and out. Think of the OL roster going forward as centers (Miller, Kugler, probably Bars), left tackles (LTT, Braden, Magnuson), and other.
Also as mentioned, Fox tore his ACL and missed his All-Star game appearance. He should be rehabbed for fall practice, not that it will matter for a guy almost certain to redshirt. For what it's worth, the ACL issue was not as clean as, say, mine:
“I have a torn ACL and a double torn meniscus on my left knee,” Fox said. “It was the last game of the season. We were up by big. I was just running down field blocking a kid. I just twisted up on it weird and heard it pop three times. That’s it.”
Google says that adding torn menisci to an ACL issue is fairly common in contact sports and not an enormous extra burden on the injured player. A lot of OL retire with knee issues, though, and when you're as massive as Fox is the stress on that joint is severe. It'll be something to watch going forward.
Etc.: Will look like UltraPicard by his senior year.
"He's pretty much a puppy dog off the field," said Mark Murphy, Ponderosa's offensive coordinator. “He really is, which is cool.”
Coach, tell me about the pattern:
"He has a lot of compassion for people and he has a heart bigger than his body," Huff said. "He really is a great person and I think that comes from mom and dad. Once you get to know them they really are special people. You just don't see it very often.
"His athletic ability, his size and strength and his passion from snap to whistle is pretty impressive, too."
Why John Runyan? Runyan is the prototypical grinding, driving Michigan right tackle. Runyan has an inch or two on Fox—listed at 6'7" most places—but Fox should get up into his weight range if the evaluators are correct. Runyan is also from a time before recruiting rankings were a thing.
Downside here is a Rueben Riley type of tackle that's more a guard out of position, but if that's the case he'll just play guard because someone else will be a better fit outside.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Consensus, some camps, but hard to judge against Colorado competition. Late injury both adds variance and prevented evaluators from adding an All Star appearance to their opinions.
Variance: High. While he doesn't have that much weight to add, his high school competition wasn't great and the ACL tear is a potential setback. It should be fine, sure, but should does not equal "will."
Ceiling: High-minus. It seems like Fox is the other designated tackle in the class; it also seems like he is not a prospective LT and may be a better fit at guard. Otherwise, hoorah.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Unlike a couple other guys in the class who seem like exceptions to the "OL are hard to project" meme, Fox is right in the heart of big guys with potential who may never be heard from again. See "variance." Still, when Chris Fox is the guy you're fifth-most excited about in a recruiting class, yeah buddy.
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
After, MEAT FOR THE MEAT GOD. I don't favor him to win the coming tackle battle since Magnuson will have a year on him and Tuley-Tillman six months plus however much weight room stuff the ligament tear is going to force Fox to miss, but yadda yadda OL are weird anything can happen multiple huge angry mean streak bullets equals pretty damn good line by 2015 at the latest. Meat for the meat god.
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson.
|Peoria, IL – 6'7", 285|
4*, #300 overall
4*, NR overall
4*, #104 overall
4*, #129 overall
Bama, OSU, ND, USC, FSU, Wisc
|YMRMFSPA||Schrodinger's Jake Long|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace on the other side of sanity. Ace interviews LTT, twice. We explore other things LTT burned on the internet.|
Early enrollee. UA game.
UA one on ones. Ace's SMSB stuff:
It's impossible to watch Logan Tuley-Tillman wander around a football field and not hearken back to the The Blind Side, specifically the bit wherein Michael Lewis describes the freak of nature that is the perfect left tackle.
He was wide in the ass and massive in the thighs … he had long arms … he had giant hands, so that when he grabbed ahold of you it meant something. But size alone couldn't cope with the threat to the quarterback's blind side, because that threat was also fast. The ideal left tackle also had great feet. Incredibly nimble and quick feet.
Tuley-Tillman has all of these things, which is why a who's who of college football programs offered him as soon as they found out a man of his particular dimensions existed. He had offers from Michigan, Ohio State, USC, Alabama, and Notre Dame by last January, because frames like his don't come around too often.
- ESPN's Michael White: "Long arms and bottom-heavy frame make him an absolute natural at either tackle spot. Showcased exceptional technique and patience in his pass set."
- 24/7's Clint Brewster: "LTT has outstanding footwork for a guy his size and does a nice job of keeping defenders in front of him. Tuley-Tillman’s upside is unlimited and he will be even quicker once he gets into better shape and sheds some extra pounds off."
- 24/7's Jason Sapp: "Long body and athletic legs ... Good first kick and reposts his arm well on counter action ... Will work on technique as his body matures and develops, but a high ceiling to be a force on the line ... Wide base."
- 24/7's Steve Wiltfong: "…has long arms and all the stereotypical things you are looking for in an offensive lineman. If he can keep his weight down, he has a chance to be special.”
- ESPN's scouting report praises Tuley-Tillmans "great size and athleticism," "long, broad frame," "very good lower body flexibility, "long arms and nimble feet."
- Scout's profile lists "arm length" and "size" as assets and mentions his "good frame with long arms."
Or you could just look at a picture. While the left one is doing something a bit goofy with perspective, without pads it's clear the guy's thighs are wider than his torso. The right is straight on, and also features a wide, wide human:
This is what a left tackle from central casting looks like.
In addition to being a large and fortituously-shaped human, Tuley-Tillman wasn't a slouch on high school fields in Illinois. ESPN's eval has all the stuff about his frame above and is really, really positive on the rest of it:
Tuley-Tillman is a dominant run blocker. He uses his great initial quickness to immediately establish an advantage when drive blocking. His agility and balance allow him to play on his feet in space. He comes off the ball low and hard … displays the foot quickness, agility and balance needed to adjust his feet to quick change of direction movement. … a tough customer who displays a nasty, no quit, finishing attitude.
They remained the highest on Tuley-Tillman throughout his recruitment, again likely because of their fire-and-forget ranking style. Other sites had LTT in the top 50 to start and steadily dropped him for reasons we'll get to in just a moment.
Other evaluators also praised Tuley-Tillman's nastiness, including Rivals's anonymous dude who was obviously an offensive lineman just based on his enthusiasm for hurting people…
Tillman is consistently giving great effort to finish his blocks with cruelty, which is a joy to watch. He stands 6-7 tall and uses his 280-plus pounds to punish defenders. He shows good quickness off the ball and gets into his block quickly on running plays. His foot drive is good and his hand placement is pretty good as well.
…and that odd Kyle Turley article from 24/7:
Tuley-Tillman has a big nasty streak, great size and always finishes. Coaches want to see a guy make his block, drive, and finish, and Tuley-Tillman does this. He also does a good job of maintaining his hands on guys and keeping them in front of him.
In these highlights, he has great leverage and point of contact. Not that he cannot improve in this area, as every lineman can and should, but he excels at it.
In pass blocking, I really like his kick. He uses this great kick perfectly to allow him to get into position to take on any defender.
LTT "has all of the building blocks and a great opportunity to be something special," says Turley after citing some technical issues that he downplays.
Of course there is the catch. Tuley-Tillman gradually slipped on recruiting rankings as the year went on because his technique issues became more apparent and his weight underwent an alarming swing:
"I'm looking to get add bulk up top, and I'm expecting to make big changes to my body at Michigan," he continued. "I weighed 340 pounds last summer, but I'm down to about 302 pounds right now. I can feel the difference in my quickness, and I like being at the lighter weight."
That was up from about 285 and may have been understating things. Tuley-Tillman is now listed at 285 on Michigan's roster, so he's made the full round trip. If you're trying to be optimistic, Tuley-Tillman's ability to flip a switch and get down to a weight where Michigan would actually like him to put it on instead of take it off is impressive.
Tuley-Tillman also struggled at some camps, partially because of the weight and partially because his high school is not exactly Eastern Christian Academy:
“The week I had, it was different because we come from a high school that was 0 and 9,” said Tuley-Tillman. “Not having that high level coaching and being able to be taught how to block, when to block, when to punch and when to do this and that. It was rough and I lost some reps.”
“It was one-on-one pass protection, which is like standing under the rim saying don’t jump, but don’t get dunked on. But it got me better and I appreciate the coaches taking the time to break stuff down one-on-one with me.”
Ace had a good example of where he stood in relation to David Dawson when he named LTT the boom or bust guy in the class:
…a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
And that was a good outing for him compared to some earlier efforts. Hemholdt noted($) that he was in "noticeably better shape" at SMSB and did a better job than he did on a "rough" day at the Columbus NFTC.
As a result of the weight and the camps, LTT took a big ol' rankings hit. The Rivals version($):
…added the weight you'd expect of an offensive lineman - he went from 285 pounds to 321 in the course of a single offseason - not all of it was good weight. That is partially on account of a shoulder injury that has prevented him from working as hard in the weight room as he'd like. While his strength was never a question, his agility suffered from the weight gain, and Tuley-Tillman will have to work his way into shape to move back up the rankings.
He did get back into shape. The rankings did not respond, but it did pay off on high school fields despite his terrible, terrible team not being able to do much. Josh Helmholdt caught him as a senior, after the wild swing:
Peoria Manual entered Saturday's game against Peoria with an 0-3 record and dropped this contest 44-0. But in the final minute of the game Tuley-Tillman was still on the field, still blocking all-out to the whistle and still trying to get his team up. Technically we saw a lot of the good things the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Tuley-Tillman showed in the summer: getting into his pass set quickly, utilizing his length, having fast, active hands. But his effort from kickoff to final whistle, especially after playing both ways all game, was the most impressive thing he showed this day. Tuley-Tillman has been knocked for his work ethic at times in the past, but he has really rounded into a leader and a high-motor kid.
Now that he's in a college weight program his weight should go up steadily, not dramatically, until he tops out in the 320 range. Some guys do have problems not blowing up a la Oprah, and fans (read: me) will keep an owlish eye cocked in the direction of the roster for any hints things are getting out of control for the next couple years.
Tuley-Tillman did enroll early. Since he's an offensive tackle destined for a redshirt we didn't get any extra information on him—can't find anything on this site or MLive of importance after January first—other than the highly encouraging 285 pound weight. While that early enrollment isn't going to get him on the field this year, it should accelerate his progress, possibly even to the point where he is a viable option next year.
Etc.: Ohio State fans, man. Helmholdt mentions that another asset for Tuley-Tillman is his left-hand dominance, which he likes in a left tackle… except if Shane Morris is the guy that'll be a detriment to the blindside tackle. I am not looking forward to three years of "but Shane Morris is left handed" when talking about the OL. I'll deal.
Why Schrodinger's Jake Long? Ideal left tackle that needs time and technique to reach a ceiling that's rather distant at the moment. Long is 6'7", 320. LTT will end up there. Long is awesome at football. Tuley-Tillman… ask again later.
Guru Reliability: Pretty good. Camps, but hard to tell much from high school stuff when your team is so dire. Also there's a fairly large split in opinion between the fringe top 100 guys and fringe four star guys.
Variance: Vast. Could be Long 3.0. Could transfer to a MAC school.
Ceiling: Vast. Prototype NFL left tackle who happens to be a long way away.
General Excitement Level: Uh, moderate? I do like the idea of adding a Tuley-Tillman to a lot of high-quality recruits, because if you miss on him oh well and if you hit oh baby. I'll give him a plus for getting all the way back down to 285 after the weight gain.
Projection: Is OL, redshirt.
After inevitable redshirt he'll probably be looking up at Erik Magnuson and Ben Braden. Probably. Even if you assume Braden is on track to have a starting tackle job next year, the other one will be an honest-to-goodness battle between Magnuson, Tuley-Tillman, Chris Fox, and maybe one of the 6'5"-ish guards (Kalis, Samuelson, Bosch) if Michigan is just overflowing on the interior.
Pick a name out of the hat there. If it is Tuley-Tillman that is a great sign, because that means the highest upside guy hacked through a jungle and has come out the other side kicking ass.