"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
2014 recruiting profiles
|Salt Lake City, UT – 6'4", 315|
||Scout||4*, #88 overall
#6 DT, #1 Utah
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#23 DT, #4 Utah
|ESPN||4*, #91 overall
#7 DT, #1 Utah
|24/7||4*, #83 overall
#9 DT, #1 Utah
|Other Suitors||BYU, Wisconsin, Utah, UCLA|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace breaks down a Mone game. Hello post. Brief interview.|
|Notes||Highland (Sione Houma). Believe it is pronounced mon-AY|
The guy profiled most recently in this series may have a problem becoming big enough to contribute in college. Bryan Mone will not have this problem. Mone's final couple years of high school saw him go from an almost slender kid sites projected as an SDE to a monster suited for the middle. One reason why: MEAAAAAAAAAAAT.
Coach Hoke had a nice feast with the Mone family last night for his in-home visit. pic.twitter.com/DaKu7m8S0q
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) December 4, 2013
MEAT. Also meat.
Mone went from 245 to over 300 in a couple years, and then kept going. At some point he went too far, with 247 listing him at a whopping 338 up until Signing Day, though that was probably outdated. When Mone committed he told Sam Webb that he was at 340 with a goal of getting down to 315, and after his early enrollment that's the weight he is listed at on Michigan's roster.
So while he's still got a ways to go before he's a Mike-Martin-esque slab of beef, he's on his way. When he gets there he should be a quality player, if you're not Rivals. Scout's Brandon Huffman:
Mone is exactly how you draw it up when you're looking for an impact college tackle. He has a great frame, plays with good pad level, has plus level quickness and is relentless in pursuit. He does a great job getting off blocks, uses his hands very well and plays with a motor. He has the ability to fit in with a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and could see the field early in college.
This probably isn't the first time I've ever seen a high school defensive lineman praised for his pad level, but it feels like it. Colleague Scott Kennedy is probably the most positive of anyone:
Huge, active defensive line prospect who is incredibly quick for his size. Actually played some defensive end in his high school's 3-4 formation at well over 300 pounds. Uses a club-like rip and swim move to knock tackles off balance. Wicked punch off snap. Changes directions well in space to adjust to backs trying to avoid him in the backfield. Gets tremendous leverage even though he's taller than most high school linemen he faced.
…very athletic for his size. Mone is very quick off the ball and can use his athleticism to swim around offensive lineman or use his size to bull-rush. One of Mone’s biggest assets is his hands. On film, Mone shows violent hands and uses them to gain proper leverage in the trenches. …nimble on his feet for a 300-pound athlete, showing great change of direction and the ability to avoid lineman when needed.
They list pad level as an improvement, because of course they do. Pad level. Meat.
ESPN is a little more reticent, but still positive:
…flashes of a very good initial burst off the ball but you would like to see little more consistency from him there. …when he fires out low, brings his hands and uncoils at contact he is more than capable of putting a blocker on his heels and holding his ground. When he brings his hands he displays the upper-body and hand strength to extend and shed, but he needs to be more consistent with his pad level and hand usage. …needs to more consistently utilize his size and power. … Has good lateral mobility.
They also mention that his violent hands give him some upside as an interior pass rusher.
"He uses his hands very well and he has real good feet for a big guy. He changes directions really well. "
The overall picture here is that Mone is a big, explosive guy with hands that are either great or in need of improvement, depending on your point of view and whether you're comparing him to the average high schooler or a finished product.
And then there's Rivals. Rivals was always down on Mone for whatever reason—he was 180th there despite being 76th on the 247 composite in September—and took the opportunity presented by the UA game to club him down to the generic three star range. No one else did. Most thought he basically justified his rating. 247:
… stout at the line of scrimmage and couldn’t be moved around by opposing offensive lineman. Mone has violent hands and good swim move, with the ability to play multiple shades along the defensive front. Mone was in on several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and looks college-ready from a physical standpoint.
Rivals's Mike Farrell seems to be the main skeptic, listing Mone amongst droppers:
… lacked the athleticism and quickness at the snap needed to be the No. 185 player in the country. He struggled more than any other defensive tackle short of three-star Lamont Gaillard and three-star O.J. Smith.
Nothing else suggests a major drop on their site. But then a Rivals guy who was more focused on the Michigan guys provides a potential explanation:
…Mone's main drawback at this time is in his conditioning and body composition. On some days at practice, Mone looked unbelievable for several reps before starting to run out of gas. While those were his better days (on others, he was having trouble adjusting to the quality of competition), the fact that his better performances featured an obvious weak point is a negative. Fortunately, he shone on gameday.
Hell, Rivals even named him one of his team's top performers:
10. DT BRYAN MONE, SALT LAKE CITY (UTAH) HIGHLAND
Mone was very active during the third practice. The Michigan commit was quicker off the ball today and more aggressive with his arms. When he combined those violent arms and his great lower body strength, Mone was able to generate a lot of push in the middle on the defensive line. During pass-rushing drills, Mone was able to make the offensive guards open their hips and finish where the quarterback would be.
With Mone's quick emergence this seems more like an overreaction to limited reps by a guy who doesn't really know much about the prospect. It's Junior Hemingway again. Hemingway is now an NFL wide receiver; Rivals bashed him down to three stars because someone saw him bad at an all star game. Farrell gonna Farrell.
Mone enrolled early and this has paid off for him. He emerged as contender on the line. While he has the potential to be a nose tackle at his size, Michigan sees him as a three tech:
The 3-tech is where Michigan will play the Salt Lake City (UT) Highland native next season.
"That's where they want me to play," he said. "I can use my power, which is what I am best at. Michigan wants me to get down to somewhere a little over 300 pounds, so I have some work to do there, but I can get it."
That was at the UA game, where he said he was 326. Michigan played him at the three this spring; he and Maurice Hurst Jr were both impressive enough to blast Willie Henry, who flashed buckets of promise during the second half of last year, down to third string. Motivational or not (clearly motivational), that's a good sign. Collectively the freshmen seemed to have cleaned out the three-tech depth chart. In the spring pratice thing he "flashed into the backfield regularly," sayeth this site.
Mone should be able to hit his weight goal by fall, as his balloon period was more a function of a lack of experience being huge than anything to do with his work ethic. Coach quote:
“The kid never comes off the field. To be 300 lbs. and yet be able to do that, it says a lot about him as a player and his work ethic. He works his guts out in the weight room and does a real good job for us. He is big, strong, powerful, and tenacious. He flat gets after it."
Why Alan Branch? Branch was another guy who was unnaturally agile for a guy his size; like Mone he was able to get into the backfield with regularity from a three-tech spot. Branch's height seemed like it might be a problem for the ol' pad level but in practice he was just too enormously strong for it to make much difference.
Bonuses: Branch was ranked in approximately the same place by most services, and came from a relatively obscure Western state (in his case, New Mexico).
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Near consensus except for Rivals, All Star appearance. Weight fluctuation makes things a bit difficult and Farrell gonna Farrell.
Variance: Low. Already college-sized and pushing for playing time, Mone's floor is a legit four-year contributor.
Ceiling: High. Easy to see him going high in the NFL draft as a 315 pound guy who can run.
General Excitement Level: High. Serious breakout potential either this year or next. College sized already, great work ethic and smarts, just needs to reshape his body a little bit and then it's time to come out and play.
Projection: Will play this year, and I won't even complain. Will be part of the three-tech rotation with Hurst and Wormley unless he gets sucked over to nose tackle. That's unlikely unless Pipkins does not recover well from his injury.
Longer term, Mone and Hurst should combine to shove Wormley over to SDE next year, especially if Michigan does go back to the under. Those two will fight tooth and nail for the starting three-tech job for the next four years—whoever comes out on top is likely to be real good. And substituted frequently.
|Saint Clairsville, OH – 6'3", 230|
|Scout||4*, #179 overall
#8 ILB, #9 OH
|Rivals||4*, #211 overall
#14 ILB, #7 OH
|ESPN||4*, #129 overall
#7 ILB, #2 OH
|24/7||4*, #198 overall
#7 ILB, #9 OH
|Other Suitors||Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, 'Bama, MSU, Stanford, Wisconsin|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Ace gets a big ol' I See What You Did There for his Hello post.|
|Notes||Twitter. Enrolled early. Participated in UA game.|
Hudl also has stuff from the first half of his senior year.
Michael Ferns is the recruit most likely to be known by random people who watch Good Morning America or read the kind of sports blog that's mostly pictures of taut young ladies. The former know Ferns because he did a very nice thing.
…Ferns took a sweep 52 yards down the left sideline and had nothing in the way of him and a touchdown.
But he slowed down as he approached the end zone and walked out of bounds at the 1-yard line. …
Two days earlier, freshman Logan Thompson’s father, Paul, died from a sudden stroke. Once McLean learned that Logan would indeed suit up for Friday’s game against Edison, McLean began to formulate a plan to help his freshman wide receiver “honor his father.”
Secretly, McLean instructed Ferns and the other skill players, if given the chance, to stop short on a touchdown so they could get Logan in. … McLean simplified the isolation play call with three words: “Just follow Ferns.”
“Mike and the line opened up a huge hole for Logan and he ran it right in,” McLean said.
The latter group of people knows Ferns because he's a baller, as Ferns posted Mississippi State's best effort to his Instagram account.
He did not appear to be swayed.
He was not even moved when Mississippi State asserted that they had a truckload of swag in Stark-Vegas.
Before he was twice-viral, Ferns was a big-time prospect playing at a small high school near the Ohio-West Virginia border who was picking up offers super early. Notre Dame issued him his second before he'd finished his sophomore year of high school, with Stanford, OSU, PSU, and Michigan following suit within a few weeks. After a round of visits, Ferns was down to Michigan, ND, and Penn State. He pulled the trigger in early August, with almost 20 months to go before signing day.
This early recruitment has taken off in the last few years, but the difference with Ferns is that teams were eager to have him on campus and have him commit—these days an "offer" often deserves scare quotes. Ferns was a sure thing, though:
“He showed up at 6-3, 220,” Saint Clairsville coach Brett McLean said today of Ferns, who is up to 235 pounds. “He played junior high football for us as a quarterback in the seventh and eighth grade. We knew we had a special player.”
He'll gradually add 10-15 pounds over the course of his career, but he's about as physically ready as you can be as a freshman, and he has been for years.
As a result, Ferns was placed in everyone's top 100 early before dropping about a hundred spots most places. (ESPN, as per usual, moves people less.) Because of the early commitment, small school, and inopportunely timed injuries, there's surprisingly little scouting out there for a consensus top-200 guy. But here goes anyway.
Ferns gets described as a "throwback" a lot, and while any highly-touted white linebacker is going to get hit with that term Ferns earned it. He played through the state playoffs his junior year severely compromised by injury. Bucknuts' Mark Porter:
“He is a throwback type. He is very physical. Obviously, everyone watched him play hurt in the playoffs and play through the pain and show off his toughness there. I think he could be an All-Big Ten linebacker up at Michigan.”
Mike Farrell of Rivals didn't quite invoke "throwback" but offered a slightly backhanded compliment in that vein:
"He is the stereotypical Big Ten linebacker," Farrell said. "He is explosive to the football and takes great angles. He is hard-nosed and physically impressive. He is exactly what you expect when you think of a major prospect from this area at that position."
It was when Ferns struggled through the early part of the Rivals Five-Star challenge before withdrawing with a leg injury that Rivals dropped him, stating the backhanded part of the above quote directly:
…at his best when he is playing downhill and stuffing the run. Camp/7-on-7 settings do not showcase that element of the game, but they give a good sense of how a player moves in space and plays coverage. Those are the aspects of Ferns' game he needs to work on. He had trouble changing direction and turning to run with backs and tight ends down the field.
They also mentioned that flaw after an earlier Rivals camp that got Ferns his invite to their fancycamp, saying he was "stiff" in one on ones and such.
While both of those evals came in situations where only one set of eyes was there, there are echoes of that criticism a couple other places. ESPN mentions that he is "not real fluid opening his hips" as he attempts to get depth; they do credit him for being instinctive and "athletic enough to get to his spot" in zone. Allen Trieu puts in a mention that he "needs to work on coverage" in a brief scouting report.
That is the main—seemingly only—drawback. Everyone else praises his "great size and good closing speed," or things along those lines. Trieu's report mentions his track career and loves everything except the coverage:
…ready for the college game. As a track kid, he has the straight line speed to run down ball carriers and is great when he’s coming forward… he’s a great blitzer and run defender.
“He is a guy who gets into his drops quickly. He can survey what’s going on in front of him quickly. He can get to the ball quickly. He is a great athlete and a lot of top schools were recruiting him as a tight end. … He brings great size to the linebacker position.”
Tall, well built with great bulk and solid functional strength. Possesses good range and straight-line speed to go sideline-to-sideline.
Is at his best filling downhill inside the tackles. Plays smart, reads keys and sees plays develop leading to very few false steps. Quick to get off the mark and fit his inside run gaps. Generates good short-area power. Plays square with adequate leverage and is difficult to turn out of the hole at his size. …appears much more effective pursuing downhill than laterally.
He has the mass to stop runners dead in their tracks, but is also athletic enough to make plays on the edge of the line. He has good hands and is very knowledgeable between the lines. … not the type of player to chase running backs down outside the box. … classic run-stuffer more so than a spread-capable linebacker at this stage in his development."
… baller. Balls out with truckloads of swag. When balling out, balls further, reaching new frontiers of balling. Skee Lo was thinking of this guy. …Swagtruck baller. Six-hundred star recruit.
Thanks, Mississippi State.
So… Ferns is a guy who goes and hits people hard if they don't run away from him.
Ferns enrolled in January. Alarmingly, a hamstring injury slowed his progress. Count up the "injury" mentions in this article and… yeah. Two is probably a coincidence. Four is getting a bit alarming.
As a result of the hamstring, Ferns was held out much of the spring and did not seem particularly close to breaking into the two deep what with Michigan returning five players with meaningful experience.
Given that depth chart it would make sense to redshirt Ferns. Michigan has Ryan, Gedeon, Morgan, Bolden, and probably Mike McCray in front of him at the MLB and WLB spots. Linebackers tend to play on special teams, though. He's a strong candidate for Argh Why U No Redshirt of the year.
Etc.: Graduated high school in three years. Had a 4.0 at one point. The Pattern: yup.
Why Desmond Morgan? Ferns is a high-IQ thumper that limits YAC and played all over the field as a high school player at a small school. This fits closely with Morgan, who was actually the QB for his high school team. Both are at their best reading and going hard in restricted spaces.
Ferns is much higher ranked but Morgan has clearly outperformed his recruiting rankings in college; while no one will confuse Morgan with a coverage specialist he has generally gotten to the right spot at the right time for Michigan. He's adequate or maybe a little bit better there.
A potential area where this comparison falls down: a lot of people say Ferns is an excellent blitzer and has some of that vertical explosion Jake Ryan does.
Guru Reliability: Medium. Near-consensus on the rankings but injury held him out or slowed him down at some critical points where he could have confirmed his early offer flood and top-100 rankings. Played for a small school against iffy competition.
Variance: Medium. Advanced physically (thus the early offers), little positional projection, high IQ. On the other hand, low level of competition and he has had a lot of injuries, to the point where he may actually be injury-prone instead of just unlucky.
Ceiling: High-minus. Seems to lack the bit of athleticism necessary to warrant a "high"—like Morgan may top out as a B+ player. Does have that A- upside if he can blitz.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I'm a little down on Ferns relative to his rankings because he can't seem to stay healthy. If that recedes there's a good chance he contributes.
Projection: Doesn't redshirt, causing my mandibles to clack angrily every time I look at a depth chart by class for the next four years. Sees special teams time almost exclusively.
In year two, backs up either Gedeon or Bolden at MLB; will take a run at a starting spot vacated by Bolden in year three, and then has another shot a year after. Pretty much exclusively an MLB/WLB prospect, with MLB more likely since it somewhat limits exposure to coverage issues.
|Kenton, OH – 6'4", 240|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
NR OLB, #42 OH
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#21 OLB, #14 OH
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#33 OLB, #18 OH
|Other Suitors||MSU, Tenn, Neb, NW, Mizzou|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Has a twitter.|
There's no senior reel per se but a guy seems to have taken video of everything Kenton did last year, so a youtube search for Furbush brings up a ton of tiny clips.
Many, many recruits have their heights and weights overestimated. The only organization that more brazenly overstates such things than high school football programs is the WWE. But yes sir, I believe that Noah Furbush is a large man. I might even believe he is from Parts Unknown.
Just watch those clips: Furbush is unidentified most of the time, so as you watch the ballcarrier the experience is one of wondering where the hell that defensive end came from. Except when he's playing defensive end. Then he came from defensive end.
Furbush is already an rather enormous linebacker at 6'4"+ and 240-ish pounds, without the benefit of a college S&C program. And there are a lot of evaluations that suggest his 6'4", 240 may even understate things. The phrase "every bit of" tends to get thrown around. Allen Trieu:
This kid is every bit of his listed size. When we saw him in person, his stature really stood out. He’s not just tall, but he’s long and pretty filled out and has big hands.
The first thing that jumps out about Furbush is his size. … He's every bit of his listed 6-4, 230 pounds, if not a little bigger.
As a result, there is a lot of chatter about Furbush being a future DE or the kind of OLB who is closer to a DE than not—think ND strongside LBs, or Jake Ryan. None of this is coming from Furbush or Michigan, though, who recruited and accepted his commitment with the idea that he would be a middle linebacker, or even a weakside linebacker. I know, man. Weird.
Defensive end is frequently suggested elsewhere.
- DUANE LONG, 247: "I am looking at Furbush now as a defensive end. He is a long kid with a really good frame. If he really is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, it is just a matter of time before he is 255. Not many kids stay at linebacker at that size."
- TENNESSEE COACHES: "Furbush, who claims to have been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said he’s being recruited by Tennessee to play the Leo position, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot in the Vols’ 4-3 base defense." [ed: OSU also uses the Leo; it's just a fancy name for what we've been calling WDE in the 4-3 under.]
- ALLEN TRIEU, SCOUT: "Michigan is going to try him at middle linebacker, which he hasn’t done a lot of but he could also play SAM or defensive end. He’s a tough, blue-collar type player who goes 100-percent and shows good closing speed. I really like him as a pass rusher and a blitzer. I think he does that much better than he does dropping into space."
There are a few people who think he's got the skills to be an inside linebacker. 247's Clint Brewster is more enthusiastic than the rest of his rating team, stating he's "definitely a four star" in his evaluation and talking about LB skills… albeit OLB ones:
… plays with great aggression and intensity. He runs through ball-carriers with a real nasty disposition. Furbush would be a great fit in the 3-4 defense. He can play over the tight end and has the athletic ability to drop and play in space. Furbush has excellent acceleration to the ball and explodes through tackles. He has excellent instincts and plays with a very high football I.Q. He doesn’t over pursue and does his job on each play. Furbush has outstanding pass rush technique and excels coming off the edge, getting after the quarterback. He shows excellent first-step-quickness. … It was tough to find improvements Furbush can make because it looks like he is coached really well and also plays with outstanding aggressiveness. He has what you look for at linebacker.
All right, even the LB-positive evaluations tend to make you think he's an LB/DE hybrid.
His coach has even higher praise…
“I think as a player he’s going to bring exceptional athleticism,” explained Mauk. “He’s got exceptional explosion, power and is a very physical player. He’s very athletic and has got good speed, good burst and he makes a lot of plays.
“He’s also long and athletic at 6-foot-4, 235-pounds and moves and reacts and changes direction extremely well.
“I think he’s athletic enough to play linebacker,” he said. “But also tough enough and physical enough that if they need to put him down and rush the passer, I think he would be really good at that as well.”
…but coaches being coaches sometimes they judge based on their level of competition instead of projecting kids to college. Elsewhere Mauk is quoted saying Furbush "runs like a defensive back," which seems impossible.
Outside of his coach, most evaluations focus on that explosion and ability to get in the backfield. Long again:
He is an explosive player and comes off the snap like a shot. He shows the top end speed to run down plays on the other side of the field.
Mark Porter of Bucknuts:
…you like his explosion and the way he just destroys the ball carriers with his first four or five plays. He really strikes people and strikes them pure. That’s harder to do than you think. He has that innate ability to destroy people when he hits them."
Sullivan's live report:
had a very physical, nasty streak to his play … good burst from the linebacker position, even if his top-end speed is never going to blow anyone away. He was able to get into the backfield and finish plays repeatedly… stayed very disciplined.
Tim liked him as a two-point SAM linebacker best, FWIW.
At Kenton Furbush rotated through SAM, MLB, and DE, because you can do that in high school when you can throw your teammates into the ballcarrier if you get bored. Furbush actually played most of this season with a cast on his hand, which did little to slow him down. When it was time to take the thing off, he removed it himself with hedge clippers.
Michigan identified Furbush early. They were his first offer; MSU, Tennessee, and a dozen or so others had followed by the time Furbush committed in July. Ohio State had him into camp and there were some reports that he had impressed (there was one photo from the camp that communicated just how huge he is that I regret not being able to find again) and was being seriously considered if some of OSU's targets ended up elsewhere, but without the offer Furbush wasn't waiting around.
He's a good fit for the Pattern, of course. Coach again:
“He’s got a great work ethic and is very dedicated and hard working always trying to improve and get better. He’s got great group leadership skills and is a guy who’s got good morals and is a great student as he places a heavy emphasis on his academic work."
Whether or not Furbush can stick on the interior he has a lot of good arrows. He's a lot closer to a finished product physically than a lot of guys and has a violent upfield acceleration that is likely to stick with him. His rankings aren't great but Michigan's eagerness to offer says something. Furbush didn't play defense until he was a junior and blew up physically without ever showing up at a camp to announce his new found big skrong muscles. It's not often you get guys showing up to games and going "whoah" because a guy is bigger than he's supposed to be.
That might prevent him from doing what Michigan thinks he'll do; it's a pretty good sign for his usefulness somewhere or other. And if they're right…
Etc.: Queensbury rules.
"I would consider myself a pugnacious competitor on the football field," he said.
Why Brennen Beyer? Beyer was a high school OLB who has bounced between SAM, WDE, and now even SDE with middling success. Though Furbush is already almost as large as Beyer is as a senior, Beyer was a higher-regarded recruit because his hand technique was already quite advanced. Both guys are 6'4"; Beyer shows the kind of decent ability in space that allows him to be an asset on zone blitzes that I imagine is Furbush's reasonable upside.
If the coaches are right about Furbush at MLB it's either time to break out the kazoos or Johnny Thompson comparisons.
Guru Reliability: Low. Furbush ignored the camp circuit and played at a school that does not have a ton of high-level recruits. He was basically unheard of before Michigan offered. And despite being the only service to give Furbush four stars, ESPN has no scouting report for him.
Variance: High. Positional uncertainty. Very easy to see him getting sucked into the tweener vortex.
Ceiling: High. If 6'4" MLB works out that's pretty nice.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Boom or bust prospect.
Projection: Your guess is as good as mine. Michigan will try the MLB thing for his freshman year because in the over that's where he fits until he's 260, if he does end up hitting that weight. A redshirt would make sense for a guy who's going to take some time to find a home.
Down the road, if Michigan goes back to the under he ends up at either SAM or WDE unless he is actually Brian Urlacher—unlikely. Once he gets much above 250 he's either going to have to be an athletic freak or move down to the line, and that'll take a couple years max.
|Jefferson Hills, PA - 6'4", 215|
Winovich is already Adam Jacboi's least favorite player
|Scout||4*, #281 overall
4*, NR overall
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#48 OLB, #13 PA
|24/7||4*, NR overall
#25 OLB, #7 PA
|Other Suitors||OSU, Pitt, MSU, Stanford, FSU, Miami, Oregon, VT|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Eighty yard touchdown run on third and 25:
Senior year stuff is on HUDL.
It was pretty easy to project Chase Winovich's future until a few months ago. Winovich comes with the violent upfield acceleration that Jake Ryan does, so redshirt him, pack some pounds on him, and unleash once properly marinated to be Ryan 2.0.
Then Ryan got moved to MLB and Michigan decided they were going to be more of an over outfit and things got murky. Winovich is tall and fast and has played his share of high school MLB, so the obvious thing is to do the bit in the previous paragraph and hope it all works out. And it might. It's just less obvious that it will.
Nonetheless, Winovich has a number of arrows pointing in the right direction. He chose Michigan in a heated battle with OSU and had a smattering of other A-level offers. After he committed he had an outstanding two-way senior season that saw three of the four services offer up a fourth star to him.
Let's see what we've won. Scout's Brian Dohn:
He runs like a receiver and is flexible. He has a very good feel for the game, anticipates well, has speed and burst and plays a physical style. … explosion in two or three steps is outstanding. He closes quickly and gets to the quarterback to make the play.
…patient as he watches the play develop. There is no guessing on what is happening. When it sees it, he plants his left foot in the ground and explodes to the right to make a tackle and shut down what looked like a big running lane.
…instinctive first step and blows plays up before they even happen. Winovich plays with outstanding aggression and is very explosive. He has excellent speed and can make plays from sideline to sideline. Winovich has enough speed to chase down running backs far down field. He does a nice job of using his hands to shed blockers and scraping to get to the ball carrier…. a force coming off the edge as an outside linebacker and can really close on the quarterback. … great fit as an outside linebacker in college, where Michigan is recruiting him at.
"He's an all-out kid that's always playing at full speed, he's big, he can run, he just finds the ball and closes. He's a guy who is going to do whatever it takes to win, whatever he has to do. He's all about winning.
"We had him play on special teams, he played running back, he played quarterback -- whatever he asked him to do, he did it."
"A great family, wonderful family. Chase is going to remind a lot of people of Jake Ryan. Fun-loving, great to be around, great smile, great teammate."
Alright then. I concur; watching Winovich's tape was like seeing skinny Jake Ryan ripping around.
So that's the vertical attacking bit. How much he gets to do that is unknown; Michigan could flip back to an under next year; he could maybe get large enough to play nickel DE; etc. If he does end up on the interior long term, middle linebacker is something that he is at least a decent fit for. Multiple scouting reports praise his sideline-to-sideline range, coverage potential and tackling…
- Brewster: excellent pursuit speed and angles, as well as being able to drop into coverage and get in passing lanes. Winovich runs through ball-carriers instead of catching or meeting them.
- Kyle Bogenschutz: Winovich's athleticism and ability to run sideline to sideline stands out. In 1-on-1's, Winovich ran step for step with a wide receiver down the sideline and into the corner of the endzone before making a leaping and juggling one handed interception,
Finally, his ability to pick through traffic is also an oft-repeated asset. ESPN:
Maintains good leverage on the ball and isn't fooled by misdirection. Although he needs to become a more physical take-on guy, his quick hands allow him to shed and get off blocks. Demonstrates the quickness, balance and agility needed to avoid blockers and make plays in tight spaces. Moves through traffic very well, showing excellent sideline-to-sideline range.
… changes direction well and has very good feet, which allows him to navigate through congestion and avoid blocks. … Winovich shows his ability to run to the sideline and make the play. Again, he tracks it well and gets to the ball carrier quickly. He is also able to get through the traffic to make a tough play look simple and natural.
The MLB thing is actually rather plausible as long as he gets big and can shed guards.
Negatives are not mentioned much; when they are it is the obvious thing: he is 215 pounds. Brewster also mentions that he could "do a better job of getting his pad level down to take on contact" as a 6'4" LB, which is also something that shows up on film. Winovich tackles a lot of guys high. In HS this allows him to run through guys and flex afterwards; against guys his weight but squatter it might not work out so well. ESPN also mentions that he's inexperienced in coverage.
If you're thinking all this sounds pretty good for a guy who didn't crack anyone's top 250, well… yeah. The OSU battle even though OSU was already in possession of a couple of OLB types is also another positive sign. Even though Winovich got bumped by the recruiting sites out of sleeper of the year territory, it seems like he's still underrated.
As far as next year goes, a redshirt seems certain. Bogenschutz reported that Winovich was down to 208 by the time the O-D Bowl came around. That is well short of what he'd need to see the field at 6'4" even if he was at SAM, or WILL, or whatever the light, tight-end-tracking linebacker is going to be this year. Winovich doesn't appear to be the kind of guy who demands/asks to be on the field immediately; he told Nick Baumgardner that "my goal isn't necessarily to play as early as I can, it's to be the best player and contributor I can be for Michigan."
Etc.: Man, you could do a lot with high schools named these things:
The Thomas Jefferson football team shut down rival Elizabeth Forward last week in a sterling defensive performance.
"NOT SO FAST, FORWARD" SAYS JEFFERSON
ELIZABETH LEAVES THOMAS JEFFERSON ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WITHOUT A CAR OR A GIRLFRIEND NOT THAT I'M BITTER THAT HAPPENED TO ME, THE HEADLINE WRITER
Also from that article, we may have a replacement for Jordan Morgan as far as trolling goes:
Q: Given the pre-game hype, do you consider the 42-0 win against Elizabeth Forward as a statement game for the TJ football team?
A: I think our true statement will come once we win the WPIAL championship, but beating Elizabeth Forward is simply a tradition to us at this point.
"I had Ohio State jerseys, I had Ohio State buckeyes in my room, I had the Ohio State flag in my room," Winovich recalls. "I even had an Ohio State-themed credit card."
Why Jake Ryan? Same frame, same five-yard explosion that makes Ryan so adept at finishing plays in the backfield. Ryan was bigger coming out of high school; Winovich sounds like he's less of a wildman—for both good and bad. Ryan was a true sleeper, but obviously an underrated player.
Guru Reliability: High-ish. Healthy, played for PA powerhouse, little projection in terms of position. Some disagreement, though an understandable one since ESPN is way more fire-and-forget with their rankings than others.
Variance: Moderate-plus. Has to add a lot of weight, and there is some positional uncertainty.
Ceiling: High. Small area burst like that is very appealing. If he works out can be the sort of LB who racks up 15-20 TFLs and gets confetti thrown at him in postseason awards and whatnot.
General Excitement Level: High. Variance is variable. But dat burst yo.
Projection: As mentioned above, redshirt should be a lock. Afterwards it depends on whether Michigan sticks with the over or goes back; if they go back he is a natural fit at SAM and will contribute immediately, fighting with McCray and lighter guys to start. The over is trickier; he'd probably be at WLB in that setup, as Bolden/Ferns/Gedeon are a bit shorter and stouter. That would allow Michigan to flip their setup, as well.
So it's a bit fuzzy. Winovich is likely to find some sort of role because of his ability to go from point A to point B in a flash.
|Warren, MI – 6'1", 225|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
NR OLB, #17 MI
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#71 OLB, #13 MI
|24/7||3*, NR overall
#34 S, #6 MI
|Other Suitors||PSU (decommit), MSU, LSU|
|YMRMFSPA||Jordan Kovacs, except a linebacker|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Warren DLS(Shane Morris). Son of John Wangler, brother of Jack.|
Midseason senior highlights:
Whiplash time in this series as we swing from the highest-rated Michigan recruit in the history of recruits being ranked to one of the few guys in the class who qualifies for sleeper of the year consideration. (Note: the criteria here has expanded to allow one four-star rating from the four services, because there are very few candidates these days if you restrict yourself to pure three-stars.) OLB Jared Wangler is of course the son of John Wangler and brother of walk-on WR Jack, so when Michigan came calling it took him about a week to dump his Penn State commitment and sign on.
Despite the low rankings, Wangler has a few different indicators in his favor. A Penn State offer is nice; Wangler also had an MSU offer and an apparently legit offer from LSU. While that latter was undoubtedly influenced by Les Miles's relationship with the elder Wangler, it seemed to be a real thing($). Wangler was also selected to the UA game, though he missed it after shoulder surgery.
If those things are odd for a guy it appears no one even considered for a fourth star, well... yeah. There is something of a disconnect between those rankings and his scouting reports, too. ESPN's main downside is a need to add bulk, and opposite that you have these diverse and sundry positives($):
Demonstrates very good range to the sideline. Takes proper angles when in long pursuit showing the ability to open the hips to turn and run. ... Reacts quickly to the run and pass demonstrating the agility and balance needed to move through traffic and play downhill to the football. ... tough customer with solid wrap tackling skills and is a finisher who doesn't allow leaky yards after contact. ... relentless desire to chase down the football ...
We see very good underneath zone coverage skills. Displays the athleticism needed to cross over for depth with eyes on the quarterback and shows good short-to-medium route awareness along with high point interception skills. The ability to make tight turns along with his playing speed suggests man coverage potential. ... athleticism should prove very effective as an outside linebacker at the BCS level of competition.
So naturally they followed that report up by ranking Wangler several spots behind a dude going to Georgia State and a 5'10" dude with crazy eyes headed to Colorado. He did edge bros headed to Chattanooga and Albany, though. So he's got that going for him.
Allen Trieu has a similar take, calling Wangler a "very good athlete" and noting his ability to cover over the slot:
... often asked to play over the slot and drop into coverage. ... He does a nice job of taking on blockers and when he arrives at the ball carrier, he's a strong tackler who can deliver a strike. He's a smart, instinctive kid who keeps himself in good position, doesn't lose contain and does a good job of diagnosing plays quickly and using his ability to run to get to the ball carrier.
Trieu listed "athleticism," "hitting ability," and "pass coverage skills" as strengths in his Scout profile with "shedding ability" as an area for improvement--was really hoping for size there--and echoing his coverage praise:
Is able to play over the slot and does a nice job in coverage, both in man to man and dropping into zones. Has good closing speed to the football and is a good striker who explodes into his tackles. Having just transitioned into playing in the box, he simply has to continue to get stronger and work on getting off blocks.
247's Clint Brewster joins the "this guy can really cover" chorus:
...smart, tough, and plays with good technique at the outside linebacker position. He excels in the open field and does an outstanding job in coverage. .... Wangler has an instinctive and quick first step and made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage. Wangler’s talent level doesn’t really pop out at you but he is solid in just about every area of the position. ...fluid and fast enough that he's often asked to line up over the slot and handle quick coverage responsibilities.
And his dad is not an unbiased observer but what the hell let's get his two cents:
"He's around the ball, has great ball skills. He'll hit you, and always when he hit, you knew you were hit. But he can move, too. The good thing everyone likes is he's 215 pounds, and he can get up to 230 easy because of his frame. He can cover, too, because he's a converted safety. He can take the slot guys, has the versatility to come off the end and blitz, take on a fullback or a guard and make a play."
So what's the deal with the rankings? The catch here appears to be the "if you can't say something nice..." nature of the recruiting industrial complex. When Wangler hit camps he'd usually get a brief mention along the lines of "good in coverage against running backs" or "underrated athleticism" before folks moved along to other prospects that jumped off the field more. Brewster touches on Wangler's general lack of wow factor in the "improvements" section of his eval:
Wangler isn’t the most talented player out there but makes up with for it being solid in most areas of the position. He has average size with pretty good athleticism but not great overall speed.
In a generally positive live evaluation, Rivals's Tim Sullivan noted his "impressive athleticism" one paragraph before stating that Wangler will never be the biggest or fastest linebacker on the field. His scouting is full of this kind of schizophrenia. Josh Helmholdt mentioned his "great speed to go with his coverage skills," for instance. Even his coach has a bit of hesitation to him sometimes:
"He'll come up and hit you. He's got good enough agility to make some plays in the open field."
It kind of feels like analysts say these things in the same way they say Nik Stauskas is not just a shooter, you know?
Wangler is a high school safety Michigan plans on moving down to linebacker; I bet one dollar that Michigan envisions him as one of those hybrid space players. Michigan's move to an over defense clarifies a lot of weird things we heard about his recruitment, like the thing he kept saying about how the coaches saw him as a SAM or a WILL.
Those are two entirely different positions in the under. They're still pretty different in the over, but it seems clear the meaning there was "if we become an over defense you are a SAM; if we stick with the under you are a WILL. " This is a fit that Magnus foresaw:
For him to fit at SAM, I think he would have to play in a 4-3 Over defense, where he could cover the tight end and play in the C gap. As for the WILL position, I think Wangler has the mental aptitude but not the speed; he diagnoses the plays quickly, but I think he'll be too slow to slice into the backfield or beat Big Ten running backs to the hole.
So for now he is a SAM, one who can hopefully cover a tight end and defeat his blocks. Sullivan caught him in person a couple times and believes this is the plan:
...has a linebacker's mentality at the safety position. Although he's the size of a safety at this point, he has the frame to grow into linebacker at the next level - which Michigan coaches expect him to do.
FWIW, he told Rivals in January he was up to 225, which means he could hit fall camp at 230 or even 235, which is already in the plausible range for playing time. Michigan should not need him, but that does not stop them from playing guys all that often.
Why Jordan Kovacs? Kovacs was always the world's best tiny linebacker even if he was pressed into duty deeper due to his ability to actually do the things a safety is supposed to do. Wangler appears to fill the tough tacklin', awareness havin', tight end lockin' role that Kovacs generally did.
Wangler's obviously bigger and will move closer to the line of scrimmage; he probably cannot be as utterly reliable as Michigan's best safety blanket in a decade and a half, but kid is from a football family, and is a legacy like Kovacs.
Other option here is Michigan's best and really only space linebacker in the past decade or so: Stevie Brown. Brown came with top-100 guru rankings and high praise for his athleticism that was not of the Not Just A Shooter variety, though, and struggled for most of his career to apply that athleticism in a positive way. Kovacs is closer.
Guru Reliability: High-ish. Was relatively prominent for a couple years, attended a number of camps, and there is approximate consensus. Did not get to show his wares at the UA game, though, and his offers dispute he rankings.
Variance: Moderate. Position switch doesn't really bother me since it is a move down, and it seems like he's already approaching a plausible playing weight. But it is a position move and he is a tweener.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. He can be an effective presence in the slot and a glue guy between front seven and secondary. Probably not going to blow you away with his rippling awesomeness.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I like adding LB/S tweeners in this era of college football who can shift between hunting slot receivers and still put a shoulder to a tailback and make him stop. Wangler's got a number of reasons to think he'll outperform his middling rankings, as well.
Projection: It doesn't seem like there's a reason to play any freshman linebacker this year what with Michigan possessing a solid, veteran two-deep that has a couple of special teams options further down the depth chart in McCray and Gant... but a couple probably will. It doesn't seem like Wangler will be one of them, what with Ferns enrolling early and Michigan pretty well stocked on slot options what with Countess and the previous guy in this series.
After a probable redshirt, James Ross will have one more year before a free-for-all for the starting SAM job develops between Wangler, Allen Gant, and possibly Chase Winovich or Mike McCray, depending on how those guys develop. Dymonte Thomas may even be a candidate there if he does not win a safety job, at least in nickel packages. Wangler has an excellent shot of at least finding a role then, as it's doubtful Winovich or McCray will be able to approximate Wangler's cover skills. Gant, another converted safety, will provide a challenge.
Even so Wangler should have a three-year run as some sort of contributor and seems to have a good chance to start as a heady effort guy who is built to eliminate tight ends and tailbacks against teams who spread the field.
|Paramus, NJ – 6'1", 210|
5*, #3 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #3 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #2 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
5*, #4 overall
#1 CB, #1 NJ
|Other Suitors||Alabama, OSU, ND, Florida, LSU, everyone else|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. One Frame At A Time on the run. Picture Pages on the run. Comparing Peppers to hyped dudes past.|
|Notes||Paramus Catholic (Juwann Bushell-Beatty)|
And you're probably familiar with this one:
Do I actually need to write this one? Surely you are full to the brim with Jabrill Peppers information. Eighteen years ago he sliced open his father's head with a sword and leapt forth, fully formed, ready to wreak havoc upon Persians and Carthaginians alike. After shoving the Indian subcontinent into an aesthetically pleasing location he wandered the world, dispensing sage advice to operators of wheeled vehicles of all descriptions everywhere. He decided to go to Michigan to win the Heisman as a defensive back and did so twice in the future forever and ever amen.
The end. Hooray.
If you are not sated yet, here's all this other stuff. Let's start with the various "room for improvement" sections found in scouting reports. Clint Brewster:
Improvements: It is very hard to find a flaw or a glaring area for improvement in Peppers game.
What Needs Work
I’m sure when Roger Bannister broke the 4-minute mile, there must have been one bad step during it, so it leaves room for Peppers, the No. 4 prospect in the nation, with things to improve upon.
Does anyone have an actual criticism? Second chance time, Mr. Dohn.
The only thing with Peppers is sometimes he is so aggressive and wants to make a play so badly, he will bust an assignment in the passing game or guess which hole to fill in the running game rather than just wait for the play to develop and do his one-eleventh.
All right, then. These are the… uh… multiple and serious negatives of Jabrill Peppers. Offsetting these are some meager positives that may one day see him squeeze onto a Division I football field.
- Brewster, 247: "Peppers is a rare athlete with potential to be great at the next level. He is one of the most talented players I have ever seen at the high school level. At 6-foot-1, and 205-pounds, Peppers has college ready size to go with un-matched speed and explosiveness."
- Dohn, Scout: "Peppers has it all. The speed, acceleration, change of direction, ability to turn his hips and cover down or across the field, leadership, competitiveness, physicality, strength and a high football IQ."
- Adam Friedman, Rivals: "Peppers' incredible natural athleticism combined with his big frame and tireless work ethic has helped him become a true lockdown cornerback. "
- Scott Kennedy, Scout: "…could play four to five different positions and excel at them. He is a strong running back. He is as fluid as a good corner. He hits like a linebacker. He could play safety. You could honestly take him and put him in an outside linebacker position and he would flourish. He is going to return kicks. He is going to return punts. He catches anything that is near him. He is spectacular."
- Tom Luginbill, ESPN: "…in the past nine classes we are not quite sure we have seen a skilled athlete on defense like Peppers. He is as naturally gifted and explosive of an athlete as we can recall and he could play five positions."
- ESPN evaluation: "Has sudden movements but can also accelerate at a premium level with great top-end speed. … Will arrive with or shortly after the ball before the receiver can react. Naturally gets his head around to locate the ball and competes for it like a WR when it's in the air. Shows really good tracking and ball skills and a natural awareness around the football in all three phases of the game. … Shines in tight coverage … Takes sharp angles, closes strong with great burst and will wrap and pop as a tackler. … game changer."
- Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "While he's not his listed 6-1 (more like a shade under 6-0), Peppers' weight won't be in question. He is already built like an NFL defensive back, and hits with the force you'd expect. Throughout the week in practice, he could barely prevent himself from laying a big hit in the run game or against a wide receiver while playing coverage … also every bit the explosive athlete we expected him to be. "
- USC coach: "Holy s---, that's him? I've only seen two players in high school with a body like that and both of them are named Peterson [Adrian and Patrick]."
"Is that all?" you scowl whilst raising a glass of cognac to your lips. "I had heard he was rather something." You're such an elitist.
Anyway, everyone who has seen Peppers has come away fanning themselves and trying to jam more stars into the guy's profile. There is no dissention here, except as to where he will play.
Two of the above evaluations mention he could play four or five positions (RB, WR, CB, S, and maybe OLB is how that breaks down), and several articles bat that possibility about. 247's JC Shurburtt asserts that he's a surer thing on offense because there's no denying his ability there ("electric and dynamic") and he may outgrow the corner spot if he's not enough of a freak athlete to outgrow the corner spot and still play corner. On the other hand, Rivals suggests he's more of a sure thing on D, and everyone ranks him there.
This was not at cornerback
So then where does he end up? We've already had a rather long comedy breakdown of something Peppers did on offense on this site. Meanwhile, poke an analyst in the right mood, as Sam Webb did, and you'll find yourself asking a follow-up question like so:
You mentioned he could play five positions at the next level. At what position do you think he would have the greatest impact?
And the floodgates veritably open with comparisons to other players. Most are corners, but some don't make any sense so the ones that do make sense are split between CB, S, and offense: Take your pick from:
- Joe Haden, CB, Florida/Cleveland Browns. This was Rivals' rather bizarre shot at a comparison, one that starts out with "physically, Haden and Peppers aren't very similar." They do assert that Haden and Peppers are both "strong, physical cornerbacks" who will come up against the run. Haden was a HS QB, just about exclusively.
- Greg Reid, CB, FSU/St Louis Rams. Reid is apparently the nouveau Antione Winfield since he is 5'8" but Peppers's UA coach brought him up as a comparison point because he levels people: "He reminded me of Greg Reid. I’ve never seen a corner come down that fast underneath -- that aggressive. He is a corner that I think can hit like a linebacker. He wants to hit. He doesn’t want to stray from a hit. To be that muscular he has great fundamentals. I think he’s probably the most physical corner we have here.” This gentlemen then said he was going to be a safety/rover/hybrid guy after comparing him to a 5'8" corner.
- Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU/Arizona. The most sensible CB comparison comes from Peppers himself, who notes their almost identical size. 247's Clint Brewster also cites Peterson in his evaluations.
- Reggie Bush, RB, USC/Lions. Since no one ventured a specific player who made sense when talking about Peppers's vast offensive potential, this one's mine. When searching for an offensive comparison, Scout's Scott Kennedy started talking about De'Anthony Thomas, a 165-pound dude when he entered college. Bush is now listed at 203 on his NFL bio and has the same height as Peppers; Peppers can make a legit claim to his explosiveness. Peppers projects as a RB/WR space hybrid type guy more than a Green-style pounder.
- Eric Berry, S, Tennessee/Chiefs. Kennedy did bring up an interesting name whilst fighting himself about where to play Peppers: Berry, a box safety/hybrid space player/all-around-pain: "I think his impact on the game [would be maximized by] letting him roam around a little bit and freelance and let him play – an Eric Berry style of safety where they would walk him up. I mean, Eric Berry had 15 tackles for loss. He is that kind of a player. Eric Berry, I thought, was maybe the best player in college football a couple of years ago.”
Meanwhile, the guy you may have heard of mentioned above in You May Remember Me From Such Players as spans all of these things: a corner, return guy, and occasional wide receiver at Michigan, Charles Woodson spent time at corner, safety, and nickel in the NFL, excelling at all three. As the NFL game became more spread out, Woodson flipped inside to provide the triple threat skills the ideal HSP manages: blitz, cover, and support the run. A former Stanford player lays out Peppers' ability in that department:
Peppers shows on video to be a very tough player and a violent tackler. If he does, as most expect, end up on the defensive side of the ball, his reaction skills could place him in the role of a top-end cornerback. However, his willingness and ability to strike and his blitzing competence could make Peppers an excellent safety, given that he is already around six feet tall and 200 pounds, or a corner who could master the nickelback role when necessary. He closes well on run plays and does so with a purpose, making him an all-around football player well worthy of his gaudy offer list.
Erase the first word in that evaluation and it may as well read "Woodson."
Now… take a look at the Michigan roster and think back to what they were doing with the defense in spring: one high safety, cornerbacks in your grill, one definitively box safety plunging down to the line to disrupt things. Generally it is harder to make the big game-changing impact from a safety spot, but if you've got the skillset it is possible—Berry was the fifth pick in the draft—and Peppers seems to have it.
What about next year? Expect a bit of a slow start if Peppers does slot in at corner. Paramus used Peppers mostly as a safety, so the finer points of tight coverage are things he'll have to develop. His UA position coach:
“Maybe he needs to work on just the biggest fundamentals of a cornerback,” Cox said. “We all know he’s aggressive now so it’s now work on reading the routes a little quicker, reading the quarterback drops, understanding the pass drops a little better.
“He’s more run oriented. You can tell he wants to play run, run, run -- sit back a little more and work on your passing routes, work on the quarterback drops and your receiver breaks.”
"I definitely want to improve on my hip flexibility," Peppers said. "I know that I've been ranked and seen as the top cornerback in the country, but people don't realize that it's actually a pretty new position for me. I don't have a lot of experience there. Given that, I know I need to continue to learn about the position and learn how to understand it. Once I really understand and grasp it and am able to combine it with my athletic ability, the sky will be the limit for me at the position."
Perhaps this would be arrogant, except literally everyone else who has described Peppers's potential has echoed it. So it's just normal.
Don't expect him to take too long, though. Unlike Brandon Watson he's had to do a variety of things in a variety of ways. As a bonus, various coaches say he picks things up quickly. His high school coach:
“He's playing safety for us and our defense is really a complicated type defense. We don’t sit in one thing. We combo cover. He’s used as a robber, he blitzes, he makes calls on the field himself, the check coverages. We tried to broaden his football horizon and say you know what, you’re one of the top-rated kids in the country, you’re going to learn the game big time and we’re going to put a lot on you.”
If Michigan does chuck him in at safety he could win the starting job opposite Wilson quickly. Probably not opener quickly; Big Ten play is a possibility.
I was in Camp Boundary Corner before doing this evaluation and now I'm torn between that and Safety Of Doom who moves down to play nickel/SAM against spread teams, sort of like Stevie Brown except riding an avalanche of dinosaurs. I won't regard any move as a bad sign, but rather an an attempt to get him on the field.
"I treat Jabrill like he's one of our coaches," Partridge says. "I'll tell him things that I would never tell other players. I treat him like one of the coaches because he can handle it, he gets it."
Why Charles Woodson? You're damn right I'm breaking out the big one. If not for Peppers, then for who?
And it is a super-tight comparison anyway. Peppers and Woodson are both burly boundary corner types with the physicality to get in the box and put a guy on the ground. Peppers was the top cornerback in the country; Woodson was also but just wasn't rated like it. Dynamic skills extend to offense, where return jobs and opportunities to moonlight as a slot receiver beckon. Same size, same skillset, same everything.
Guru Reliability: High. All say the same thing, was scouted top to bottom for years, all star game appearance.
Variance: Low. Already physically ready. Some question about experience at the cornerback spot but CB is a location about athleticism above all. Has 87 backup options if CB doesn't work out.
Ceiling: Can't hold us.
General Excitement Level: Yowza.
Projection: Michigan's jam-packed corner situation makes things a little questionable in year one. Is he displacing one of Taylor/Countess/Lewis? Well… maybe. None of those guys bring the size Peppers does to the table and that boundary corner spot is just begging for a guy who has the size and athleticism he does. But that'll happen gradually, as has been the case for all Michigan cornerback standouts past: about half a year working his way into the lineup before a mid-season promotion to the starting job.
Taylor departs after this year so the boundary spot should be his for the next two or three years, probably two.
The other option is for Peppers to be a heavily box-oriented safety and hybrid space player. It is not a terrible idea what with Michigan in possession of Lewis and Stribling for the next three years plus Countess for the next two; guys like Peppers can have the same level of impact elite corners do and the potential upgrade at SS looks like a bigger one than the potential upgrade at CB.
And what about the other side of the ball? He'll be given every opportunity to take kickoff and punts from day one; Norfleet is going to have to hold him off. Working him into the offense is probably something for 2015 and beyond. Once that milestone is hit, though, you'd have to be nuts not to at least explore the possibility.