things go poorly
It didn't take long for last weekend's visit to pay off, as Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake offensive lineman Mason Cole announced his commitment to Michigan this afternoon:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
Cole becomes the first offensive lineman and fourth prospect overall in Michigan's 2014 class; he gave credit to a couple of his now-fellow commits for recruiting him:
— Mason Cole (@MasonCole52) February 25, 2013
His shirt is in the mail, I presume.
4*, #17 OT,
4*, #19 OT,
4*, 96, #4 OG,
While Cole is listed as a tackle by three of the four sites, he'll likely end up playing guard at Michigan. The services are split on whether he's 6'4" or 6'5", with listed weights ranging from 260 to 280 pounds. As you can see, Cole is a fringe top-100 prospect to Scout and Rivals, easily within the top 100 on 247—notably, the only site that has him at guard—and he'll presumably be somewhere in that range when ESPN releases their rankings.
Cole first emerged on the camp circuit way back in the summer of 2011, when he was a rising sophomore; Rivals's Keith Niebuhr tabbed him as a top performer at a National Underclassman camp ($):
This is someone who looks like he has a bright future, almost certainly as a tackle. Cole is lean and has great length. For his size, and the fact he's still young, he has quick feet and excellent lateral movement. His technique was as good as any linemen on hand either day. Cole's punch slowed or stopped numerous defenders. And he was smooth enough on his feet to effectively contain the speed rushers. His comprehension is high.
His success continued last summer, where he was one of the top prospects at a Florida State camp, earning this review from Rivals's Chris Nee ($):
Cole participated despite a cast on his left hand. The 6-foot-5, 267-pound offensive lineman is very athletic with quick feet and hands. He does a good job of establishing a solid base and using his arm length off the snap. He shows the quickness to immediately get out and on a defender. He also gains traction when blocking and sustain those blocks. With regards to his physical build, he may end up at right tackle or even offensive guard depending on how he grows and fills out over the next year.
Cole's athleticism stands out in his evaluations—here's a junior-year scouting report from Scout's Jamie Newburg ($):
Cole has very good feet, moves well for a big man and gets off the ball quickly. He's plenty long and could easily pack on a ton of bulk once he gets to the next level. Cole has a good base and bends well. He does tend to stand out of his stance and will need to work on staying lower.
Cole looks equally adept at run blocking and in pass pro. At times he's nasty and seems to finish off most of his blocks.
247's Josh Newburg (I don't care enough to check if he's related to Jamie) echoed the praise of Cole's feet, saying getting to the second level is his best attribute, and also noticed a mean streak in his game ($):
Mason Cole plays with a chip on his shoulder. On nearly every play Cole plays through the whistle. He didn’t get flagged for any late hits, but his aggressiveness does not go unnoticed. The opposing coaches complained several times to the officials that Cole was roughing up their defenders. His play reminds me of former Armwood star and current UF offensive lineman Matt Patchan.
Michigan is getting a lineman with a good frame, very impressive athleticism, and solid technique. Cole will need to add weight and get stronger before he sees the field in college, but (1) he's got plenty of time to do so given Michigan's depth and (2) you can say that about pretty much every high school offensive lineman.
Cole amassed 20+ offers before his commitment, most notably from Alabama, Arkansas, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, Ohio State, South Carolina, Stanford, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin. That's about as impressive an offer list as you'll see a prospect have at this stage.
Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake plays in Florida's largest classification (8A); last year they reached the regional final before bowing out to Orlando Dr. Phillips. East Lake has produced just a couple of lower-ranked BCS commits in the Rivals era, but what they're producing currently should have Michigan fans excited—Cole is teammates with four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 potential five-star athlete George Campbell, both of whom have visited Ann Arbor with Cole. Cole and Scott—and potentially Campbell, as well—have mentioned the possibility of being a package deal; if so, Michigan is in a great position to land one of the top playmakers in the 2014 class, and perhaps one of the top players of any kind for 2015.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time listed.
The only film I could find of Cole on YouTube is this short reel from MaxPreps—obnoxiously, they don't highlight Cole before plays, but he's #52 and lines up at left tackle:
A far more extensive reel is up on Cole's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Cole is an impressive player on film and should be one of the centerpieces of the 2014 class, but he's got a long way to go before he sees the field thanks to Michigan's newfound depth on the offensive line—that's not a knock on Cole, just a very good situation for Michigan.
He'll take a redshirt, not only because he needs to bulk up, but because Kyle Kalis, Blake Bars, Kyle Bosch, David Dawson, and Dan Samuelson all project to guard from the two previous classes—it's unlikely any of those guys will move to other positions, too, since the last two classes were strong at tackle and Patrick Kugler is the center of the future.
/takes a moment to appreciate Brady Hoke's offensive line recruiting
As an upperclassman, Cole should compete for a starting spot. There are few guarantees when it comes to an offensive lineman breaking through that level of depth, and that's the best possible problem to have as a football program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has four commits in a class that should be on the small end—currently projected to around 16, though that number should grow by Signing Day. The biggest need remains wide receiver, and Cole's commitment could help that area in a big way if he brings along Artavis Scott.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps reactions from the weekend's visits and discusses the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.
Big February Recruiting Weekend Produces No Commits... For Now
Drake Harris (photo via Detroit News)
There weren't eight commitments, not that anybody expected as much. There wasn't even one commitment. That doesn't mean that Michigan's big visit weekend was a failure; far from it, in fact.
If a player was going to pledge over the weekend, it was FL OL Mason Cole. While Cole didn't take the plunge, he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that Michigan solidified their place atop his leaderboard ($):
“Michigan’s leading,” Cole said. “but I don’t I really don’t have an organized top-five. And from here on out anything can happen.”
As far as a decision timeline, Cole didn’t let out any hints of an early commitment.
“I’m just going with the flow,” Cole said regarding a timetable.
Regarding that fluid timetable, Cole told ESPN's Chantel Jennings($, info in header) that a commitment "could come at any time," to one of his top schools—Michigan, Notre Dame, Clemson, and Florida State. If he makes a choice soon, it's almost assuredly going to be Michigan, and they've positioned themselves well for a commitment whenever Cole decides to, er, decide.
The Wolverines also strengthened their position with current Michigan State commit Drake Harris, the top in-state wide receiver. Harris told 247's Steve Wiltfong that every school he's looking at—Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Florida, Georgia, and Notre Dame—is on equal footing, and the attention shown to him by both Michigan's coaches and commits made a big impact ($):
The Michigan coaches aren’t the only ones recruiting Harris. Quarterback commit Wilton Speight is also working to get him in the fold, as is 2013 signal-caller signee Shane Morris. Speight was on campus this weekend hanging with Harris.
“He seems like a great person,” Harris said. “I’ve been texting with him but this was the first time meeting him and we had a good time. I look forward to hanging out with him more. I’ve been in contact with Shane Morris and he wants me there. Everyone was giving me a lot of attention including Coach (Brady) Hoke and Michigan made a great impact on me this weekend.”
Harris has already set his next visit to Ann Arbor for March 10th, when the basketball team takes on Indiana in what should be a game with plenty of hype and excitement. Getting back-to-back visits is a great sign, even if there will be stiff competition from upcoming visits to Florida (March 22nd) and Ohio State (planned, not set).
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the reactions from the weekend and the impact of Jerry Montgomery's departure.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers a huge visit weekend, new offers, and more.
Big February Visit Weekend Is An Annual Thing, Apparently
It's that time of the year again, when Michigan rounds up a large group of highly-touted recruits, shows off their program with the coaches and current commits in full-on recruiting mode, and renders me unable to leave my laptop for the weekend. Those hoping for a repeat of last year's eight-man commitapalooza should temper their expectations, but there's nothing wrong with getting excited about the talent that will be on campus ($). Here's a rundown of this weekend's visitors (all are 2014 prospects unless otherwise noted):
- OH LB Michael Ferns and VA QB Wilton Speight — Two of Michigan's three commits—and the two that have been most active in recruiting other prospects—will be on campus doing their best Shane Morris impressions. Both have been mentioned by other prospects as doing an impressive job of selling Michigan.
- OH LB Kyle Berger — Berger hails from the same Cleveland St. Ignatius program that produced Jake Ryan, and it could come down to a Michigan/OSU battle for the four-star linebacker.
- FL OL Mason Cole — If a player is going to commit this weekend, it's probably Cole, a four-star guard who's already made multiple trips up from Florida. Getting Cole would be big in its own right, and it would also give Michigan the inside track at his high school teammates, four-star WR Artavis Scott and 2015 blue-chip ATH George Campbell—both have offers, and Campbell will accompany Cole on this weekend's visit.
- MI WR Drake Harris — This will be the first visit for Harris since his commitment to Michigan State; he's since opened up his recruitment after deciding he'll focus exclusively on football at the next level, though he still remains a soft Spartan verbal. Wilton Speight told Sam Webb he's been talking with Harris on a daily basis and convinced him to spend two days on campus this weekend. While Harris doesn't seem close to making a final decision, a productive visit could move him closer to making a change in his commitment.
- NC RB Elijah Hood — The four-star back had Michigan tied for fifth in his recruitment as of last week, but he's since updated that list and now has the Wolverines in fourth, per ESPN's Kipp Adams ($). This weekend will be key if Michigan hopes to make up ground on Notre Dame, Hood's leader, especially since he plans to make a decision before his senior season.
- MI DE Lawrence Marshall — Marshall briefly committed to Ohio State a couple weeks ago before opening up his recruitment after visits to Michigan State and Michigan forced him to reconsider. I'd expect the Southfield four-star end will take a little longer before making another pledge.
- MI DE Malik McDowell — While McDowell has been a familiar face around Ann Arbor, he's yet to spend a lot of time with the coaches—that should change this weekend, obviously. McDowell has been mum about his leaderboard, but it's believed that Michigan and Notre Dame hold an edge over Ohio State and Michigan State, and this will be a chance for the Wolverines to separate themselves from the pack.
- 2015 FL ATH George Campbell — As said above, Campbell is teammates at Tarpon Springs (FL) East Lake with Mason Cole and Artavis Scott, and he appears ticketed for five-star status when the 2015 rankings eventually come out. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 MI ATH Brian Cole — Cole projects to be one of the top athletes in Michigan's rising junior class and could end up at receiver or defensive back at the next level. The 6'2" product of Saginaw Heritage already holds offers from both Michigan and MSU. This will be his first visit to Ann Arbor.
- 2015 OH CB Shaun Crawford — Crawford doesn't yet hold a Michigan offer, but that didn't stop him from pegging the Wolverines as his favorites in an interview with Scout's Bill Greene ($). He already holds offers from Illinois and Tennessee and ran an electronic 4.52 40-yard dash at a Nike SPARQ combine last week, so don't be surprised if Michigan comes through with an offer sooner or later.
The only player on this list that can be reasonably expected to commit this weekend is Mason Cole, and that's by no means a guarantee. As we've seen in the past, however, strange things can happen when this many prospects get on campus at the same time.
[Hit THE JUMP for the early leading candidate for dumbest rumor of the 2014 cycle, a couple of new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers #Project135, reactions from last weekend's unofficial visitors, and much more.
2014 commit Michael Ferns unwittingly incited mass speculation last week when he teased a recruiting-related "big surprise" on Twitter that he dubbed "#Project135". Fans hoping for a new commit were disappointed, but what Ferns revealed on Friday was actually a pretty cool idea:
Kids pick the darndest fonts
Even before this, Ferns had been very active in recruiting his 2014 classmates—it's clear that Shane Morris and his tireless efforts to bring in commits for Team 134 have influenced the next wave.
One of Michigan's other 2014 commits, Wilton Speight, got the profile treatment from MLive's Kyle Meinke; in the piece, Speight talks about flying 2,000 miles to train, and also why he felt comfortable with Michigan's coaching staff:
"Michigan's staff was the first staff to be 100 percent honest with me throughout the whole process, and that meant a huge amount to me," Speight said. "There's lots of coaches from all over the country who will come in and say, 'You're our guy, you're our guy. Just wait, you're going to get an offer.' And then they go out and find someone who's better.
"Michigan, they didn't necessarily tell me I was their guy. They said, 'We're looking at two other guys too.' The thing is, I already knew that, because the quarterback recruits, we're a tight circle. We're all pretty close, and I knew who else they were looking at. And the fact they were up front with me about that meant a lot.
"It was just a perfect fit for me. It was a no-brainer."
It seems like every time Michigan pulls in a commit, one of the top two or three reasons they give for their choice is the level of honesty and openness they experience with the coaches. That's a very good thing, of course, especially in today's recruiting echo chamber—gone are the days when a coach could tell three players at the same position that they're all the school's number one priority and get away with it, not with the pervasiveness of recruiting news and recruits staying in close contact with each other.
[Hit THE JUMP for visit reactions from Parrker Westphal and Daniel Helm, the latest top schools for several recruits, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers newest commit Bryan Mone, what's shaping up to be a big visit weekend next week, the latest on Lawrence Marshall, and more.
Salt Lake City (UT) Highland DT Bryan Mone became Michigan's third 2014 commit on Tuesday, and Sam Webb caught up with Mone in the wake of his commitment—the rising senior told Webb that his commitment came as a surprise to the coaches, who said he could be a versatile presence on the defensive line ($):
Said Mone, “they told me I’ll play nose tackle, D-end, and wherever else they need me.”
Until then the talented youngster plans to work hard to improve his game. He has given up basketball for dedicate all of his free time to doing just that.
“I’m just lifting and getting faster after school now,” Mone reported. “I need to get slimmer. I’m getting too overweight. Focusing in the classroom is the main thing, but other than that it’s just getting faster, stronger, and trimming down my weight. I’m at about 340 lbs. now, and I want to get down to about 315 lbs.”
While Mone looked to be in shape at around 300 pounds last fall, I'm guessing he's carrying some bad weight at 340; if he's giving up basketball to get in shape, that hopefully won't be an issue moving forward. Webb also talked to Mone's high school coach, who gave more insight on both his football and leadership abilities ($):
“He had 75-plus tackles, 12 for loss, five sacks, and forced four fumbles… but then he turns around and starts on the offensive line,” Benson stated. “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. He uses his hands very well and he has real good feet for a big guy. He changes directions reallywell. He still has a lot to work on and he knows that. He is a kid that is never settled with where he is at, which is good. He is also very humble. He always makes sure that he directs everything towards his teammates. He is not a ‘me’ guy, he is a ‘we’ guy. He definitely is a great teammate and wants to promote his fellow players.”
Mone's coach also insists that his only visits will be to Michigan; he seems very solid in his commitment, especially since he'd maintained the Wolverines as his leader for months prior to making his pledge.
[Hit THE JUMP for the adventures of Lawrence Marshall and some big-time visitors for the next two weekends.]
#52 in white (via Tremendous)
Per Sam Webb and others, Michigan landed its third commitment of the 2014 class this afternoon in four-star Salt Lake City (UT) Highland DT Bryan Mone. A former high school teammate of current Wolverine fullback Sione Houma, Mone was the first player to be offered by Michigan in the 2014 class, way back in December of 2011($).
4*, #7 DT,
4*, #12 DT,
4*, 93, #8 SDE,
With the early rankings just being unveiled on all of the services save ESPN, Mone is a consensus top-200 player overall and among the top defensive tackles in the country. All four sites list him at 6'4", 315 pounds, which makes 247's ranking of him at strongside DE seem a little odd—this guy is destined for the interior.
There's little in the way of scouting out there on Mone, not a surprise given he's a rising senior from Utah—not exactly the most rigorously scouted region in the country. What we have at this point is his film, his offer list, and a quote from his coach back when Michigan offered ($):
Bryan right now is probably 6’4” maybe 6’4 ½”, 255 pounds. He’s a kid who put on about 15 pounds during the season. He’s real long – big strong, physical kid. He’s a smart football player; just phenomenal character. He’s a lot like Sione. In fact, the church that both of them go to is run by Bryan’s dad. He’s a Methodist minister. So, he comes from a great family and he’s of good moral character, which you love to have that on your team. Truly, he was a leader on the line this year. He’s young, he’s raw, but he’s really developed over the season into a force defensively. He’s 255 right now, I see him next year being probably close to 280. He has that ability to put on that kind of size. And he’s a good athlete… he’s a real good athlete. He runs well, he changes directions, he’s long, got huge hands, huge feet, so he’s definitely still a puppy.
If he gets up to 300 pounds, obviously I think he’ll be inside. If he can stay around 280 then and keep his quickness, then he has a chance to play on the edge. He’s so long, and he is a good athlete, but we’re going to play him at D-End next year as well. We’ll play him at D-End, three-technique, so we’re going to move him around and not let teams get comfortable with him.
You'll note that Mone has made remarkable gains physically since his sophomore year, bulking up to 315 pounds—despite adding the weight of a small child, his body still looks good on film and he's retained his athleticism, which is probably why he's considered such a strong prospect.
Mone was mentioned as an "underclassman to watch" by Rivals analyst Rob Cassidy last fall when he was scouting West region prospects ($):
DT Bryan Mone, Salt Lake City Highland: Mone is a junior with some high-profile scholarship offers. Michigan is in the mix. So is UCLA. The buzz around him has been tempered due to his location and the fact that his high school coach has just recently started circulating his film. All indications are that the 315-pounder is a star in waiting. There will be plenty made of his talent as his senior year approaches.
Not much informative there, but Mone is generating quite a buzz for an underclassman from a region that doesn't produce a ton of national-level prospects.
Mone held offers from Boise State, BYU, Ole Miss, Oregon State, UCLA, Utah, Utah State, and Wisconsin in addition to his Michigan offer. Rivals lists interest but no offer from Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Stanford, possibly indicating that Michigan got in early on a prospect who was on the verge of blowing up.
Highland is one of the better programs in the state of Utah, producing nine players who signed with FBS schools since 2002, per Rivals. Most notable among those is class of 2002 five-star DT Haloti Ngata, who had a dominating career at Oregon before moving on to NFL stardom with the Baltimore Ravens. Two other former Rams—Latu Heimuli (Utah) and Victor Filipe (Oregon)—earned four-star ratings, both at DT, but neither panned out at the college level.
Per 247, Mone recorded 70 tackles, ten TFLs, and three sacks as a junior en route to first-team all-state honors.
FAKE 40 TIME
No 40 time listed.
There's also a more extensive junior highlight reel on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
The evidence is flimsy indeed with the lack of scouting, but Mone's film shows a player with real promise. He's got a great frame, impressive athleticism and burst off the line, strength that proves dominant at the high school level, and solid play recognition. I could see him lining up at either defensive tackle spot at the next level; Michigan has placed an emphasis on athletic, disruptive tackles that can get into the backfield (think Mike Martin) in the last couple classes, and Mone fits that mold. He looks very impressive on film, and the fact that he's getting this much attention this early despite being from an under-scouted region lends credence to the idea that Michigan found themselves a potential star early in the process.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has three commits—joining Mone are LB Michael Ferns and QB Wilton Speight—in a class currently projected to be around 16 players (that number will almost certainly rise with attrition). Down the line I'd expect them to take another defensive tackle, and the big needs in this class remain at wide receiver and strongside DE.