"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
Grant Perry (foreground) warming up with Alex Malzone (#12)
After Deontay Burnett's coach jumped the gun Sunday in announcing a commitment to Michigan, one that fell through for reasons unclear, the Wolverines wasted little time in landing another wide receiver. Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice's Grant Perry announced his commitment this afternoon, becoming the tenth member of the 2015 class.
— Grant Perry (@TheGrantPerry) February 3, 2015
Perry, who'd previously been committed to Northwestern, is the second receiver commit (joining Brian Cole) and the second Brother Rice commit (joining Alex Malzone) in the class.
|3*, #59 WR||3*, #80 WR||3*, 76, #128 WR||3*, 85, #133 WR||
3*, #110 WR,
Perry is a three-star across the board, with Scout easily the most bullish on his abilities. All four sites agree that he's in the 6'0", 180-pound range.
By virtue of playing on a very successful Brother Rice squad and catching passes from Alex Malzone, there's plenty of scouting out there on Perry, including on this site. I watched Perry record seven receptions for 103 yards in an early-season victory over Warren De La Salle last fall:
Brother Rice WR Grant Perry (2015 target): Perry had an outstanding game, hauling in seven of his nine targets; one of those incompletions was uncatchable, while the second would've required a difficult one-handed catch. He and Malzone are clearly very comfortable playing with each other—they connected on several timing routes and when Malzone was in trouble, Perry was often the receiver working his way back to the ball to bail him out.
Perry runs precise routes and plucks the ball out of the air; he showed off soft hands. While he's not a gamebreaking athlete, he gets separation on defensive backs with sharp cuts and does a nice job getting upfield after the catch; he doesn't look like a major threat to juke a safety, but he finds a way to get solid yardage after the catch.
In a normal-sized class, I'd say Perry merits a Michigan offer, and even with the small class I wouldn't be surprised if he picks one up late in the cycle. The Wolverines could hold out hope that Perry, who holds a handful of MAC offers at this juncture, decides that he'd rather be a preferred walk-on at U-M, though with the way he's playing it wouldn't surprise at all if bigger offers took that off the table.
Scout's free evaluation lists size as his only weakness while praising his route-running, hands, and work after the catch:
Technician with quick feet who runs excellent routes, always seems to get open and has excellent hands. Rarely drops a pass and catches balls away from his body. Not a tall kid, but has added good weight and strength. Really improved after the catch as a senior. Fundamentally sound all-around, a competitive playmaker and a kid who will catch a lot of balls and move the chains in college. - Allen Trieu
Trieu listed Perry as one of the seniors on the rise in the Midwest after a strong start to the season. Just days ago, Scout's national analysts listed Perry as one of ten prospects expected to make an immediate impact in 2015. While that was when he was expected to end up on a Northwestern team in need of help at receiver, it still speaks to his polish as a high school receiver.
ESPN is skeptical of Perry as a big-play threat but really like his precision on routes ($):
Possesses a strong, smooth stride and plays with good lower body drive in traffic. Quick off the line and able to put immediate pressure on DBs with very good lateral quickness and change-of-direction. Is smart -- he finds soft spots and knows when to throttle down. Gets inside leverage and is efficient in scramble situations. A very nuanced route runner that is quick in and out of break.
They also praised his catching ability and projected him as a potential go-to guy—albeit a tweener Power 5 conference prospect—operating out of the slot.
After saying Perry finished just behind Good Counsel's Devin Judd for best receiver at Michigan's summer technique camp, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan scouted him multiple times over the course of his senior season, including a game against Detroit Country Day in which Perry caught eight passes for 133 yards and returned a punt 61 yards for a score ($):
What Perry continues to show this season is an explosive burst after the catch, allowing him to get downfield in a hurry and pick up yardage. For a 6-0, 185-pounder, that quickness and ability to gain yards with the ball in his hands will be important. ...
His punt return touchdown showed off his awareness of the blocking developing around him, as well as the speed up the sideline, to make big plays happen. It's been apparent that he can get open and catch the ball when it comes to him, and he's expanding his repertoire.
Perry seems destined for the slot, depending on how Harbaugh utilizes receivers in his offense, though his route-running and reliable hands could earn him a spot on the outside. I was thoroughly impressed by him back in September; he operated very intelligently within the Brother Rice offense, getting open frequently either on his initial route or improvising after a play broke down. He's also got a chance to contribute on punt returns, as he makes up for a lack of game-breaking athleticism by reliably catching the ball and working his way upfield.
Perry held offers from Northwestern, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Nevada, and Northern Illinois.
You're probably familiar with Brother Rice, which won three straight MHSAA Class 2 state titles from 2011-2013 under legendary coach Al Fracassa and produced 2015 early enrollee Alex Malzone and preferred walk-on Jack Dunaway. Their most successful recruit of the Rivals era isn't the highest-ranked—two-star Eastern Michigan DE T.J. Lang moved to offensive line and now is a starter on an excellent group for the Green Bay Packers.
Per 247, Perry caught 105 passes for 1727 yards (16.4 YPC) and 20 touchdowns in his senior season. Not bad.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the sites list a 40 time. He's got good initial burst off the line, and while he doesn't have blazing speed, he's pretty solid in the open field.
Single-game highlights from his game against De La Salle:
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
While Perry possesses the skills required to see the field early, Michigan is deep enough at receiver that he should be afforded a redshirt year. After that, he should work into the rotation in the slot, and I like his chances of being a significant contributor down the road, especially if Malzone eventually takes over at quarterback. While his size and lack of outstanding athleticism may keep him from being a superstar, he's got the ability to be a very reliable possession receiver who can break the occasional big play and also potentially make a mark as a punt returner.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Perry is the tenth commit in the class, and he may not be the last at receiver: Ole Miss commit Van Jefferson, who visited last weekend, is a candidate to flip on Signing Day. The most pressing needs heading into NSD are at running back, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. Michigan has five open spots to work with, and could potentially have one or two more with projected attrition.
For a much more detailed picture on the class outlook, check out the Signing Day Primer.
just overheard an #Amaizing phone call!
— Jay Harbaugh (@JayHarbaugh) February 2, 2015
A "miscommunication" means that Deontay Burnett is not only not a Michigan commit right now, but won't end up in the class, period. The Wolverines won't go wanting for long, though. Jay Harbaugh's tweet indicates a commitment is imminent, and I'm hearing the same thing.
Since I may have just spent a good part of my afternoon writing up a commitment post, I'm holding off on Signing Day stuff until tomorrow, when I'll write up a primer for what should be an eventful day.
Williamson Announces Tonight
In unrelated* news, three-star FL ATH Chris Williamson will announce his choice between Cal, Florida, Michigan, and UNC tonight at 10 pm. Sam Webb talked to Scout's Chad Simmons before the weekend to get the lay of the land after Williamson's recent official to Ann Arbor:
Michigan has already cemented themselves in the game, they’re right there I think with North Carolina at the top right now in the top two. Florida beat out Georgia, an instate school for the final visit this weekend, so Florida I think is the third team.
As the weekend wore on, however, Florida picked up a lot of expert picks—I'd expect him to end up with the Gators.
*Not tongue-in-cheek—Williamson isn't the prospect referenced in the previous section.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
[UPDATE: As Burnett tweeted later on Sunday, he's not committed to Michigan, and it appears he won't end up in the class at all. I'll post more on this in the roundup, but it's a strange situation.]
Rivals' Adam Gorney reports that Gardena (CA) Junipero Serra wide receiver Deontay Burnett flipped his commitment from Washington State to Michigan this afternoon after taking an official visit to Ann Arbor. He told GBW that Michigan's academics were a major reason for the switch in commitments:
“It’s a great place to be,” Burnett told GoBlueWolverine from the airport. “It’s a new coaching staff that would help me develop my game, and the Michigan degree is powerful.”
“The thing that stood out to me the most is the academic department.”
Burnett is the tenth commit in the 2015 class and the second who's expected to end up at receiver, along with in-state athlete Brian Cole.
|3*, #82 WR||3*, #59 WR||3*, 76, #139 WR||3*, 86, #97 WR||
3*, #85 WR,
All four services rank Burnett as a three-star, though there's a bit of a spread as to how good of a three-star he is—Rivals has him up at #59 at his position while ESPN has him way down at #139. They all agree he's got a relatively slight build; his listed size ranges from 5'11, 159 (Rivals) to an oddly specific 6'0.5", 166 (247).
Burnett was a late bloomer, going from a secondary target on his high school team to one of the better receivers in the West region over the last year. There was good reason for this—as a junior, Burnett played behind five-star athlete Adoree' Jackson (now at USC) and three-star receiver Jordan Lasley (UCLA). Scout's Brandon Huffman recently named him one of the five most improved prospects in the West from year one to year four:
Deontay Burnett - WR - Gardena (Calif.) Serra – Burnett emerged over the spring and summer as one of the top receivers out West. He has excellent quickness getting in and out of his breaks, has down field speed and can be a deep threat at the next level. He's also a natural pass catcher, very smooth in his route running and plays with surprising polish despite not being a full time starter until his senior year. He'll need to add size/strength but the natural ability is all there.
His breakout spring included standout performances at the IMG 7-on-7 West Regional and the B2G Elite Camp, and he capped off his senior year with MVP honors in the West Coast Bowl. Scout's Greg Biggins on Burnett's IMG performance:
Seems like every year, Gardena (Calif.) Serra has a receiver emerge over the spring. Last year it was Jordan Lasley, this year, it's Deontay Burnett. While Burnett may not have Lasley's top end speed, he runs well enough and was getting deep all tournament long. He's a natural pass catcher, a smooth route runner and is poised for a big senior year.
ESPN's evaluation notes his separation ability and ball skills:
Knows how to use his speed. Will change pace and burst to create a step on a defender. Is not only a talented receiver but demonstrates intelligence too. ...
Catches the ball well and naturally. He is comfortable reaching for a throw and also shows an ability to adjust while the ball is in the air. Will twist his body to make a difficult catch look easy.
They aren't as high on his size and think he's more of an intermediate threat than big-play guy due to a lack of top-end speed, though "he can make a defender miss."
Tim Sullivan got the rundown on Burnett from Rivals West analyst Adam Gorney after his commitment today:
"He's kind of wiry and athletic," Gorney said. "He's definitely not a power receiver kind of kid, but he's a kid that you can get the ball in his hands and turn him loose. At the B2G West Coast Bowl last weekend, they tried to get the ball in his hands and let him run He's always going to be that wiry strong kid - never a bulky receiver. He's not weak by any means - cornerbacks don't push him around - he'll put on some weight, but he never fills out that uniform.
"He has very good speed. He can get downfield - a big downfield threat - excellent hands. Once he adds weight, he'll work on consistently being able to bring it and deliver. If he does have a big game, he'll have to get used to it and not rest on his laurels, because he's only had a few big games at the high school level."
Gorney noted that a lack of opportunities as a junior and iffy quarterback play his senior season limited Burnett's exposure.
247's Clint Brewster provided a breakdown of Burnett's film ($):
Burnett is a patient route runner and does a nice job sticking his foot in the ground to get separation. He's good at selling his routes. Burnett is just a tad over 6-foot tall but he's got a long and rangy frame, making his catching radius very wide. He keeps a good relationship with his quarterback in scramble situations and finds a way to slip behind defenders. He's a hands-catcher that makes catches look easy, keeping the ball away from his body. Burnett has good moves and shiftiness after the catch but doesn't have blazing speed my any means. Has a nice hesitation move, and gets up to top speed quickly. He is a long strider that can eat up cushion by cornerbacks in off coverage.
Sullivan caught up with his high school coach, who praised his patience while waiting behind his talented teammates as well as his ability to track the ball:
"Early on, he was a quarterback in our system," Altenberg said. "I think that helped him pick up quickly when he moved out to wideout. The thing about him though, is he's one of the best ball-locators I've seen. He tracks the ball as well as any receiver I've coached. He has a natural gift for that - it's not an easy thing. He probably had five catches this year where he just jumped up and took it away from the guy in coverage, because he knew where it was going to be."
Burnett may not be a top-end prospect due his size and lack of blazing speed, but as a late pickup he's pretty solid—as you'll see on his film, he does a great job of tracking the ball in the air, and he's quick to get off the line and create separation on his routes.
Burnett had offers from Arizona State, Colorado State, Miami (YTM), Utah, and Washington State. He'd been committed to the Cougars since July.
Junipero Serra is one of California's top talent-producing high schools, especially at wide receiver. USC has been a major beneficiary—in addition to Jackson, who played both ways as a freshman in 2014, they pulled five-star receivers Robert Woods and George Farmer and four-star Marqise Lee from JS. The school also produced four-star WR Paul Richardson, who excelled at Colorado and will suit up for the Seahawks in tonight's Super Bowl.
After catching just 12 passes for 186 yards and two TDs as a junior, Burnett tallied 27 receptions for 545 yards and five TDs in 2014, per Rivals.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.69, which appears to come from a SPARQ event and therefore gets zero FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Burnett should get a chance to redshirt this fall to focus on adding strength and learning the offense; Michigan brings back the entirety of their receiving corps aside from Devin Funchess. Down the road, Burnett looks like a player who could find a role in the slot or on the outside.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
While Michigan is running out of room in the 2015 class—they likely have five open spots at the moment, though that could get up to six or seven—it'll be interesting to see if they take another receiver, as Ole Miss commit Van Jefferson was on campus this weekend and there are rumblings he might want to join up, as well. Other needs include running back, tight end, defensive end, linebacker, and cornerback. TE Chris Clark, CB Iman Marshall, LB Roquan Smith, and RB Mike Weber remain the top targets left on the board.
T-Minus Six Days
As we reach the last week before Signing Day, Jim Harbaugh and Co. don't seem to be sleeping, and they're being sustained by meals eaten on in-home visits. (Sorry, guys, but Bryan Mone is already on the roster.) Steve Lorenz published a free rundown of everything that happened just in the last 24 hours, and it was necessary.
I'll start with the latest round of offers. Michigan went after a trio of committed running backs, and while two—Texas Tech pledge Corey Dauphine and future Arizona Wildcat Orlando Bradford—politely declined to take official visits, Wisconsin commit Titus Booker will be on campus this weekend. Booker is one of the few prospects whose 40 time contains no FAKEs; he ran a 10.68 100-meter dash to finish second in the state of Illinois last year. He's a solid all-around athlete, as well—the Badgers recruited him as a cornerback.
Michigan also convinced two committed receivers to take officials this weekend. Four-star TN WR Van Jefferson received interest from the previous staff, and while he's an Ole Miss commit now, the Wolverines aren't as unlikely of a choice as one might expect from a recruit with his profile—Jefferson is a Detroit native who didn't leave the area until his junior year, per Lorenz. The coaches also offered CA WR Deontay Burnett, a Washington State commit. Given what he told Rivals' Adam Gorney, Burnett may be harder to convince to flip than Jefferson ($):
It could be tough to pull Burnett away from Washington State especially since he likes the pass-happy offense so much and that he's been committed for months. The three-star sees a lot of opportunities in Pullman so a late push even by Michigan might not be enough.
"I love the offense there," Burnett said. "As a receiver it's pretty attractive that their offense throws the ball a lot."
Finally, M also offered three-star AL CB Keith Washington, who committed to Cal just four days ago. I haven't seen any indication regarding whether he'll visit.
[Hit THE JUMP for news on Ty Wheatley Jr. Chris Clark, Iman Marshall, Mike Weber, and more.]
We're a week away from Signing Day and a bizarre recruiting controversy just arose, so it's time for a mailbag. Let's get this one out of the way...
The Daishon Neal Thing
— Craig Barker (@cdbarker) January 28, 2015
If you missed it, Michigan appeared on the verge of flipping SDE Daishon Neal from his Nebraska commitment until Greg Mattison's in-home visit went awry:
"Michigan was a powerhouse, they came in and they stormed us, they made one bad statement and it was over," [Neal's father] told 1620 on air. "They said without football, Daishon wouldn't be able to go to Michigan. Like we couldn't afford to send him there, or that we couldn't get him in academically.
"Once he said that, we pretty much escorted him out of the house."
Neal continued by stating: "(They) basically tried to call me stupid in front of my face."
There are a few issues at work here. First of all, Michigan can't comment on an unsigned recruit without breaking NCAA rules, so there's no way for Mattison to tell his side of the story; in all likelihood, this won't ever be addressed specifically.
Second, what Mattison reportedly said, in so many words, is often true—one of Michigan's most reliable recruiting pitches is that being a football player allows prospects the opportunity at a first-rate education that wouldn't necessarily be available otherwise. This isn't meant as an insult; plenty of smart people with strong academic resumes don't get into Michigan. I think it's great that Michigan presents this opportunity to those who may not have a 3.8 and a 30 on their ACT; football players have a huge impact on campus life and come away with well-earned degrees.
Finally, Mattison is a seasoned recruiter. I have a difficult time believing he presented this information in any way close to calling Neal "stupid." That's not a particularly effective way to convince a student-athlete to come to your school. A football scholarship pretty much guarantees admittance as long as the recipient clears NCAA academic requirements, which are far less stringent than Michigan's usual admission standards—coaches almost always check with admissions before offering a scholarship.*
Even if Neal has an excellent academic record, that doesn't offer the same guarantee he'd get in. Perhaps Mattison didn't put this in terms Neal and his family appreciated, but it seems far more likely this was an unfortunate miscommunication than a deliberate slight by Mattison. So it goes.
*Demar Dorsey stands as the exception to the rule, and that didn't work out so well.
[Hit THE JUMP for M's chances with Iman Marshall, the proclivity of TE/DE types, and how Harbaugh will look to replace Messiah deWeaver.]
I don't think #60 is gonna catch him. [Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal]
Gentry's commitment post focused a lot on his athleticism and mechanics, so this quote Scout's Greg Biggins gave to MLive's Nick Baumgardner about his arm strength proves useful:
"He's got an NFL arm, I've seen him flick the wrist and it's effortless, he doesn't have to wind up, the release is tight and he can throw it," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said Sunday. "A lot of times you see young quarterbacks try to get more velocity by winding up, and they lose accuracy. With him, it's effortless. He just flicks the wrist and the accuracy and mechanics stay the same.
"Mechanically he's strong, and I love his arm strength."
Three of the four recruiting services rated Gentry as a four-star—Rivals and ESPN have him just outside the top 100—with the only holdout being 247. That doesn't mean 247 doesn't see his potential; when running down the best of the 2015 class, Barton Simmons pegged Gentry as a boom-or-bust candidate with serious upside:
3-star that could play like a 5 – Zach Gentry
A recent Texas decommit and Michigan commit, Gentry is the single most unique talent in this class. He’s huge at 6-7, he has a big arm, he doesn’t have good footwork but he is also extremely athletic, he’s extremely raw, plays shoddy competition in New Mexico but he’s got a world of potential. Still following? Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh turns Gentry into a first-round draft pick as a quarterback, but also don’t be surprised if Gentry goes the Blake Bell route and ends up at tight end either.
Nolan Ulizio's commitment post was a little light on scouting reports; since that published, ESPN gave Ulizio a three-star rating and posted an evaluation ($):
Ulizio is an OL prospect with good size and a physical, lunch pail type style. Little better football player then he is overall athlete and ceiling may not be real high, but with some continued development good prospect that has flown under the radar some and can be a productive contributor to an FBS OL potentially as a RT or could very well see a move inside to OG.
Ulizio's high school coach also discussed his game with The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):
"The great part about Nolan is he's a very physical, aggressive player," said Cox. "He plays with a nasty attitude and enjoys being an offensive lineman. He takes his job of protecting the quarterback and running backs really seriously. He's 6-5, 285. For a high school senior, that's pretty special. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, he plays to the whistle, and he finishes really really well. Secondly, I think Nolan does a great job of conceptualizing what you're trying to do offensively. He can think on his feet, with the defense a moving object that he reacts to quickly.
That last bit is important—a big part of a lineman's job in Harbaugh's offense is identifying the right man to hit when pulling, which isn't always easy to do on the fly.
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up a position coach at Reuben Jones' school—former M OL Ricky Barnum ($):
"He's one of the players that I love to coach against and coach with," Barnum said. "He's an extremely hard worker and he's very strong. I'm not just saying that either. In games, he gets double and tripled-teamed and he manages to fight through it. You can watch his highlight where he runs plays down from the backside. I'm talking 40 or 50 yards down the field. On the field he really has a motor. That's the one thing I'd say about him, he has a motor."
With the three additions, Michigan's 2015 class jumped 22 spots in the 247 Composite team rankings to #69 overall. That's still well off the pace M would like to be at, obviously, but they're poised to push into the top 30 if they round out the class as expected, which would be quite acceptable given the small group of commits compared to other schools.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]