"What (Michigan coaches) told me is that they're focusing on point guards right now, but if anything opens up, they'll definitely come back on and recruit me as hard as they were," said Towns
Jim Harbaugh has pulled in his first commitment at Michigan's head coach tonight, as 247's Steve Lorenz is reporting three-star FL DE Reuben Jones decided to pledge while on his official visit. Jones had been committed to Nebraska until this week, when he received a visit from Harbaugh, scheduled his official, and promptly decommited from the Huskers. He's now the seventh commit in Michigan's class of 2015, and the only DE in the class.
|3*, #145 DE||3*, #27 SDE||3*, 78, #58 DE||3*, 83, #64 SDE||
3*, #44 SDE,
Post now informatively updated.
The services are consistent in ranking Jones as a three-star well off the four-star radar. All but Rivals (6'4", 225) list him at 6'3", 223 pounds. While that's undersized for a traditional defensive end, Jones is likely ticketed for the hybrid WDE/OLB spot in DJ Durkin's defense, which will feature both three- and four-lineman alignments.
Jones didn't garner much attention as a recruit until his high school hosted a Rivals camp in the spring after his sophomore season. He impressed in a crowded field, finishing as the #2 2015 defensive performer behind only five-star Byron Cowart ($):
Playing on his home field, Jones was one of the surprise performers of the day. With terrific speed and a slender but surprisingly strong frame, the 6-foot-3 Jones was nearly unstoppable in one-on-ones. Not only did he win his first three reps, but he continued to step up and challenge all comers from the offensive line position.
At the very same event last May, Jones again played on a level comparable to much higher-ranked prospects ($):
Jones is a slim, wiry defensive end, but his slight frame didn't stop him from being one of the best defensive linemen in attendance. He has long arms and he's surprisingly strong. His long reach, combined with his quick feet, helps him knock bigger, slower offensive linemen off balance. If it weren't for the pair of five-stars in attendance, Jones may have walked way with MVP honors for his efforts.
ESPN's evaluation could easily be confused for that of a five-star. They praise his size/athleticism combo, call him "a dominant pass-rusher" and a "no quit defensive end," and had this to say about his run defense ($):
Is quick to read and react when defending against the inside and outside run; can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. Displays the initial quickness needed to beat blockers across the line and make plays opposite his alignment. Can neutralize the edge block, play through traffic and flatten to the sideline.
They even praise his pad level! Then they ranked him as the #58 defensive end in the country. I'm confused, too.
After Jones committed to Nebraska in November, Big Red Report had a very positive evaluation of his film ($):
Jones plays in an attacking style defensive line and is best suited for one at the next level. He lines up at a couple of different spots and has an impact at both spots. He has an impact running at him, he has an impact running away from him. He also has an impact in the passing game getting to the quarterback, batting down passes when he can’t get to the quarterback and even chases down the receiver 60 yards downfield.
247's Clint Brewster broke down Jones' film and pointed out why he isn't considered a blue chip recruit:
Jones’ effort and toughness on the field are special, which makes him a big time recruit. He doesn’t give up on plays and shows he can make tackles well down the field. Jones’ isn’t a very highly ranked player because of his lack of ideal size at the position and he’s still raw from a technical standpoint. Solid speed once he gets going but by no means does he have great speed.
Finally, Jones' coach weighed in on how he improved over the course of his high school career after he committed to Nebraska ($):
"Probably just in being patient," Coach DeMyer responded when asked where Jones has made the most progress over the past four years. "He's always played 100 miles per hour, but this year he has learned to be a little more patient where he used to run by stuff too fast and people would change direction on him.
"This year he is still playing with a lot of speed, but he's doing a lot better job in redirecting and knowing more about the offenses he is facing. He's been watching a lot more film and knowing which guys can do what."
Jones seems to have a lower ceiling than some other DE prospects because of his size—he'll probably top out around 6'3", 260—but he looks like a player who'll could make an impact as a situational pass-rusher who could develop into something more down the road.
Jones held offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Purdue, UCF, USF, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest, and West Virginia, among others.
Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson produced a recent Michigan starter in lineman Ricky Barnum. They've produced their fair share of FBS prospects over the years, most notable among them Bilal Powell, the former Louisville standout and current New York Jets running back.
Per Rivals, Jones recorded 71 tackles, 14 TFLs, and ten sacks as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.89, which gets a mere two FAKEs out of five.
Single-game reels from his junior and senior seasons can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones could be in line for early playing time due to Michigan's scant depth chart at defensive end; at the moment, there are just four DEs—senior Mario Ojemudia, junior Taco Charlton, redshirt sophomore Henry Poggi, and redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall—on the roster.
Ideally, Jones would get a redshirt year to bulk up, though we'll see if he's afforded that luxury given the lack of bodies at the position. While he may not develop into an NFL prospect due to his size, he's got the chance to be a quality player thanks to his quick first step, strength, and high motor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Jones is the seventh commit in the 2015 class (since this first posted, Zach Gentry became the eighth), and he's unlikely to be the last defensive end commit—Wisconsin commit Jake Pickard is currently on campus and there are rumblings he's likely to join the class, and Michigan hosted Shelton Johnson last weekend. Given the depth chart, they could definitely use another DE.
It's reasonable to expect this class to finish with 16-17 prospects, leaving 8-9 spots left with Gentry also in the fold. Michigan is pursuing several cornerbacks; they could also use help at running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, linebacker, and safety.
He added an 85-yarder two minutes later.
Michigan just pulled in their second commit of the night, and it's a big one. Four-star NM QB Zach Gentry decided to flip from his prior Texas commitment at halftime of tonight's Wisconsin game, per multiple outlets. Gentry is the eighth commit in the class, joining Alex Malzone—who's already enrolled—among 2015 quarterbacks.
4*, #19 QB,
4*, #4 P-QB,
4*, 83, #9 P-QB,
|3*, 88, #16 P-QB||
4*, #8 P-QB,
Full, informative update coming later.
Zach Gentry: Eyes Off Texas?
In recent days, Texas has turned up the heat on their pursuit of 2015 five-star QB Kyler Murray, a Texas A&M commit, even getting him to take an unofficial visit to Austin.
What does this have to do with Michigan? Well, Texas already has a 2015 QB commit: 6'7", 230-pound NM four-star Zach Gentry, who pledged to the Longhorns last May and has turned down overtures from the likes of Alabama and Tennessee since. With Texas eyeing Murray, Jim Harbaugh visited Gentry in Albuquerque on Monday, and things are moving quickly. Gentry removed "committed to Texas" from his Twitter bio, and multiple outlets, including Wolverine247, report that he'll take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.
Just like that, Michigan may very well be the favorite to end up with him:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) January 22, 2015
What would the Wolverines be getting? Scout's free evaluation makes him sound like an ideal fit for a Harbaugh offense:
Gentry is an intriguing quarterback with NFL size but surprising mobility for a big man. He has a downfield arm and can make every throw but also shows the ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to run for positive yards. He looks to have a good feel in the pocket and doesn't panic when the rush comes at him. He can keep his eyes down the field and throws an accurate ball whether in or outside of the pocket-Biggins
The film backs that up; other than some mechanical issues with his delivery, there's little not to like there.
Jay Harbaugh checked out another under-the-radar QB, California prospect Anthony Gordon. Gordon, like McLane Carter, was very productive in high school on a title-winning team but hasn't generated much in the way of college interest or attention from the recruiting services.
[Hit THE JUMP for a couple impending announcements, a rundown of weekend official visitors, and much more.]
Official Visits Wrapup
This guy is a legend pic.twitter.com/nD6MewDzAT
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) January 18, 2015
While Michigan's big official visit weekend hasn't yet produced a commitment, it certainly moved the needle for some of the program's top targets. Four-star CT TE Chris Clark—who appears to have rocked khakis on his visit, based on the above picture—was already familiar with Michigan's campus. He came to Ann Arbor to meet Jim Harbaugh, and told MLive that couldn't have gone much better:
"It's crazy, he's really intense, and you really like that," Clark told MLive on Sunday. "He grew on me a lot. I didn't know what to think at first, I wasn't sure what he'd be like. But once I left, he really, really grew on me.
"He's the best coach I think I've sat down with. I just think he's awesome."
An important note: Clark had an in-home with UCLA's Jim Mora last week. Clark now says his two finalists are "neck and neck" heading into this weekend's official visit to UCLA; Harbaugh will have an in-home with Clark after that visit, hopefully allowing him the last word in the process. Momentum looks to be swinging Michigan's way, though we'll see if that changes after Clark sees UCLA's campus for the first time. Clark is slated to make his decision on Signing Day in a televised ceremony on ESPNU.
Michigan also made significant progress with top-50 GA LB Roquan Smith; per TomVH, the Wolverines are poised to make the cut when Smith narrows his list to three ($):
Heading into the trip, Smith had Florida, Georgia, Michigan and UCLA as his likely top four. He has yet to take his official visit to UCLA, but says he should have news before that trip.
"[Michigan is] in my top and I'll be coming out with a final three next week," he said.
I'd assume Florida is the odd team out here—the main reason Smith looked at Michigan in the first place is because they hired DJ Durkin, who'd recruited him while at UF.
Three-star FL CB Damon Arnette, a South Carolina commit, got some important perspective from his player host, Jabrill Peppers, per Scout's Amy Campbell ($):
“Me and Jabrill had this conversation, just based off of speaking to him, he’s ready, you know what I mean? I can tell he’s going to be a great player, and I think that’s maybe something I want to be a part of. Him being back there behind me,that would be great. I can tell, since he got hurt, that put a drive in him,” Arnette said.
“Speaking with Jabrill, he was saying when he got hurt, he was going crazy because he didn’t know what else he could do, but then he realized he’s getting a great education. God forbid something happens to me, if I end up going to Michigan, I still have my education to fall back on.”
Arnette sounds like a strong candidate to commit; he had effusive praise for the coaches and even said he loved the weather—not exactly the norm for a Florida kid visiting Michigan in January.
The only uncommitted official visitor who doesn't sound like a distinct possibility to end up in the class is three-star FL DE Shelton Johnson, who said the visit was "pretty good" to Scout's Corey Bender ($). Nothing he said in there gave the impression Michigan should challenge Florida State, the presumed leader, for his commitment.
Meanwhile, five-star CA CB Iman Marshall is on campus. There will be much more on him later in the week.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Harbaugh's offensive philosophy
So who remembers a time when Michigan recruiting wasn't wholly depressing, and we had a recruiting tracker wiki to follow the names and their respective levels of interest?
|Your new friend for January. Find it under Useful Stuff.|
: I do! I do!
Mr. Blue! Hi there Mr. Blue!
: I'm so excited to get everyone on campus and build this class. TEXT ALL THE RECRUITS!
Well you can do that Mr. Blue.
: Hey, I've been getting those texts. We should all come visit together guys. Is it true Tyrone Wheatley is on staff?
: As have I. Verily this is all data I must consider.
Happy teeth! Data! Guys, it's been forever!
: Wait, I missed those. Do you have my number right?
: I remain 100% committed to Just Fired the Coach I Committed To U, but can you guys add me to the chain anyway?
: Sure thing Nefarious Eduardo!
: I've been following you guys on the tracker that umhero put together but if you want to add me too it's spelled S.a.d. J.o.s.h and my cell is 734-…
So those fellas have returned thanks to the work of umhero. I made it a wiki and added it to the bar above.
Well they're not from the Midwest. EGD had an interesting point to make regarding the comparison of Harbaugh's staff to Hoke's. Brady's guys were all very familiar with the Midwest, and that bore out with a very strong regional recruiting profile. It was already a good assumption that Harbaugh would be stretching his territory from sea to shining sea. I map each coach's region of greatest competence:
The only Texas connection they have is Fisch's short tenure with the Texans. Harbaugh prefers his staff to recruit their own positions but these regional connections matter a great deal in getting that guy in with coaches and players.
In a World Where Everybody Has to Say What They Mean in Pictures. Ron Utah imagined what various dudes in the Great Harbaughning would have said if they'd been absolutely candid. I actually think he got a lot of the thinks wrong, so I'll take a stab at them:
: So Jim when did you decide you wanted to be the head coach of Michigan?
[After the jump: more of Jim Harbaugh's pictorial answers to the CC questions, and where recruiting happens]
Unleash The Harbaugh
The dead period is over, meaning coaches can once again have in-person contact with recruits. I have a hunch Jim Harbaugh is ready:
Attacking this day with Enthusiasm Unknown to Mankind
— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) January 15, 2015
Harbaugh has already been spotted at Detroit Catholic Central, and you can bet he'll be visiting Michigan's top targets throughout the area. That would likely include Cass Tech's Mike Weber, and lo and behold, Tyrone Wheatley made his way to CT earlier today.
There will be much more as reactions come in over the weekend—the coaches are visiting numerous prospects around the country right now—but it's worth noting five-star CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South received a visit this morning.
A couple new names on the board talked or will talk to coaches today and look like distinct possibilities to end up in the class. The first, three-star GA ATH Chris Williamson, pulled in an offer earlier this week; he's one of the hottest prospects in the country, earning offers from Virginia Tech, Florida, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Auburn in the last couple weeks.
Per The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, Michigan is recruiting Williamson as a defensive back, and his main factors for choosing a school are academics, playing time, and player development ($). According to 247's Ryan Bartow, newly minted assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by Williamson's school this morning and immediately made things happen ($):
Earlier this morning, Williamson bumped Kentucky out of the January 23 official visit spot for Michigan as reported by Steve Lorenz of Wolverine247. Michigan assistant coach Mike Zordich stopped by the school and set up the visit.
Williamson is visiting UNC this weekend, will see either Florida or Auburn at the end of the month, and should take a mid-week official to Georgia somewhere in between. He officially visited Cal, his current leader, in December.
Three-star Rutgers CB commit Jarius Adams is one of several Florida prospects who'll get a visit today. Per Scout's Corey Bender, Adams will speak with DJ Durkin, and he'll be "very excited" if he receives an offer; if one comes through, expect him to make it up to Ann Arbor ($):
In addition to the Scarlet Knights, Adams has solidified a visit date with an in-state program and is considering Harbaugh's program for the weekend prior to National Signing Day.
"(I'm visiting) Florida Atlantic this weekend, Rutgers next weekend, and hopefully Michigan," Adams said.
And, as I'm writing this, Lorenz reports that Michigan did in fact offer Adams.
Again, there will be much more coverage of Michigan's in-school and in-home visits next week, as this post is assuredly out of date even as I post it.
[Hit THE JUMP for this weekend's visit list, updates on new 2015 offers and scheduled visits, and a few 2016 updates.]