Singleton already has experience playing in the Big House. [Patrick Barron]
This is the first tab I opened when preparing this post:
Paramus (N.J.) Catholic 2017 linebacker Drew Singleton is a “no doubt” prospect when his time comes, according to his head coach Chris Partridge.
The 6-foot-2, 215-pound Singleton played as a freshman in a run to a state championship last fall, and will blossom this fall as a starter.
“He’s special,” Partridge said. “He’s a freak.”
Chris Partridge would move on to Michigan, where he's now the linebackers coach, after Drew Singleton's sophomore season. This evening, Singleton announced that he'll once again be Partridge's pupil, choosing Michigan over Clemson, Michigan State, and a host of top-tier offers. Even though Singleton missed the vast majority of his senior season with an ACL tear, his rankings suggest he's still regarded as a "no doubt" prospect.
Here's his video announcement:
4*, #4 OLB,
4*, #4 OLB,
4*, 82, #3 ILB,
4*, 95, #5 OLB,
4*, #3 OLB,
Singleton has maintained a lofty standing in the rankings despite missing the majority of his senior season. Only ESPN has him outside the top 100 overall; they ranked him 201st in their initial release and had him as high as #125 in their April update. Encouragingly, the site that has by far the most scouting available on Singleton, Rivals, is the one that ranks him the highest; he made it as high as #33 overall in their rankings before sliding back while sidelined with the knee injury.
There's a tighter consensus on Singleton's size: he's listed at 6'2" and 214-218 pounds on each of the four sites. He'll probably be a WILL at Michigan, though he's got the range and coverage ability to potentially play SAM.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Commitmas continues unabated as four-star IMG Academy linebacker Jordan Anthony announced his commitment to Michigan this evening via video. The Wolverines beat out fellow finalists Auburn, Maryland, Oklahoma, and Penn State.
Anthony is the 25th commit in the 2017 class and the fifth to make his pledge in the last eight days, following Tarik Black, Donovan Peoples-Jones, Cesar Ruiz, and Deron Irving-Bey—all of them are composite four-star recruits or, in the case of Peoples-Jones, even better. If you happen to agree with Rivals, Anthony is also a five-star talent.
4*, #13 OLB,
5*, #1 ILB,
4*, 83, #9 ATH,
4*, 92, #12 OLB,
4*, #6 OLB,
There's a significant outlier here: Rivals, which already had Anthony at 70th overall, moved him into five-star range in their latest update. ESPN, which likes Anthony as both a running back and linebacker, also has him a little higher than the other two. He's was primarily a running back as a freshman and junior; he was primarily a linebacker as a sophomore and senior. ESPN is the only site that spends much time discussing his potential on offense:
Quite honestly it would be easy to immediately slot this guy into a linebacker role for the next level which he likely is, but the more you watch him on offense the more belief you have that he may be able to remain on offense in the right scheme as a load carrier.
They expect him to wind up at linebacker and Michigan's needs indicate he'll play defense, too. I don't believe the position-switching explains the split in his rankings; IMG is too well-scouted for sites to fire-and-forget on their highly touted guys.
Every site save 247 (6'0", 220) lists Anthony at 6'1" and 220-226 pounds. Depending on how Don Brown utilizes the SAM spot post-Peppers, Anthony could wind up at either the WILL or SAM; he's got the athleticism and coverage ability you want in an outside linebacker.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Four-star Flint Southwestern DL Deron Irving-Bey committed to Michigan this afternoon to end a long in-state battle between the Wolverines and Michigan State. The Spartans were long thought to be the leader in Irving-Bey's recruitment. SpartanTailgate expected him to be an imminent addition to the class after MSU offered in May:
Per a source, Michigan State had the lead for Irving-Bey even before he had an offer from MSU. Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett has been in touch with Irving-Bey since January and has done an outstanding job recruiting him. Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again very soon. A source added that if MSU stays on Irving-Bey that he’ll end up a Spartan soon.
In October, SpartanTailgate posted a slideshow of MSU's top five most-wanted recruits. Irving-Bey topped the list*:
Some recruiting insiders are hearing Irving-Bey is leaning towards Michigan, but a source close to him told Spartan Tailgate, "I know he loves Michigan State and I'm surprised he hasn't already committed." Irving-Bey plans to take an official visit Tennessee later on this month. We are also told Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again in the near future. Irving-Bey is a high priority for Michigan State because he has the ability to play the same positions for MSU as Malik McDowell does. He can play multiple positions on the defensive line and with McDowell likely to declare for the NFL after his junior season, Irving-Bey is a must get for the Spartans in the class of 2017.
By that time, however, Irving-Bey had become an increasingly frequent visitor to Ann Arbor. A visit to East Lansing (for the Michigan game, incidentally) was sandwiched between an October unofficial and December official visit to Michigan. As Crystal Ball picks to Michigan came flooding in, SpartanTailgate sources changed their tune:
According to a Wolverine source, "The only way Michigan doesn't get Irving-Bey is if he waits too long."
Irving-Bey has taken official visits to Maryland on Dec. 3 and Michigan on Dec. 10. Irving-Bey is announcing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and likely to select Michigan but could still visit MSU.
A source close to Irving-Bey said, "Deron is still looking at Michigan State and plans to visit there in January."
A separate source said, "A darkhorse in Irving-Bey's recruitment is Maryland." ...
247Sports ranks Irving-Bey as the No. 5 strong-side defensive end in the country. Michigan State is recruiting to Irving-Bey play defensive tackle.
A source added that, "Irving-Bey's senior film wasn't that impressive and doesn't play with a high motor."
Spartan Tailgate was told Irving-Bey is not likely to end up at Michigan State unless they miss out on several other defensive linemen targets ahead of him. That's one of the reasons why Irving-Bey hasn't taken an official visit to Michigan State yet.
Here are a couple totally unrelated screenshots:
Here is a full list of 2017 Michigan State commits on the defensive line along with their 247 Composite rankings:
Three-star SDE Jacub Panasiuk (#26 SDE, #641 overall)
Three-star WDE Lashawn Paulino-Bell (#39 WDE, #709 overall)
Three-star WDE Donovan Winter (#73 WDE, NR overall)
The Spartans do not have a defensive tackle in the class and zero of the 13 DTs in the 247 database holding offers from MSU are listed with more than "cool" interest in the Spartans. Seven of them have already committed to other schools, including Michigan commit Phil Paea. The remaining six don't have a single MSU Crystal Ball selection between them. The only strongside end listed as "warm" for MSU weighs 215 pounds and is ranked 1240th overall. They're expected to pick up a commitment from a 230-pound weakside end they offered yesterday who's ranked 2106th.
But, yeah, I'm sure they passed on the consensus four-star from Flint because he was too far down their board.
A source tells me Irving-Bey is not expected to make that January visit to East Lansing.
*The rest of the list: #5 Christian Cumber (Colorado State commit), #4 Lynn Bowden (Kentucky holds large lead on Crystal Ball), #3 Ambry Thomas (heh), and #2 KJ Hamler (Penn State). I'm noting this both for the lols and to save for posterity in case it mysteriously disappears from SpartanTailgate's archives.
4*, #24 DE,
|3*, #18 SDE||
4*, 81, #18 DT,
4*, 93, #5 SDE,
4*, #9 SDE,
Scout and ESPN both have Irving-Bey at the tail end of their top 300 lists; 247 is the bullish outlier, Rivals the bearish. His position rankings are all over the place because there isn't a consensus on whether he'll wind up on the inside or outside of the defensive line. Like fellow 2017 commits James Hudson and Donovan Jeter, Irving-Bey could be a DT or SDE at Michigan, and like Hudson he even has some potential as an offensive tackle.
Irving-Bey is listed at 6'5" by every site save ESPN (6'4") and somewhere between 265 and 284 pounds to every site save Rivals (a comically low/outdated 245).
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, highlights, and more.]
The nation's consensus top center, IMG Academy's Cesar Ruiz, committed to Michigan this afternoon over Auburn and Florida, who I found out were the other finalists only when Ruiz made his announcement. This may have been a foregone conclusion. You should watch his announcement video if you're into such things:
I Have Officially Committed To ... pic.twitter.com/zgUjbNUPyL
— S A U C Y ™ (@_OverCees) December 19, 2016
Michigan beat out a significant portion of the country's best programs to land Ruiz. He's the 23rd commit in the class and the fifth on the offensive line.
4*, #2 OC,
4*, #1 OC,
4*, 84, #1 OC,
4*, 95, #1 OC,
4*, #1 OC,
Ruiz is the nation's #1 center to every site save Scout, which lists him one spot below Texas Tech commit Jack Anderson. Scout is a minor outlier in Ruiz's rankings and still has him in the top 100, and his rankings are in such a tight range that his composite ranking is higher than any individual ranking. There's a strong consensus on Ruiz's talent.
There's also a strong consensus on his size: he's listed at 6'3" and 313-321 pounds. He's got the ideal build for a center and enough bulk to play guard.
Ruiz has been a well-regarded prospect since his time at Camden (NJ), where he was teammates with freshman DE Ron Johnson and incoming WR Brad Hawkins. He picked up his first offers, from South Carolina and Temple, in March of 2015, and was one of the underclassman standouts at the RCS New Jersey a month later. By the beginning of May, he held offers from Alabama, Auburn, and LSU, and Bama's 247 site listed him as the starting center on their fantasy two-deep for 2018.
Ruiz was part of the group that won the Big Man Challenge at that summer's Rivals Five-Star Challenge, and he showed that he's a natural center at the Under Armour Future 50 camp to end the year, per 247's Luke Stampini:
Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy center Cesar Ruiz was the smallest offensive lineman on hand on Friday, but the four-star prospect looked natural snapping the ball and handling bigger defensive tackles. He was able to sit back with a wide base and stay in front of pass rushers using his feet.
After transferring to IMG for his junior season, Ruiz was back on the camp trail this past summer. Rivals considered him one of the best players at February's RCS Orlando and liked his potential to get even better with added strength:
Ruiz was his usual steady self. The four-star prospect is a well-rounded lineman that can play center or guard. He moves well for a player of his size and has been well-coached throughout his career. He will continue to improve rapidly as he gets stronger.
He earned an invite to the Opening finals at the Orlando regional with a performance Scout considered the best of any offensive lineman in attendance:
Ruiz worked at guard in the Final Five, but he is a center, and that is where he did most of his damage Sunday. He is very strong at the point of attack, he set a great base, and at times he wasn't moved. If Scout had to name a Top OL, it would have been him.
He soundly won two of three reps in that Final Five while working at guard:
Ruiz didn't draw much mention from the Rivals Five-Star Challenge save for in Mike Farrell's awards column, when the recruiting analyst praised Ruiz for missing only one rep after taking a nasty poke to the eye.
Ruiz was stoning defensive lineman after defensive lineman last week. He has great lower body strength, he showed great punch, and he was rarely pushed backwards. It is hard to find a better center out there in 2017. Ruiz is considered to be a strong Alabama lean at this time, but there are others involved here. One to watch is Michigan, but like the Wolverines, all others are chasing the Crimson Tide right now.
OL Cesar Ruiz vs DT Jay Tufele. No. 1 center in the country pic.twitter.com/ONE7AaPds0
— Brian Perroni (@Perroni247) July 9, 2016
247's Barton Simmons was blown away by his Saturday performance:
I didn't realize Ruiz was this good. He just couldn't be moved. It's not that he's a massive guy on the inside, it's just that he plays with such good leverage, such good hand placement and such tenacity that he won almost every rep. Even massive bodies like Marvin Wilson and Tyler Shelvin weren't able to overpower Ruiz but the more active defenders like Jay Tufele couldn't out-quick him either.
247, unsurprisingly, named him to their Dream Team, saying he "looked like a total star" during the week. Follow the Opening finals, Scout moved Ruiz into their top 100, and 247 jumped him all the way from outside the Top247 to #67 overall.
There's surprisingly little out there on Ruiz from his senior season even though he played at the most heavily scouted high school program in the country. This recap of IMG's win over Georgia powerhouse Grayson from 247's Steve Wiltfong is the closest thing to a single-game scouting report from the 2016 season:
I thought the left side of IMG’s offensive line played well in the second half in Notre Dame commit Robert Hainsey, Top247 2018 offensive guard Curtis Dunlap and the nation’s No. 1 ranked center in 2017 Cesar Ruiz. Mond did some damage running behind those three.
Rivals's latest rankings update, from two weeks ago, bumped Ruiz up 41 spots into their top 100:
“Ruiz boasts an incredibly strong upper body with massive legs and a great base. Still, his true worth is in his versatility. He can easily play guard at the next level but is also capable of remaining at center, where he has a heap of experience. Ruiz will likely go north for college. Michigan is the heavy favorite to land his pledge, but North Carolina and Penn State are also options.” – Cassidy
ESPN's evaluation concludes that Ruiz could be an early contributor and should be a multi-year starter at center:
Ruiz is a very good center prospect with good experience at the position. Looks to be progressing well and continuing to get better and has experience working against good competition on a daily basis. With continued growth as a player has potential to come in and compete for time as freshman, but if not in the big picture can be a guy who anchors a line for several seasons for a Power-5 program.
Scout's free evaluation praises his pad level(!) and doesn't have too much to critique:
EvaluationRuiz plays with a low pad level and explodes well. He is quick to the second level and his agility allows him to manipulate his body and make square blocks on smaller targets. He has a strong initial punch and once engaged, he drives his legs and turns the defensive play to open a hole. He retreats well in pass protection and he reads blitzes well. Adding more knee bend and getting his hands inside more are key to his development. -- Brian Dohn
- Body Control and Balance
- Quickness Off Ball
Areas to Improve
Ruiz is the rare true center prospect who's considered such not because he's undersized, but because he's a great fit for the position. He's much more experienced at the position than most high-level high school prospects—who often play tackle no matter what in high school—and he's proven he can hold up on the interior against the best competition in his class.
Alabama, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisville, LSU, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas A&M, and Virginia Tech, among others.
IMG is a sports academy in Florida with a crap-ton of top-flight talent. Michigan held their spring practice there last year for reasons that should be obvious by now.
Is OL, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN lists a combine time of 5.26 seconds, which gets zero FAKEs out of five. That was less than a tenth of a second off the top SPARQ-recorded time for a center in this cycle. He had one of the better shuttle times among centers at 4.66, posted a solid 28.7" vertical, and missed the best powerball throw by half a foot at 42'0". His 97.92 SPARQ score is best among centers in the class, per ESPN. His Hudl profile also lists a 375-pound bench press and 610-pound squat. That is a lot more than I can do.
Single-game reels from his senior year can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ruiz probably won't get a chance to play right away unless Mason Cole goes pro and Patrick Kugler is needed at guard—let's not do that, please—but once Cole graduates there's a good chance he takes over the center spot as early as 2018.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Ruiz is the only center commit Michigan needs, and he's the fifth total commit along the offense line; M could take up to three more OL to round out a class that should reach 32. Their next commitment could (probably should) come at 4 pm today, when in-state DL Deron Irving-Bey makes his announcement. More could come later this week. Ruiz's IMG teammate, four-star LB Jordan Anthony, is scheduled to announce on Thursday, and there are rumors that more decisions could be bumped up to this week.
Other top targets include five-star CA RB Najee Harris, five-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon, top-100 UT DT Jay Tufele, top-100 NJ OLB Drew Singleton, top-100 TX OT Chuck Filiaga, and four-star MS OLB Willie Gay.
Same. [Isaiah Hole/247Sports]
Donovan Peoples-Jones was billed as the next Detroit-produced superstar practically from the moment he set foot on the field for Cass Tech as a freshman in 2013. If anything, he surpassed those lofty expectations during a superlative high school career that culminated last month in a state championship blowout of Catholic Central—Peoples-Jones led the way with six catches for 119 yards and a touchdown.
In the interim, his reputation reached near-mythical status as absurd feat of athleticism after absurd feat of athleticism went viral. Here's Peoples-Jones fooling around on Vine in the summer before his sophomore year:
Here he makes a 52-inch box jump look effortless in front of Devin Gardner and several stunned onlookers:
— Chris Huff (@Performance80FS) March 21, 2016
Here he dunks over a small village:
The small village reacted accordingly.
He won the PSL title as a junior with a 10.93 100-meter dash. He ran the anchor leg on Cass Tech's state title-winning 4x100 relay and state runner-up 4x200 relay.
Yes, that athleticism translates to the football field. Here's his go-ahead touchdown catch with 25 seconds left in this year's state semifinals:
— Blake Parpart (@bparpart28) November 20, 2016
Despite possessing so much natural physical talent that he could probably skate by without doing homework for the rest of his life, he's also a straight-A student and aspiring orthopedic surgeon; reports surfaced over the summer that he was shadowing doctors at Michigan's medical school. Even for a mom quote, this is a hell of a mom quote:
“His focus and determination, sometimes, especially during football season he’ll stay up till 2 or 3 in the morning doing homework,” Rozlyn said. “I’ll ask him if he wants any help and he says no it’s my responsibility to get the work done.
“His character. I watch him every day just want to be the best. He’s taken everything I’ve put into him and multiplied it three times over. He’s just a gift. Definitely a gift. He has the kind of determination and focus, I look at him and he’s teaching me. He’s leading and guiding me. As Christian people we’re taught that sometimes the children will lead you. He’s one of those, he’s gifted.”
He was one of the foremost prospects to speak out against the short-lived satellite camp ban, too. If it's still possible to use the term "Michigan Man" without a hint of irony*, it's applicable here.
While Peoples-Jones had long been considered a heavy Michigan lean, he never let on as much publicly, which led to a dramatic final couple weeks of his recruitment. Florida State and Ohio State emerged as serious contenders. Tonight, in a nationally televised announcement on ESPN2, he chose to stay home.
[*it's not, sorry.]
5*, #4 WR,
5*, #2 WR,
4*, 87, #4 WR,
5*, 98, #1 WR,
5*, #1 WR,
The only site that doesn't rate Peoples-Jones as a five-star (ESPN) has him ranked higher than one that does (Scout). All consider him somewhere between great and super-great; as a result, he's the top receiver in the composite rankings.
Peoples-Jones is listed at 6'2" (or 6'2.5") and 190-200 pounds on every site save Rivals (6'1", 188), which has an outdated figure—he measured in at 6'2", 200 at this year's Opening finals. While not imposingly tall, he's done a great job of filling out his frame over the last couple years; he already looks like a college wideout.
[Hit THE JUMP for what is without a doubt the longest Hello post I've ever written.]
After some minor technical difficulties, four-star Cheshire Academy (CT) WR Tarik Black committed to Michigan today in a ceremony at his school, choosing the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Notre Dame, and many others. Black is the second wide receiver in the 2017 class, joining Brad Hawkins, and the 21st commit in the class overall.
4*, #13 WR,
4*, #10 WR,
4*, 81, #31 WR,
4*, 92, #29 WR,
4*, #17 WR,
We have another prospect whose rankings fall into two distinct groups. Scout and Rivals both consider Black a top-100 prospect; ESPN and 247 still regard him as a four-star but place him in the ~200 overall range. There are multiple possiblities for why this split exists. Notably, Black participated in a bunch of the Rivals-only camps, which could mean Rivals has the best read on his game—or they could be rewarding him rankings-wise for participating in their camps. (This is why I hate the Rivals camps that only Rivals can cover.) There's hope it's the former, as Scout—the other site to rank him in the top 100—got out to one of his games this fall while ESPN and 247 lack much in the way of in-person scouting reports.
The four sites are in general agreement on Black's measureables, listing him at a strapping 6'3" or 6'4" (Scout splits the difference) and somewhere between 201 and 208 pounds. He's got great size for a possession receiver who can also be a contested-ball threat downfield.
Black is about as well-scouted as a prospect from Connecticut is ever going to be in large part because he's hit the camp scene hard since at least 2014, when mentions of him started popping up on Rivals. Black was an immediate contributor on varsity as a freshman in 2013, scoring nine touchdowns. Rivals named him one of the top underclassmen at the RCS New Jersey the following spring and invited him to their Underclassmen Challenge, where he also made the top performer list:
Black came all the way from the Nutmeg State and stood out with his size and route-running in a large group of wide receivers. He has very good size for his age and showed good hands as well. Syracuse and Temple have offered and he will be one to watch in New England.
Black impressed onlookers at Penn State's Junior Elite Camp that summer; he was one of three 2017 wideouts (Donovan Peoples-Jones was another) to earn mention from 247's Sean Fitz as one of that summer's PSU camp standouts:
The 6-foot-2, 183-pound prospect is smooth and adjusts well to the ball in the air. He's a natural athlete and should continue to improve his numbers as he adds explosiveness.
After a productive sophomore season, Black hit the camp circuit again. Josh Helmholdt ranked him higher than any other underclassman in a loaded field at the 2015 RCS New Jersey:
Of all the top wide receiver talent in attendance, Black may have as much upside as any of them. Another tall, fluid receiver who measures 6-foot-2 and 184 pounds, the class of 2017 four-star glides down the field and is very clean in and out of his breaks. Maybe his best attributes, however, are his hands, which were on display when a quarterback led him too far across the middle and Black had to reel in a fingertips grab while maintaining his balance.
247 concurred with this assessment, calling him a "smooth, gliding type who covers ground quickly" after the FBU Connecticut camp.
The rankings split appears to stem from last summer. Black got only passing mention from 247's Steve Wiltfong after the New Jersey Opening regional and he wasn't invited to the Opening finals, where all four of the recruiting outlets would've had a chance to scout him in depth against top competition. Black once again was a top performer at the RCS New Jersey, however, which earned him an invite to the Rivals-only elite camp, the Five-Star Challenge. Before the Challenge, he participated in Michigan's satellite camp in Connecticut, where he won the shuttle drills competition, per TMI's Eugene Hankerson.
At the Five-Star Challenge, Black's performance ranked behind only top-50 OSU commit Tyjon Lindsay's and ahead of the likes of five-star Alabama commit Jerry Jeudy's among pass-catchers:
Black was the second-most consistent wide receiver at the event and managed to shine in both the morning and the evening sessions. Black’s length allowed him to grab a couple of overthrown balls and his crisp routes allowed him to create gobs of separation on intermediate routes. There were faster wide receivers at the camp, but few were as consistent downfield.
He made Mike Farrell's all-camp team—which, hilariously, is called the All-Farrell Five-Star Challenge Team—and was honorable mention for Farrell's best hands award behind winner Najee Harris(!). When Rivals did their next rerank, they moved Black up 52 spots into the top 100, and he's stayed there ever since.
247, which didn't get to see Black at the Five-Star Challenge (or, obviously, at the Opening finals), moved him down from #119 overall to #186 in their July update. The perception of Black very much depends on which camp—and how many camps—a particular outlet attended where he was present.
[UPDATE: Tim Sullivan hopped into the comments to provide a helpful explanation for why Black didn't get many mentions after the Opening regional:
Black didn't do the full day of workouts at the New Jersey Opening camp (he skipped the testing, IIRC), but he did get picked to the elite group when they separated them out for the 7-on-7 portion of the day. He was solid there, but had a much more notable performance the day before at the New Jersey Rivals Camp.A lot of kids who were great at one of those two were just OK at the other - the nature of camps on back-to-back days.
That's far preferable to Black participating in full in the Opening regional and not making an impact, obviously.]
Scout, thankfully, got out to a game of his this fall, and even though the opposing defense gameplanned to keep the ball out of Black's hands, Brian Dohn found him worthy of his top-100 ranking:
Black is not targeted much because teams bracket him in coverage, but the Scout 100 receiver is still impressive to watch. He gets off the line of scrimmage in a flash, is smooth in the open field and high points the ball well.
Dohn expanded on that scouting report for Scout's free evaluation:
EvaluationBlack is a big target who tracks the ball well and high-points his catches. He goes over the middle and can also get down the field. He has big hands to secure the ball and tucks it quickly. He gets off the line well and is quick in and out of breaks. He knows how to use his size against the defensive backs. He needs to add strength to be more physical down the field and also to be a more effective blocker. -- Brian Dohn
- Ability To Beat Jams
- Hands and Concentration
Areas to Improve
- Blocking Ability
I'll give the final word to ESPN, which ranks Black the lowest of the four sites despite a relatively glowing evaluation:
Looks to have big hands and the ball rarely gets to frame. Times jumps well and high points the ball better than most. Above average body control opening up and adjusting to throws outside strike zone. Tracks deep ball well and fields over the shoulder throws naturally. Has upside as a jump ball or redzone pass catcher from a size advantage. Is a wide target capable of adjusting to errant throws.
Lacks top flight elite speed, but is very effective after the catch and fast enough. Is elusive in traffic flashing the ability to make first tackler miss while his smooth stride and tough finishing effort can eat up chunks of yardage. Is difficult to tackle and difficult to be on the jump ball. Probably at his best as a run and catch guy using his size to win downfield. Works hard to catch the football and is reliable. Will make his fair share of big plays particularly in the red zone.
Black is a quality guy. He's got terrific measurables, he is sneaky athletic and rangy and he catches the football very well the vertical passing game. Can play on the inside and outside which gives him value. Shows toughness and once he develops more savvy as a route runner he could be a polished guy. Will have to adjust to level of competition in college. A prospect for the top five conference programs.
Minor route running issues and a lack of elite speed are his main issues and his ability to catch contested balls helps make up for both of them. There could be concerns about consistency given his somewhat uneven camp performances—unfortunately there's little available detail on his Opening regional showing—but he looks like an excellent possession receiver with some big-play and red-zone upside. Amara Darboh with an extra inch or two isn't a bad comparison.
Black holds an elite offer sheet featuring Alabama, Auburn, Arizona State, Georgia, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Stanford, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin, among others.
Black and classmate CJ Holmes, a four-star Notre Dame commit, are the second and third four-stars from Cheshire Academy in the Rivals database, following 2009 North Carolina signee Joshua Adams. The program has produced a healthy number of three-stars who usually wind up staying in the East; current Penn State safety Malik Golden is a Cheshire Academy product.
While there are complete stats on MaxPreps for Black's first two years of high school, there aren't for his last two seasons.
FAKE 40 TIME
Black's Hudl page lists an unsourced 4.48 40 time, which gets four FAKEs out of five. That would be a near-elite electronic time, which doesn't fit with the scouting reports. He's certainly not slow, however.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Like the other receivers who will be in this class, Black will get a chance to see the field right away following the departures of Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson. His ability to play on the outside or in the slot should get him more reps. As a bigger possession guy, I like his chances of carving out a role relatively early in his career; he's a very different receiver from this year's freshmen.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Black is Michigan's 21st commit in the class and their second at wide receiver, joining Brad Hawkins, who was originally a member of the 2016 class before taking a prep year. The Wolverines should take two more receivers in the class; we'll find out Thursday night if they get in-state five-star Donovan Peoples-Jones, which is the expectation, and four-star AL WR Nico Collins is a Signing Day decision.
Other positions of need include offensive line, defensive tackle, and linebacker. The pace of commitments should pick up considerably in the very near future: DPJ, as mentioned, announces tomorrow, and that's followed in quick succession by decisions from offensive linemen Isaiah Wilson (Friday) and Cesar Ruiz (Monday).