This list is completely arbitrary and not a genuine analysis of the relative merits of state fossils.
left: Bryan Fuller
Earlier this offseason I stumbled onto an old article where Bill Walsh wrote what qualities he looks for when drafting various positions. Meant to be a one-off on the offense, I took requests for a defensive version and broke it up into D-Line, linebackers, and now, finally, the defensive backs. The idea is since the coaching staff is building a "pro-style" team with principles more akin to the Walsh ideal that dominates the pros than the collegiate evaluations made on scouting sites and the like, we shall re-scout the 2013 roster for Walsh-approved attributes.
Since coverages have changed the most since Walsh's day—a reaction to the spread—this is probably the least valuable of the series. To bring it back on point, I've gone off the page a little bit to note some of the attributes that NFL defensive coaches are looking for nowadays, and what those changes mean.
Plankamalu / Shazorvacs/ M-Rob if all quarterbacks were Brian Cleary
Walsh Says: 6'3/215. Now hold your horses before going all "SHAZOR?!?" on me—I'm making a point: The type of player you have at safety depends on the type of system you want to run and the type of player you have everywhere else. If you're going to be playing more odd coverages (cover 1, cover 3) then you want your strong safety to be more of a run support guy, in many ways a fourth linebacker. If your base coverage is even (cover 2, cover 4) the strong and weak safeties will be more similar:
"There are other systems of defense where both safeties play a two-deep coverage and only occasionally come out of the middle to support the run. They basically play the ball in the air, the middle of the field and the sidelines. When you do that, then the stress is on the cornerback to be the support man.
So you must keep in mind these various philosophies when considering what types of cornerbacks and safeties you want to put together in forming a defensive secondary."
The attributes of your defensive backs should be complementary. Here's what Walsh is getting at: your backfield has to be able to defend the pass first and the run second. And here's the key: the more you can trust one player to handle coverage without help, the more you can stock up on extra run defense with the other guys. If your backfield already has plenty of coverage, you can have a strong man:
"The strong safety is historically the support man. He must have some of the traits you look for in a linebacker. In fact there have been some hybrid players in that position. Cincinnati had David Fulcher [right], who was as big as some linebackers but could function also as a safety. The Bengals moved him weak and strong, inside and outside and he became that extra man that the offensive run game had to account for but often could not block.
"But the typical strong safety is someone who can hit and stop people and respond spontaneously and go to the ball. Naturally, the more coverage talent the man has the more you can line him up on anybody."
Today, defensive coordinators sit on porches, remember when you could play a guy like Fulcher, and say "those were the days." The epitome of this type of safety is former Buckeye Doug Plank, who defined his position to such a degree that the defensive system itself was named for his number (46).
It's also called the "Bear" defense because it was the Bears
This defense was at the height of its popularity when Walsh joined the 49ers in 1979, and it was this defense his model passing concepts shredded. The defense played to Plank's strengths as an overly aggressive, hard-hitting run stopper with some coverage skills. The SAM linebacker in today's anti-spread sets (e.g. the 3-3-5's "Spur") is a closer analogue to the Plank-style player than the modern strong safety, with the key difference being that, as a safety, you couldn't put a blocker on a 46 without removing one from a lineman or linebacker, meaning the SS could flow cleanly to the point of attack and wrack up ridiculous tackle numbers.
College teams loved this, since passing quarterbacks were hard to come by and the big boys were running three yards and a cloud of dust (and later the option). A lot of cool names for linebacker-safeties were passed down from this period, such as the "Wolf" on Bo's teams, or the "Star" (names which today are coming out of retirement for the nickel-SAM hybrid position in base 4-2-5 anti-spread defenses).
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Why does a mid-'70s response to off-tackle NFL running games matter to a collegiate defense in 2013? Well because we have a really good free safety, and play tight end-heavy outfits this year in UConn (T.J. Weist, a rare member of the Gary Moeller coaching tree, is taking over there), Penn State, Michigan State, and Iowa, with the outside possibility of a Wisconsin if we make it to the conference championship. Also because the coaches have been subtly putting safety-like objects (Woolfolk, Gordon, and now Dymonte Thomas) at nickel, and recruiting a few linebacker-sized safeties.
I don't know what he'd think of Kovacs. We loved him, but Jordan had two weaknesses: 1) his lack of overall athleticism made exploitable if left in wide coverage (see: his abusing by Ace Sanders on the last play of the Outback Bowl, and the utter disaster that was GERG's attempt to play Kovacs as the free safety in 2009), and 2) his lack of size made him blockable if a lead blocker could get to him (see: bad things happening whenever Mouton abandoned contain).
He would have loved Ernest Shazor, a knife blade listed at 6'4/226 with a scatback's acceleration who loved nothing better than demonstrating the force equation. Brian calls Shazor "the most overrated Michigan player of the decade" because he has to live with the bolded subconscious of UFR, and nothing pisses off a figment of a blogger's imagination like a safety who gives up a big play in coverage.
Here's the point: the ideal safety would be a dude with the size and stopping power to pop a lead blocker and make the tackle or lay out a guy like Shazor, read and react like Kovacs, and cover like Charles Woodson. That human doesn't exist. A combo of epic athleticism with plus headiness and serviceable tackling and size equals Ed Reed or Sean Taylor. Epic headiness with plus size and serviceable everything else nets you Doug Plank, with plus athleticism: Ronnie Lott, Troy Polamalu or Rodney Harrison. The trick is to have epic everything between your safeties; for strongside then it's not Ernest Shazor or Jordan Kovacs; it's SHAZORVACS!
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At either safety position, instincts rate highly and speed after that (less so for the strongside). You're looking to first make sure you have enough coverage in the entire backfield, and once you do you can use this position to stock up on linebacker traits: tackling, size, taking on blockers, personal contribution to local seismic activity, that sort of stuff.
What you can learn on film: Everyone loves those bone-jarring hits and coaches are more than happy to put them in a recruiting video, but not all hits are created equal. Sometimes they're generated by another defender cutting off the lead blocker, other times it's your guy reading the play so early he can go all-out on the hit. More important is what happens to the ballcarrier: he needs to go down. Safeties are going to be left in space, and making that tackle is more important than making the offensive player wish he'd never met this oblong brown thing.
What could signal bust potential: Remember you want a safety, not a horse, i.e. overrating the secondary, linebacker-y attributes and expecting the rest to come along. Adequate coverage and good instincts need to be there or else this guy is just a platoon player. "May be a linebacker on the next level" is a red flag, unless he actually becomes a linebacker. Brandon Smith's recruiting profile is instructive.
It's usually good policy to discount ESPN's opinion when it's in wild disagreement with the other services, but here I tend to give their rip job ($, "he's not a fast-twitch athlete and lacks explosive quickness and speed"; "Takes too long to reach top speed"; "He can be late, takes false steps and doesn't see things happen quickly enough") some credence. Reasons:
- Rivals started off very high on him, ranking him around #50, but steadily dropped him as the year progressed despite his status as a high-profile uncommitted player.
- Despite all the guru accolades Michigan's main competitors were Rutgers and South Carolina; other offers came from Maryland, NC State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He wanted offers from Florida and Ohio State which never came.
- You always risk looking like a tool when you rely on your super awesome scouting skills and six plays on youtube to discern a kid's fate, but... yeah, I didn't think he was all that.
The guy left in a huff after they tried to wring the last bit of value out of him as a Doug Plank-like extra linebacker vs. Wisconsin, and Wisconsin ground us to dust, but then Smith was a high school quarterback whose development as a defender had to come almost entirely from the Rodriguez-era coaching staff. Anyway you've seen this again and again: rave reviews for the guy's "frame" and a profundity of attributes that would make him seem a really nice horse, combined with not nearly enough "makes plays." First have all of the safety stuff: can read and react, cover, and tackle in space. Then care about the size.
How our guys compare: Jarrod Wilson (6'2/196) remains my favorite to start at this spot because he is adequate (not yet plus) in coverage and the other guys aren't. Like the Jamar Adams he reminds me of, Wilson doesn't stand out in any category but doesn't have any major holes in his game other than being young.
The other leading candidate is Marvin Robinson who scares the hell out of me. He was a big-time recruit early in the process thanks to apparently having an early growth spurt, and his profile was filled with horsey metaphors. The same player still hangs on that frame (he arrived at 203 and never deviated more than 3 lbs from that) and hopes for him hang on the comparative competence in coaching plus the fact that being behind Jordan Kovacs is a perfectly reasonable excuse for not seeing the field earlier.
The redshirt freshmen at this position are stiff and linebacker-ish with instincts, more Plank than Polamalu. Jeremy Clark is all of 6'4/201 and did an okay job against the run in the Spring Game I covered in this space a few weeks ago, but lacks speed. Allen Gant also had instincts praised as a recruit, but also lacks the kind of athleticism and would at best develop into a slightly bigger and less heady Kovacs. If going forward Michigan can develop a superstar at the other safety spot or with a corner, they might be able to Plank it with one of these guys—when Woodson gave us that opportunity in '97, Daydrion Taylor and Tommy Hendricks went ham.
Thomas Gordon is super-instinctive and would be a perfect fit here except he's needed at the more important free position he's been playing.
[The rest, after the leap.]
Starting to look more and more like Sgt. Pepper's. Less depressing now. Legend*
♪ Oho a good secondary is a-comin' down the street
Oh please let it be for real
Oho the best safety tandem since like '80-something!
I wish I wish I knew that it could be.
I've got an FS and two tiny backs from Cass Tech
I've got safety-like safeties from Ohio
I've even got a two-deep filled with juniors!
And Curtice Clay out near Toledo sent a bona fide star!
Oho a good defensive backfield is a-comin' down the street
Don't look now but "shut-down" might apply to our J.T.!
Oho a good secondary is a-comin' down the street
And M-Robinson might finally be ready!
I'm particularly excited for Blake Countess
He's everything a sophomore phenom ought to be.
When minus every Gibson from this unit,
Well they could be (yes they could be) yes you're right they surely could be…
Something special (not a Woodson, but perhaps Leon-like special)
Yes we could have… something special… at D.B.!!! ♫
Also: Do do do do do do do do the worst is over.
This is Part IV of the thing predicting the reaction and drop-off if any 2012 starter goes down. Actually I wasn't sure I wanted to complete this series. I did the offense and Toussaint got a DUI; I did the DEs and Frank Clark got charged for stealing a laptop; I did the linebackers and it leaked that Antonio Poole's injury is at least Fall Camp-missing worthy. And well, before I could nix the series and wipe it from the interwebs Terrence Talbott preemptively took the bullet for the DBs, so I guess we can have that now. But if you folks want special teams I'm going to need written confirmation that Hagerup/Gibbons/Wile have come nowhere near the M on the Diag.
These days it's best to think of defensive back as five positions. To demonstrate, here's a preview chart from a Museday in the works (click enhances largetation):
To coaches this is "duh" but the more receivers the offense puts out there, the more DBs the defense counters with. While I mean to eventually include how teams played Michigan as well, and I won't make the mistake of treating anything GERG did as canon unless it involves hair product, the preliminary chart meshes with what coaches tell me about matching personnel. The Shafer line suggests heavy nickel use is more the norm while the outlier of 2009 stands as a reminder of what happens to those who mock the need for corner depth. This is important to us because the teams we play use 3-receiver sets more often than they used to, and this chart (made from UFRs so it's not perfect) says Mattison's defense used almost exactly as many five-DB sets as the 2010 defense, a base 3-3-5! Typical shotgun personnel is RB, 1TE, and 3WR; that is the formation we will face the most vs. every team but Air Force (Triple-Option) and Iowa (the I is for ISO).
Quickly again. Photos are all by Upchurch unless otherwise noted. Ratings are given in Saturn-punting Zoltans. Think of them like stars except more heavenly. Five is an all-conference-type player (Denard to Kovacs); four is a guy you'd call "solid" (RVB to Demens); three is an average B1G player (Morgan to Hawthorne); two is a guy with a big hole in his game (freshman Kovacs); one is trouble with a capital T, and that rhymes with P, and that stands for Poole.
In case of emergency: Was it only a few years ago we were really down about having an emergency redshirt freshman with questionable athleticism thrust into the starting lineup? I re-watched what portions of the Indiana 2009 game are left on the youtubes yesterday to confirm he wasn't a guy you'd think would be getting five Saturn-punting Zoltans; those Zoltans now come confirmed by opponents. To imagine where we might be without him means figuring out what we have now in Marvin Robinson. He was one of those recruits who blew up early in his high school career thanks to an early growth spurt then fell down the rankings as other kids his age caught up. Frankly after similar tweeners like Burgess/Mouton/S. Brown/I. Bell became various types of linebacker I'm excited to see one of these dudes actually stick at safety.
M-Rob probably won't hit his half-SHIRTLESS recruiting expectations, but half-way through his Michigan career the possibility is at least still intact. It's weird to still be relying on his recruiting profile this far into a high-interest career; the off-campus incident may at least alleviate questions of whether the talent was overvalued. Technical problems evident in previous springs were still present but much reduced over a strong spring, and after several years of tutelage under the best, what we probably have is something between the anti-Kovacs and Ernest Shazor. He's a perfect "bandit" safety in a 3-3-5, and that's kind of what we've been doing with Kovacs. Lacking Kovacsian instincts he'll be a downgrade, but he'll make up parts of that with superior athleticism.
In case of dire emergency: Allen Gant may be as ready to go later this year as anyone else of his class, including Kalis. He's a big guy for a freshman, comes with as many work ethic and weight room credentials as Mike Martin did, and has the bloodlines. You'd usually redshirt a guy like this since safety is a tough position to learn, but there are two other safeties in his class and Dymonte Thomas is on the way. Then again he may not bring any more right now than 5th year senior Floyd Simmons, a former walk-on who has been on special teams a lot. He has never made it higher than the two-deep even when a hater god put most of that depth chart on the Never Forget banner. That might be because he was a Spinner (backing up Stevie Brown) at the time. You should also know he has three forced fumbles on kickoffs, suggesting he shares some of T.Gordon's weird fumble-causing voodoo. He's the same size as Kovacs (we have multiple pics of them standing together) and foremost a run defender—his route to regular playing time would be in a platoon situation with M-Rob or one of the free safety types.
Since the likely backups at free safety are pretty much free safeties (Furman's calling card is speed; Jarrod Wilson is the proverbial "rangy" player), a disaster at strong safety is as likely to make one of them a starter as Gant. In such a scenario Thomas Gordon takes on more of the run stopping duties and Furman/Wilson drawn in as an entirely nominal "strong" safety.
Safety: home of the scrumptious abdomen HT M&B
In case of emergency: This is where things get more interesting. After letting us spend years praying for the next Ed Reed to appear as a 5-star Campbellian Hero with angel wings (and trying to believe the other Gordon was that) Thomas Gordon spent 2011 doing his best impersonation of Brandent Englemon. It was like coming back from trying to sleep around New York and finding the girl next door, if the girl next door was once called "Prison Abs" and had a weird (spectacular) ability to cause game-changing turnovers by waving his hands at people.
If we lose him, we hope this has all been some giant lead-up to the Superhero reveal scene. Potential heroes begin with Josh Furman. Faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a … dammit I just looked up at the damn picture again. Due to a spurious arrest over the summer (he was innocent, the result of a misunderstanding, but suspended while it got sorted out) Furman missed precious practice time. At last sight he still needed to leap a few levels in a single bound to be ready for Big Ten play. The beneficiary of Furman's misfortune was early enrollee Jarrod Wilson, who is safety-shaped and safety-like and is actually a safety, which I realize is kind of a novelty around here since Jamar Adams graduated. He made some freshman mistakes along with mostly solid play and is probably the first to see playing time among his classmates, especially early.
In case of dire emergency: The position that inspired the BLANK-Hating God meme was free safety. This was in 2005 when Michigan was forced to burn the redshirt of Brandon Harrison (and in turn burn down a good part of the 2009 secondary).
Today there's at least Furman/Wilson, one or both of whom should be plausible by mid-season. The other freshman is Jeremy Clark, a big guy whose grayshirt was upgraded to full-ride as his star rose, but who probably needs some time to develop. Clark's future is at strong safety, but he's a tweener. While the talent atop the depth chart is mostly specialized, Mattison does want the safeties to eventually be interchangeable (the better to screw up quarterback reads my dear) and an injury plague at one safety spot might trigger that.
Center: from the Ernie Harwell Sports Collection, courtesy of the Freep
In case of emergency: The depth recovery program managed to get a bunch of little corners, however since Michigan makes a distinction between "Field" and "Boundary" we may as well try to see where the early returns fit. The former can supposedly sacrifice some size for coverage ability/athleticism. The latter has less area to cover, is more involved in run support since he's generally on the weak side of the formation (offenses typically align to the field since it gives them more room to string out the run defense), and ends up matched with other teams' big receivers on an island. At this last year Floyd was spectacular. A list of guys he covered who are now in the NFL:
Receiver 2011 Team NFL Team Rnd-Overall Catches Yards TDs Michael Floyd ND Cardinals 1-13 13 159 0 A.J. Jenkins Illini 49ers 1-30 4 103 0 DeVier Posey OSU Texans 5-68 3 58 1 B.J. Cunningham MSU Dolphins 6-183 4 39 0 Marvin McNutt Iowa Eagles 6-194 9 101 0 Jeremy Ebert NW Patriots 7-235 11 86 0 Jordan White WMU Jets 7-244 12 119 0 *******Total******* - - 56 665 1 *****Average****** - - 8.0 95.0 0.1
*VT's Danny Coale and MSU's Keyshawn Martin were also drafted this year, but Floyd was primarily covering Jarrett Boykin and BJ Cunningham, respectively, in those games. Boykin had 4 catches for 30 yards and 0 TD; he went undrafted and unsigned.
The lack of touchdowns from seven leaping touchdown machines earns Floyd that 4th star. DeVier Posey did demonstrate the hole in Floyd's game—he can't keep up with the elite athletes—and better passes from Braxton Miller easily could have added two TDs and 120 yards to DeVier's single day of 2011 eligibility. That guy, at least, is gone, as are the rest of the Big Ten's 2011 embarrassment of WR riches. Of those who remain on our schedule, Keenan Davis (Iowa) might be a Posey-like (read: bad) matchup, however I would trust him against Northwestern's (now-eligible) Kyle Prater.
Which brings me to the point: there isn't another Floyd on the roster. Even in the hilariously height-overestimating world of college football rosters, J.T. is the only CB who the FAKErs thought could even plausibly be listed at 6'0.
Talbott was the guy making noise to be the #1 backup to Floyd during spring ball, but since he's gone that means a ding to J.T. puts us back in the midget bucket. I think what happens is Courtney Avery reprises his role as starting corner, which this being his junior year I think we can now get past the original excitement of his one good game and the bitterness of that tackle he missed against Iowa, and remember he ended the Ohio State counter. Avery has been ahead of Talbott his whole career thus far, despite being a quarterback until fall practice of his freshman year, so while Floyd to Avery is a downgrade, I don't think the effect of losing the second Talbott will be felt unless we get to…
In case of dire emergency: This is still a work in progress. Of last year's freshmen Tamani Carter is the biggest—that's why he was listed with the safeties in the first place. He's been hanging out on safety depth charts due to hips that do not fluid swivel or whatever they call a cornerback nowadays who's not twitchy enough, and his forte is supposedly the jump-ball. This is why I've mentally moved Carter to boundary since Talbott's departure. Magnus says he likes Carter in a role where he sits out in the flat, and he missed spring practices, so you're hoping he can just be a nickel back and not have to play significant snaps on the island. Then there's Ramon Taylor. He dreamed of going to Michigan, and that came true when Hoke was putting together a last-minute class and wondered, as we all had, what Indiana was doing with a 4-star...yoink. He's another mite who is listed now at 183 (up from 167 last year), a plausible weight for a Big Ten cornerback. He's also listed at 5'10 which he's not. But he likes to hit and also doesn't have Robot Hips. As a recruit he drew a comparison to a shorter James Rogers; make of that what you will but I say it suggests he fits into Rogers's position. Taylor played early last year (that photo's from EMU), mostly at nickel, and I think he too is destined to be that more than either outer corner spot.
Blake Countess isn't huge, and you want your better guy at the field, but this distinction can be overstated. In the event of an Avery-Floyd injury combo, Michigan will probably lean on Countess to cover the other team's best receiver and whichever mini Cass Tech kid is most ready will be in a better position to start than either of the young nickelbacks. Next year the cavalry arrives.
In case of emergency: This spot is young. They're also not-big. What they lack in being young and non-big however, they make up for by being "good" and "extant." That begins with Countess, whom I gave 4 stars because that was the level he was playing at (about equal with Floyd) by the end of last year. The upside is tantalizing for us now, though it remains upside. Making Woolfolk obsolete last year was one hell of a statement, and it's because of that entrance that I'm more filled with trepidation over losing Blake than I reasonably should be.
The reason not to be in total fear is the little we've seen and heard about the other remaining corners from his class (Greg Brown has joined the banner on top of this post) is that they're good, in the way little mite corners are supposedly good everywhere else but here because seriously we have been burned on this so many times.
Every year I involuntarily pick a guy on the team nobody's talking about to get overly excited about for no reason, and this year that somebody is Delonte Hollowell. That's him in the Nebraska photo above and the reason he was playing on special teams against Nebraska when we had all sorts of other corners eating eligibility is he played his way out of a redshirt. I don't yet know what's Hoke's baseline for doing such a thing, however either the coaches are so sure they will be able to find plenty of great CBs to fill the 2015 depth chart (which their 2013 class seems to suggest they were right), or more likely, Hollowell met some standard of what he needs to do to play.
That standard can be few other things than "is 2nd on the depth chart" and there my reasoning stands. Courtney Avery would be here if something happens early I guess. I think you'll be seeing Hollowell spelling Countess either way.
In case of dire emergency: Terry Richardson is the mite-iest Cass Tech dust mite yet. He has the power to shrink to the size of a neutrino and hide out among the other atoms that make up a receiver's garments, reappearing in time to make a crucial interception. However being only a handful of planks has its drawbacks, like accidentally passing through the Earth's gravitational field, and Whitley/Howard syndrome. The true freshman comes with high recruiting bona fides, so if you see him jumping up the depth chart we may have another Countess here.
In case of emergency: For most teams the nickel corner will replace the SLB (Jake Ryan), though in Michigan's case we seem to pull the Will (Desmond Morgan) just as often. Later in the year that became more usual as Michigan went with an aggressive nickel package featuring a nickelback and Ryan/Beyer/Clark with a hand down (a 5-1-5 look with 4-2-5 personnel that we called Michigan's "Okie."). The nickel will cover the slot, usually has help over the top, and must be there to tackle in space when spread outfits isolate him against the slot or RB. Michigan played a lot of nickel in 2003 (Leon Hall) and 2006 (Brandon Harrison), and it led to some 38-0 scores against various Indiana teams. You'll remember we came out in mostly 4-2-5 personnel against Northwestern last year, but it didn't work; in the second half Jake Ryan was inserted and allowed to terrorize (at this point he dished it out equally to friend and foe). Early in the season T.Gordon and Avery split duties at nickel, and Carvin Johnson was the free safety. This year Avery is again the designated nickel guy, however expect others from the safety and CB corps to rotate in there.
The nominal "other" is Raymon Taylor (see above), who played a good bit last year at this spot. He is small but so was Harrison. You also might as well pencil in RS Freshman Tamani Carter here since his long-term future is at nickel.
In case of dire emergency: Nickel draws from the CB depth charts (and can from the safety ones as well) so if Avery and a backup are hurt there's an endless parade of other guys. You'll see moonlights of most of the backups here regardless, as it's a way to get a young cornerback playing time and tackling experience without exposing to deep responsibility. If The Dude in Section 2 Eating Fat Free Pretzels is tapped, well, so long as the pretzels are fat free and he stayed in a Holiday Inn Express and whatnot. The 2009 depth chart across the secondary really was unprecedented; if it happens again then it is 2009 and we can all go punch each other in the dong.
* Never Forget Legend (years in parentheses are the last season the guy would have helped had he not left/gone down/whatever).
TOP ROW: T-Wolf (2010), Mike Williams (2011), Boubacar Cissoko (2011), Adrian Witty (2011), Vladimir Emilien (2013), Jared Van Slyke (2011).
SECOND ROW: J.T. Turner (2013), Terrence Talbott (2013), Carvin Johnson (2013), Cullen Christian (2013), Demar Dorsey (2013), Ray Vinopal (2013).
BOTTOM ROW: Greg Brown (2014 or '15), Crying Biff the Wolverine, Donovan Warren (2010), Never Forget Guy.
Previously: S Jeremy Clark.
|Sylvania, OH - 6'2" 210|
|Scout||3*, #30 S|
|Rivals||3*, #45 S, #57 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 75, #150 WR(!), #72 OH|
|24/7||3*, #66 ATH, #42 OH|
|Other Suitors||Cincinnati, BC, Illinois, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||The wayback machine. Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Son of former Michigan DB Tony, cousin (by marriage) of Charles Woodson. Twitter.|
Note a crap ton of great catches and a lot of Gant lining up as an off-the-line TE. This will be relevant later.
Allen Gant was supposed to be the subject of a fierce Michigan-Ohio State recruiting battle that had the potential to go national as teams across the country threw their hat in the ring for a highly-touted athlete. There's a post about him on this very site dating back to 2008(!) posted by a guy with the username "InRodWeTrust33" hyping him up as a major prospect after his freshman year. The Buckeye Planet thread on Gant fired up a week before that. Even after an injury-plagued 2009 season, Scout was still asking "Is Gant Ohio's top sophomore?($)"
As you can see by the rankings above, it didn't quite work out like that. Gant was a BCS recruit but not a national one, and Ohio State's persistent lack of interest quickly flipped Gant from a kid who only wanted to hear from the Buckeyes to one committing to Michigan in March. Gant's best offer other than Michigan was Stanford—none too shabby—but it dropped off rapidly after that, with Illinois, BC, and Cincinnati his other BCS offers.
What happened? Injury was part of it. Gant racked 'em up like Junior Hemingway; even when he was on the field he was usually nursing two or three different athletcism-sapping highlights.
The rest is probably what you get when a kid is far ahead of the work ethic curve (and therefore closer to his ceiling) early in his high school career. A long time Ohio scout erratically updates his blog MSR OHIO—which I perpetually misread as "Mrs. Ohio"—and has some thoughts on the relative lack of hype after Gant's touted debut:
Gant was so good as a freshman that it may have hurt him. He has continued to improve, but recruiters seem to expect a faster climb. A possible four letter winner in three sports. Sometimes athletes get close to being maxed out too early, but this is not the case with Allen.
Last fall I was impressed with his toughness on the football field. Stood out as a free safety. Excellent open field tackler. Good ball skills. Anticipated well. Most of all, when he had a chance to "strike" he did. Covered sideline to sideline. …
Just something that I like about Allen Gant. The challenge to keep improving every year must be tough. Expectations for three years have been high. Being mentioned in recruiting news as one of the top Ohio guys in 2012 class could get into a kid's head. My answer - Too good too early, but he has worked hard to keep getting better, but improvement is not as evident as with other athletes. Regardless, he just does his thing - play hard and compete.
Some coach tell Allen that he is not a free safety on the next level. Maybe a strong safety who plays in the box. Some coach tell Allen that he will grow into a Will linebacker. And be very good. Simple as that!
Well, let's hope so.
We have an uncommonly large pile of Gant video that isn't highlights. If you hit up this Rivals video of a scrimmage between Sylvania Southview and Chris Wormley's Whitmer team, Gant doesn't really do much except fall down once in man coverage on a slot receiver and get burnt to the outside by a tailback. In the best-case scenario (the tailback was the starter), that is a two-star headed to Toledo. ESPN put up a clip reel that appears to be from one game that features Gant looking pretty much like the rest of the kids on the field.
He has trouble tackling, doesn't seem at another level athletically from the rest of the guys, and… shows some crazy good hands on a TE corner route he runs on offense, getting leveled but hanging on. Then he scores a touchdown on a post route. This may be why ESPN didn't even bother considering his potential on defense($), instead concentrating on his ability at wideout:
Gant is a reliable and productive short-to-intermediate range receiver that appears to be at his best when working from the slot against zone coverage. He is lean and wiry with adequate height and he shows very quick feet. He is decisive in his cuts as a route runner with good quickness off the line. He is one of those guys that knows how to work the seams, settle into open areas and make himself open. … He has very good, soft hands and has no problem extending away from his frame in traffic over the middle. Catches the ball in a crowd, hauls in passes quickly and secures the catch. Has enough quickness and burst to be an effective underneath route runner and create separation.
The big downside is speed. They doubt he can be a BCS-level vertical threat and say they don't "see him explosively run by people or separate in the open field."
There is a little disagreement about that. See Allen Trieu…
Allen Gant | S | Sylvania-Southview
Gant has been on the radar since his freshman season. He has great size (6'1, 210-lbs) and runs well for a kid with that stature. Some feel he can grow into an outside linebacker. We think he can be a strong safety or a rover in certain systems, but either way, he's a great football player.
…and Duane Long…
Allen Gant, 6-2, 200, Sylvania
Gant is such a smart football player and I see a better athlete than I first thought he was. Versatility is the name of the game with Gant. He is best at free safety but he could play strong safety, and he could play receiver if things get ugly at that position for whatever school he chooses. Looked really good at the Buckeye camp last year.
…but looking at those non-highlights I'm with ESPN. Guy is not a burner. For what it's worth, the initial plan($) is safety but contains a hint of a potential move:
"They see me as kind of a hybrid-type," he said. "They said I have an advantage because I'm versatile and I can play both free and strong [safety], or I can even line up as an outside linebacker in a nickel package. That's what I have going for me which will allow me to get on the field quickly."
I think I might get the heebie jeebies if Gant lined up as a one-high free safety, certainly moreso than if he found a role as a nickel OLB*.
[TIRESOMELY REPETITIVE SIDE NOTE: this quote provides some evidence that Michigan is considering such a role in their defense. Insert usual Just Sayin' Brandin Hawthorne Should Be A Nickel LB here.]
He does seem like an excellent program guy. His coach:
"The best thing about him is how good a kid he is," Southview football coach Jim Mayzes said. "Since he came in here as a freshman he's always had the right attitude. He doesn't let anybody outwork him. Even during basketball season he's full go in the weight room."
His dad and a guy named Chet:
"The drive really comes from Allen," Tony Gant said. "I had a certain type of drive, but what he does -- lifting weights and eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day -- I never did that.
"I was a 6-foot, 185-pound kid who never lifted a weight in my life until I got to Michigan. He's in the weight room six days a week on his own. He motivates himself."
"Allen's always had a good work ethic, even as a youngster," Chet Trail said. "You never had to do too much to get him to practice. I wish I could take some credit for [his motivation], but Allen is a self-starter."
His dad again, from Tom:
They're going to get a student athlete who's full of character and leadership. You have to look at those qualities, he has to be smart, be a student athlete, and be a leader. From the football aspect he reminds me of [former Wolverine] Keith Bostic, as far as his aggressiveness. He loves to hit, he's a big safety. An analyst asked me why he's not nationally known, and it's because we knew it would probably come down to Michigan and Ohio State. We never went to any combines or camps, so his name wasn't really out there that much.
His dad one more time:
"I was talking to (Michigan equipment manager) Jonny Falk and Coach Rodriguez and I told them that if Bo had one scholarship to give, he would choose Allen over me," the elder Gant said. "He is almost 6-2, and weighs in the 205- to 210-pound range. He runs a 4.6, he's got a nose for the ball, he's physical, and he is smart.
"Having that type of football intelligence, it just makes his job that much easier because you want to react instead of think out on the football field. Plus he's coachable. His football intelligence and coachability are his two greatest assets along with his physical capabilities."
In the above you can see a path to the field for Gant in defiance of some skepticism I'll drop below: be Jordan Kovacs. It sounds like that's not entirely out of the question. I won't believe anyone can consistently chop down opponents like Kovacs until I see it, though. That'll have to be it for Gant, though: always being in the right place because his brain is ahead of the pack.
TVH +5/6, looks like. 6'2" probably accurate. Another coach quote:
“Allen’s been a legend in our town since elementary school,” Sylvania Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “He could leap tall buildings, all that stuff. He had records in track all over in everything, all the way through school.
“I first heard about him when a P.E. teacher at one of the elementary schools would tell me about him.”
Gant played receiver and safety for the Cougars and finished with 21 receptions for 404 yards and a score. He rushed the ball three times for 35 yards and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass in the playoff loss. Defensively, he finished with 56 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“Most schools are looking at me more on the defensive side of the ball,” said Gant. “I do love hitting and I love playing on the defensive side of the ball, but after this year, I’m willing to play anything.”
Gant carries a 3.1 and should be fine academically. Caused user Chuck Norris to hurt himself. Brief Q&A with "Big House Report." Remember Howard Chen? Old Friend Howard Chen. Magnus is sad. Cheer up, Magnus!
Why Cam Gordon? Gordon's listed at 6'3", 222 on the current roster after a few years on campus, which is where Gant will end up, give or take an inch and five pounds. Gordon came in as a WR, ended up moving to free safety in an ill-fated 3-3-5, and then slid all the way down to spur halfway through the 2010 season; he now mans an analogous position for Greg Mattison at SAM.
As a 3/4-star tweener Gordon was a little bit better regarded than Gant, and he's a little bigger. Both are thick guys who don't seem to have the speed to play WR or S despite being ticketed for those slots and might eventually find themselves somewhere else after a period of positional vagabondage.
Guru Reliability: Moderate plus. Heavily scouted, but injuries complicate things a bit. Also no camps make it hard to get a clear picture of his athleticism. Still, four different scouting services were like "eh." Maybe Scout is a half-grade more chipper on him, but that's a lot of consensus.
Variance: Low. Seeming lack of explosive explosion(!) will limit him, but legacy status and self-driven high work ethic make it unlikely he'll explosively explode his way off the roster. Will contribute in some way shape or form by the time he's done.
Ceiling: Low. Seems to lack the speed to be a high-level WR or S.
General Excitement Level: I hate these. Low. Yeah, I know, it's mean. I don't mean it to be mean, but someone's got to be low or I shouldn't even bother with this bit. Caveat: it is possible that the nagging injuries have given us an excessively dim view of his athleticism. When those are shed there's some chance he reminds everyone of what he was supposed to be as an underclassman.
Projection: There are three safeties in this class and at least Dymonte Thomas coming in the next one. Someone has to lose out. With Jarrod Wilson on campus and performing well and this blog's sunny outlook on Jeremy Clark's future, that vaguely points to Gant as the odd man out.
A redshirt is certain. From there I assume he does get a shot at Kovacs's vacated strong safety spot. I expect he'll lose that battle to someone whether it's Wilson or Marvin Robinson. From there safety depth will dictate whether he's a two-deep guy there or if it makes more sense for him to move positions.
With his frame I think the place that might make the most sense for him long term is the U-back or "move" tight end that Khalid Hill is destined for. Michigan doesn't have many other U/H-back sorts on the roster and a Gant with 20 pounds of extra mass will be in that 6'2"-6'3", 230-250 pound range that it seems Michigan wants there. Weakside LB is another possibility but given Michigan's linebacker recruiting that move is the equivalent of putting Gant on a slow boat to China.
In this week's Thursday Recruitin', a high school coach manages to out-hyperbole Fred Jackson, Ondre Pipkins gets invited to the Army AA Bowl, a Scout, er, scout channels his inner Rod Allen, and two more 2012 commits plan to enroll early. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc.—as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
With the coaching staff saying for a while now that the 2012 recruiting class would hit at least 26 members—and possibly, if not probably, go as high as 28—despite there currently being just 24 available spots, Michigan was going to need to find some players to enroll early. Safety Jarrod Wilson has been in that boat for a while, and now comes the news that two linebackers will arrive in Ann Arbor for the spring term as well ($, info in header)—Joe Bolden and Kaleb Ringer.
The Wolverines are allowed to backdate up to three early enrollees, essentially having them count as part of the 2011 class, which allows them to push up to the Big Ten limit of 28 recruits in a class. Bri'onte Dunn, if Michigan were to land him, is also a candidate to enroll early, but that now is more of a developmental bonus and less of a numbers necessity if the Wolverines can pluck him from Ohio State's grasp.
In other news on current commits, Tim Sullivan's latest contribution to the Freep profiles tight end commit A.J. Williams, who has played almost exclusively on the offensive line his last two seasons in high school but will still be a tight end for the Wolverines, one of the reasons that drew him to Ann Arbor:
Though he loves pancaking opposing defenders, he didn’t want to be exclusively a blocker in college. The opportunity to play tight end is another reason he chose Michigan.
“That’s also what made Michigan a great decision,” said Williams. “They actually wanted me for the tight end position, which I want to play.”
His 6-foot-6, 265-pound frame should help Williams be ready to contribute from the first day he steps on campus in August. Playing as a blocking tight end, he should be more ready to play than the average freshman. After not catching any passes for two years, however, he will have to make an adjustment when he gets to the next level, and get reacquainted with the nuances of going downfield to catch passes.
With the lack of depth and size at the tight end position for next year, Williams will have the opportunity to play right away. Though he may not be ready to be an oft-targeted receiver in the passing game, his blocking should be an asset right off the bat, especially when Michigan runs the ball.
Steve Junga of the Toledo Blade has a lengthy piece up on safety commit Allen Gant, whose work ethic has made him a three-sport star at Sylvania Southview and impressed his father Tony, a former Wolverine himself:
In the spring he will earn his fourth letter in track and field, where he is a rare blend -- a discus thrower and shot putter who also runs sprint relays.
"The drive really comes from Allen," Tony Gant said. "I had a certain type of drive, but what he does -- lifting weights and eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day -- I never did that.
"I was a 6-foot, 185-pound kid who never lifted a weight in my life until I got to Michigan. He's in the weight room six days a week on his own. He motivates himself."
"Allen's always had a good work ethic, even as a youngster," [his grandfather and former professional baseball player] Chet Trail said. "You never had to do too much to get him to practice. I wish I could take some credit for [his motivation], but Allen is a self-starter."
Gant already weighs in the 200-pound range and looks like he's ready to step on a college field immediately, though he'll likely get some time to develop as a depth player and on special teams before being called upon to contribute on the defense.
Quickly: Ondre Pipkins was one of four prospects recently named to the Army All-American Bowl, joining fellow commits Royce Jenkins-Stone, Kyle Kalis, Erik Magnuson, and James Ross. Kenny Allen's commitment writeup at The Flint Journal. Your TomVH insider content of the week includes Drew Henson breaking down the offensive commits, Marcus Ray doing the same for the defense, and profiles of his top two committed prospects, RJS and Kyle Kalis.
For more, hit the jump.
This week, the van returned to the Toledo area to see 2012 safety commit Allen Gant and his Sylvania Southview squad take on rival Maumee in front of a packed house at Maumee High School. It initially looked like Southview would run away with the game as they cruised to an early 24-0 lead, but three straight Panther scores cut the deficit to just three points midway through the third quarter. That woke up the Cougars, however, who reeled off three of the next four scores en route to a 45-27 victory.
Gant had a strong game overall, finishing (by my unofficial count) with seven tackles, one pass breakup, a reception for 20 yards, and a two-yard touchdown run. The senior spent most of the game on defense, playing a lot as a linebacker/rover with a lot of short zone responsibilities while coming off the edge often as a blitzer—he only dropped back deep as a safety on a couple plays in obvious passing situations. He saw a few snaps on the offensive side of the ball as a receiver and wingback, and scored his touchdown run as the quarterback in a special Wildcat package. Here are the highlights from this week—as you'll see, the game was played on an extremely muddy field that made it very difficult to make any sharp cuts without falling over (I almost ate it just trying to make my way to midfield for the post-game interview):
As previously mentioned, the field conditions were far from ideal, which made it very difficult to evaluate Gant from an athletic standpoint. It was clear early on that his cleats were not giving him the proper footing, as he spent much of the time in warmups scraping mud off of them, and on one of the first defensive snaps on the game he slipped to the ground and would have given up a long touchdown pass if the Maumee quarterback had seen the uncovered receiver. Gant displayed solid, not spectacular, straight-ahead speed, but any impression of his agility would be skewed greatly by the conditions.
Despite playing a new position (more on that in the post-game interview), Gant did a very good job of playing with discipline and being in the right place—Maumee never really challenged him on underneath routes because he had either the short middle or flat covered when he wasn't brought on the blitz, with Southview playing almost exclusively zone defense. On the one opportunity Gant had to man-cover a receiver down the field (that is, without falling to the ground), he stayed step-for-step with his man but was victimized by a well-run route and a great throw, which you can see in the first clip above.
It was very interesting to see what Gant brought as a linebacker, as he could very well be ticketed for that position at Michigan because of his size. He made some very nice reads, including one play where he sniffed out a screen and nearly made a spectacular one-handed diving interception, and he put decent pressure on the quarterback when coming off the edge.
While Gant's tackling technique was solid—he does a very good job of wrapping up the ballcarrier—I thought he was a little passive when coming up to make a hit, including on one play when Maumee's quarterback scrambled and was able to carry Gant and a couple of his teammates a few extra yards after initial contact. This could be chalked up to playing an unfamiliar position, but Gant had a few plays where he let the play come to him instead of identifying the ballcarrier and taking an aggressive path to the play, and despite the seven tackles he didn't have any big hits, in large part due to his lack of aggression.
One thing I really liked out of Gant was his persistence—he's the proverbial guy who doesn't take plays off and always ends the play around the football, and he chased down a couple of his tackles from the opposite side of the field. He also held the edge well, which I'm sure Michigan fans are happy to hear, although on one such play he tackled a little too high and ended up drawing a face-mask penalty.
Overall, I think Gant shows more promise as a safety than at linebacker, although that may be a harsh judgment considering I caught his first game at a new position. The key for him will be maintaining his athleticism—which I believe is good enough for safety, especially if he's paired with a center-field type like Jarrod Wilson—and not adding too much bulk to his 6'2", 210-pound frame (he looked every bit that big on the field). He's got promise as a safety who is decent in coverage and can come up and make plays in the running game, but I'm not sure he'd hold up well as a linebacker, though we'll see if he improves given more time at the position.
This week, my amateur photography skills are on full display:
ACE: That was a hard-fought win out there. How do you think you played personally?
ALLEN: I thought I played pretty decent. There were a couple assignments I wasn't sure about. Actually, today I played a different position than the one I've been playing, so I thought I did pretty decent out there.
ACE: I know Michigan is recruiting you as a safety. It seemed like you were playing linebacker today, or at least close to the line of scrimmage. How was that for you?
ALLEN: It was tough. It was tough to adjust. I had a lot of safety instincts that were in my mind, but I just have to continue doing my job and continue playing to help my team.
ACE: It looked like early on you were having trouble keeping your footing. Was that just an equipment problem or an issue with the field conditions?
ALLEN: The field was pretty bad. But you know, I kept playing and kept going.
ACE: You've been to all three of Michigan's home games so far. What has your impression been of the team so far?
ALLEN: The team is really, really, really good. I think they've done a really good job so far of working hard, I can tell. They keep fighting to the end, especially in the Notre Dame game. I was proud of how the guys fought.
ACE: Have you been keeping in contact with other recruits?
ALLEN: A little bit, not as much as I was during the summer.
ACE: Are you planning on taking any more visits?
ALLEN: Yes. I won't be there the next couple weeks, but the following home games after that I'll probably be there, and then for sure the Nebraska and Ohio State games.
ACE: Overall, what are you working on in terms of getting ready for the next level?
ALLEN: Just continue to get quicker and faster, and keep working on my technique.
These plans are always tentative at this point in the week, but right now I think I'll be heading to see Ben Braden and Rockford take on East Kentwood on Friday night.
'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play our their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-1 on the season with a blowout loss to Louisville (KY) Trinity. Since Bars is an offensive linemen, there are no stats to report.
This week: The Big Red hope to move back above .500 at home against Brentwood Academy on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden's Colerain squad won a nationally-televised matchup with last year's Florida 2A state champion, Cocoa, by a score of 17-7, snapping Cocoa's 38-game winning streak. Bolden did a little bit of everything, tallying eight tackles, tipping a pass that led to an interception, and completing a 36-yard pass on a fake punt (yes, Bolden serves as Colerain's punter). The win extended Colarain's home winning streak to a remarkable 60 games. ESPN's highlights of the contest prominently feature the future Wolverine, though also unfortunately Pam Ward. I can't embed the video without an ad autoplaying (seriously, WTF, ESPN), so you'll have to hit the link to see the highlights.
This week: Colarain looks to continue their home dominance on Friday against Ryle at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
In a matchup of western (Michigan) powers, Rockford fell in their opener at Lowell, 28-7. Despite the loss, Braden came in for praise from Lowell's coach, Noel Dean:
"I'm not sure we'll see a team anywhere near that big," he said. "Their front seven on defense is as big as I've ever seen. And their front seven on offense -- I've never seen a human being move as well as that Ben Braden at this level. I was standing on that field, and I didn't feel good about putting my kids in front of him. He's huge, and he's a really good player."
This week: Rockford looks to right the ship in their home opener against Holt on Thursday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brush fell to Eastlake North 51-20 in their opening game of the season. Though the Brush defense didn't perform, Brown reported to me on Twitter that he recorded three sacks, four tackles, and caught three passes for 86 yards, despite the fact that, according to him, Eastlake North widened the splits in their line to keep him from getting to the quarterback and refused to run in his direction.
This week: Brush hits the road on Friday at 7 to face Madison.
MI TE Devin Funchess, DE Mario Ojemudia, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, and CB Terry Richardson
As you all know, these four faced off in the Big Day Showdown at Eastern Michigan, with Farmington Hills Harrison (Funchess and Ojemudia) blowing out Cass Tech (RJS and Terry Richardson) 43-7. Funchess recorded three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, as well as tallying an interception while playing safety. Ojemudia dominated at defensive end, finishing with four tackles, three for a loss, 1/2 sack, six QB hurries, and a fumble recovery on a blocked punt, while also playing offensive tackle for most of the game. Jenkins-Stone had four tackles and a forced fumble (in a bizarre twist, that came on offense after an interception) and also caught two passes and carried the ball five times for a total of seven yards. Richardson finished with a pass breakup – in the end zone against State commit Aaron Burbridge, no less – three kick returns for 70 yards, and one catch for 13 yards. The game was the subject of this week's Creeper Van Originals, and the highlights are below:
This week: Harrison plays at Southfield on Thursday at 7, while Cass Tech hopes to bounce back on Friday at 3 on the road at Detroit Central.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant played on both sides of the ball for Southview in their 23-21 season-opening victory over St. Francis de Sales. According to an intrepid MGoPoster who was taking down stats for de Sales, Gant played receiver and finished with one catch for five yards and took a jet sweep for seven yards – there are no defensive stats to be found, though apparently Gant did not record an interception, in case you were wondering.
This week: Southview travels to Toledo Rogers on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
According to Andrew at Touch the Banner, Godin recorded two tackles in the first half before sitting out the second with an apparent concussion in Detroit Catholic Central's 42-0 trouncing of Dearborn Fortson.
This week: DCC heads to Ohio to take on Delphos St. John's on Friday at 7:30. Let's hope Godin's injury isn't too serious.
UT FB Sione Houma
This week: The 2-0 Rams have their home opener against Provo at 7 on Friday night.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Lakewood St. Edward defeated Glenville 17-14 in their season opener, but did so without Kalis, who was sidelined with an injury:
Michigan recruit and offensive tackle Kyle Kalis was in street clothes on the St. Edward sideline with a dislocated kneecap. Finotti said he's "day to day." He could return as early as next week or in two to three weeks.
This week: St. Edward travels to Pittsburgh to take on Penn Hills on Friday. We'll see if Kalis is able to suit up.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson did not play last week, as La Costa Canyon begins its season on Friday against Marina.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
This week: On Friday at 7, Park Hill has its home opener against Ruskin.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped its opener to Hamilton, 28-14, as Ringer sat out the game with a broken hand suffered in the previous week's scrimmage. Ringer said on Twitter that the injury might require surgery, but he's hoping to get back on the field in a soft cast next week.
This week: Northmont plays at Princeton on Friday at 7:30.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's dominated their first game against Grand Rapids West Catholic, finishing with a 35-0 shutout. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan (another name you might recognize) was at the game ($), and reported that Ross tallied three solo tackles (two for loss) and four assists.
This week: The Eaglets host Toledo (OH) St. John's Jesuit on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills fell to La Salle in their opener, 42-21. No stats (obviously) or mention of Stacey in the game article.
This week: The Highlanders will try to pick up their first win of the year at Harrison on Friday at 7:30.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
Crete-Monee defeated Thornton Fractional South by a score of 32-8 in their opener. Standifer reported to me on Twitter that he finished with eight tackles, making sure to mention that Thornton didn't throw his way during the game.
This week: The Warriors head to Lincoln-Way West on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
Mentor defeated Euclid 49-21 in their first game of the season. No stats were readily available for Strobel, so this is the part where I remind you to contact me if you come across these kinds of things. Thanks.
This week: The Cardinals host Ursuline on Friday at 7.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Sycamore beat Withrow, 38-24, to open the season. Williams didn't record a catch, though his quarterback ran the ball 16 times for four touchdowns, so I'm guessing he didn't have many opportunities to do so.
This week: The Aviators, whose mascot is not a pair of cool sunglasses, bro, have their home opener against Springboro on Friday at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
Buchtel's matchup with Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington was featured in a Rivals AMP video, and Wilson was credited with 6 1/2 tackles, though his team ultimately fell by a score of 31-6. Highlights, including a couple nice tackles by the future Wolverine:
This week: The Griffins hope to notch their first win of the year on the road at Steubenville on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley
Toledo Whitmer blew out Start, 42-6, and TomVH once again comes through with the stats – two tackles, one QB hurry, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for Wormley. The Whitmer defense held Start to just 108 yards of total offense.
This week: The Panthers host some of our neighbors to the north as London (Ontario) Lucas travels to Toledo for a Friday night game at 7. I'll be filming this one for next week's Creeper Van Original.
KY S Jeremy Clark
North Hopkins went on the road to defeat Graves County, 42-13, and Clark had quite the game, finishing with 12 tackles, an interception, and capping off the scoring with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown, according to TomVH. It's great to see Clark do so well, but this is the point where I start to get nervous that a big-time program might offer him more than a grayshirt and he could jump ship.
This week: The Maroons look to improve to 2-1 when they host North Hardin on Friday at 8.
MI QB Shane Morris
Morris and his Warren De La Salle squad dominated my alma mater, Ann Arbor Pioneer, 43-28. Morris completed 12 of 15 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, and Fox 2 has a brief highlight clip from the game:
This week: De La Salle plays Carmen-Ainsworth at Lake Shore on Friday at 7.