According to a text he sent to Tom VanHaaren, FL DT Richard Ash has committed to Michigan. Ash is a Pahokee kid, the fourth to sign on with Michigan in three years, and either a three-tech DT (ie: Ryan Van Bergen) or a strongside defensive end.
Early in the recruiting year he had a ton of tres impressive offers—Florida, Miami, USC—but his options dwindled as those schools filled up. He committed to West Virginia just a couple weeks ago, but that was always shaky and Doc Holliday's departure to become Marshall's head coach was the final nail in their coffin.
More informative update on its way.
Defensive tackle lovers, rejoice! Michigan has extended the Pahokee pipeline into the Class of 2010 (Martavious Odoms was the '08 representative, and Vincent Smith and Brandin Hawthorne hailed from the Muck in the 2009 class) by convincing FL DT Richard Ash to switch his commitment from West Virginia to the Wolverines.
|3*, #48 DT||4*, #24 DT||3*, 77, #52 DT|
The three sites don't quite agree on what they think of Ash's ability, and Rivals is definitely the outlier, as they give him 4 stars and say he's the 24th-best DT in the class. ESPN's evaluation:
Ash moves around the defensive line in high school and at this point he is a bit of a 'tweener between the tackle and end spot. He could start off in college as a defensive end, but in the long run we think he projects as a defensive tackle or...
Not too much evaluation of his ability, but rather just his eventual position. Scout lets Richard talk about his strengths and weaknesses:
“I’m quick off the ball. I have a good first step and have great hands. I use them good and have great technique. I like to play quick and fast.
“I want to run better and get faster in the forty. I’d like to be more explosive because that would help me get more sacks.”
So he's quick (understandable for a smaller DT), and claims to have good technique. He needs to get into better shape, from the sounds of things. Not sure how he can reconcile "I am quick" with "I need to get more explosive," but whateva. His coach, the improbably-named Blaze Thompson, praises his work ethic and athleticism.
Long story short: He's a moderate prospect with more upside (he's only played football since 9th grade) than immediate potential.
Update: duplicate effort here, but I've got some other quotes to throw in:
Ash was an obvious D-I prospect early; when he showed up at the Miami Nike camp Rivals' Barry Every praised his "great body structure and really long arms," calling him "easily the best-looking interior defensive lineman physically in the camp."
In June, the Miami Herald ranked him a meh 90th in the state, saying:
90. Richard Ash, DT, 6-3, 265, Pahokee: After a solid junior season, this gifted athlete continues to make a lasting impression this spring. Talking with college coaches, they just love his quickness, strength and knowledge of the game. Plays the run very well and knows how to penetrate the backfield. Has steadily become a major force for one of the premier teams in the state of Florida.
The Orlando Sentinel, on the other hand, had him the third best defensive lineman in the state and declared his "great speed" made him "special."
Ash went to Florida's camp and didn't do so well. This is from SoFlaFootball's Luke Stampini:
No one seems to know for sure [about Ash and UF], a lot of speculation. Some say UF has cooled on him, but I can't find a straight answer.
He came to UF's camp out of shape and tested poorly in the 40 and vert. He performed well in 1-on-1's, but certainly not to the level of Ronald Powell (All-World DE from Cali).
This is a theory that one Richard Ash also supports:
"I've been hearing things that Florida doesn't want me after I tested at camp because of my 40 and my vertical," Ash told GatorBait.net. "I did good in the one-on-ones but I guess the 40 and vertical lowered me on Florida's scale. … They didn't like me as much after camp. That's what I've been hearing."
Somewhat oddly, the USC offer came after the meh camp performances. Later, Stampini would follow up on that in response to a West Virginia fan:
I doubt [WVU pulled its offer]. Florida did for some reason (most believe poor 40 and vert at camp), but UF has had some screwy recruitments that I think will come back and haunt them.
Then FSU came out and said they dropped Richard as well, but it was interesting timing coming a day after Richard basically said he would not be going to FSU in an interview.
LSU and USC Trojans appear to want Ash to commit, and I thought WVU was in Ash's top 4 with USF also.
One defensive coach I've talked to loves the fact Ash has a good frame to add weight, long arms, moves very well for his size, is 16 yrs old still, and is from Pahokee. He feels he can take those characteristics, coach him up a couple years and have an All-Conference caliber player.
And a final scouting report from Stampini:
Well Florida and FSU offered him. UF really wanted him to commit early, but he went and worked out at their camp tested poorly, performed average and the Gators dropped him. Before that Ash did an article stating he wasn't going to FSU (for whatever reason he never liked them) and the next day it comes out FSU was no longer recruiting him.
Now Ash has all the physical tools to be extremely good, but it his motivation has come into question. If someone can get in his head to work hard, get in shape, go all out every snap, he could get paid to play the game. Sometimes lighting a fire under someones rear is easier said than done though. Another issue with Ash (and most of those Pahokee lineman) is his play did not improve from his JR year to SR year like most prospects.
So… yeah, the rollercoaster was understandable.
At one point Ash's offer list stacked up with anyone's. As early as May, when his stock was "exploding," he had 14 offers, some of them major. In June, Florida had offered and led. In early July, USC offered and moved into the lead. Plus when he committed the first time around he mentioned offers from Michigan, LSU, Ole Miss, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, South Carolina, and UCLA plus a bunch of others. An absolute ton of schools were after this guy.
The weird bit is that when Ash committed these were the schools in his final five other than West Virginia:
The 6-foot-4, 265-pound defensive tackle also listed USC, Rutgers, Minnesota and South Florida as three schools he was seriously interested in.
What a bizarre list. USC plus three schools that are Lilliputian recruiters relative to the Trojans. And no Michigan, the school he would commit to in two weeks.
So what happened? It appeared a bunch of schools cooled off on Ash after some uninspiring camp performances. By September, Ash was reporting that USC offer but mentioning that he hadn't heard from them in a while. Florida turned off their interest more explicitly, as Stampini detailed above.
The UCLA interest was sincere and persistent, as he went on an official there. LSU brought him in for the Florida game, too, and West Virginia and Michigan were both hot after him. So not everyone was turned off, just the two programs who can basically pick and choose perfect prospects all day.
His high school stats weren't explosive but this is a defensive tackle. Junior:
Ash had 80 tackles, seven for loss, four sacks, and one interception.
FAKE 40 TIME
All three recruiting sites have Ash listed in the 4.85 to 4.9 range, so there's some internal consistency at least. That's a believable time for a defensive end, but since Ash is expected to move to tackle, and admits he wants to work on his speed, it's worthy of two FAKEs out of five.
Ash is a defensive tackle, and therefore doesn't have any fil... wha? Here's the Richard Ash highlight reel:
There are also some impressive senior highlights, but I can't embed them.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ash is not an immediate-impact type, and with Michigan's current depth on the defensive line, he won't be pushed into duty as a true freshman. A redshirt is in order to bulk up for the defensive tackle position or get into shape to be a big defensive end for 3-man fronts. Whichever position the coaches decide to let him play, he'll need a year under the strength and conditioning program to be ready to make contributions.
Ash is a boom-or-bust prospect. The up-and-down recruiting saga indicates a player with outstanding natural talent but some motivation and work ethic issues that USC and Florida don't have to take chances on. Thus the offers that ended up retracted. (The Florida State issue just appeared to be Ash not having much interest.)
Hopefully at Michigan he'll be more boom than bust, as he'll be around three other Pahokee kids who seem to be extremely hard workers—Odoms, at least, works like a dog on the field—and under the tutelage of Mike Barwis. If you end up at Michigan, you're going to end up working hard. He's also young for his grade, as Stampini mentions above, which gives him yet more upside. There's always a chance any prospect washes out entirely and Ash is farther away from his ceiling than really high-level prospects, but that ceiling appears to be about the same. If he puts in the work, he can be an all-conference player.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now has two three-tech defensive tackles (ie, RVBs) committed with OH DT Terrance Talbott the other. That meets a major need since Van Bergen is coming up on his junior year and the only other player on the depth chart is fifth-year senior Greg Banks. Assuming that these guys don't decommit a la Dequinta Jones and Pearlie Graves last year, Michigan will have filled that spot with a couple of slightly undersized guys who will probably take a redshirt—Banks gives Michigan that luxury—and then start a long war to be the nominal starter once Van Bergen graduates.
Since MI DT Jonathan Hankins plays the nose, he is still an option.
Etc.: Maybe Ash ended up not committing to USC because he watched The Day After Tomorrow too much?
“I was worried cause they say they have earthquakes, mudslides and wildfires.”
How do any of those differed from riding out a hurricane in Florida?
“Oh, see that’s something I’m used to, I ain’t ever experienced an earthquake,” said a laughing Ash.
TOM: So, you made your college decision, which is....
KEN: Michigan. I chose Michigan today.
TOM: Ok, congratulations. The decision was between Michigan and Pitt right?
KEN: Yea, it was between Michigan and Pittsburgh. It just came down to how I felt last Saturday at the barbecue, so I went with them.
TOM: What was really the difference maker between Michigan and Pitt?
KEN: Just the way that Michigan is going to be on the rise, and I want to be a part of something special. Michigan was my favorite team growing up, which also had something to do with it.
TOM: Was that one of the messages that the coaches spread at the barbecue? We're on the rise, and get on board now.
KEN: Yea, they said it's a great time to be a Michigan Wolverine, and jump on board. I feel the coaches are going to do something special there, and I wanted to be a part of it.
TOM: What coach did you bond with the most?
KEN: Coach Gibson, I built a good relationship with him and Coach Tall.
TOM: So aside from the coaches, when you were at the BBQ, did you get a chance to meet with any of the other commits or recruits?
KEN: I got a chance to talk to Jordan Paskorz. I've known him for awhile, since he's from the PA area, and we go to a lot of the same camps. I also got to meet Kyle Prater, which was pretty good. It was pretty cool to meet some of those guys, and see what they're thinking about.
TOM: You thought you felt comfortable around them too?
KEN: Oh yea, I felt very comfortable.
TOM: Have you talked to Greg Robinson at all?
KEN: Yeah, I talked to him before the barbecue started, and we sat down and watched Denver Broncos film from when he was there. We talked about some of the stuff he wants to do with me when I'm up there. He said I can drop back, line up inside, outside; a lot of versatility stuff that a lot of other guys can't do. He sees that with me, for the quick position.
TOM: So, your recruitment is over and done. Congratulations.
KEN: Yea, man, I'm completely sold on Michigan. This is the school I'll be attending for the next 4 years. I'm going to start trying to recruit some kids now like Cullen Christian and Brandon Ifill. I know they've got interest in Michigan, and I met them at the Scout combine, so I'll try to get them up there.
This first started with a message board post around these parts, and now we've confirmed it with two additional sources close to the situation: freshman offensive tackle Dann O'Neill has left the team. It's unclear whether he's transferring or giving up football.
Now… as we learned to our collective terror during the McGuffie transfer wobbling, these things aren't official until they are official. This appears to be a done deal, however, and has passed the threshold of likelihood where it's worth reporting. Thus: this post.
The departure shouldn't affect Michigan's 2009 season, as O'Neill wasn't on the two-deep and had never been mentioned as a threat to find playing time. Most of what we'd heard on him was along the lines of "great frame but needs a ton of work with both technique and strength." But he was a big-time recruit in the hybrid Carr/Rodriguez class, and his washout is disappointing. With Kurt Wermers' departure that six-member line class is now down to four; further departures will start cutting into players earmarked as future starters.
The good news is that Barnum, Khoury, and Omameh have all positioned themselves as future starters, possibly as early as this year, and are unlikely to depart. Elliot Mealer's recovery from his shoulder injury makes him something of a wild-card, but he's also been the subject of scattered positive reports.
This takes Michigan to approximately 21 scholarships in the 2010 class, but Michigan is probably going to have to fill O'Neill's spot with another offensive lineman; expect four to sign up, with OH guard/center Christian Pace already in the fold.