Mike Weber [Photo: Dave Nasternak/MGoBlog]
Yes, FBO is back after being mostly absent last year; if you're unfamiliar, this is the series in which I go to high school games involving Michigan commits/targets, get some video, and provide my best attempt at a scouting report. Helping me this year is MGoRightHandMan Dave Nasternak, who took all the photos and video for us at Friday's Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
The two featured games this week are Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park; despite our two spare batteries, the camera started running out of juice during the late game, so I've only included highlights from Cass Tech's offense for that one. Show? On with it.
Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Overview: OLSM pulled out a 21-19 victory thanks to a big-time performance from soph. QB Kanye Harris (21-36, 303 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and long touchdowns by senior MSU commit Tyson Smith (60-yard receiving TD) and sophomore WR Kahlee "KJ" Hamler (47-yard punt return TD). Despite being at a major size disadvantage up front, OLSM dominated Southfield in the trenches, leaving no room to run for four-star 2016 RB Matt Falcon (5 carries, 5 yards), who missed a decent portion of the game with an apparent ankle injury.
[Hit THE JUMP for video highlights and scouting reports on Mike Weber, Josh Ross, Lavert Hill, Matt Falcon, and several others.]
Presumably after crossing the goal line [via 247]
If you missed the news last night, four-star Cass Tech running back Mike Weber committed to Michigan, and the way it went down instantly found its rightful place in Hilarious Recruiting Victories Over Michigan State lore. Weber was slated to visit East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon; instead, this happened:
“The environment and the way I felt about it when I was down there, and the way they see me in the backfield, and having a degree from Michigan would set me up, and having my whole family be able to come watch me, I just made the move,” Weber reeled off.
Weber instead visited Michigan after "oversleeping," and missing his trip to East Lansing.
The quotation marks make that last statement 1000 times better.
The commitment capped a huge effort on Michigan's part to get back into Weber's good graces—spearheaded by Doug Nussmeier, Chris Singletary, and Alex Malzone—over the last several months. The Spartans led the way for much of that span, but in the end the U-M coaches made Weber feel like he was their top priority at running back, which Weber justifiably felt he wasn't when Damien Harris was the main focus at the position.
In the last couple weeks, Michigan's secured the top two 2015 in-state recruits—receiver Brian Cole being the other—both of whom were considered Spartan leans for quite some time. Let's check in with the RCMB...
Don't be so hard on yourself, JARGON. I'm sure you'll get that fifth star before long.
4*, #13 RB,
4*, #10 RB,
4*, 82, #14 RB,
4*, 94, #13 RB,
4*, #14 RB,
There's a pretty solid consensus on Weber's talent, as all four sites have him in the 10-14 range on their running back position rankings and well within the top 200 overall prospects.
They're also in relative agreement about his size, listing him at either 5'9" or 5'10" and 205-210 pounds. He measured in at 5'10", 205 at a recent Rivals camp; he's very much got the compact, sturdy frame of a running back.
Weber came to Cass Tech with high expectations after an outstanding youth football career, but had to wait to make an impact after losing his freshman season to injury. That impact would come as a sophomore in 2012, when he passed older, more experienced backs Deon Drake and Gary Hosey to earn the bulk of the carries for the Technicians. Despite being limited by a hamstring injury early in the season, he'd rush for 1700 yards and 21 TDs, then led the way in Cass Tech's second straight state title game victory over Catholic Central:
Running back [Mike] Weber came into his own for Cass Tech, amassing 186 yards on 20 carries and helping the Technicians to keep the ball and clock moving throughout the second half. Weber averaged 9.3 yards per rush and Catholic Central never seemed to find a solution for him.
The highlights from that game, which feature several current or future Wolverines, show off Weber's ability to turn the corner:
Weber's scouting reports are remarkably in line with each other, calling him a well-rounded back who can play on every down, and while he lacks track star speed or Hyde-ian power he possesses a lot of the same skills as Mike Hart. Here's ESPN's underclassman eval ($):
STRENGTHS: A solid runner with a low center of gravity. Displays the ability to push the pile and gain the tough yards. A powerful back with great playing strength. Runs with good lean and a high knee action allowing him to break arm tackles. Flashes a nice burst and adequate top-end speed. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will benefit from improving elusiveness in the open field and enhancing his playmaking ability. Not a burner that will consistently win footraces against elite opponents. Can be a short stepper with slight hip tension. ... BOTTOM LINE: Weber is an decisive runner with every down potential . A true load carrier type of back who projects well in physical running attack. His short stature and lower body strength are assets.
Scout's profile lists cutback ability, hands, and vision as strengths, with power his lone area to improve, and echoes the "complete back" sentiment:
Weber is a compact back who runs with good patience. He is a slasher with a good burst and good acceleration. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and also does a nice job in pass protection. He has run largely out of the shotgun in high school and would have to adjust if he goes to more of a traditional I-form team in college. He's shown the ability to run between the tackles but is not a true power back. - Allen Trieu
Trieu elaborated on Weber's running ability in Scout's free commitment capsule:
As far as long speed, he may not be a 4.3 type track star, but is capable of running away from defenders and getting the corner. However, he's at his best between the tackles. ... While he may not be known as a power back, he runs hard, runs with attitude and finishes his runs. In the open field, he's more of a straight ahead guy than a make you miss type elusive runner.
247's Clint Brewster also says that Weber doesn't quite possess that extra gear in the open field, saying instead that he has "more deceptive speed," and he agrees with Trieu that Weber's power is overlooked ($):
Weber has a sense of urgency, as he presses the line of scrimmage but also has the vision to find the cut back lane. He has very good short-area-quickness and can burst through a small crease if space is available. He has great overall strength and can really push the pile. Weber has a good stiff-arm and breaks a lot of tackles. He is always falling forward after a run. Weber has a low center of gravity and does a good job of lowering his pad level to take on blockers and keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards.
Weber's all-around ability surfaced wherever he went, whether playing for Cass Tech or performing against top national competition on the camp circuit. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt named Weber the top offensive performer at last year's Prep Kickoff Classic after he scored twice against a Southfield squad featuring Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell ($):
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Weber picked up where he left off as a sophomore when he was an offensive catalyst for Cass Tech's Division I state title. Weber scored touchdowns on a 30-yard screen pass in the first half and a 16-yard run in the second half. If possible, he looked even more explosive than he did a year ago. Weber has always shown great start-and-stop ability, and he gets to top speed instantly. His size and speed make him a threat between the tackles and on the edge.
After an excellent junior campaign, Weber has really impressed this spring and summer. He was the clear choice for top performer at the RCS Detroit, according to Adam Friedman ($):
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands. He wasn't afraid to take on the bigger linebackers that tried to knock him off his routes. Weber's ability to turn a short catch into a long reception is outstanding.
That performance eventually earned him the #5 spot on Rivals' list of top running backs at all of their Rivals Camp Series events ($).
Sam Webb was in attendance for The Opening, where Weber once again showed off his versatility ($):
On day one his ability to make moves in the open field was showcased. On day two he showed himself to be a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield. Early in 7-on-7 action his QBs looked to him only as an outlet. He rewarded them with some chain-moving grabs on swing passes and crossing routes. They ignored him on the wheel-route though, and that was a mistake. Weber ran by safeties all day long on the route but the QB just wouldn’t look his way. He grew increasingly frustrated but never loafed on route. Then finally on one of the late games he broke open down the sideline and Josh Rosen looked in his direction. Rosen laid the ball up perfectly for Mikey to run under and it was hauled in for six.
Scout national analyst Jamie Newberg was duly impressed ($):
“Weber I thought was tremendous,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newburg. “I loved him on film. After I got our here, he is more of a compact running back with great explosiveness. Put together a little better than Damien Harris, our number one running back in the country. He catches the ball exceptionally well. He is terrific in space. He is not committed yet, but someone up in the Midwest in Big Ten country is going to get themselves a one heck of a running back. He is ultra quick, very good speed and very versatile, cause obviously he can run and he showed out here he can catch the football.”
I'll give the last word to The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, who's probably seen Weber in game action more than the rest of these scouts combined (save perhaps Trieu). He believes Weber is an ideal fit for Michigan's offense under Doug Nussmeier ($):
Weber is an outstanding fit for the zone running scheme, a one-cut back who has the acceleration to plant his foot in the turf when he sees a hole and run to daylight. He is a very nice physical specimen - a testament to his natural talent and also his work ethic - who has power and speed. He is still developing a killer's mentality when it comes to running over defenders, but he has enough quickness in the hole and pure speed to make that a less important factor.
To sum it up, Weber is an every-down back who can run outside or between the tackles, possesses the acceleration to get the corner and enough speed to make his share of big plays, isn' t the easiest back to bring down, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he's a willing blocker to boot. His vision and style should play very well in Michigan's zone running scheme, as well.
Weber held offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, NC State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin when he pledged to Michigan. Alabama and Notre Dame, among others, reportedly showed interest.
Please don't make me list all the Cass Tech people.
According to 247, Weber rushed for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore, then followed that up with 1659 yards and 24 scores in 2013.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals hand-timed (I believe) Weber at 4.47 seconds in the 40 at one of their camps, which gets three FAKEs out of five; since it's a hand time, add a tenth of a second or two and you're probably in the right range.
Sophomore reel that leans too heavily on slow-mo but I'm a sucker for a highlight tape soundtracked by M83:
Single-game cut-ups of Weber's performance last season against Southfield, courtesy of Maize & Blue News:
His between-the-tackles burst is really impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Weber should be afforded a redshirt year with Justice Hayes, Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, Drake Johnson, and Ross Douglas all possessing at least a year of eligibility left when he gets on campus; that is, if he doesn't earn a spot in the running back rotation right away, which wouldn't be unusual for a freshman with his talent level.
By his second year on campus, he should be competing for carries, and by 2017—when Green and Smith will have exhausted their eligibility, as well as Hayes the year prior—he'll be in the mix for a starting role; he'll be the presumed starter if Ty Isaac gets a waiver to play this fall, though that seems unlikely. Even if Isaac sits out this year, Weber is a different type of back and should garner plenty of playing time before taking over the starting roll full-time as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Weber is Michigan's 10th commit in the 2015 class and the lone running back in the group. We're projecting three open spots right now, with defensive end, outside linebacker, and perhaps another offensive linemen presenting the biggest areas of need. CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, NC SDE Darian Roseboro, and IN OLB Asmar Bilal are probably the top prospects on Michigan's board at the moment.
You Know The Drill
Michigan's latest 2014 offer, Warren De La Salle linebacker and current Penn State commit Jared Wangler, will visit campus today along with his father, former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, per Jared's Twitter. Wangler plans to decide between sticking with PSU and flipping to Michigan before the start of football season, and while many expect him to choose the Wolverines today, that's not coming from Wangler — he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that he's "not planning on committing today," and you can read into that however you like.
I think Wangler will end up at Michigan, but it's certainly not guaranteed; don't count out the fact that Penn State was the first major program to offer him. He even passed up an offer from LSU that came in a couple weeks after his initial commitment. That said, his father and brother didn't play for the Tigers, and the Wanglers being something of a Michigan institution should factor heavily into his final decision.
A 150+ Comment Thread Suggests I Should Talk About This
Michigan State's hiring of Curtis Blackwell as their de facto recruiting coordinator paid immediate dividends yesterday when 2015 Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbell committed to the Spartans. Campbell was one of several top in-state juniors in East Lansing yesterday — Technician teammates Mike Weber and Josh Alabi, Saginaw athlete Brian Cole, Oak Park athlete John Kelly, and Saint Clair Shores lineman Kyonta Stallworth (who may or may not have committed, and almost certainly will eventually) were also present. Getting that many key local targets on campus — and pulling in commitments from two of them, most likely — is a big step for State, and the credit should rightfully go to Blackwell, who has a relationship with all of these players from his time running Sound Mind Sound Body and coaching the Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 squad.
HOWEVA, the consternation among Michigan fans in the wake of Campbell's commitment is unnecessary for a couple of reasons:
- Campbell, in all likelihood, was never going to get a Michigan offer. CA five-star Josh Rosen is the only 2015 QB with an offer, and I don't believe Campbell was even in the next group of signal-callers being considered by the Wolverines. Having watched Campbell play many times over the course of the last two years, I don't think he has the pure arm strength — especially on short-to-intermediate routes — that this coaching staff wants in a quarterback. You can watch the tape and judge for yourself.
- Michigan's projected to take a very small class in 2015, and so far they're pursuing elite national prospects to fill those coveted spots. Weber's potential place in the class was taken by Damien Harris, a higher-ranked running back; Kelly wasn't under serious consideration for an early offer; and the Wolverines may only take two offensive linemen — with Jon Runyan Jr. already in the fold and Michigan looking good for PA four-star tackle Sterling Jenkins, I don't think Stallworth was going to get one, either. Cole and Alabi are the only two guys among yesterday's MSU visitors who could be counted as real head-to-head losses for Michigan, and neither is guaranteed to end up at State by any means.
Is Campbell a solid pickup for State? Certainly. He's made great strides as a passer in the last two years while quarterbacking CT to back-to-back state titles and he gives MSU a commitment from the state's best talent factory.
Is this a major blow to Michigan? Nope. The Wolverines could strike out on every top in-state junior and still put together one of the best classes in the country; in case anyone has forgotten, they're already off to a very good start in that regard.
[Hit THE JUMP for perhaps the worst recruiting pitch ever, the latest on Malik McDowell's transfer to Southfield, and more.]
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Cass Tech's Hell Week, the latest on the Technician juniors, Maurice Hurst's surprising versatility, and more.
All Cass Tech Everything
Dick's Sporting Goods was on hand during Cass Tech's "Hell Week" to chronicle their preparation for the season. Part one is above and you can find the rest of the videos at their YouTube page. Jourdan Lewis features briefly in episode one. Head coach Thomas Wilcher does not seem like the type you'd want to cross, to say the least.
The star of Cass Tech's opening week victory, junior corner Damon Webb, currently has a top four of LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State (no order), according to ESPN's Jared Shanker ($). Webb will check out the Michigan State-Boise State matchup this weekend and plans to head to games at each of his top schools; expect him to visit the Big House multiple times this year.
Matt Pargoff continues to compile highlights from last weekend's action, and junior LB William White's tape is well worth a watch. White is #6 in, er, white, though you won't have to look hard find him—he's the heat-seeking missile:
White got a little too focused on laying big hits in the middle there, trying to lay guys out with his shoulder instead of wrapping up, but that's an easy fix. If he can learn to play more controlled, Big Ten offers await. According to Tim Sullivan, White is already hearing from Michigan State and Ohio State ($)
Pargoff also has highlights of junior LB/RB Deon Drake from Saturday; he did most of his work on offense and was a load to bring down, even for MSU commit Jon Reschke.
[Hit THE JUMP for Maurice Hurst Jr. doing things no 300-pound man should be able to do.]