"He's a hard worker, and he watched me and Tim (Hardaway Jr.) and Nik (Stauksas) put work in to become (first-round picks), and I'm just happy he's getting better," Burke said. "It's great for the program, too. It shows what type of program the University of Michigan is and the direction it continues to go in."
chris rock (not that chris rock)
You will be surprised to find out which of these men is Chris Rock, or at least you would if you didn't know already.
Redshirt-freshman-to-be Chris Rock, he of the name that looks almost exactly like former Wisconsin basketball player Kammron Taylor, has left the program.
Rock hadn't played yet (obviously) and didn't make much impact in spring, so the departure shouldn't affect Michigan's projected performance in 2012 unless things get ugly at the three-tech spot. And since there are a couple of large incoming freshmen who may have beaten Rock out, this could be a writing on the wall type of scenario. Rock's star fell precipitously after his commitment to Michigan, something his recruiting profile acknowledged. He was a developmental guy, and if he wasn't developing meaningful wink wink ellipsis goes here…
The previous assumption of 20 open spots given fifth year non-renewals now moves to 21. Michigan was probably going to take two SDE/3tech guys unless they pulled a star secondary recruit out of nowhere, so priorities don't really shift. Expect 1 RB, 1 WR, 2-3 DL, and maybe that secondary guy with Michigan's six-ish remaining spots.
This is the continuation of last week's glance at the defensive line prospects from the perspective of body size against M linemen of yore at the same age. The point was to try to project what a certain body size and shape becomes and use that to relate the huge DL crop of 2012 to players we're maybe more familiar with.
This came about when I figured tried sorting the BMI (metric weight divided by height squared) of past players and found similar guys of memory ended up beside each other. Again, BMI is really for assessing whether normal people who are not 18-year-old athletes are overweight; do not interpret the numbers as any measure of how "in shape" any of these guys are.
Last week I did the nose tackles. Moving up the line is the DT, or the 3-tech. A quick technique refresher:
Mentally shift the "1" in a 4-3 under to shaded over the center. In Mattison's defense the 3-tech is the guy lined up in the "3" spot on the line, shaded on the outside shoulder of a guard. He's the "4-3 Pass Rush Tackle," and this defense is designed to let him be more of an attacker than a "plugger." Pursuant to our discussion, greater heights that create leverage problems at the nose are not so much of a problem at 3-tech, which makes this guy more of a 3-4 DE than your traditional over-the-guard tackle. And lo the heights climb—a good 2 inches more than NT among Michigan's DTs.
I thought about sprinkling in the SDEs since there's considerable overlap. Mentally start 5-techs around Willie Henry (B.Graham is above that). I'm leaving in the current players nominally slated for DT.
|3T/5T||Ryan Van Bergen||2007||6'5||260||30.8||34.1||9.7%|
You can see there's a lot of overlap, but in general the big dudes end up inside and the leaner guys are out. Latest recruit Willie Henry is right with Kenny Wilkins as kind of tweeners between NT and DT, comparable to Will Johnson, who maintained his weight (though it was much Barwicized), and Larry Harrison, who added a lot of it and played beside like-massed Watson in a more even front.
So long as Michigan runs a 4-3 under you need to stop looking at a 265-pound freshman "DT" and imagine him lifting his way to 300. The talk of "frame" and "carrying more weight" could matter if you're expecting Henry to be a breather for Pipkins (he might be) but not if he's a 3-tech.
After a drop-off you get to the RS freshmen Rock and Heitzman, and incoming Wormley and Godin. This is the Ryan Van Bergen/Norman Heuer*/Grant Bowman region which slowly drifts down a list of tweener 3- and 5-techs like Biggs, Zenkewicz, Banks, and Feazell, then Normal Heuer.*
Those guys were a little smaller than seems optional at the position, but they're also both quintessential Hoke DTs; if Wormley becomes RVB2 and Godin is Bowman, that would be win. Quinton Washington was a larger freshman than any of these guys, much larger than even Alan Branch or 22-year-old freshman Renaldo Sagesse. Q has dropped his BMI by 7.6% to reach a playing shape still large for 3-Tech but not as big as Branch (who was 6'6) played. A freakmonster like Branch or (pro comparison) Shaun Rogers/Tommy Kelly can do well here by bull-rushing hapless guards on a direct route to emptying a QB's alveoli…
(after the jump, you know what's coming)
News bullets and other important items:
- Brennen Beyer should be fine for bowl practice.
- Team will go back to fundamentals and technique during bowl practice and develop younger players.
- Quinton Washington, Keith Heitzman, and Chris Rock are improving on the D-line. Coaches also trying to coach up Richard Ash.
- Bowl practice schedule will depend on which bowl they go to. Team will be active this week.
“It’s great to go out and play well enough to win. I think there’s some things we all know we have to do a better job with when you look at the whole football game, but I think our guys responded well. As a team, I’ve said it many times, but they really complement each other offensively and defensively and in the kicking game. It’s great to win a football game. Anytime you can win that great rivalry game, it’s good.”
Borges has been saying all season that the offense is eventually going to come along. Have we been seeing that the last two weeks?
“You know, I think a couple things: number one, [Denard has] grown and matured as a Michigan quarterback throughout the course of the year. I think the decisiveness that he has run the football with when he’s made that decision, that there’s some open area or whatever has really been good the last couple weeks. I think that’s helped his confidence. I thought he ran extremely hard with the ball on Saturday. When we can rush the ball for 277 yards, it helps you obviously when you get into the throw game. And in the passing game, I thought he made three really good throw again. He was 14 of 17, so his accuracy and completion rate was pretty doggone good. I think he just keeps growing.”
What was the mood like the last 36 hours? Have you been hearing from a lot of people?
“Yeah, I mean there’s a lot of text messages that I haven’t even seen yet to be honest with you. It’s nice and it’s great that people want to congratulate you, but we’re not done with this year yet. Our goal was to win the conference championship and we didn’t do that, so we have a lot more to prove.”
What do you think about the Urban Meyer hire?
“You know, he’s not going to play a down and neither am I. To me, I’ve known Urban. He’s a good football coach. He’s a good guy, I’ll welcome him in, but this is still Michigan and Ohio. It’s still going to be that rivalry. Neither one of us is going to play a game.”
(more after the jump)
|Columbus, OH - 6'5" 250|
|Scout||3*, #70 DE|
|Rivals||3*, #50 SDE, #38 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #34 DE|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, MSU, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati|
|YMRMFSPA||A poor man's Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim. He caught Rock's game against OLSM.|
|Notes||Columbus DeSales (Patrick Omameh).|
When Chris Rock's parents named their baby boy they could not anticipate the electric success of another guy named Chris Rock or the tortured googling that bloggers would be forced into as a result. Blogs didn't exist and the other Chris Rock was probably ten. But here we are.
The other Chris Rock, the one who committed to Michigan last May, is a DE/DT whose impressive size and strength saw him named the #4 player in Ohio in January of 2010 by Bucknuts, likely off a huge game in the state semi where he had three sacks. Before that Duane Long ranked him #4 as well, in front of uber-LB Trey DePriest. One of the "most heavily recruited players in the state," he picked up a Notre Dame offer and ended up on ESPN's top 150 watchlist; when he committed to Michigan he was consensus four-star.
Unfortunately, since then his star has been on the wane. Notre Dame's offer went yoink after they pulled in their epic DE class and each rankings revision seemed to knock Rock down a few more pegs until he ended up the consensus meh three star you see above. People started knocking the strength that was an early asset. In his senior year he "struggled to make an impact" as teams went away from him. While that's understandable, a high level D-I prospect should be a terror against D-III high school kids.
The drop came because he just didn't play very well. When Tim caught a DeSales game he came back with a blunt assessment:
I was not impressed with Rock's play. It's possible he was just having a bad night, but there have been reports from this entire season that suggest Rock is "just a guy" out there. Though St. Mary's gameplanned a bit to keep him out of the game (running away from him, double-teaming him, etc.), that's not the only reason he wasn't a factor.
He was routinely stoned by St. Mary's tackle #72, and it's not like that guy's going to go on to play Division-1 football. For being the biggest (not fattest) guy out there, Rock's strength seemed to be seriously lacking, and his movement skills left something to be desired.
Touch The Banner was similarly unenthused:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield.
… My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
… He could be a decent college starter, but he doesn't have the instincts or athleticism to be an elite player for Michigan.
TTB suggests a move to three-tech is in the offing, something that's echoed by Scout's strengths and weaknesses:
Body Control and Balance
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity.
While ESPN is a little more enthusiastic than the other two scouting services, they echo many of TTB's criticisms($). They're a bit less straightforward about it: Rock "can be active with his hands," "needs to watch his pad level," "needs to develop his pass rush arsenal," and "can seem a little rigid in his overall movement." His main asset is "very good" size and a frame that will allow him to pack on the pounds; they also mention the possibility he will end up at defensive tackle.
So there's that. On the good side of the ledger we have frame and size and size and frame, plus intelligence—he might actually execute his plan to major in business and Northwestern and Stanford were also after him—and coachability. One of the guys who worked the OSU Nike camp last year interacted with him and posted about it on Buckeye Planet:
Just worked with the kid this weekend at the Nike Camp, wonderful kid, very coachable, had good dialect with him, had a good concept of how to set up the offensive linemen, and had good hands.
And when Rivals talked to his coach they got a lot of frame stuff($):
"First of all, he's big - he's got a big frame and a long body … He's very athletic for his size. He's a tough kid. He's made a lot of plays. He's led our team in sacks for two years, so he does a nice job of rushing the passer. I think when you get a kid with that size that has that kind of athletic ability and quickness, with even more potential to grow, they become pretty attractive."
"He's pretty athletic, and you're talking about a kid that wears a size 17 shoe, so there's a lot of potential for even more growth," said the DeSales head coach. "I've only seen him at D-end, but I've heard others speculate he could play elsewhere. Depending on how much weight they can put on him, I think he could play on the interior as well."
The consensus: Rock is a smart but weak guy who's an iffy athlete… with giant meaty bones you can hang a lot of muscle on. Sometimes these things work out:
left: high school Will Johnson.
right: terrifying bald fifth-year-senior and good starter Will Johnson
That frame and his early potential netted him a total of 25 BCS offers, including Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. His senior year was a step back but the frame had lots of people thinking they could build Rock into something. Michigan's got three DL coaches, by the way.
If they can slap a redshirt on Rock that would be great, and if they've really moved Kenny Wilkins inside he'll probably be better than Rock as a freshman—he's a guy you'd like to see take a fifth year.
Etc.: 15 sacks and 10 PBUs as a sophomore. First job was at Abercrombie & Fitch. Also he bites his nails. This week in groan-worthy recruiting site headlines($): "Bearcats hope to roll with Chris Rock." Shot of him getting told to get that weak stuff out of here. If you can get this to work, here's a video of Rock tipping and intercepting a pass to clinch a tight game.
Rock on the other Rock:
"Ever since I was little kid, ever since Chris Rock became famous as a comedian," Rock said. "My mom always says I was named before he was famous."
But the question remains: Is Rock humorous?
"Sometimes I can be," he said. "I like to lighten the mood."
Rock on his decision:
“When I think about it and just think about what Michigan has to offer, really they were the only school that offered me that had the total package,” Rock explained. “It has the academic side, the athletic side, and the biggest stadium in the country. I liked the campus a lot when I visited there. I liked the teammates. I know Patrick Omameh. He went to my high school and he is a good kid. If he likes it there I knew I would like it there too. It was really everything.”
Why a poor man's Ryan Van Bergen? For one, that's what the coaching staff told him:
U-M is expected to use Rock in much the same way they use defensive end Ryan VanBergen. During his visit to U-M in March, the coaching staff told Rock they felt he brought similar strengths to the defense as VanBergen.
Van Bergen, like Rock, is a 6'5" SDE/three-tech tweener with decent pass rush skills who doesn't appear to excel at any one thing. Van Bergen was a consensus four star a lot closer to his ceiling upon entering college, though. Rock's contributions seem considerably farther off—or at least they would if Michigan had anything other than panic behind the starters at DT.
Guru Reliability: High. DeSales pumps out D-I players every year and Rock played every game of his career. If the flu excuse is legit he could be more like the player he was hyped up to be in the immediate aftermath of his junior season, but he's probably well pegged.
General Excitement Level: Okay. Seems like a good program kid who will scrape the ceiling of his potential in three or even four years. His potential isn't off the charts, but if Wisconsin and Nebraska were interested I'll take my chances.
Projection: The apparent lack of explosion probably takes DE off the table, so expect Rock to start off at three-tech DT. Without Terry Talbott he may be forced into action early, which he probably won't do well with. He could develop into one of those slightly-above-average pluggers that littered Michigan lines in the mid-aughts; there is a possibility his giant meaty bones eventually allow him to be a bit more.
The 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board is your place for all-time updates. One important note before we get into individual prospects. Coach Rodriguez recently said the coaching staff will narrow its focus from about 150 offered prospects to "around 70" players. This may make me a little more comfortable removing guys that are less-discussed. The Michigan Elite Camp is this weekend, so that will provide a little clarity as well.
Chris Rock Goes Blue
Michigan gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock over the weekend (not the comedian). Unsurprisingly, the local papers in Columbus didn't pick up on the story, but Magnus breaks down his game on Touch the Banner:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield...
My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
For more on Rock, read the Hello: Chris Rock post.
We transition from good news right into stuff not so positive, as a few prospects are coming off the board:
- AR QB Kiehl Frazier. He officially narrowed his list to Arkansas and Auburn last week, and then Black Righty Tebow committed to Auburn.
- OH QB Braxton Miller. He will choose between OSU (the likely destination), Florida, Notre Dame, and Alabama tomorrow.
- SC OL Brandon Shell. He's named a final 5 consisting entirely of Southern schools.
- FL CB Nick Waisome. He named a top 7 without Michigan in it.
Assume The Position: Wide Receiver
I did one of these a few weeks ago (for tight end), and with the amount of information available this week, it's time to take a closer look at the wide receiver position.
Michigan currently has one wide receiver commit, in Shawn Conway out of Birmingham Seaholm High School. Conway is a big outside leaper with great hands, in the mold of Braylon Edwards (though likely not as good, he probably won't have a case of the dropsies on easy balls, either). With the numbers of offers and visits taking place, it's clear that the Wolverines want one more outside guy, and maybe a slot receiver if they can find an elite one.
Fortunately for us, Sam Webb's weekly column in the Detroit News focused on on the wideout position last week, and ran down a few of the Wolverines' top targets. I don't intend to steal Sam's thunder by blockquoting too much of his article, but since the News evilly (and idiotically - good luck finding people to pay for it) puts its articles behind a paywall after a week, I'll be a little more liberal. Please click through to make up for it.
Sammy Watkins (at right):
"Sammy Watkins is the total package as a WR prospect," said Scout.com Florida analyst Geoff Vogt. "He can flat run, has incredibly light feet which allows him to make players miss in the open field, and a body to be that prototype 6-3, 215-pounder down the road.
"I have watched him snare balls thrown as bullets down the middle of the field and he will just leisurely catch them with one hand. He has elite hands. He runs very clean routes and understands how to get separation.
"While I view him as a WR prospect, Sammy could easily be a big-time safety if he chose to go that route."
Michigan, Miami (YTM), and Florida are his top 3. DeAnthony Arnett:
The second-rated prospect in the state dominated opponents in seven-on-seven competitions throughout the winter and spring thanks to his precise route-running and impressive quickness.
"It seems like every camp DeAnthony goes to, he kills it," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Allen Trieu. "He continued to impress with his route-running, hands, and ball skills at the Michigan Football Showcase. He made the play of the tournament when he went up between two defenders and made an outstanding catch to win a game. Arnett continues to move up in our eyes and has proven to be one of the very best in country."
If Michigan has a good season, the Wolverines will probably get back into the mix for Arnett. Theyr'e currently on the outside looking in. AJ Jordan:
"One of the top players in Ohio in his class," his Scout.com profile reads. "Also ranked one of the top 4 hurdlers in the nation. A smooth route runner with a great burst, he can make plays anywhere on the field and makes defenses game-plan against him."
On the recruiting roundup, Sam said Michigan is "definitely in the driver's seat" for Jordan. He'll decide earlier than the other two guys. Those are the three hottest prospects from a Michigan perspective, but there are a few more on the radar should all of these fall through. Michigan also has its eye on a few sot receivers, including NJ ATH Miles Shuler - though Northwestern leads ($, info in header - and MD ATH Darius Jennings.
Scout has had their 2011 prospects rankings out for a while, but the other two sites are slowly-but-surely releasing theirs. Both ESPN and Rivals now have the top recruits ranked, with neither site having any Michigan commits in their top group, but a number of Michigan targets. Some of those are longshots - FL DT Timmy Jernigan, who lists Michigan in his top 6, would still surprise everyone if he left the state of Florida - but many are realistic options. Magnus has a breakdown of Rivals's list. Top 100 lists were also released by the Sporting News and Tom Lemming.
Recruiting Quick Hits
You may remember that NC QB Marquise Williams recently named Michigan among his top three schools, before trimming his list to a final five. He's now made his decision timeline public, as he plans to commit to a school in October ($, info in header). He'll visit Ann Arbor for the Michigan State game on October 9th, so the Wolverines will be fresh in his mind when he makes a decision. I'll go into a little more depth on the QB recruiting situation next week.
Yay Demetrius and all that.
According to Cincinnati recruiting guru Mike Dyer, OH TE Benson Browne plans to visit Michigan this summer. My educated guess will be that he's coming in for camp to try for an offer. He currently holds them from West Virginia, Kansas, Louisville, Minnesota, Miami (Not That Miami) and Central Michigan.
Despite recently receiving a Michigan offer, OH TE Nick Vannett does not have UM in his top group. He's going to start taking trips soon, and wants to have a decision made by July.
FL OL Tony Posada will visit Michigan this summer ($, info in header). He also spoke to ESPN last week (video), mentioning Michigan first, and in his "big ones" category. He claims to be open at this time.
Though their class is starting to fill up, the Buckeyes will hold a spot open for IN DT/OL Joel Hale ($, info in header). It's unclear if Michigan is a player in his recruitment.
MGoBoard's very own Magnus breaks down the game of MD DT Vincent Croce on Touch The Banner:
Strengths: Listed at 5.17 but seemingly plays faster. Ability to chase some players from sideline to sideline. Relentless pass rusher. Very aggressive tackler. Strong upper body. Uses hands well to deliver good initial shock and shed blockers. Good initial surge off the line. Relatively lean frame
Weaknesses: Not a natural knee bender. Stands too high. May get overpowered by strong run-blocking guards. Played significant time at linebacker, which may stunt growth as defensive lineman.
Projection: Could be a solid rotation player as early as second year in program
His weaknesses are mostly technique-based, which could be worked on with college coaching. I also think playing DT only part-time may have led to some of that, and playing LB in high school actually means he has more upside than is shown on film.
GA DT Gabe Wright might officially visit Michigan:
“I’ll probably take all of my unofficial visits to schools that I can drive to and my officials to schools far away,” he says. “I will probably take official visits to schools like Miami, Michigan and maybe USC or UCLA. Also, I might visit Oregon State. It will be late before I make my decision.”
Taking an official would be a good sign for Michigan's chances to land him.
PA LB/DE Desimon Green will officially visit Michigan State, Texas Tech and Pitt, along with a couple other schools to be named later. He gave a slightly different top schools list to Tom, and is expecting a Michigan offer later this week.
TX LB Kellen Jones has picked up a Michigan offer, and called it "a dream come true" ($, info in header). THat sounds very promising should the Wolverines press him for a commitment.
Tom talked to OH LB Sean Duggan, who has Michigan in his top 5. However, it sounds like Notre Dame is a heavy favorite as long as they don't wait too long to offer. The Spartans offered him a couple days ago.
GA CB Avery Walls plans to visit Michigan at some point ($, info in header).
Tom also has (positive) updates on VA LB Corey Marshall, FL DE Giorgio Newberry, and NC LB Kris Frost, among others. Check out his post for the full info.
Michigan Sports Zone talked with NJ CB/RB Solomon Simpkins, and he mentioned that he has early interest in Michigan.
GBW is reporting a commitment($) from Columbus DeSales defensive end Chris Rock. Rock visited for the BBQ and was widely regarded a possible commit going in; it took a little longer but he did indeed sign up. Rock has the offer list of a solid four star, with Nebraska, Michigan, Oregon, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Pitt, and West Virginia among his suitors.
More later after we sift through a thousand links about that other guy named Chris Rock. This is going to be worse than Michael Schofield's commitment.
[Ed: Tim's update below.]
Michigan has gained a commitment from OH DE Chris Rock. Not that Chris Rock.
|3*, #49 DE||250 Watchlist DE||46, NR DE|
Scout says that, although he's a talented DE/TE in high school, there's a chance he could play defensive tackle at the next level:
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity...
As a sophomore he projects as a TE/DE but he's got the physical build to become a OT/DT in the coming years. Very good player who will have played and started at the varsity level for four seasons.
They list his strengths as "Body Control and Balance" and "Intensity/Effort," while saying he needs to improve "Lateral Range" and "Strength." He also describes his own game:
“I work really hard and have a great motor. I’m not the strongest kid, so I use my quickness to my advantage. I’m very disciplined.
“I definitely want to get stronger. I’m also working on my passing rushing moves and learn more moves.”
He's listed consistently at 6-5, and reports on his weight fall in the 235-260 range. GBMW took in a DeSales game, and gave a quick rundown of his physical appearance:
Chris stated his size at 6”5 and 250 pounds. His father appears to be marginally taller than Chris, leading to the possibility that Chris may not be finished in his vertical ascension. There is clear room for Chris to put 20 plus pounds on his frame. Chris does not appear to have much interest in the usual measurements of 40 time and bench press figures. But around 4.9 seemed to be the likely 40-time number.
The usual groaning about the quality of writing on that site applies, but it's still informative. From his next game:
Chris does not mind mixing it up, a trait that is an absolute necessity for a college defensive lineman, where the environment is one of survival of the fittest with no mercy asked or given. Chris contained pretty well all night and several times tackled guys outside the pocket area. He did not get locked up often. Chris also applied good pressure and used those long arms to knock down several passes. Chris rushes the pocket reasonably well, but as of yet is not the rare lightning fast edge rusher every university craves.
So: he's a pass rusher, but not an elite physical specimen like, say Brandon Graham or Craig Roh. That hasn't stopped him from being the most disruptive player on a DeSales defense that has featured several D-1 recruits.
Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long has had him pegged as high as the third best player in Ohio(!). In any class, that position would be a lock for 4-star status, and potential for 5-star. Not sure where Long currently slots Rock, though certainly lower than he did before. How much of that is on the basis of reduced production due to illness or injury his senior year?OFFERS
At the beginning of his junior season, he already held offers from the likes of Notre Dame, Pitt, Cincinnati, and Duke. He followed up with most of the non-Ohio State Big Ten, Nebraska, Stanford, West Virginia, and others. He wasn't getting the attention of the USC/Florida/Alabamas of the world, but a solid BCS-level offer sheet is nothing to sneeze at. Nebraska's offer, given Bo Pelini's eye for talent, is also a big deal.
Michigan and Notre Dame were his long-standing top two, until the Irish filled up at defensive end and pulled his offer. He recently told Tom he would be deciding soon, and the BBQ at the Big House may have help push him even closer. A late Oregon offer slowed down the decision process very slightly, but he chose the Wolverines this afternoon.
His ESPN profile says he notched 64 tackles and 15 sacks as a sophomore. As a junior, he was fighting through either illness or injury through most of his football season, and his production dropped off considerably. My estimates based on game articles are in the 50-tackle range, and he had 11.5 sacks including a three-sack outing against Cincinnati Wyoming and future teammate Jibreel Black:
"We definitely harp about our defense being the heart of the team," [Rock] said. "All week, our coaches kept telling me to stay low and get pressure on the quarterback. I knew their quarterback was quite a runner. We had to control him..."
"Chris was sort of in a zone," coach Ryan Wiggins said.
In his next game, DeSales lost to Youngstown Cardinal Mooney and another of Rock's future teammates, Ray Vinopal. That ended DeSales's playoff run.
He showed off some athleticism with a 55-yard interception return against New Albany, and a punt block against Findlay. There's significantly less talk about his performances on offense, but a 33-yard TD catch in a playoff game was notable. From the sounds of things, DeSales had a ground-oriented attack.
He was named 2nd-Team All-State on the defensive line, the only 2011 prospect so honored.
FAKE 40 TIME
JJHuddle provides a nice FAKE 40 time:
The 6-foot-5 and 255-pound Rock is a talented athlete in a big body. Rock runs the 40-yard dash in 4.8 seconds and is also a key reserve on a very good DeSales basketball team.
That's slightly FAKE for a guy whose scouting reports unanimously indicate he doesn't have great speed - even for a defensive end. I'll give it four FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights from ScoutingOhio:
You can also see a highlight video of DeSales's loss to Cincinnati Anderson, in which Rock alternates good pressure with giving up contain. There are a couple more individual game and highlight videos available on Youtube.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
From the sounds of things, Rock is something of a tweener between a big strongside defensive end, and a potential defensive tackle down the line. That'll actually work out well at Michigan, where he can play defensive end in a 3-man front, or tackle on passing downs. His athleticism and size combination probably means he won't be an elite pass rusher, but can still get into the backfield a little bit.
He can be penciled in at Ryan Van Bergen's defensive end position. When Rock arrives on campus, Van Bergen will be a redshirt senior, with a number of prospects from the classes of 2010 (Jibreel Black and Terry Talbott) and 2009 (Anthony LaLota) littering the roster, he's a near-lock to redshirt to add weight and strength under Mike Barwis's program.
Following his redshirt season, it will probably take Rock a couple years to earn significant playing time in the rotation, considering all the guys ahead of him. By the time he's a redshirt junior and senior, he could become a starter, with potential All-Conference (but not likely All-American) potential in his final season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Rock is the first true big guy in a 2011 class that should be pretty heavy on them. At least one more defensive lineman, a nose tackle, is guaranteed to end up in this class, and there's potential for even more than that. Either another nose tackle, or potentially another big-ish defensive end could join the fold as well.
Michigan continues to pick up commitments from prospects who play positions other than those considered to the most important: offensive line and linebacker. With each commitment at a different position, it reduces the number of spots available for non-OL/LBs. A couple more spots will go to offensive skill players and defensive backs, but expect the focus to be on those two positions of need.
Hopefully Rock's commitment is a sign that Michigan is going back in the "defenders with badass names" direction, peaking in the mid-90s with the likes of Foote, Steele, Sword, et al.
St. Francis DeSales pumps out talent each year, including Travis Jackson of Michigan State, Chi Chi Ariguzo of Northwestern, and Adam Griffin of Ohio state in last year's class alone. The class of 2008 brought Patrick Omameh to Michigan, and it never hurts to develop pipelines at talent factories.