well that's just, like, your opinion, man
|Baltimore, MD – 6'4" 270|
4*, #143 overall
4*, #70 overall
4*, #255 overall
4*, #120 overall
Alabama, Ohio State, PSU, Stanford, Notre Dame, Auburn, MSU, A&M
|YMRMFSPA||Will Johnson or Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Dad is his coach at Gilman.|
UA game performance:
Yes, yes, it's yet another four star recruit from a high powered program with extracurricular reasons to expect he'll be a success who picked Michigan over another power program. This is Michigan, fergodsakes.
In Henry Poggi's case, the high school is Baltimore private school Gilman, a powerhouse that sent two other prospects to BCS schools last year (QB Shane Cockerville went to Maryland, LB Micah Kiser to Virginia), four the year before, two the year before that, etc. etc. The extracurricular reasons are dual: 1) his father is the head coach at Gilman, and 2) he really likes the Big Lebowski. The power program bested was Alabama, which liked him enough to take a run at him right before Signing Day.
As you might expect from a coach's son, Poggi popped up early as a technically and physically advanced player. As a junior, various folks projected him to be a top, top player. Rivals had several different reports on him then. An example:
Poggi will be one of the top interior linemen in the country next season. He has size (6-4, 255) and quickness to go along with terrific athleticism, solid speed and soft hands (he made two nice grabs on Saturday). …more than held his own down in the trenches and was very effective in run support.
Other evaluations follow in the same vein, with a focus on technique, physicality, and effort. IE, Poggi has all those coaches' kid qualities you'd expect. Foremost is stamina. A two-way starter for Gilman the last two years, Poggi impressed with his fortitude:
What's most impressive about Poggi, however, is his ability to maintain his fundamentals and play through the whistle for all 48 minutes. He starts both ways for Gilman but has the stamina and desire to scrap like his job depends on it. Physically, Poggi keeps his pads low and uses his legs to generate power. He has a stiff, dead-arm punch and impeccable strength, which allows him to overwhelm inside tackles at times.
"Henry was awesome," he said. "He started both ways at tight end and defensive tackle. I don't know how he played as hard as he did. He was really impressive and did a really great job in the playoffs. He played every play running around and was exhausted by the end of the game, it's a tribute to his character, his motor is ridiculous."
"He has ten sacks from his three technique position as a junior," Russell added. "He plays with incredible passion and has a non-stop motor."
. JC Shurburtt:
“There’s defensive tackles across the country that either have a lot of heart or a lot of talent. Henry’s got both,” Shurburtt said. “[He is] the complete package of what you look for in a defensive tackle.
“He’s definitely an inside guy. That’s what gives him plus athleticism.”
Scout's Brian Dohn said Poggi has a chance to be "a star grunt" in a scouting report, which makes sense despite being paradoxical. Overall the picture painted is of a guy right up Brady Hoke's alley:
What to like
In watching Poggi in person and watching lots of junior tape, a few things jump out. Mainly, he is physical. He is also physical, and when he is not playing physical, he is playing physical.
Poggi is engaged on every play, loves the contact and has the strength to make an impact on every play.
He lines up in the middle of the defensive line, and is a disruption no matter how opponents try to block him. Poggi is always moving, always looking for the ball and plays violently (in a good way). He has the body type, strength and mentality to be a classic nose guard who can handle getting hit from all angles and still be a factor because of very good balance. …
What needs works
…time and again Poggi has to rely on his strength and there are few times he gets off the line of scrimmage and gets into the backfield untouched. That is all about staying lower and maximizing his burst.
Dohn actually hits that note about playing him at the nose more than once, but it seem doubtful he'll end up the requisite size, about which more later.
Poggi was not one of the huge standouts at the UA game but did impress 247:
5. Henry Poggi, DT, Baltimore (Md.) Gillman
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Michigan commitment lined up over the ball on Tuesday, and proved to be too quick and technically sound to be blocked one-on-one. Poggi not only flashed a quick first step, but also got small and used his hands to near perfection quickly dismissing would be blocking centers.
On the other hand, ESPN has a lot of hemming and hawing:
. … flashes a good initial burst, but is inconsistent and can be a beat slow. He does need to watch his pad level, but displays the ability to fire off the ball low and gain leverage. He is a hard-nosed player who can make good contact and be tough at the point of attack. He is active with his hands, but needs to do a better job of consistently separating from blockers. … He is a physical and high-effort player who works to get around the ball. As a pass rusher, he comes upfield hard. He will try to attack half-a-man and displays the ability to be violent with his hands. He gives effort and will make opponents work to block him, but can be a bit out of control at times. He is adequately able to quickly and tightly bend back in towards the quarterback.
They like his potential, overall but think he's more of an effort guy than a big timer, and that's reflected in their rankings for him.
There's some debate about Poggi's frame. 6'4" and heading towards 300 pounds seems pretty good to me, but ESPN's relative skepticism is largely based on a lack of upside because they perceive him as a tweener:
He possesses good height, but is a bit of a 'tweener size-wise as a defensive lineman. … While Poggi looks to carry his weight well, he may be somewhat limited in the good size he can add, making him an undersized D-tackle or more of a swing player if he stays on defense at the next level. Poggi is a tough and smart player. While he may have some limitations, he is a good football player who can help a team and be a good productive player if he can find the right position fit.
Their evaluation in fact mentions four different spots—DT, OC, FB, TE—as possibilities. A quadruple tween. A 247 evaluation from Poggi's UA game appearance has a similar concern:
The 6-foot-3, 260-pound Poggi has lineup over the ball in one-on-ones, and been very tough to block due to a quick first step, active and quick hands, a strong initial punch and the awareness to get small. While all of that ability is not in question with Poggi, his ability to carry the desired weight remains in play. While he can certainly carry 20-25 more pounds on his frame, there is a question of if he can carry the ideal weight to play over the ball at the next level.
This is a bit of a different take than early evaluations had. For instance:
At 6-4, 255, Poggi has a great frame; he's a tall, thick defender with a wide base, stout legs and broad shoulders. He plays with a low pad level, which makes him difficult to move off the ball. He also has tremendous upper- and lower-body strength, allowing him to collapse the pocket and toss offensive linemen around like a dog with a chew toy.
At 6-4, 255, he has a powerful base, long arms, broad shoulders and ideal height. … If Poggi continues to add power and build his body he'll be one of the top D-tackle recruits coming out next season.
To me that signals a guy who started being a college player early and may be closer to his physical peak than most others in his class. Think Marvin Robinson. When you're Jabrill Peppers this is just fine. When you're 270 and you already have a neck wider than your head…
…I get the concern.
So Poggi is likely to end up a three-tech, which is part of the reason I projected Hurst to nose tackle. Yeah, I am also tantalized by potentially sticking Hurst at the three but in the context of the roster it makes more sense for Poggi to end up there. FWIW, Poggi told the Baltimore Sun that Michigan would start him off at the five and move him inside when he put on enough weight, causing JC Shurburtt to shake his head:
"Maybe I’m wrong, but I just don’t think long term that [playing DE is] realistic if he wants to play beyond college and be very good,” Shurburtt said. “If he were a 3-4 defensive end we were talking about, I think he’d be in business. But I think 4-3, that’s a stretch.”
To me, those spots are near interchangeable and there's no reason to get in a huff about who's playing where at either of them, but that is a useful take on how Poggi can be an effective college player.
There is also a backup plan. Though all the sites rated Poggi as a defensive tackle, a number of evaluations paused to praise his potential as a blocking tight end. Tim Sullivan:
… Poggi showed a tenacity and quickness in his blocking that truly impressed. He wasn't perfect in the blocking game, but was very good. In fact, he could probably add weight and play guard if that's what a team needed of him (and that's where some schools, including Alabama, were recruiting him).
Offensively, … where he really excelled is as a run blocker. Poggi did a great job stalemating his man at the point of attack before driving him off the ball. He showed the ability to chip, gain leverage and readjust to quick edge rushers. Right now, the only question is how much bulk he can pack onto his frame and what position he'll fit best at.
ESPN flat out suggests he'll be better on offense:
… overall skill set may be better suited as a blocking tight end and we wouldn't be surprised if he landed on offense at the next level at some point.
Michigan didn't bring in an AJ Williams type in Poggi's class and they won't in the next one; there is a large window for a second 270-280 pound face-masher on the roster, especially if Wyatt Shallman ends up moving to defense at some point.
Etc.: Has Michigan pajamas. Second team AA according to 247. First team to USA Today. 31 TFLs and 16.5 sacks as a senior. Has a brother at Iowa. Here's a big long profile on the family. USA Today interview.
Why Will Johnson or Ryan Van Bergen? Tough to choose between the two as far as how he'll end up, so let's go with both.
Will Johnson was listed at 6'4", 285 pounds by Rivals when he was a recruit and 6'5", 285 pounds by Michigan when he was a senior. While Poggi figures to add some weight from his listed 260-270, he probably won't exceed 285 by much.
Meanwhile, Johnson was a solid player as an upperclassman who was mostly a stubborn run defender. He had good technique, but his mgoblog career summary is basically this:
Johnson did okay against a wide array of double teams but not great.
Johnson was a low four star recruit to the contemporary services as well.
Ryan Van Bergen is another good comparable in size and recruiting ranking. He is the upside here as a tireless worker with some pass rush ability and fantastic balance. Poggi's endurance and high-effort playstyle are right out of the RVB playbook. Also, Poggi's hair is a virtual replica.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Conflict between early evals and late, few camps, but high profile school and UA appearance.
Variance: Low. Good, not great size, advanced for his age, doesn't seem to have huge upside.
Ceiling: Moderate. If you ask me I'd invert Hurst and Poggi's average rating. Disclaimer: I'm just this guy on the internet. Poggi should be a contributor, but right after watching Hurst's film my main takeaway was that Poggi lacked that dynamite first step.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Poggi should be a solid contributor for a while.
Projection: Redshirt unless he comes in at 285 or something, which doesn't seem likely. After that will attempt to break into the three- or five-tech two-deep, with the former more likely. Three tech is actually pretty open depending on who slots where: other than Poggi it's Wormley and guys who may or may not play there: Matt Godin, Willie Henry, Maurice Hurst.
Poggi is likely to be a rotation three-tech at some point, but it's hard to predict when with the uncertainty at the spot. Ideally it wouldn't be in year two. It may be. Eventually starting may be in the cards depending on how well his compatriots work out—call it 50/50.
If Poggi doesn't end up in the two-deep at three-tech he's got a second shot as a blocking TE.
hi bennie! /Upchurch
It's an annual rite of fan dorkiness each year to try to be the first to guess which numbers the incoming freshmen will be given by obsessively google stalking them. Sometimes I have some inside knowledge from a recruit who was promised his digit, or tweeted his preferences or something. Here's how I did last year:
|Name||Pos.||# in HS||2012 Guess||Actual|
|Allen Gant||S||7 and 14||14||12|
|Chris Wormley||DE||47||84 or 68||43|
|Dennis Norfleet||RB/KR||21||21 if available, or 31||26|
|Devin Funchess||TE||5 and 15||85||19|
|Drake Johnson||RB||2 and 18||32 or 6 or 23||29|
|Sione Houma||FB||35||41 or 32||39|
|Terry Richardson||CB||3 and 6 and 9||9||13|
|Tom Strobel||DE||36||63 or 93 or 86||50|
|Willie Henry||DT||74||74 or 68||69|
Four out of 22 ain't…well yes it is. It was bad. This article is useless. Let's continue it anyway; I swear to do better.
Getting to know you. Each coach has his own tendencies with this so we'll get better at it in time. With Hoke, he seems to like having consecutive numbers in the same position group, perhaps for mentoring purposes because they sit next to each other in the locker room. It's far from a rule, but it's a trend. Carr rarely let a player share a specialist's digit, but Hoke doesn't seem to have a problem with it, for example Wormley and Hagerup share a number, and walk-on tight end Alex Mitropoulus-Rundus (I'm gonna just start calling him "Alex M-R") has the same digit as backup punter Kenny Allen. Rich Rodriguez was far more apt to share numbers, and the single digits were nearly always doubled up; Hoke has said in the past that he doesn't like doing that, and the practice has been limited—as of spring just 5, 12 and 34 had scholarship recruits in both numbers, adding 54 and 56 to those double-occupied by players on the two-deep.
The roster lies. The official MGoBlue.com roster still doesn't have DeAnthony Hardison, that nifty RB you saw in the Spring Game. He's #18. Also a practice insider told me Anthony Capatina is playing slot receiver, not "DB" as he's listed on the depth chart. Also weirdly missing from that roster is #79 right tackle Dan Gibbs (a Seaholm Mape!!!), a 2012 preferred walk-on whose twitter profile pic is him riding an oliphant:
Legends/Special #s: 1 because Braylon's scholarship killed the fun, unless Gallon gets it. It won't come as much of a surprise to you that 2 will probably be entering the Legends program this season. There will also be some push for 16, and I doubt it'll be assigned to an offensive player immediately. 11 for the Wisterts, 21 for Desmond, and 87 for Ron Kramer are currently open; it is likely they'll be assigned to veterans whose digits might then be made available if it happens before the season. Bennie's 47 and Jerry's 48 remain occupied by current players and there's no way a second guy will get them. And I've been told they're still working on the Harmon family with 98. Anyway they won't go to freshmen.
Already worn on both sides: 5 (Courtney Avery and Justice Hayes), 6 (Raymon Taylor and Brian Cleary), 12 (Gardner and Allen Gant), 13 (Terry Richardson and Alex Swieca), 15 (James Ross and Shaun Austin), 34 (Jeremy Clark and Brendan Gibbons), 43 (Chris Wormley and Will Hagerup), 54 (Richard Ash and Jareth Glanda), 56 (Ondre Pipkins and Joey Burzynski), 69 (Willie Henry and Erik Gunderson), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Michael Jocz).
Available on offense only: 4, 7, 14, 18, 22, 24, 25, 30, 33, 35, 40, 50, 52, 53, 55, 57, 59, 66, 76, 92, 96, 97, 99
Available on defense only: 3, 8, 9, 10, 17, 19, 26, 27, 28, 29, 38, 39, 42, 45, 46, 49, 51, 58, 60, 61, 62, 63, 65, 67, 70, 71, 72, 75, 77, 78, 82, 84, 85, 86, 88, 94
Walk-ons with soft claims: Every year there's a Jon Keizer on the roster who thinks his number is safe, then some top running back recruit in the country (right: from Scout) runs him over with star power (dadada, didda-da diddadidda…). Scout teamers without scholarships often have their numbers taken, for example Charlie Zeller was 19 on the 2012 spring roster and Paul Gyarmati was sitting on 99, but Devin Funchess and Matt Godin nabbed those digits last fall. This year they are 15 (Shaun Austin—note that Ross has it on D), 18 (DeAnthony Hardison—note that Countess has it on D), 27 (Jon Keizer), 36 (AJ Pearson—note that Kerridge has it on O), 42 (Dylan Esterline), 46 (Clark Grace), 49 (Brad Anlauf), 51 (Bobby Henderson), 59 (Mark Lawson), 63 (Ben Pliska), 66 (Dan Liesman), 70 (Kris Mateus), 79 (Dan Gibbs), (91 (Alex M-R, though Kenny Allen wears it too), and 95 (Anthony Capatina and Mike Jocz). The other walk-ons I didn't mention (Dever, Cleary, Glanda, Burzynski, Reynolds, Allen, Gunderson, Jocz and the Glasgows) are either on the two-deep already or in the mix.
Currently unused: 20, 23, 31, 32, 37, 41, 44, 64, 68, 73, 74, 80, 81, 83, 89, 90, 93, π
You just said Pi. We're Michigan fergodsakes. All the constants—φ, ζ(3), α and δ, Euler's e, γ, λ, K, r, and Ω—ought to be fair game, and if someone takes √-1 and uses the nickname "Impossible" he will be my favorite for ever and ever.
EVERYBODY LET'S ALL BE #7!!!
|Name||Pos.||HS #||Tea Leaves||Best Guess|
|David Dawson||OG||71||Wore 55 in Under Armour game, 33 in Army AA game.||55* - His Twitter acct is David Dawson 5⃣5⃣|
|Reon Dawson||BCB||1||Wore 13, 24 and 1 in high school.||31 - seems to fit.|
|Jaron Dukes||WR||8||Twitter handle is @Jaron_Dukes8||83*
|Chris Fox||OL||73||Wore #13 (?) at Army AA game and #33 at Rivals 5-star challenge||73* - Guy likes #3|
|Greg Froelich||OG||77||Wore that and 75 in high school (preferred walk-on)||76 - Not exactly Steve Hutchinson.|
|Ben Gedeon||MLB||15||James Ross is already James Ross.||45 - David Harris's # but precludes punt coverage.|
|Derrick Green||RB||27||Wore 27 in Army AA game.||27* - call it a hunch. Sorry Keizer.|
|Delano Hill||Nk/FS||11||Looks like he's 40.||32 (Kovacs's other #) or 23|
|Khalid Hill||FB/TE||32||Very Kevin Dudley of him.||32 or 23|
|Maurice Hurst||NT||50||Wore #11 in Semper Fi Bowl.||68 - Mike Martin's #|
|Da'Mario Jones||WR||11||Wore #7 in that photo of recruits in white M jerseys. #15 at MSU camp. Same school as Tony Boles, who wore 42 at Michigan but had 18 touchdowns so...||14*
|Patrick Kugler||OC||57||Wore 57 at UA game. Dad and bro wore 57.||57 - O'KUGLER RULES!|
|Jourdan Lewis||CB||1||Also wore #17 at Cass Tech, #27 at Army AA game.||17 or 3 or 37.|
|Mike McCray||SAM||9||Wore #9 at UA game. Father wore 99 at OSU||9* - He and Dileo both likely to be on special teams, but not the same groups.|
|J.J. McGrath||K||13||preferred walk-on||35 - Or some kicker number.|
|Shane Morris||QB||12||Gardner switched, so...||7 - he already tweeted it.|
|Henry Poggi||3T||7||Wore 17 at UA game. Was given #7 locker in May. Plays jazz flute.||70 - Ross Douglass already took 7.|
|Dan Samuelson||OG||74||Photo out there of him wearing a Nebraska 74 jersey. Twitter handle is @dansamuelson74.||74 - it's available.|
|Wyatt Shallman||FB||49||49 is available on defense.||33* for his DCC teammate who passed away.
|Deveon Smith||RB||4||Is a 4-star?||4 - It's open.|
|Blaise Stearns||WR||1||Townie: Can't find what he wore at Huron before transferred. Preferred walk-on||89 - Doesn't exactly get 1st pick.|
|Channing Stribling||FS||8||#22 commit to the class.||8* - It's open|
|Scott Sypniewski||LS||56||Wore #45 at his long-snapper camp.||41 - Who cares.|
|Jack Wangler||WR||21||Dad wore #5 at Mich (preferred walk-on)||16*
|Csont'e York||WR||1||Was #667 at NFTC||81 - With an eye toward dropping the 8.|
Go ahead and make your guesses. We'll have our answers in a few weeks.
* UPDATE: After I posted this Magnus alerted me to his post of numbers that have already been revealed. I had some good guesses. I crossed out my comments if the guess was wrong.
Left: Walsh. Right: Wormley by Upchurch
A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a 1997 article by Bill Walsh where he explained how he evaluates talent at each position. I then applied those evaluations to Michigan’s offensive personnel, because Borges is supposedly transitioning us to Walsh’s WCO. People requested a defensive version so here you go.
It’s probably not as useful because the closest NFL comparison to the Mattison ideal is the Greg Mattison Ravens. But then when you read about the history of Mattison’s 4-3 under defense, you find (49ers DC under Walsh) George Seifert’s ideas peppered all over. And there’s a reason for that:
Offensive evolution doesn’t matter so much when you’re talking about going back to the offense that dominated 1997. The 4-3 under defense—or whatever you call what Michigan does by shifting the line toward the nearest sideline—is more akin to a 3-4 than the 46 defense Walsh used to deploy against the run-heavy offenses of his day, or the Tampa 2 stuff that owned the period which that article was written.
Walsh’s defensive opinions are geared toward a 3-4, and that’s perfect for our purposes, since the 4-3 under is similar in personnel. When you see it you can see why:
So in we go again. I'm moving right now so I can't do it all in one again. Here's the interior DL and I'll cover linebackers and defensive backs in later weeks.
Dana Stubblefield / Rob Renes / Pipkins via Upchurch
Walsh Says: 6’2, 290. As discussed in the article when I made all the DL recruits into Wii avatars, the NT should have his mass low; a pyramid is more difficult to move than a cube. Like Mattison, Walsh puts the hands at the very top:
Quick, strong hands to grab and pull are critical. This is common with the great tackles. The hands, the arms, the upper body strength and then the quick feet to take advantage of a moving man, just getting him off balance.
The Walsh ideal doesn’t necessarily have to take on doubles. What he looks for is the strength to not get knocked backwards, and the ability to move laterally without giving ground. The best can burrow forward and push a guard into the pocket.
Note that Walsh is inadvertently describing a 4-3 DT more than a 3-4 NT—he’s not asking for a two-gapper who sucks up doubles but a one-gapper who can’t be budged. However the first step to beating spread teams is an NT who requires doubles, since the spread 'n shred's base dive play is most dangerous when an interior OL is releasing into the linebackers.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Rob Renes. NFL scouts want everyone to be Wilfork, but active, stout, and sound come first.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: "Crab person" a la Mike Martin, i.e. he plays low and with great leverage. Strength—opponents can't move him. “Has excellent hands.” Athleticism: Walsh didn’t mention this but guys who are ranked basketball recruits as well seem to have a high success rate; that's obviously a mark of quickness/agility being important.
What you can learn on film: Nose tackle recruits are often so much bigger than the competition that they can terrify offenses without technique. You can learn more from the plays where he flows down the line of scrimmage then makes the play. Leverage. Hands maybe but this seems to be something most will learn in college. It's paywalled (and there's a lot that's 3-techy about him) but if you have a Rivals account go watch Ndamukong Suh's high school film and how he uses his arms to dominate guys off the ball.
What could signal bust potential: We’ve seen our share of planetary objects who get lots of hype because they’re 320-pound creatures who pop average teen OL like so many zits. This is an effort position that scales dramatically with the transition from high school to Big Ten. An athletic man-child has a massive ceiling but is as likely to follow the career path of Richard Ash as that of Johnathan Hankins.
How our guys compare: The expectation here is for Quinton Washington (above-right/Upchurch) to reprise his role at Nose with Ondre Pipkins figuring in as a rotation starter and making appearances at the 3-tech spot as well. Q came to Michigan as a spread-style offensive guard highly sought after by all the right people. His switch to the defensive line was initially a swap with Will Campbell, except Washington stuck with it. It was a painful year and change waiting for him to catch up, made worth it last year when he was a pleasant surprise at nose. Listed at 6'4-300 he's on the plus side of the size curve but not to the degree Campbell was (Suh as a senior was listed at the same size). Where this project is concerned, Hoke seems to have had success in every facet except his stated goal of making Quinton two inches shorter; I like to mention that one of my favorite DTs to watch is Kawaan Short, who was listed at 6'5 as a recruit and 6'3 as a draft prospect. That upper body strength that Walsh covets in his NTs is what made Washington stand out as a recruit and contributes to the success he's had across the line.
left: Q.Wash's UFR totals for 2012. right: Pipkins's. Clicking bigs them.
Ondre Pipkins arrived looking pretty much exactly like an NFL nose tackle—6'3-340—and played pretty much exactly like a true freshman, as you can make out from the UFR chart above. That's technique (i.e. hands) talking—he got minuses for getting scooped and buried and eating doubles, and plus'ed for flashes of mobility.
Richard Ash has two years of eligibility left so you can't write him off yet but he came in a non-mobile planet and had to lose a lot of weight to uncover his playing body. The Walsh measureables are not favorable, at least not yet. The freshman pegged for NT (though either could play either) is probably Maurice Hurst, since he checks nearly every one of Bill's boxes, right down to a listed height-weight of 6'2-290. Mike Farrell on Hurst:
"He has a nice frame that can still add weight but what really stands out about him is his quickness off the ball and his light feet. Hurst beat most of his opponents with his first step and he was able to win the leverage game most of the time as well."
Watching his film you can see the hands (start at 0:48). The knocks are he needs to get lower (on film you immediately see that butt sticking out) and I don't see strength mentioned much. He played running back for his high school and wasn't so big that he could get by on size so Hurst probably appreciates technique. I would guess he needs some time to put on muscle before he can contribute.
[After the jump, moving down the line]
PREVIOUSLY: The Offense
Following up yesterday's breakdown of the 2013 recruits on offense, here's a look at Michigan's defensive class—click each player's name to see their original commitment post:
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||DT||MA||3||4||4||3|
And now, some superlatives:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Linebacker
This class is pretty evenly spread across the position groups—an argument could be made for pretty much any group on the field. In an effort to avoid giving all of the awards to Dymonte Thomas, I'll go with the linebackers here. After 2012's big haul, Michigan only needed a couple of linebackers in the class, and they filled their two spots with a pair of very solid prospects in Mike McCray and Ben Gedeon.
The lone linebacker spot the 2012 class didn't cover was on the strong side, and McCray's size (6'4", 230 lbs.) and athleticism make him an ideal fit there. Gedeon, meanwhile, is a stellar athlete—he also starred at running back for Hudson—who should be able to cover the field sideline-to-sideline from the weakside linebacker position.
Honorable Mention: Safety, Cornerback
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: Strongside DE
There isn't one, and that's the only hole in this class on the defensive side of the ball. After Michigan brought in three SDE-types in 2012—Matt Godin, Tom Strobel, and Chris Wormley—there wasn't a major need, especially with in-state standout Malik McDowell firmly in their sights for the 2014 class.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Dymonte Thomas
Defensive highlights start at the 4:22 mark.*
It's distinctly possible that no member of the 2013 class starts on defense next season, and that's a very good thing for Michigan. If one will, however, it's safety Dymonte Thomas, a dominant force in the state of Ohio at both running back and safety for the last three seasons. Michigan has to replace Jordan Kovacs, and if Jarrod Wilson isn't ready to step in at free safety, it's likely that Thomas Gordon will play there while Thomas slides in at strong safety.
Thomas may be the best pure athlete in the class—if he wanted, he could've easily been a four-star running back recruit—and he brings a very physical presence to the secondary. He should be an asset in run support off the bat and he has all the tools necessary to be solid in coverage, as well. Down the road, I think Thomas will be an all-conference—or even All-American—player, and it may be tough to keep him off the field this fall.
Honorable Mention: The only other play I see having a shot to start this year is Taco Charlton—he's an impressive player and the weakside DE spot is open to competition. That said, I don't see that happening unless Michigan gets hit by the injury bug.
*Also of note: those are junior highlights. His senior reel is well worth a look.
SUREST THING: Dymonte Thomas
See above. Frankly, I'm surprised Scout was the only service to rank him as a five-star.
Honorable Mention: Henry Poggi. Poggi may not be a superstar—he doesn't always explode off the ball on film—but he seems like a guy who should at least be a solid starter down the road.
BOOM OR BUST: Jourdan Lewis
I've seen cornerback Jourdan Lewis play in either a game or camp setting over a half-dozen times at this point, and he's an outstanding athlete who could conceivably contribute in the return game or even at receiver. When he played across from current Wolverine Terry Richardson as a junior, I thought Lewis was flat-out the better player—he's a little taller and is extremely good at making a play on the ball. After giving him a closer look this year, however, I noticed a couple holes in his game:
There are a couple major concerns I have with Lewis, however, that were on display on Friday night. He does rely on that recovery speed far too much in man coverage—if OLSM's quarterback had thrown that hitch on time, for example, I don't think Lewis would've been able to break up the pass. Then there's run support, where Lewis is very limited by his small frame; at his size, he has to be completely committed to throwing his weight around and tackling with proper technique, and I don't see that at this point. He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
Lewis has all the athleticism necessary to be a very good cover corner, but he's going to need to add some weight, embrace the physicality of the run game, and refine his coverage skills if he wants to be a major contributor at cornerback. If that doesn't work out, he could flip to offense and be a playmaker in the slot, so his versatility gives him a lesser chance of flaming out, but there's no guarantee he'd stick there, either. I think Lewis is a prospect with a high ceiling, but he's going to have to work to get there.
Honorable Mention: Maurice Hurst Jr.—the athletic big man could wreak havoc on the interior, but he's got to learn to play low.
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Taco Charlton
When I drove down to Pickerington to see defensive end Taco Charlton's Central squad take on crosstown rival North (and fellow commit Jake Butt), I expected to see a raw pass-rushing specialist. Instead, I saw him play an instrumental role in keeping North running back Godwin Igwebuike (Northwestern commit) well below his usual numbers, sacrificing his personal stats to key on the run—and he still came up with 1.5 sacks:
Despite having a reputation as a pass-rush specialist, Charlton was instrumental in limiting Igwebuike on the ground, finishing with ten tackles and 1.5 sacks. He was largely tasked with keeping contain, and I don't recall a single instance where a running play got outside of him if it went to his side. While he sometimes allows offensive linemen to get their hands into his chest off the snap, he did a solid job of engaging and using his hands to shed blocks. He played a very disciplined game against the run, showed off a very high motor—especially impressive since he also moonlighted at tight end and on special teams—and always seemed to end up around the football.
As a pass-rusher, Charlton showed off more of a power game than what I've seen from him on camp film, getting his hands inside the blocker and bull-rushing to great effect. He still has that impressive speed around the edge and got pressure on a couple of speed-rushes, but for the most part he went right at his blocker—likely due to his contain responsibilities against the run.
Charlton has also really begun to fill out; Michigan lists him at 6'6", 249 pounds after he enrolled early, and he's got the frame to easily get up to the 270-pound range without losing his impressive quickness. I think he could factor into the weakside DE rotation as soon as this fall, and down the road he could be the edge-rushing threat that Michigan has lacked at DE for some time.
Honorable Mention: Jourdan Lewis, Delano Hill. I've covered Lewis; Hill wasn't a guy I really focused on while watching Cass Tech since he was a long-time Iowa commit and there were so many D-I prospects on the field, but it wasn't hard to notice him anyway—he always seemed to find his way to the football and was a solid tackler once he got there.
SLEEPER: Channing Stribling
When cornerback Channing Stribling earned an offer—and subsequently committed—at Michigan's camp over some more highly-touted prospects (including eventual teammate Reon Dawson), he was a complete unknown despite coming from a football powerhouse at Matthews (NC) Butler. He was immediately pegged as an underrated sleeper, and after a senior season spent making big play after big play, it seemed like he was on the verge of making a huge leap in the recruiting rankings.
That never quite happened—Stribling ended up as a three-star across the board, so the sleeper label still fits. At 6'2", 170 pounds, he's very tall for a cornerback, and his playmaking skills were on display all year—in one game last fall, he had two receiving touchdowns, a defensive touchdown, and a kickoff return for a touchdown. If Stribling can fill out his frame and refine his coverage skills, he could be a very good corner; he's also extremely raw, and maintaining the quickness to cover college receivers at that height is no easy task.
Honorable Mention: Delano Hill
Today's recruiting roundup welcomes Jack Wangler, previews Michigan's signing day (spoiler: there's not much to preview), covers the latest in the 2014 class, and more.
Hello: Jack Wangler
Over the weekend, Michigan picked up a preferred walk-on in Warren (MI) De La Salle WR Jack Wangler, son of former Wolverine QB John Wangler and high school teammate of Shane Morris. Wangler didn't have any major college offers but did hold interest from a handful of MAC and Ivy League schools—the lure of following in his father's footsteps won out in the end:
"I can't wait to carry on the Wangler name at Michigan," he said. "Before I made it public, I was sure to call my dad and let him know what I had decided to do. He was definitely excited. Being around Michigan my entire life and experiencing it so much the past couple seasons really made it an easy choice. My dad said my years at Michigan will end up being the best four or five years of my life. I know they were for him."
While Wangler isn't a high-profile recruit—he's only ranked on Scout, where he's a two-star—he's impressed on the camp scene. Scout's Allen Trieu named him one of the emerging prospects at last April's Adidas Invitational:
Wangler had a good showing, first running a 4.58 in the forty yard dash and then catching everything thrown at him for the rest of the day. He has good ball skills and went up over top of a couple defenders to grab some passes and he's a kid who knows how to create separation.
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt called him one of the sleepers of last June's Sound Mind Sound Body camp:
Wangler has put a lot of work in this off-season with his Maximum Exposure teams, going head-to-head against some of the top defensive backs in the country. Wangler is always going to be a possession receiver; but his speed is coming along, and he has been timed as low as the 4.5 range for the 40-yard dash. The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Wangler is a physical receiver and a technician when it comes to route-running.
As a guy who won't take up a scholarship slot, Wangler has some upside—he's got decent size, route-running, and hands, not to mention strong familiarity with Michigan's quarterback of the future. If there's a position group where a walk-on with a niche—in this case, sure-handed possession receiver—could work their way onto the field in the next few years, it's at receiver.
[Hit THE JUMP for your very brief signing day primer, news on the 2014 QB situation, new offers, and more.]
Today's recruiting roundup revels in the wake of Derrick Green's commitment and has the latest updates on Denzel Ward, Henry Poggi, and more.
Hello: Derrick Green
In case the rock you live under still isn't wi-fi capable, I have good news: Derrick Green, the nation's top-ranked running back, committed to Michigan on Saturday. He gets the full "Hello" treatment here, and below is local news coverage featuring video of his announcement:
Green's remarkable physical transformation—he entered high school at 268 pounds—is recounted in Sam Webb's latest DetNews article, which also gives a look into Green's recruitment. Green calls Fred Jackson "a father figure," and Brady Hoke managed to have a huge impact before ever meeting him in person [emphasis mine]:
With those bonds fortified there was one important connection left to be made — the one with Hoke. Even in his absence Michigan's head coach managed to begin that process with a gesture that resonates with his prized recruit to this day.
Said [Green's mother, Fran] Knight, "When we went (on the March 18 visit), he wasn't there. His dad had just passed, but I was amazed how even though he was going through the situation with his father passing, he still took the time out to call Derrick and let him know that he really wanted him there, he really wanted to be there, (and) he was looking forward to meeting him. That spoke volumes to me about the type of person he was."
If you'd like to see more scouting on Green, the DetNews also has blurbs from several Scout analysts.
In other current commit news, 247 named David Dawson and Patrick Kugler to their All-American first team for the class of 2013. Kyle Bosch and Henry Poggi earned second-team nods.
Speaking of Poggi, multiple outlets have confirmed that he did visit Alabama last weekend, and the Tide are actively recruiting him. While the exact nature of the visit is unclear—some say it was a visit to a friend on the team while others say that he took an official, and the Poggis are staying quiet—the general sense from insiders is that he'll still end up at Michigan in the end.
After a move to Florida—one that reportedly came as a surprise to the coaches—a parting of the ways between Michigan and 2014 commit Denzel Ward seemed inevitable. Today, it came to pass:
I am no longer a commit to the University of Michigan, I really appreciare the love from there but I just want to make the best decision.
— Denzel Ward (@DW75_) January 29, 2013
Michigan Leads For Doles
In-state 2014 OL Tommy Doles was on campus again last weekend, this time to check out the academic side of things, and per GBW's Kyle Bogenshutz the trip cemented Michigan at the top of his list ($):
“It helped a lot,” said Doles. “I can say Michigan is the frontrunner now. I wasn’t ready to make a commitment or anything – I think I still want to see what the options are. I think I’m just not quite ready to make a decision yet, but Michigan is a good option at this point."
Doles may take his time and check out some other options, but at this point it's tough to see him winding up anywhere but Michigan.
Per multiple sources, including 247's Clint Brewster($), Michigan offered 2014 five-star GA DE Lorenzo Carter. Carter holds one of the most impressive offer sheets in the country—pulling a five-star deep out of SEC country is a tall task, so until further notice don't get expectations too high for him.