Mason NEEDS this, Pistons, after all you've put him through
Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson.
|Pickerington, OH – 6'6", 231|
4*, #145 overall
4*, #144 overall
4*, #179 overall
3*, NR overall
Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, NW, Tenn, Iowa, Notre Dame
|YMRMFSPA||Kyle Rudolph/Tyler Eifert|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post. Ace interviews him.|
Early enrollee. Army AA. Twitter.
Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes Al Borges sits in his basement watching film of the various tight ends and H-backs he's brought in and starts laughing maniacally? Dumb question. Better question: does Al Borges do anything but?
Yes. He goes to a lot of hockey games, for one. But anyway.
This site has proposed that Al Borges's goal as an offensive coordinator is to whipsaw defenses from one end of the spectrum to the other, and guys like Funchess and Jake Butt are key in this effort. You're a Michigan fan, so let me just mention the names Rudolph and Eifert. You get it. Tyler Eifert in particular was used as both a traditional tight end and a oh-god-I'm-5'9"-this-is-a-geological-feature-I'm-checking outside receiver in his last couple years at Notre Dame. Mismatch is the watchword here, and Michigan's going to keep bringing in and bulking up 6'6" guys until they get it. When Mark Porter needed a comparable, he went to the ND well:
“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”
In Butt Michigan has… well, that guy or Devin Funchess again. Scouting reports consistently praise his receiving skills before the end bit where they mention that he's a glorified wide receiver at the moment. ESPN:
…lean and will need to fill out his lengthy frame and add a good deal more mass. … He is not one of those receivers who just effortlessly plucks the ball from the air, but overall he does have a good pair of hands and will work to catch the ball away from his body when he can. … excellent arm length and demonstrates the ability to extend and catch the ball outside of his frame. He will do a good job of going up to get the ball and with his height he can be a tough matchup in jump ball situations. He displays above average straight-line speed, and while he needs to keep developing as a route runner he does display good movement skills in space. … will also need to contribute as an inline blocker and that will likely need some development in this area…. will need to continue to improve playing strength, lower pad level and work to deliver a pop with explosive hip roll on contact.
ESPN isn't as gushy as a couple other evaluators are about the receiving aspect to Butt's game. In an environment where erratic quarterback play can distort receiver stats extensively—especially for guys who make their living in the middle of the field, where interceptions lurk—Butt was crazy productive, with 68 catches for over 900 yards as a senior. While that's not quite Drake Harris carpet-bombing, I've been doing these a long time and usually tight end have stats like 15 catches for 200 yards because asking a high school quarterback to throw to a tight end is basically asking him to throw a pick-six.
Anyway, those stats come from a polished receiving package. Scout's eval notes body control, hands, and concentration as assets:
Has the height, athleticism and hands to be a real receiving threat from the tight end spot. Does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and can go up high to make grabs in traffic. Runs good routes and isn't afraid to run into traffic. Is a tough, aggressive and willing blocker who just needs to add some strength and bulk to improve in that department.
He earned an Opening invite off his performance at an NFTC in Champaign:
TE: Jake Butt, 6-6, 231, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio)
Breakdown: Butt was unstoppable off the line and looked like a receiver in the open field. The Michigan commit is one of the most polished tight ends seen on the NFTC tour this year.
Rivals named him to their list of "Summer Standouts" after a "terrific" camp season and a performance at the Opening at which he "more than held his own."
Scout on the occasion of his Army selection:
He has excellent size and speed and shows the ability to run, showing excellent body control, concentration and field awareness. He has decent speed for a big receiver. Butt is dependable and showed at the The Opening that he can be a valuable target in the passing game.
Butt was picked for the Army game but missed most of the practice week and the event itself with a cartilage issue in his ankle. In the brief period of time he showed out, he impressed Helmholdt:
"He went Monday and looked outstanding, both in blocking drills and running patterns. He is so well rounded. He definitely has the ability to handle defensive ends from the tight end spot, blocking, then on pass patterns, he has great ability to go downfield and make catches.
"One time he was 40 yards downfield, and I swore the ball was overthrown. He never broke stride, caught it over his shoulder. He's going to be a very accomplished pass catcher."
247 was a voice of dissent, and since I don't think the national guys are crazy enough to let anyone from Bucknuts near their rankings (Butt dropped from 10th in their eyes to 21st over the course of that senior season in which he was putting up 900 receiving yards as a TE) I'm guessing that meh evaluation is based on this Todd Worly evaluation that evaluates him as a defensive player as much as an offensive one and knocks his "inconsistent" motor, which, like, come on: guy is on the field for every play. The tight end bit:
He wasn't forced to attempt any highlight-reel catches Friday night, but he clearly possesses reliable hands, as he's comfortable catching the ball outside his frame on a consistent basis.
Weaknesses: He is pretty raw at this point, and will need some time to develop in Ann Arbor. While he possesses the ability to bend, he doesn't consistently play with it.
…He is not a dominating blocker at the high school level because his get off isn't overly explosive, and he doesn't regularly play with the knee bend he's naturally capable of.
I didn't see anything else on their site to indicate why they were the outlier here. The focus there seems more on the blocking and his overall play, not his potential as a seam-stretching guy. FWIW.
Butt enrolled early and weighed in at around 230, so if Michigan deploys him this year that is suboptimal. As Funchess discovered last year, if you can't block a linebacker you're just a large, slow wide receiver instead of a matchup nightmare. Butt may find a role as the other tight end in certain sets. Let's let him explain it:
“They are going to play me at the “Y” and “U” positions on offense,” said Butt. “The “Y” is more like a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage and the “U” position is more of a hybrid that can be moved around everywhere and even line up in the backfield. I’m really excited about it because that will give me a chance to show my versatility and also help out as a blocker.”
Michigan's tight ends on a continuum from Y to U: AJ Williams, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill. Insofar as the U position degenerates into a fullback-with-benefits situation you can add Shallman, Kerridge, and Houma to the U end of the list.
Early, Butt will moonlight as a passing-oriented U-TE, adding the capability to play inline as he moves into his upperclass years. Given the comments about his frame above, Funchess's surprisingly static weight, and Butt's trajectory…
"On offense, we use him as a tight end, we flex him out and use him in the backfield as an H-Back to block out counter plays," Phillips said. He's a terrific athlete. He's our starting outside linebacker as well, and we very rarely sub him out. He's in great shape. The thing about Jake is, he's only 16, he just turned 16. He's 225 pounds now, and he was 190 a year ago - he could easily be 245 a year from now."
…it won't be a surprise if Butt ends up being a bigger guy than Funchess as early as next year. That was February 2012; a year later Michigan listed him at 231, but get him in a college weight program and muscles expand.
"Jake is a tremendous worker, in the weight room and on the field," Phillips said. "I've coached numerous Division-I players and four guys that went to the NFL, and Jake is a harder worker than all of them."
Part of his production can be attributed to his natural athletic ability. Phillip adds that in his 25 years of coaching Phillips he has never had a player who works as hard.
"Jake competes every single play, every single practice," Phillips said. "From the stretches to the runs to the warmups to the drills to team sessions, he goes hard."
A pattern has ceased emerging and just sits there, impressing you with various aspects of its personality.
They really hoed me on NCAA! They made
@bigjakeyB_1 the same strength as me! Back to lifting tomorrow
I'm faster then
@TheSupremeTaco and stronger on NCAA guess we know who really ran picktown
I feel for the guys who didn't make it in at all though.
Why Rudolph/Eifert? Thought about Funchess, but we don't really know how that's going to end up yet, and Butt does not quite match Funchess's outrageous length.
For a better picture of what a guy like Butt might end up like, the ND guys are good comparables. Both came out of high school at 6'6", 220-230. Rudolph was an all-world recruit, Eifert a generic three-star. Split the difference and you get Butt. Both added 30 pounds over the course of their high school careers and went in the first couple rounds of the NFL draft.
Guru Reliability: High. Save the 247 outlier, basic consensus. Healthy, productive high school career, some camps, Army game performance was limited.
Variance: Moderate. Whenever you're talking about putting a bunch of pounds on a tight end you threaten to take away the receiving ability that would make him excellent.
Ceiling: High. NFL frame and athleticism.
General Excitement Level: High. Yup.
Projection: Is Al Borges tight-end mad enough to put Butt on the field this year? Survey says… maybe. If he wants a goal line blocker, a spare OL is going to be a better option; if he wants a Stanford-like package the problem with that is going to be similar to the problem Michigan had last year: dudes can't block well enough to put defenses in a bind. Meanwhile Borges has other options at that U spot and it would be nice to get another year of separation between Funchess and Funchess 2.0.
But the situation here is a bit like QB. With only two non-freshman TEs on the roster an injury would force a noob on the field, so you need to be prepared for that eventuality. I bet he plays.
Going forward he's always going to be battling with Funchess for the starting spot, but that's going to be a distinction without much of a difference as the two guys grow and become more complete players.
Spring Game gifs? Oh, sure, I guess. This is the last post I'll have here until the 29th, as the next couple days are devoted to HTTV stuff and then I'm taking a little time off to recharge.
I'm continuing to tweak how I do gifs on here to hopefully make them more accessible for everyone—most of them are now dumbed down to 48 colors, which has greatly decreased file sizes. If you had trouble with them before, perhaps you'll give these posts another shot. Anyway, Dennis Norfleet:
This one was specifically requested by Brian, or at least that's how I interpreted the tween-at-a-Bieber-concert scream emanating from the stands when it happened. (Full run gif'd here, but I really wanted to slow-mo that juke.)
[Hit THE JUMP for fun with the names of a certain Pickerington-based duo.]
“What are you shaking your head about? Don’t start this like that. I want positive karma out of you. Hi. How you guys doin’? Heiko, what’s happenin?”
MGo: Not much.
“Always good to see you.”
MGo: It’s good to see you, too.
“You didn’t mean that.”
MGo: I’m really sad that you didn’t run any pistol formations.
“We don’t have any pistol formations. How could we run it? But if you’d like us to put them in we’ll be happy to do so just to make you happy.”
MGo: That would be great.
“Because my life revolves around your happiness if you haven’t figured that out by now.”
The first play from scrimmage was a 30-yard pass down the sideline to Amara Darboh. Was that to show people that they don’t need to worry about the wide receivers?
“Heh. No. That wasn’t what I was thinking. No, we were just thinking -- it’s always a good idea every so often in coming out on offense to try and take a ball deep. Our defense isn’t necessarily like this, but a lot of defenses will get a little reckless, you know? They’ll try and create a safety or whatever. A deep ball sometimes is a pretty good deal so we just decided at least once we were going to try and do that. That’s the reason for it.”
Hoke said you talked to Shane Morris after Russell Bellomy’s injury. How does the injury impact Shane, and how does this impact how you coach him?
“Really not as much as you might think. He was going to come in and compete anyway. There’s one less slot there to go through, so that’s really all it impacted. He knows there’s one less body. Doesn’t affect him as much as you might think.”
Does Shane come around a lot?
“Oh yeah. All the time. He’s been around for a couple years, actually. He committed early, so he knows everybody on the team and they all know him. He’ll hit the ground running when he gets here.”
I'm trying out a new feature of mouse-over tags so readers who don't get some of our references can get caught up. Underlined text has a tag. If the tag is a link then you've found a link. I appreciate any feedback on its deployment.
Left: Young Wolverines some of whom were recruited for power (Upchurch). Right: Power.
Chris Brown's recent article on Smart Football included a link to a 1997-vintage article by Bill Walsh (YTBW). Chris included it as a way of crediting Walsh for correctly predicting Tony Gonzalez would become a great NFL tight end. With Michigan transitioning further toward a Walsh-ian offense, I thought I'd appropriate the whole article to see how well Michigan's 2013 offensive roster matches Walsh-ian archetypes.
Before we jump in, you'll recognize a lot of what's said here from like every NFL draft report ever. Walsh's coaching tree perforated the league for years, and that meant the things he tended to look for in players became what most of the people making draft decisions were looking for. They've been repeated so often as to become memes, however I still think going back to the source can provide some insight into how Michigan's players and recruits are being evaluated.
This is all intended to help you do your own scouting when we publish things like Hello posts (lots of those coming up) and positional previews.
Tom Brady prototype, Tom Brady, Tom Brady with legs? --Bryan Fuller
Walsh Says: 6'3, 210. Having a strong arm isn't as important as an "inventory" of passes, although decent arm strength is a necessity:
"Arm strength is somewhat misleading. Some players can throw 80 yards, but they aren't good passers. Good passing has to do with accuracy, timing, and throwing a ball with touch so it is catchable…
"Remember, the goal of passing a ball is to make sure it is caught ... by your intended receiver."
The most important characteristic for a quarterback is intuition/instincts. He has to be able to sense the rush, make the right decision quickly and get the ball "up and gone," and handle progressions and broken plays with grace as opposed to a sense of urgency.
"The single trait that separates great quarterbacks from good quarterbacks is the ability to make the great, spontaneous decision, especially at a crucial time."
Walsh wants his quarterback to be "courageous and intensely competitive." He also wants them mobile and defines it thus:
Mobility and an ability to avoid a pass rush are crucial. Some quarterbacks use this mobility within the pocket just enough so they are able to move and pass when they "feel" a rush. But overall quickness and agility can make a remarkable difference. As an example, there were some very quick boxers in Sugar Ray Leonard's era, but he was quicker than they were and because of that he became a great champ.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Tom Brady, obviously. Tate Forcier.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: High accuracy plus high YPA. "Makes things happen."
What you can learn on film: Doesn't make you nervous. Escapes from pressure then seems calm, not rushed. Sees something and reacts quickly. Receivers aren't making tough catches or breaking stride.
What could signal bust potential: First a warning on this part not to take it as "anyone who exhibits this trait will bust." What I'm saying is beware a guy ranked highly because this feature he possesses, which is a good thing to possess, may be overrated. Here it's arm strength—more an NFL problem than college since college QBs can learn systems and Navarre their way to great college careers with only one type of pass. Arm strength with no accuracy and a terrible delivery can turn into a great player if he's got an innate sense (think Stafford), but more often a coach will try to fix it and end up with a Dontrelle Willis.
How our guys compare: So far only Devin Gardner has seen substantial play against college defenses but we've gotten about a game's worth of Russell Bellomy too. Gardner's inventory has passes for finding Gallon 40 yards downfield, zips that only Dileo can get to, and even that Stafford-y thing he flipped to Dileo in the Outback Bowl. He has ideal size, and wins the mobility category over everybody not named Denard Robinson. If you give him a lane to pick up yards with his legs he will take it. And he MAKES PLAYS, those coming first to mind being where he runs around in the backfield defying sack attempts until something worthy of forward progress appears.
His weakness so far has been in that crucial "up and gone" aspect. His delivery has a long wind-up and that exacerbates a medium-to-mediocre diagnosis-reaction speed. Previous spring games when Devin looked really bad at this suggest it wasn't a few months as a receiver to blame, although that obviously didn't help. Gardner will live and die by his scrambling and ability to make linebackers freeze in coverage when he takes a step forward. He's not Tom Brady, but Gardner's package can equal a helluvah good college QB. An offseason as quarterback in a system designed to his strengths puts the ceiling high for 2013, and off the charts if there ends up being a 2014.
Russell Bellomy (right-Upchurch) in his few appearances last year—mostly the 2nd half against Nebraska—gave us a fairly strong indication of his abilities. He wins Walsh points by having a catchable ball, but there it ends. His apparent lack of arm strength severely limits the inventory, his agility isn't anything special vs. Big Ten defenders, and while you can forgive a freshman thrust into starting for this, he showed a lot of panic. I am skeptical that he can contribute on this level unless his arm strength improves as much as I expect his comfort will.
Shane Morris, now. Other than every scouting thing they can do with high schoolers, it's hard to say what he will turn out to be. The senior year performance and the thing that guy said in the Elite 11 about his primary read being taken away are marks against the Walsh archetype, but the size and arm and full inventory are there. He's too young to know if he will develop the rest.
Terrance Flagler, A-Train, Toussaint –Upchurch
Walsh Says: Needs to be big enough to take punishment and always fall forward, but "some smaller runners play big." He uses James Brooks but of course we've got our own exempli gratia. The 1B for backs is again, instincts, though he emphasizes getting "the first four yards within the scheme and then rely on instincts to take it beyond that."
Walsh puts a high value on durability, which maybe isn't as important in college where the hits are lighter and the roster is deeper. The other thing he harps on is instinct, mentioning he got burned on this with Terrance Flagler. This is the difference between Michael Shaw and Mike Hart.
After that he goes into bonus features. If he can block he doesn't have to come off the field in passing situations. He has to be able to catch a screen and the further down the field he can threaten as a receiver the more "dimensional" the offense becomes.
Walsh's Favorite Wolverine: Anthony Thomas. Always falling forward, instinctual enough to be a kick returner before becoming the feature back.
What to look for in a Scouting Report: At least 185 lbs., thick and squat. Numbers don't tank against high-level competition.
What you can learn on film: Defenders look like bad tacklers (subtle movements by the RB make him tough to set up on). Falling forward, durability, operating in small spaces. Lots of D-I ticketed RBs will run sweeps all the time because their speed is just unfair against high school DEs. Watch the inside and zone running.
What could signal bust potential: Beware the big backs who wrack up huge high school yardage by running through terrible tacklers. It's hard to tell the guys who can subtly shift their bodies to make themselves difficult to bring down from the ones who just truck over a division full of future doctors and lawyers. One strong attribute can sometimes dominate a bad high school league, but D-I football requires several working together.
How our guys compare: Toussaint has shown the instincts and "plays big" at near the extreme for smallness. He looked on his way toward being a zone-style feature complement until having the unluckiest year in recent Michigan RB history. Justice Hayes is like Toussaint except he's yet to show those instincts. Dennis Norfleet has the playmaker thing down but there's a major difference in size between him and the other guys. Norfleet was listed at 5'7/161 last year, and Vincent Smith was put at 5'6/175. Hayes was 5'10/183 and Toussaint 5'10/202. Norfleet/Smith and Toussaint/Hayes are different tiers.
Among the plowshares, thick-trunked Thomas Rawls saw extensive action last year. The difference between him and Mark Ingram is Rawls seems to miss his hole a lot—that "first four yards" thing is a problem. I haven't seen enough of Drake Johnson yet to know if he brings anything different. None of the above (who are still on the roster) have yet to demonstrate they're any better than mediocre blockers.
Two incoming running backs come with the Walsh stamp of approval. Green is already 220 lbs. and his senior highlight reel shows him doing a lot of inside power running and finding his extra yards. Deveon Smith is already Toussaint-sized and seems to have that micro-instinctual quality that Hart had. No idea if either of these guys can block.
[The rest of the offense after you JUMP]
It is Signing Day 2013, and if you weren't aware, Michigan has a pretty, pretty good class. With this post—and its accompanying defense post (coming tomorrow)—I'll attempt to give you a solid overview of the class, its strengths and weaknesses, and hand out a few superlatives. Let's start with a look at the offensive class as a whole and their final rankings from the recruiting services—click on each player's name to see their commitment post:
And now, some specifics:
BEST POSITION GROUP: Offensive Line.
This offensive line class is arguably the best in the country, finding strength both in numbers (six) and quality (five of the six are consensus four-stars or above and made All-American teams). As Michigan continues to fill in the holes left by some disastrous offensive line recruiting under Rich Rodriguez, this couldn't have come at a better time.
Among the group, guard Kyle Bosch is the most likely to crack the two-deep early; he's on campus early and has college-ready size—Michigan lists him at 6'5", 311 lbs.—to go with a polished set of skills. He won't start right away (let's hope) but could factor in as a backup. Center Patrick Kugler—the son of longtime NFL OL coach and current UTEP head coach Sean Kugler—might be the best of the bunch, though. He'll hit campus as the most physically gifted Wolverine at the position, and while he shouldn't be forced to play right away, he should be a multi-year starter down the road.
Honorable Mention: Running Back, Quarterback.
BIGGEST WEAKNESS: No elite receiver
Yes, this class lacks a blue-chip wideout. Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes are both big targets who can go up and get the ball, while Da'Mario Jones could be a playmaker in the slot, but none are can't-miss prospects. This issue is mitigated somewhat by Michigan's strong recruiting at tight end—get a couple playmakers there and the pressure comes off the receivers in the passing game—but you'd still like to see a top-flight guy on the outside.
Honorable Mention: The only other issue with the offensive side of the class is the lack of a second quarterback for depth purposes, something the coaches decided wasn't necessary. Otherwise, every need was filled.
MOST LIKELY TO START FROM DAY ONE: Derrick Green
Not only is Green the top-ranked recruit in the class, but he comes in at a position of great uncertainty and, as of late, middling production. He's got the body of an NFL running back as a high school senior and is a perfect fit for Al Borges's ideal offense. It's unknown whether Fitz Toussaint will be ready to start the season after his ugly leg injury and his production was lacking in 2012 anyway; Thomas Rawls failed to impress in his stead. Green's toughest competition for the bulk of the carries may even come from fellow 2013 commit DeVeon Smith, arguably the best back in the state of Ohio. Either way, expect a freshman (or two) to make a big impact in the backfield next season.
Honorable Mention: DeVeon Smith, Jake Butt
SUREST THING: Patrick Kugler
Covered in part above, Kugler is as close as you'll get to a can't-miss offensive line recruit. At 6'5", 280 lbs. before setting foot on campus, he's got better size than any Michigan center of recent vintage. His father spent nine years coaching offensive line in the NFL, and Patrick's film makes it apparent that he's absorbed a lot of his father's teaching—from a technical standpoint, he's very advanced for his age. He participated in the Under Armour AA Game and held up very well against some of the best defensive linemen in the country.
Kugler's only competition at center right now is Jack Miller, who's been groomed to take over the position for a couple years but was too undersized to see the field as a redshirt freshman in 2012. Miller should step in and start in 2013—it's unrealistic to expect Kugler to have enough command of the offense to make the O-line calls after a few weeks on campus—but it's going to be hard to keep Kugler off the field in 2014 and beyond.
Honorable Mention: Derrick Green, Kyle Bosch
BOOM OR BUST: Logan Tuley-Tillman
Offensive lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman has the prototypical left tackle frame at 6'7", 307 pounds. He's also a relative newcomer to the game of football and spent his high school days overpowering opponents with sheer size and strength—as a result, he's got a long way to go from a technical standpoint. At last summer's Sound Mind Sound Body camp, Tuley-Tillman and David Dawson both got extensive work in with Michigan OL coach Darrell Funk—Funk used Dawson as an example for how to execute certain technical aspects of line play, then spent a good deal of time trying to get Tuley-Tillman to that level.
If Tuley-Tillman can put it all together, he's the future at left tackle and could even develop into an NFL prospect. With so much ground to cover, however, he could also get buried on the depth chart by more polished players. It should help that Tuley-Tillman is already on campus—with a redshirt year all but guaranteed, he'll have plenty of time to work on the fundamentals before worrying about seeing the field.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris, Chris Fox
MGOSCOUTED STAMP OF APPROVAL: Jake Butt
Among the players I checked out last fall—on offense: Morris, Shallman, York, Dawson, Butt, and Hill—tight end Jake Butt really stood out with his performance on the field. Playing against cross-town rival Pickerington Central—featuring fellow Wolverine Taco Charlton—he hauled in nine catches for 93 yards and a TD while also making an impact at defensive end. Some of my impressions from that game:
Butt did a great job of snatching the ball away from his body and caught everything thrown his way. While he could be a little sharper out of his breaks, he runs crisp routes and positions his body well to give his quarterback a big target while warding off the defender. He was able to find space up the seam on multiple occasions but was also comfortable working on the perimeter, at one point catching back-to-back out routes when Central cheated to the inside in coverage. He's not going to juke past too many defenders after the catch, but he usually finds a way to fall forward for extra yardage.
At 6'6", 235 lbs., Butt has an ideal frame for the position, and his blocking really impressed me as well. He's another early enrollee, and I'd be surprised if he took a redshirt—he may not start from day one, but he's a better blocker than Devin Funchess and could give Michigan a scary one-two combo at tight end/H-back.
Honorable Mention: David Dawson, Shane Morris
THE SHANE MORRIS CATEGORY: Shane Morris
An overview of Michigan's 2013 class is incomplete without mentioning the team's quarterback of the future. Morris dropped from five-star status on Rivals and 247 after a senior season marred by mono and an uneven performance at the Under Armour AA Game, but he still has the highest ceiling of any of Michigan's commits.
The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there.
Those expecting Morris to come in and take the starting job need to temper their expectations severely—the job is Devin Gardner's, and barring injury it'll stay that way. Morris could very well come in and earn the backup job over Russell Bellomy, however, and with a couple years of development he could be special.
Honorable Mention: Shane Morris
SLEEPER: Da'Mario Jones
Michigan snatched WR Da'Mario Jones, a Westland John Glenn product, away from Central Michigan, so he certainly flew under the radar for the bulk of the recruiting cycle. That may have been the product of playing in a league that doesn't get much exposure, however—Allen Trieu reported($) that UCLA, Alabama, Florida State, Michigan State, and Georgia all came to see him last week, though no offers came when he made it clear he was ticketed for Ann Arbor.
While the other two receivers in the class, Csont'e York and Jaron Dukes, are big guys who were on the receiving end of a lot of jump balls in high school, Jones is a guy who's shown his ability to work underneath and break big plays after the catch. With Drew Dileo and Jeremy Gallon back in 2013, he may not see the field right away, but down the road there's a clear role he can fill in the slot—a position that, granted, may be marginalized by the increased emphasis on tight ends—and nobody else on the roster who fits that mold after next season.
Honorable Mention: Wyatt Shallman, Khalid Hill