"Rodrick Williams Jr.'s 10-month old, 2-foot-long savannah monitor named "Kill" gets the RB some strange looks when they go for walks together."
Previously: Last year's profiles.
|Dayton, OH – 6'0", 205|
|Scout||4*, #150 overall
|Rivals||4*, #225 overall
#15 S, #10 OH
|ESPN||4*, #196 overall
#12 S, #7 OH
|24/7||4*, NR overall
#16 S, #13 OH
|Other Suitors||ND, MSU, Ark, Bama|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Brandon Brown interviews him.|
The world was a very different place when Tyree Kinnel committed to Michigan. It was August of 2013. Michigan was coming off a bumpy year induced by Denard Robinson's ulnar nerve turning traitor, but before that they were contending for the Big Ten title a year after Brady Hoke entered on wings of fire, winning the Sugar Bowl. Innocent Michigan fans frolicked in local meadows, unaware of the nuclear fires just over the horizon.
In the cratered aftermath Kinnel pokes his head out of his foxhole and cries out for his classmates. "Crawford! Campbell! Harris! Anybody? Anybody?" Alex Malzone pops up, helmet in bad shape but otherwise none the worse for wear. Otherwise… silence. Wither the commits of yesteryear, yea. We shall remember them as they were on recruiting sites, and get only slightly bitter when they do something good in college.
This is a long and largely unnecessary way of saying that Kinnel had a lot to think about after he decided on Michigan. After Shawn Crawford defected to the den of iniquity that is Notre Dame he tried to bring Kinnel along. He visited; he decided to stick out Michigan's coaching search instead. Kinnel really wanted to be at Michigan.
As a result there is a lot of chatter about where he might go and less actual scouting than you'd expect from a guy who committed before his junior year. And a lot of the scouting that exists is in the immediate aftermath of his commit—it's a bit dated. But we forge on.
In Kinnel, Michigan's locked down a potential replacement for Jabrill Peppers after he blasts off to the NFL. That's not to say he is Peppers. He is a safety-sized gentleman who is capable of covering people one on one, though. Rivals Ohio analyst Mark Givler:
"He's a strong kid, a good sized kid. I really like his versatility in the secondary because he's able to cover like a corner, but he also plays the game like a free safety. He'll bring some versatility back there, and he'll move around wherever the coaching staff will need him to move." …
"I think he's ultimately probably a free safety, but again, he's been put in a lot of man to man coverage situations at these camps and performed very well. He could have easily been a corner the way he performed at these camps. His build and strength to run sideline to sideline, though, makes him a great free safety prospect."
“Kinnel is just a great athlete. I would put him up there with guys like Cam Burrows and others like that from years past. He’s half safety and half corner. He has great coverage skills. He has good size. He is a fit kid.”
Rivals' Josh Helmholdt:
"He has the body, size and physical measurable of a safety, but he covers like a cornerback, I am very high on him as a prospect. He is certainly very talented, and physically, he brings everything to the table that you want from that position."
You get the idea.
If Michigan sticks with the perma-nickel defense they appear to be running with Peppers that would make him a strong candidate for that slot. If he does end up at free safety, that's fine too—the back half of his high school career was spent there (and running back and punt returner).
Some other scouting highlights:
- Clint Brewster, 247: "always around the ball …able to track the ball down on deep passes and make the INT or pass breakup. He does an excellent job of fighting for the ball and out-competing the receiver. … excellent quickness and a great burst to get to the ball-carrier. … elite agility and quickness. … could make the switch to cornerback at the next level if need be"
- Dave Berk, Scout: "Brute strength is above average … biggest question we’ll have going into his college career is the smoothness of his hips flipping out of his backpedal … no problem covering a lot of ground and does a great job in the deep half of the field showing above average instincts. His ability to cover an area and be in position to make plays is extremely high for such a young player."
- Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "Physically, Kinnel is everything that a college coach wants in a safety. He showed off his speed on kick returns and in closing on plays to be made. He's never going to be the fastest player, but he has enough speed to make an impact at either the strong or free position. He's a hair over 6-1, and every bit of his listed 190 pounds with even more room for growth. He showed off his strength in making forceful tackles (especially the disrupted screen play) without getting full leverage behind his body."
- Adam Gorney, Rivals: "Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers."
- Allen Trieu, Scout: “High football IQ who may not have the straight line speed some desire. Great body control and instincts with the ability to provide strong run support. Tough hard-nosed player who has no problem putting a hit on an offensive player. Great hands … Must continue work on coverage skills.”
What separates Kinnel from the all-world hype of Peppers is the usual: speed and size. Kinnel isn't a slouch in either department, but neither is there a unanimous chorus of "wow" at his raw athletic tools. Nobody ever said Jabrill Peppers was "a bit more athletic than many believe him to be," as Tim Sullivan did($) after an in-person evaluation.
It's hard to tell whether how real size concerns are since so many evaluations come from old film, but after watching Kinnel's junior tape 247's Clint Brewster said he was probably "closer to 5'10, 180" and "more quick than fast." He ran a 4.5($) at OSU's camp as a rising junior, which sounds excellent until you remember that OSU's camp is where all the kids get their 4.2 40s. He's still pretty big and quite fast. In that same eval, Sullivan noted that he has "plenty of speed to get things done." He's just not Peppers.
He is a high football IQ guy who really really wanted to be at Michigan…
Wednesday morning Tyree Kinnel expressed the dream he shared with his father to play at Michigan. During his speech to those in attendance at the school’s gymnasium, Kinnel thanked his friends, coaches, teachers, family and parents. After catching his breath and soaking up the moment, Kinnel looked back at his parents a second time and told them. “The Dream Came True!”
…and was calling audibles as a junior in high school. His high school DB coach:
"He has the size and speed, but he has something that you can't teach a lot of players: he has the instincts to see things before or as they are happening. This gives him the ability to make reads quicker and make plays. He knows how to disguise coverages and he knows how to read opposing offenses. As his position coach, I've given Tyree the permission to call audibles on our coverage."
Everyone's got bust potential; Kinnel's seems very low.
Why non-superman Jabrill Peppers? Kinnel offers a combination of safety instincts and man-to-man cover skills that should make him a hybrid space player like Peppers figures to be this year. As spread offenses respond to the intense quarters coverage that had MSU's D at the top of the world two years, the importance of covering the slot as he bombs deep is a priority, and Kinnel is a guy who offers that ability.
I usually try to grab someone in the same talent stratosphere—or that we've, you know, seen play—but Michigan has not deployed anyone of Kinnel's ilk in my memory.
Guru Reliability: High. Kinnel was healthy, playing the position he projects to, and hit a reasonable number of camps.
Variance: Low. Not much mystery here.
Ceiling: High-minus. Consensus four star who is a very solid athlete playing a spot he projects to well.
General Excitement Level: High. Note that there are levels above "high" in this arbitrary ranking system. Kinnel should be a contributor and a starter, probably a good one.
Projection: You'd think he's in line for a redshirt since Michigan has a veteran two-deep (Wilson, Hill, Clark, Thomas) in front of him at safety even if you don't slot Peppers in there. We don't know Harbaugh's inclinations in this department yet, though. One thing that might help: safety types are often drafted for special teams, but Jon Baxter likes to use a lot of starters there. That should reduce demand for pointless redshirt wastes.
Anyway, after a freshman year spent either getting no or very few snaps he will have on opportunity to compete for a starting job in year two after Jarrod Wilson graduates; more likely he has another year of sparse snaps. If Peppers hits the NFL in two years, that will be his first prime opportunity.
“Well, everybody alright? I’m good. Who wants to start?”
You have a couple of players who are new to the position in Brandon Watson and Ross Douglas, though Ross Douglas has played it before. How are they adjusting to that change?
“They’re doing well. It’s a whole different deal for everybody. It’s a different defense, so everybody’s making a lot of adjustments but those two guys are coming along just like the rest of them.”
We’ve heard it said that you’ve played a lot more press coverage than they’re used to. How have they adjusted and how much work is that?
“It’s a lot of work. It’s a new total concept for the defense, for these guys who haven’t played- for Jourdan [Lewis] two or three years, for Blake [Countess] four years- so it is a new concept. It’s a whole new technique they’re learning so it’s taking time but they’re working their butts off. They’re working extremely hard at it and in time we’re going to get it done.”
Press was something they tried last year and did a little bit of it and struggled with it. Are you guys totally committed to it?
“Well, that’s coach Durkin’s defense, yes. So yes, we are totally, 100 % committed. We’ve just got to find the guys who catch on the fastest and handle the technique the best.”
Most cornerbacks are really excited about the chance to do that. Has that been the case here?
“Absolutely for us, and in recruiting they’re very excited to hear we’re aggressive on the outside and they want to see and hear what they’d have to do, so I think it will help us in that respect as far as getting some other corners in here.”
Can you talk about Lewis and Countess in particular and their ability to do that?
“Yeah, Blake’s an extremely hard worker. He’s very focused. Jourdan’s a natural at it. He’s probably our most natural corner for what we’re asking him to do. He does it pretty good but he’s still got some things to get better at because of the fact that it’s something they haven’t done all the time as far as last season goes. But those two are definitely, as far as technique-sound and even athletically and mentally, more experienced in that way.”
[After THE JUMP: Skills needed to play press, a transfer from Stanford confirmed-ish, and depth chart discussion]
[Note: there were no microphones for media so I can’t get the questions verbatim from my recording. Instead I’ve gone with the gist of the question.]
“Thank you. Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out today. Exciting day for us as a football program, for the families, and for the youngsters who work so hard to earn a football scholarship and to see that hard work come to fruition today is a very exciting day. We’re very pleased with our class. Very proud, really, and I think everybody that loves Michigan is going to be proud to call these youngsters their own.”
On how difficult it is to come in late in the recruiting process:
“It wasn’t difficult. It was a real joy. It was a real pleasure. Just the things that I learned about some of the players that were already committed under coach Hoke and his regime, and they did a tremendous job.
“You talk about some of those guys- Andrew Paul David. And his confirmation name is John, if you were wondering. Andrew Paul John David. You pretty much got the gospel covered right there. Grew up a Michigan fan. Great love of Michigan.
“Tyree Kinnel, somebody who was handed a Michigan football at birth, was committed here.
“Also, John Runyan Jr. I was told he wore a Michigan onesie when he was a year old.
“People have a love and passion for Michigan football. Grant Perry’s another who recently committed here and signed today. Grew up and Mark’s dad- Mark was a record-setting receiver in the state of Michigan. Over 13 records. But he grew up like me, Grant did. In the shadow of Michigan Stadium, getting autographs from football players and basketball players, dad was a coach. Mark was telling me that he’d bring Grant to practice and as a seven-year-old he always found a way to get a helmet, be running routes, [and] doing amazing things with the football at every practice that he went to. A winner. That’s what I’m really excited about in this class. Those two things; a lot of youngsters that have a real deep desire to be at Michigan and have won, and in Grant’s case he’s won at everything he’s ever done going back to little league baseball, basketball, and football, including three state championships at Brother Rice along with Alex Malzone, who’s also in our class.
“Did I tell you Andrew David was a really good short stop? Heck of a baseball player, too.”
[After THE JUMP: the pickle quote]
Two 2015 commits are officially in: QB Alex Malzone and ATH Brian Cole enrolled at Michigan this week.. Given what should be an open, heated competition for the starting quarterback job next season, it's especially nice to get Malzone on campus early; while he won't be the favorite to land atop the depth chart, he's got the talent to make a run for it.
I've failed to mention this in the past couple roundups, but as you might expect, the recruits who stuck with Michigan through the turmoil of the last several months are very solid in their pledges now that Jim Harbaugh is in place. 2015 four-star S Tyree Kinnel, for instance, is back to recruiting for the Wolverines after previously considering a flip to Notre Dame, per MLive's Nick Baumgardner:
"Oh yeah I'm recruiting," Kinnel said. "I'm talking to (five-star corner) Marcus Lewis, (five-star corner) Iman Marshall, I've been texting four-star safety Shaun Crawford (a former Michigan pledge, currently a Notre Dame commit) a bit.
"And I'm still talking with Alex (Malzone), he's staying on top of everyone. He's giving me more names to keep texting. He's on top of everybody. We're trying to get this whole thing together, and I know (Michigan commit) Brian Cole has been recruiting like crazy, too. We're trying to finish this class strong."
Marshall is reportedly setting up an official visit, while Lewis is considering the same; unfortunately, there hasn't been much to indicate Crawford will reconsider Michigan.
In other news, Kinnel's senior highlight reel just posted on Hudl.
Several To Go
Surprise! Four-star CT TE Chris Clark's recruitment remains bizarre as all hell. Clark is down to Michigan and UCLA, and he's scheduled officials to Ann Arbor for January 16th and LA the following weekend, per 247's Steve Wiltfong.
Which program will land Clark is anybody's guess. He told 247's Tom Loy there's "a part of me that feels UCLA is going to be the place for me," naming UCLA as his leader even though he's never been to their campus. He's also yet to meet Jim Harbaugh in person, which could swing things the other way, and... well, you try to figure out the quotes he gave GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
Based on his previous verbal commitment to Michigan under Brady Hoke, Clark did admit that gives the Wolverines a slight edge down the stretch in his recruitment.
“I would say I think UCLA, right now, in terms of the opportunity, it’s better there,” Clark said. “But I’d say in terms of my comfort level and in terms of where I know more about, it would definitely be Michigan.
“But I think the opportunity is a little greater at UCLA from all the stuff I know now but I think in terms of where I probably feel more at home or where I feel more comfortable with, Michigan would have that advantage right now.”
Bogenschutz took that to mean Michigan holds the edge. I am the shrug emoticon.
Three-star MI ATH John Kelly spoke to Harbaugh last week; he told Scout's Josh Newkirk that the new Michigan coach is "a real cool guy," and he's being recruiting as an athlete who can pick his position when he gets to campus ($). Kelly set up official visits to Tennessee and Minnesota later this month and plans to do the same for Michigan and Michigan State before a signing day decision.
[Hit THE JUMP for updates on several top 2015 targets as well as Harbaugh hire reactions from a handful of the best 2016 prospects in the country.]
Well, crap, I guess I should probably do one of these.
Goodbye: Chris Clark
— Chris Clark (@Clark8Chris) December 2, 2014
Mere moments after the announcement of Brady Hoke's dismissal, four-star 2015 TE commit Chris Clark decommitted in a move that came as little surprise. In talking to The Wolverine's Brandon Brown, he gave the impression Michigan is pretty unlikely to regain his commitment ($):
"I'm still interested in Michigan but it kind of just depends on the impression the new coach makes on me," he said. "I'll be honest, it's probably going to be pretty tough but we will see. I just really have to see who the new coach is going to be and what coaches are going to be on his staff.
North Carolina, the school Clark originally committed to, is among four other programs vying for his services, along with Texas, UCLA, and USC. Providing a small ray of hope, Clark said he'd like to take one of his official visits to Ann Arbor, and his recruitment should extend until Signing Day or close to it.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup, including updates on Kinnel, Cole, the 2016 commits, and Wheatley.]
Goodbye: Mike Weber
As for his visit plans, per Rivals' Josh Helmholdt, we'll have to wait:
Since Detroit Cass Tech four-star running back Mike Weber de-committed from Michigan earlier this month, the question has been which schools will receive his official visits.
"Alabama, Ohio State and Michigan State is all I really know right now. I haven't decided on the other two," Weber said. "I haven't set them up yet. I still have to sit down with my parents and see which ones I should take and when. I think I will take at least two in December."
Michigan is still under consideration. Alabama, Georgia, and Notre Dame didn't wait long to offer Weber after his decommitment.
Tyree Kinnel Waits
["]So I’m not too worried about if it Hoke is fired, what I’ll have to do. I know I’ve got other scholarships to schools that said they would take me. At the end the day I know I’ll be fine, so I’m just focused on the state championship right now with my team.”
That isn’t meant to suggest that the longtime Wolverine pledge is definitely headed elsewhere if the current coaching staff is removed.
“They would still be a school I consider,” he said.
Kinnel has no visits planned, yet.
Cole and Clark Wait
From Webb's latest in the Detroit News:
"As [Brian Cole's] daddy I'm telling you we're still evaluating everything. We're looking around, but we're still committed to Michigan."
"I'm just trying to get some other options in case the coaches I have a really good relationship with at Michigan end up going," [Chris Clark] told Scout.com. "And then I'll just have other options.
"I want to see what new coach they get -- if they get a new coach. I just really like my tight end coach at Michigan, Coach (Dan) Ferrigno. He's been with Coach Hoke for a while. If Coach Hoke goes, then he's going to go too."
Grant Newsome, Andrew David, Jon Runyan Jr., and Alex Malzone are solid, at least.
John Kelly, Uncommitted, Waits
"I'm not really worried about that stuff," he said. "They will probably find a good replacement with whatever they do. I've heard about Jim Harbaugh. That would be a really big hire if they could get him. That would help a lot. Besides that, I'm just waiting and seeing. I'm in no hurry to make a decision right now and I'm not favoring any certain schools over another at this point."
Michigan State and Minnesota are also under serious consideration; Kelly has also fielded recent offers from Iowa and Tennessee.
Auden Tate, After A "Great" Visit, Waits
“I’m a solid commit to FSU still,” Tate insisted. “I’m just taking some visits… just making sure.”
That begs the question, did Michigan give him something to think about?
“I don’t know,” he replied. “Kind of.”
Tate also visited Florida last weekend. They're waiting, too, but in a much different way.
Not Waiting: KLS, Garrett Taylor
Happy trails to Keisean Lucier-South, who committed to UCLA, and former M commit Garrett Taylor, who committed to Penn State.