“The player development is the main thing I like (about Michigan),” Williams said. “You can see that they develop their players. They get them in the gym and they work them hard. And their hard work pays off.”
This week I had two readers email me lengthy scouting reports from last week's game between Good Counsel (WR Stefon Diggs, RB Wes Brown, and several other D-I prospects) and St. John's in Maryland. They were too long to stick in this week's FBO or on the board, so I figured I'd put them both in a diary.
First up is the report from Adam, aka Hardware_Sushi, who not only broke down Diggs and Brown, but also four-star senior DE Ryan Watson and junior CB Kendall Fuller, who already has interest from big-time programs across the country:
Stefon Diggs [2012 five-star receiver]—Diggs is a phenomenal athlete. Diggs and Brown were the best overall athletes on the field. In the kick return game, his skills were extremely obvious. Despite getting the Devin Hester treatment from the St. John's punter, he still managed to field a rugby-style kick, run to one side of the field, loop around to the other, find a crease, and take it in for a touchdown. He would've had another return TD but basically stopped running after he noticed the flag when his teammate clipped a St. John's player.In the passing game, Diggs was electric when he received the ball, coming under on a crossing route and beating everyone to the corner for a touchdown. The Good Counsel QB was OK for a high-schooler, but Diggs could dominate the game even more if he had someone delivering the ball with consistency. I actually sat by a group of guys that are friends with Diggs. They told me "That boy has rabbit in him. They be feeding him rabbits." So yeah, he's fast.Wes Brown [2012 four-star running back]—Brown was the most dominating player on the field Friday night. He had 3 (4? I can't remember now...) long TD runs, two of which he waited for the line to make a crease before he hit the hole at 100 mph and blew by everyone in the secondary. I think Diggs is probably faster, but Brown displayed jump through the hole and awesome breakaway speed after he got to the second level.While he is fast, most of his runs came between the tackles and he displayed great power, several times lowering the boom and plowing several St. John's defenders back two or three yards. I liked that he fell forward whenever he was stopped close to the line. I haven't scouted many top high school running backs, so it's tough to say how well this translates to Big Ten-level football, but I don't really know what else Brown could've done to impress me against that level of competitionKendall Fuller [2013 four-star cornerback]—Fuller was the most impressive defensive player on the field Friday night. I don't think that reflects poorly on Diggs, mostly because St. John's QB (he's going somewhere for college...I couldn't find it in a quick search...)* stayed away from Diggs' side. Fuller made plays all night, displayed great coverage, had (by my count) 3 pass breakups, several tackles, and even contributed in stuffing the run game toward the line of scrimmage (before St. John's abandoned it). St. John's was a solid team coming into the game and Good Counsel only gave up seven, shutting them out after the first quarter.Ryan Watson [2012 four-star defensive end]—He didn't have a bad game, but he didn't impress like the other three. This may be partially because he played defensive line, partially because I just don't think he was as standout.
*Benjamin Onett, Rivals three-star and Temple commit.
And next, a report on Diggs and Brown from reader Justin, who couldn't get to the game until late in the second quarter but still managed to write up a lot of great stuff:
Going into the game Good Counsel was undefeated going against a team they already beat 28-14 earlier in the year. Compared to other games Good Counsel played, only losing by 14 is good for opponents so I was expecting a good game once again. When I arrived the score was 14-7 Good Counsel and I found out from a nearby fan that St. John's led 7-0 to start the game. The 3rd quarter was the changing point of the game with Stefon and Wes totally taking over. The starters were rested for Good Counsel two minutes into the 4th quarter. The final score of the game was 47-7 with Counsel winning. Now to the players themselves.
Stefon Diggs fits his 5-star billing. 100%. There's no other way to put it. Whenever the ball was in his hands, everyone in the stands held their breath waiting to see what he would do with it. His speed is not a fluke, as it seemed like he floated down the field with no one catching him when he had the ball. He has long strides to his run which make it look like he isn't moving fast, but believe me he is. His ability to make people miss with his juke moves (spins, jump cuts, etc.) were outstanding as he would make about three players miss him every time he touched the ball. And also his field awareness was tremendous as he knew where players were coming at all times to make the best cuts.
He finished the night (remember this is about a half's work since I was late) with two catches for approximately 50 yards, three punt returns for around 60 yards, and he had a 90 yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the 2nd half. The one catch he had was a 15 yard in-route over the middle where he took it for 35 yards all the way to the 1-yard line before he got pushed out of bounds. Also on one of the punt returns, he had no business in picking the ball up as it was about dead with around five St. John's players standing around it. But he picked it up anyway and returned it for 40 yards before he was tackled by the shoelaces. On another punt return, he received it at his own 10, ran backwards twice and circled around the field and was about to break it loose, before a flag was thrown on Good Counsel and it was obvious he heard the PA announcer at the stadium call the flag so he pulled up and didn't even bother returning the ball anymore.
Stefon's build seems about right as far as height and weight. I'm 6'0 myself and standing about 10 feet away from him, he was nearly the same height as me. His weight seems about right at 185, too. He wasn't skinny, but at the same time he had some tone to his build. The one area that he didn't really blow me away was his physicality while blocking. This really is just nit-picking, but most time he would either lackadaisically block the corner or just try to run him off. I know that if he wants to be a receiver at Michigan, Coach Hecklinski will have him blocking defenders wholeheartedly. Anyway, he is a very energetic and confident kid as he would always be dancing on the field. After his kickoff return for a touchdown, he came off the field and asked for a cheerleader's pom poms and started dancing with them which the crowd seemed to love. At the same time however, when the game was close, you could tell he cared deeply about his team and the game as he would talk with coaches and teammates constantly to figure out mistakes that may have occurred. Overall, a great performance by Stefon tonight.
Now I'm going to be straight up honest with you. Going into the game I was so focused on Stefon, that I kind of pushed Wes Brown to the side. That was a mistake. This kid has a lot of talent. His 6'1 height given on Rivals may be a little too high as he was shorter than Stefon. I would say about 5'10. However, the kid is built and is stout. His lower body is probably his best feature of his body. When I arrived, I identified Stefon right away, but Wes I couldn't find. When I finally did see him, he was on a knee on the sideline with less than two minutes left in the half. So whether he was a bit banged up or they just don't use him in two minute situations, I don't know.
However in the 2nd half he was the go to guy. He had 8 carries for about 160 yards and three touchdowns all in the 2nd half alone. He broke tackles so easily with people bouncing off his thighs and once he got past the linebackers, he was long gone. He has a surprising burst of speed once he gets to the second level which makes him very intriguing as a running back. When he gets the handoff, he shoots like a cannon to the line of scrimmage with no dancing feet which is kind of nice to see. Unlike Stefon, Wes played offense only, without being part of any special teams or the defense. I honestly think though, that if things don't work out with Brionte Dunn, Wes would be more than an adequate replacement for the manball that Hoke/Borges want to become in the future.
Overall, Stefon and Wes are two players that I want Michigan to really pursue in the coming months. Both are players that can be game changers at the next level. I could tell very well that they are good friends as they always would talk on the sidelines when they had the chance. People have said that they could be a package deal, so I hope the Michigan coaches and even Blake Countess can keep them interested in Michigan. At the end of the game, Stefon and Wes led the student section onto the field since it was their last home game. Before they led them onto the field, I was close enough to Stefon to get his attention. I gave him a quick shout of good job and he said thanks and "Go Blue, baby!" when he saw my maize Michigan hoodie with Wes smiling beside him.
Obviously, a very big thank you goes out to both Adam and Justin for taking the time to head to the game and write up such detailed impressions. I know the season is winding down for most players, but if anyone else has the time to do something like this, I'll be happy to hand out mgopoints in return for scouting players outside the areas I can get to. Thanks to all the readers, including Adam and Justin, who have passed along tips and made the transition to this job a whole lot easier.
Good Counsel High School in Maryland produces top prospect after top prospect year in and year out. Michigan signed one of them last year in DB Blake Countess, and they're targeting a few of his teammates for 2012. I spoke with assistant coach Kevin McFadden today about his athletes, and where they're at in the process. "Michigan has a shot, all the kids are open right now. They're all just thankful that they have the opportunity with all these programs. They're trying to concentrate on the academic side of everything, so when the time comes they have everything in order," said Coach McFadden.
The Michigan coaches have targeted and offered DB Stefon Diggs, RB Wes Brown, DE Ryan Watson, and OL Mike Madaras so far from Good Counsel. "Wes is probably one of the most sought after running backs in the country. He has a ton of offers, he's a leader, and his work ethic is good," he said. "Wes is going to be a rags to riches story. He takes the game serious, and it's all about creating an outlet for his family. He's a very responsible kid, and even more focused on academics now more than ever." Coach McFadden is also confident that Michigan will be interested in a few more of his players once he sends their film. "We have a couple other kids Michigan should offer, we have DL Rod Chungong (6'3", 240 lbs), 2013 DB Kendall Fuller (6'0", 175 lbs), and 2013 DB Kirk Garner (5'10", 165 lbs) that will get some looks from Michigan," he said.
The fact that Michigan did sign Blake Countess may end up helping them, but it's no guarantee according to the coach. "Blake's been talking to them about Michigan, but he knows just like it was for him, it's their decision. I'm sure he's been saying stuff about Michigan, but he understands what they have to do," said McFadden. Having coached so many prospects, and for a number of years Coach McFadden has also built relationships with fellow coaches that may help Michigan in the future. "Me and Urban Meyer played together at Cincinnati, that's my guy. He and Mattison coached together, and Mattison is one of my mentors in the business and the game. We kindled that relationship years ago, and we stumbled upon each other again when he came through to recruit Blake," he said. Again, the hiring of Greg Mattison and his track record has been validated from the outside.
McFadden has coached his fair share of athletes, some of which are now competing to make it to the NFL. Despite the amount of talent that he's seen, he thinks this batch is just as good. "These kids are NFL kids, they're good. They're right up there with some of the best kids we've had. They've seen the kids before them, and the appropriate measures they've had to put in place with academics, perseverance, and they've seen the outcome with those other guys. The success of the other kids has really prepared them for everything," he said. As far as what's next for this group, Coach McFadden says they will take a few trips during the spring, and try to get everything in order for the summer.