Welcome to Annual Cass Tech Corner. This year's edition is named Jourdan Lewis and is a bit bigger than most—taller, anyway—and is also a pretty good wide receiver. In all other ways he's Cass Tech corner, what with the foregone commitment (a couple weeks after his offer in February, before anyone other than Toledo could pull the trigger) and the being less than six foot tall and being super quick and such.
Yeah, you're probably thinking about all the Annual Cass Tech corners that don't seem to be doing much. What can I say? I know. It's not your fault.
Anyway, all those Cass kids hit a ton of camps and give you a solid view of their talents. Examples follow. Like, say, from the Opening, where Scout named him one of the top ten defensive players in attendance($):
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Assorted camp takes:
Columbus NTFC (247): "can run with any receiver in the country, and broke up several passes on Sunday … really good ball skills and was one of the quickest through cone drills."
IMG 7on7 (247): "a blanket on receivers throughout the two-day competition … played press coverage and lived in the back pocket of whoever he was checking. When needed, he also provided a boost offensively at receiver for the Maximum Exposure team."
Sound Mind, Sound Body (Scout): "one of the premier cover corners in the country … showed the Wolverine coaching staff what he could do and was even able to make believers out of the opposition. … With the Michigan coaching staff playfully fighting over which side of the ball he’ll play in Ann Arbor, Lewis was matched up with several of the camp’s top wide receivers/defensive backs. and more times than not was able to come up with a reception, deflection or interception."
Opening (Rivals):…has proven time and again that he is fast and instinctual and the Michigan commit proved it again Sunday when he stepped in front of another pass and picked it off and had a great pass breakup in the title game. … He takes chances sometimes too often but they usually work out and his closing speed is off the charts."
An Only Incompetent Germans Showcase (247): "outstanding at both wide receiver and defensive back at the combine. Lewis is a lot more physical than he gets credit for. At cornerback, Lewis does an fantastic job of reading wide receiver tendencies and jumping on a route. Lewis showed good physicality when playing up in bump-man coverage, re-routing receivers at the line of scrimmage and fighting for the ball in the air on deep patterns."
He was also at the Army Bowl, where he was "very impressive($)" on the second day, where he "blanketed the big receivers deep and used his speed to keep up with the faster ones." Rivals's take:
Lewis is the smallest of the West cornerbacks, but he doesn't play like it. He has great hops, elevates well against bigger receivers and is very consistent getting his head around and playing the ball. His work against guys such as Seals-Jones and Derrick Griffin was especially impressive given how many inches he's giving away.
/scratches Todd Howard off of potential YMRMFSPAs
Since Lewis was an early commit, Ace took in a number of his games. (He did the same with Delano Hill but since Hill was an Iowa commit he didn't pay close attention to him.) Lewis was named his "boom or bust" player of the year. Ace took in the Cass-OLSM showdown and came back with a mixed review:
On defense, he showed off his signaturerecovery skills in making a nice pass breakup on a deep hitch, and was only beaten once in man coverage all night.
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 … 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 [2013 OSU commit Damon] Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
He did come up and get in on some tackles, but being physical and getting stronger are the parts of his game he needs to continue to improve on. As a pure cover guy though, he's very good and could pay slot receiver in college as well.
Non-camp-specific reports are Cass Tech Corner all the way. ESPN($)'s eval is generally positive before mentioning the run support:
Lean with more than adequate height and good arm length. … Flashes very good speed, but great recovery quickness. He shows good awareness and anticipation skills in coverage. Transitions with clean footwork and is crisp out of his breaks with good burst. He shows great timing and quickness jumping routes. Lewis has sudden change-of-direction skill to mirror receivers tightly off the line or out of their breaks. Flips his hips to run fluidly and retains proper inside positioning staying between the ball and receiver. Will go up and high-point the jump ball with great leaping skills and body control. He plucks it away from taller receivers. …will be challenged when trying to set the edge on run support and limit run after catch from bigger college receivers until he adds bulk, strength and physically develops.
Scout's profile lists body control, hands, and instincts as positives while noting his (all together now) size is an issue.
Great all around athlete who made plays at both corner and receiver. Excellent hands and ball skills, as well as playmaking instincts. Seems to have a knack for big plays. Size makes matchups with bigger receivers tough, but he has shown a willingness to come up and hit in run support.
They do have a point. This series just profiled Ross Douglas, who will compete with Lewis and others to back up Blake Countess. Douglas is 20 pounds heavier than Lewis, and the main issue people have with his ability is his size. Tim Sullivan just told it like it is($) after the Rivals Challenge last year: "Lewis is a tiny dude." (He still said his stock had gone up.)
So. Tackling is a major issue and this limits Lewis to field corner only. He's not going to take away a job from Dymonte Thomas at nickel and the boundary corner is always going to be a bigger guy. That restricts his potential impact, and may free him up for a jack of all trades role as he auditions for the punt return job—a consistent strength of his at Cass—and maybe tries his hand at wide receiver, where his frame doesn't matter much. I mean:
The 5-foot-11, 170-pound Lewis is going to Michigan to play cornerback, but he is also a BCS-caliber wide receiver prospect. Lewis is so quick with his cuts that he creates instant separation from defensive backs, and he also has great hands.
It sounds like less of a backup plan and more of a 50/50 shot, especially since when Michigan was planning Jourdan Lewis's career at Michigan they didn't know it would (PROBABLY) overlap with that of Jabrill Peppers.
Why Terry Richardson? Richardson is a highly athletic cover corner who is extraordinarily slight and is still working through that as he tries to get on the field. Also is from Cass Tech, yeah.
Lewis is taller and gets praise for playing larger than he seems; I still suspect that as he moves up a level of competition the result when he tries to tackle a guy is going to look a lot like Courtney Avery as a freshman: dive and pray. If he can overcome that he can be a Countess heir apparent. This will take time and luck.
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Cass, healthy, on the radar forever, every possible camp.
Variance: High. Despite being high rated by just about everyone Lewis could bust if he never puts on weight and can't tackle anyone. Also, until a Cass corner actually plays well in a college football game that's skepticism-inducing.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Never going to be a thumper, a little size deficient, could be a really good cover guy.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. The variance is somewhat balanced by an apparent ability to play WR. He could put on enough weight to be an effective player in college, but whenever you're asking someone to do that you risk robbing them of their stand-out talent.
Projection: Redshirt. If Michigan wants to play Cass Tech Corner they have two other options who know the defense better and have put on some weight; in year one Lewis is likely to get bowled over by anyone who wanders in his direction.
Post redshirt he's in the same boat as Ross Douglas, biding time for (probably) two more years of Blake Countess and hoping for a break. If he stays at corner, waits until his redshirt junior year to seriously compete for a starting job, whereupon the other three corners in this class will provide competition along with anybody in the previous classes looking feisty.
Yeah, "if" he stays at corner. Michigan has an idea as to what they want at WR that does not include 5'10" guys but there's a reasonable chance the need is greater there than at corner and he slides over to play slot. If Michigan gets Peppers and both Stribling and Dawson work out, it would be a waste to let Lewis idle behind those guys.
I'm still rustled that after all these Cass Tech corners, arguably the best of all (close to five star status, shut LaQuon Treadwell down COLD) is ticketed for Ohio State. Damon Webb is a stone cold lock to be a big time starter. But Jourdan Lewis is very good in his own right.
I'm sorry, I don't agree with much of this at all.
For being such an analytical guy you sure do put way too much stock in the fact that he attended Cass. What do the careers of 3 pervious players have to do with his ability to play? Nothing. Do you think OSU fans are lamenting Webb because he went to Cass? It's an illogical argument that tries to equate correlation with causation.
Secondly, you make it sound like he's hopelessly small. He's measured in at 5'10 and 5'11 at various camps, depending on the camp. 5'11 is the average height of an NFL corner. He's about 160 right now with no evidence that he has lifted as he is skinny and just plain doesn't look like a guy who has lifted. Stribling is 6'2 and only 170, but it's assumed he'll gain weight, yet he appears to be just as skinny. Why is it likely that one will gain the weight and not the other? Because Terry Richardson didn't?
Sorry, I think it's odd that one of our highest ranked recruits is treated as a meh recruit because of some guys with no actual input on his ability or potential.
Wow, I've been reading this blog for about 4 years and I'm still not ready? What a waste of time...
On an actual relevant note, you appear to have ignored the actual basis of my argument - that in the void of Terry Richardson playing for Michigan at 160 and not gaining a pound in the past year there is no way that Lewis would spur such doubt.
Raymon Taylor reported to Michigan at 5'10 169 and .... oh hell, why am I arguing with somebody who wrote lololol in their response? I have better things to do.
I don't think we should completely write off the idea that going to Cass Tech could have some sort of impact on how well one plays in college. Maybe it's something about how they coach their DBs that doesn't translate well at the next level, maybe something about their defense causes us to overrate the prospects, maybe something about the culture of the school makes kids less likely to respond to coaching, etc etc. I'm not claiming any insider information nor do I necessarily think any of this is true, I'm just saying we shouldn't completely scoff at the idea that there's some sort of causal effect.
As for his measurables, all of these players are listed as taller than they actually are. Someone who is listed at 5'10 in high school means he's probably closer to 5'8. Those NFL guys who measured at 5'11 were all probably listed at 6'1 in college.
Dayum, that scarecrow is 5'10", 160-170? I'm 165 and I don't think I look that scrawny. Either I need to replace the funhouse mirrors in my bathroom with some flat ones, or we're just accustomed to seeing guys in pads with muscles that bend light with their gravity.
Not concerned about his speed though. Thirty years ago, workouts built up slow-twitch muscle so added mass = loss of speed, but these days we have DEs that can almost keep up with running backs.
As for this:
"He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and [2013 OSU commit Damon] Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit."
Well, yeah. Doesn't worry me either. At his weight, if I was playing football I'd go for ankles as well. It has nothing to do with shying away from contact and everything to do with knowing that a bull rush isn't going to do much more than send you flying backwards. First priority is bringing the guy down; only stop him cold if you know you have the momentum.
Vernon Hargreaves is listed at 5'11 185 but he was without a doubt the consensus TOP CORNER in the 2013 class. I don't really see Brian's perception of Lewis' size as an underlying factor in his ability to play. Raymon Taylor was the same size just about when he came to UM and he can tackle just fine. The kid has serious cover skills and I don't think he should be disregarded in such a way.
Basically your telling us that his size and school history completely trump his ability to play corner? That's not right at all. I think he'll be the best corner on our roster when he gets a chance to play alongside Countess. Definitely don't see him red-shirting. Ross Douglas was given a chance and I think the coaches would without a doubt give Lewis an equal opportunity to succeed.
I love the size of Dawson, Stribling, and Dymonte... But Lewis has the best cover skills of them all. We can mix in those bigger guys in different situations. But I see Countess and Lewis as our starting corners in a year. If Peppers commits, i see him and Countess starting with Lewis at nickel; Dymonte moved to FS Jarrod Wilson to SS. Bold prediction but hey. What the hell.
Better than a young mans knowledge is an old mans experience.
Brian wasn't calling Lewis bad or anything, he just has some skepticism and said his excitement level was moderate. Just because he's excitement level isn't super high, doesn't mean Brian thinks he'll be a bad player.
This is a great class, and not every recruit can get all perfect scores and words about them, though some of you with your britches all knotted up seem to want that. Yeesh.