Thanks for the update. It's nice to get an inside view of where we stand with these guys.
The 2015 Quarterback Picture 2.0
About three weeks ago I posted an article about which 2015 signal callers could be next in line for an offer. With no game to prepare for this week the coaching staff decided to travel the country checking in on recruits and I decided to do the same thing (from the comfort of my couch) with a focus on the quarterbacks.
I originally created a list of seven prospects consisting of Kevin Dillman, Nick Johns, Sheriron Jones, Kyle Kearns, Alex Malzone, Riley Neal, and Brady White. After a visit to the Indiana game I think Tyree Jackson could also be thrown into the mix at this point.
I was able to talk to each young man this weekend and see how often the coaches have been in contact with them, and try to gauge the interest level from the coaches, as well as from the recruits. In doing so I think I’ve identified a top tier of four targets on the quarterback big board.
Kevin Dillman – La Mirada High School – La Mirada, CA: The coaches have not been in contact with Dillman at all recently which is a bit surprising during a bye week that included traveling across the country as well as social media communication. He appears to be down the list as a secondary target.
Tyree Jackson – Mona Shores High School – Muskegon, MI: Jackson visited Ann Arbor for his first game experience against Indiana and had a great time which I reported here, but since his visit he has had zero contact with the coaching staff. He will continue to be a name to watch, but he also appears to be down the list a bit.
Nick Johns – Gonzaga High School – Washington D.C.: Johns told me that he speaks with Coach Mallory almost every day on Facebook. With so much contact I was curious as to what was discussed when they chat. “He just asks me what kind of team we are playing that week and what kind of defense they run. He tells me to try and identify our strengths and weaknesses against that team. He just tries to assess my football IQ.” Johns told me that Coach Mallory hasn’t exactly mentioned an offer yet, but Nick seems to feel pretty wanted based on how often they communicate. He did say that he would love to have an offer from such a great school like Michigan. I believe Johns is one of the top tier targets at this point.
Sheriron Jones – Rancho Verde High School – Moreno Valley, CA: Jones has not had any recent contact with the coaching staff at all and he even said that when he tries to call them, they never answer. That tells me that he is not a top priority at this time.
Kyle Kearns – Foothill High School – Pleasanton, CA: Kearns had a legitimate talk with Coach Borges on Wednesday evening that tentatively set up a “Wilton-Speight-like” visit in the Spring. “Coach Borges said that he plans to make it out this Spring to check me out. He talked about how they’ve only offered one guy and I’m a guy that he really likes. I see myself fitting in really well in his offensive scheme from what he told me.” I asked Kearns how he’d feel if an offer did eventually come and he simply said, “It would be huge!” He even flirted with the idea of committing on the spot if that did happen. “I can’t say I’d commit on the spot just yet. There are some other schools that I’ve built a strong relationship with and I don’t want to put the cart in front of the horse.” (He actually used that phrase. I like this kid.) Kearns talked about how attractive Michigan is with George Campbell and Damien Harris already in the fold for the 2015 class. “With Michigan getting a top running back and wide receiver for 2015 it makes the decision that much easier. Couple that with world class academics and the biggest stadium in football…man.” After talking with Kearns and hearing his very obvious interest and discussing his regular talks with Coach Borges I now believe he may be the front-runner for the next quarterback offer.
Alex Malzone – Brother Rice High School – Bloomfield Hills, MI: Malzone has set up a regular communication schedule with Coach Borges that involves him calling the offensive coordinator every Thursday night between 9 and 9:30 pm. Borges also made it very clear to Alex that he is in the top tier of quarterbacks being evaluated. With Malzone being right in Michigan’s backyard and understanding what it means to be the quarterback at Michigan, he is a very real possibility to receive an offer. I believe Malzone will continue to be evaluated and being a Michigander is an advantage that has helped him land in the top tier.
Riley Neal – Yorktown High School – Yorktown, IN: Neal has already been talking to Coach Borges quite regularly, also on Thursdays, for a few weeks now. They usually talk about his film, each other’s seasons, and just the general recruiting process. Neal and I talked about some other quarterbacks getting attention from Michigan and he was very informed about the entire situation. He knew of Dillman, Malzone, and Kearns and also that the coaching staff was evaluating his position right now, which tells me he is interested and intuitive when it comes to the process. He is in the top tier.
Brady White – Hart High School – Newhall, CA: From what most here have expressed about Brady White this will be an unfortunate update, but he has not been hearing from the coaching staff at all lately and didn’t once during the bye week. His interest in Michigan seems legitimate but he may be tough to lure from the west coast.
In conclusion I feel like the top tier of four targets consists of Nick Johns, Kyle Kearns, Alex Malzone, and Riley Neal. These four quarterbacks are in regular contact with the coaching staff and all express sincere interest in being recruited by Michigan. At first glance I thought Dillman, Jones, and White all hadn’t heard from the coaches simply due to the fact that they are all California kids, which can be problematic due to the time difference and the fact that those kids just don’t leave their geographic area too often. That notion is of course debunked by the fact that fellow California native Kyle Kearns may be atop the big board right now. After this week my list does, in fact, put Kearns at the top and looks like this (last time's ranking in parentheses):
- Kyle Kearns (2)
- Riley Neal (3)
- Alex Malzone (7)
- Nick Johns (6)
Others: Dillman (1), White (5), Jones (4), Jackson (NR)
This is not necessarily my wish list, this is just how I feel the big board may look somewhere in Schembechler Hall, based on frequency of contact, expressed interest from both sides, and skill-set for Borges’ system. It will be interesting to see how it all shakes out over the next couple of months.
Great work. This gives us a clear picture of where the staff is heading for the next 2015 QB offers. Time to look at some of their junior highlights....
So, at this time, Dillman and Jones have had no contact despite being solid passing quarterbacks. It appears that we really are hell-bent on plodding our way back to the 90's with our QBs. Sigh. I hate being us sometimes.
Kearns, if he is indeed the top option, looks pretty mobile on film. He's not Devin or Denard, but he looks like he can do enough with his legs to keep a defense honest. He looks absolutely nothing like, say John Navarre.
What evidence do you have that either of those guys are solid passing QBs? The big knock on both of them is their throwing ability. Both are great athletes, sure. But not great passers. And it's not like the guys we're going after are total statues.
Additionally - this is silly. You aren't plodding back to the 90s with a running QB, in fact most all of the good teams in 2013 do not have a running QB. Sure, guys like Mariotta and Manziel get a lot of pub, but only 2 of the top 10 teams in the current BCS have a running QB, and that's OSU and Oregon (which is just the type of offenses they run). Beyond that, only a handful of the rest of the top-25 have QBs who run, and that's Auburn, A&M and Northern Illinois.
If you look at the strong majority of the top programs, they have a QB who either runs very little or runs almost never.
I think the issue is the distinction of dual-threat and pro-style. Coming out of HS some of the guys in the top 25 were considered "dual-threat."
According to 247sports:
Jameis Winston, Tahj Boyd, Stephen Morris, James Franklin (Maty Mauk), Blake Bell, Connor Shaw, Brett Hundley, J.W. Walsh and Taylor Kelly were are considered "dual-threat" types.
Fine, but sometimes those distinctions are just some guy throwing someone into a box.
But that's not the point. The poster I was referring to was saying how we were "plodding back into the 90s" by not recruiting a running QB, when in reality most teams don't run their QBs and are very successful in not doing so.
The only guy on that list that's really a dual-threat QB is James Franklin, who is now out for the season for the second year in a row (not saying that's why, but just saying). Stephen Morris actually has negative rushing yards on the season and Winston's long rush for the year is like 20 yards. Tahj Boyd's is 17.
Point is - there's not a ton of difference between a QB who can't run well and a QB who can but doesn't. And it's not like the guys we're recruiting are Manning or Brady types either. Most of them can run just fine.
I guess the way I said it made it look like I was arguing against your point.
My point was a recruiting service catergorizing a player in HS is not always what he will become at the college level.
What would you list be Brandon? I'm assuming Dillman would be on top?
Not in my best interest to talk about who I like or dislike since I have contact with these guys. I do like Dillman a lot though, but I would need to see him play in person to see just how raw he is.
Please stay neutral and keep getting the info from these kids; I love it.
Great write-up. Thanks.
Didn't mean to put you on the spot. Good call on the impartiality. I'll just have to do independent research, instead of lazily asking you, utilizing this newfangled tool called the "Internet" and all these informative updates you/Ace/et al of the numerous other Michigan recuiting followers are posting.
A wise stance to take
Kearns' accuracy is uncanny. He confidently fits the football into tiny windows, and I think he appears to be on another level when compared to the other three on that list. In fact, accuracy-wise, that is one of the best reels I've ever seen from a HS kid. I believe he looks better than either Morris or Speight in that regard. It's not just how he can pick his spot, it's how he can vary the arc of the pass to drop it in. He's the kind of kid that can hit a receiver in the facemask. Amazing for a kid his age.
That said, he's smaller, and not as athletic. I really liked Johns' film, too. He looks like a gutsy, no-nonsense type. He's not as accurate as Kearns, but he appears to be the only one on that list that's asked to run the ball, and he does it well. Looks built enough to handle punishment.
Neal and Malzone are both strong-armed, accurate throwers, but don't appear to be spectacular. Both would be great recruits, IMO, even if they're not as accurate as Kearns or as athletic as Johns. They are probably more accurate than Johns, but Johns appears to be (just based off of film) a more emotional, gutsy leader.
None of these guys are statues, and they all show the ability to extend the play. I think this is Al's wish list, in order of preference:
- Accuracy - All of these guys are crazy accurate. Kearns is on another level, IMO.
- Escapability - They all extend plays well. Johns best, Malzone worst, but all are at least decent.
- Mechanics - Footwork and motion are all pretty strong. I like how high Johns holds the ball.
- Size - None are under 6-1. There will be no Denard/Braxton types with Al.
- Arm strength - This is important, but it appears more to be a baseline factor than a key ingredient. Cornwell certainly has more power then Speight, but Speight got the offer. That said, Borges cleraly wants a QB that can hit the deep ball consistently, so you've got to be able to chuck it.
I don't think Borges recruits a Navarre (too immobile), or, obviously, a Denard (not accurate enough or big enough). He's looking for accurate passers with escapability before he's looking for arm strength or pure speed.
I love that I can come here and get insightful analysis from someone who truly knows the game. Your effort's appreciated.
Great post, especially the Navarre - Denard triangulation. We all konw that Borges would not have recruited Denard (we still love him anyway), but Borges would also not have recruited Navarre. People don't always pick that up.
Michigan would go after a more athletic QB, but it doesn't look like thats going to happen
Given what we've seen with our dual threats the past 3 years I'm putting football IQ and decision making waaaay above athleticism. It's harder to assess, but that's why I'm encouraged by Borges so thoroughly evaluating these guys. He's looked at them all way more than any recruiting service. Probably more than all of them combined.
I don't think a mobile quarterback will be all that necessary in the future. I think this season would be a big struggle without it. Once our oline gets more time and improves and we get bigger better receivers I think a pocket passer will do fine
BUT HOW MANY STARS ARE THEY?!?!?!
Thanks for the update. Since I am too lazy with so many candidates could you update the story with STARRRRRS. Not that is all important but I know Dillman and Brady just from previous researc were top end CA QBs, not sure how the others stack up. Again not that it matters once they get here - just curious about perception.
Kearns: 4-star, #224 overall, #10 pro-style QB
Neal: Not Rated yet by anyone
Malzone: Not Rated yet by anyone
Johns: 3-star, #547 overall, #28 pro-style QB
Only two services have rated guys yet, and none have taken even their juniors years into account (or at least much of it) so this is very limited data. Gives you a bit of an idea though.
Will be measured over the next 5 years or so as this seems to be Borges's call all the way. Borges seems to value traits that don't necessarily correspond to the highest recruiting rankings. I'm not qualified to judge any of these guys independent of offers or recruiting rankings so all I can do is hope that Borges is up to the task. The jury is still out IMO.
Reminds me of the way Coach Beilein recruits. I don't follow the recruiting too hard but these QB posts are very interesting, as far as seeing how Borges recruits/evaluates the position.
I really, really like Brady White. I think he's the best 2015 QB in the country (with Josh Rosen being #2). Brandon, have you reached out to Brad Mayes or Zach Gentry by any chance to see if they're in contact with the coaches?
Damn, there are lot of 2015 QBs in California. 5 of the top 10 prostyle QBs are in CA, and 4 more in the top 33. The funny thing is that USC already has their 2015 QB in David Sills from MD (who has been committed to them for literally like 4 years). Now, one of them has already committed to Alabama, so I guess that's a wash. But some of thoae kids will be leaving the West Coast.
Foothill High School is just a couple miles from my house. It would be interesting if Kearns committed. I lived about the same distance from Forcier's high school in San Diego when he committed.
Fire Borges and funk right after the season, call Cam and have him leave LSU and bring in Jon Jansen as the O line coach.
Boy am I glad you don't hire our coaches.
" . . . has not had any recent contact with the coaching staff at all and he even said that when he tries to call them, they never answer.
Wow, our coaches are not all just teddy bears and unicorns. Players like them, but make no mistake, they have an edge. They're trying to get from point A to point B and have no time for anyone that does not help make that happen.
I feel a little sad for the kids on the outside looking in, but that's the nature of elite D1 recruiting, I guess. It works both ways. Da'Shawn Hand is probaly not answering any calls from the poor coaches at Eastern Michigan either.
Like Junior Prom, you gotta find your own level and not waste a lot of time with moping and wishful thinking.
DAD! IM GOING STAG CUZ IM A REBEL GEEZ.
I like that they do that. If I was a recruit I'd rather have a school show me they weren't that interested rather than get my hopes up while they know that no offer is coming. not to mention unofficial visits from cali wouldn't be cheap
To at least be able to talk to one of the coaches or set a time to talk to them , but I can understand they are busy.
I like this, "investigative-style" approach to recruiting. Not only does it shed light into the "big board" as you call it, but it also explains how the coaching staff approach recruiting.
Again, nice work and keep it coming.