“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Last Friday, I got my third opportunity to check out 2010 Michigan commit Ricardo Miller in person, as the Ann Arbor Pioneer Pioneers (we're from Pioneer!) traveled to Chelsea to take on Michigan State commit Nick Hill and the Chelsea Bulldogs. Ricardo Miller caught 4 passes for 123 yards and a touchdown in a 45-9 Pioneer victory.
First, since it's what everyone cares about the most, the video:
Ricardo Miller Scouting Report
This was the first time I'd seen Miller look truly dominant against high school competition, though he's looked semi-dominant before, he just never gets the damn ball. His quarterback doesn't have the confidence in his own arm to hit Miller on the always-wide-open deep posts (or deep crosses - look how open he is nearly every time he runs a route, but the QB is too scared to throw it), otherwise Miller would have finished with 200+ receiving yards in every single game of his I've attended.
In this game, the QB managed to hit him on a couple screens. Those play more to the QB's strengths than Ricardo's, but the coaching staff has struggled to find ways to get the ball into his hands, and a screen is better than nothing. Miller also caught a quick slant at the end of the first half, then outran the Chelsea defense down to the 8-yard line before two deep defenders managed to drag him down as the second quarter expired. In the third quarter, Miller got behind the defense and the QB finally hit Miller for his second 53-yard catch of the game. This one was a touchdown (above, courtesy of AnnArbor.com's Lon Horwedel). Miller was also targeted a couple times on poor throws that suggested why the QB rarely throws it long.
This game, however, was not Ricardo's best blocking performance. He's usually performed very well, sometimes even dominating against defensive linemen as a tight end. This game, he was just OK. He got a Pioneer running back killed when he whiffed a block on the perimeter.
Nick Hill Scouting Report
On the other side of the ball, the pride of the Chelsea Bulldogs was Nick Hill. Unfortunately, I was running low on memory and I didn't shoot any video of him. However, in my estimation (and please note that I am not a professional) Hill didn't impress. He looks like a guy that would go to a MAC program, where he would become a star... against MAC defenses. It's easy to see why the Michigan coaches didn't offer. I think that Mark Dantonio offered him because he wants a bunch of guys on his team who are pissed at Michigan, in hopes that they Hulk Up and perform like beasts against the Wolverines each season.
For someone who is often compared to Mike Hart, the first thing that jumps out about Nick Hill is his fumbling. He fumbled three times in the game, losing two of them. He also dropped two passes, one of which should have been ruled a lateral and a 3rd lost fumble. Hill didn't seem spectacular running the ball, either. Once he got in a groove, he showed some of the jump-cuts in traffic that led to the Hart comparisons, but he's not a tough runner, and goes down on first contact almost every time. His only big play was being the recipient of a pitch on a hook-and-ladder play that he ran in for a touchdown with nobody from Pioneer threatening to come near him. Hill got hurt and missed the entire second half, and I honestly didn't think his backup (random white kid who will never sniff a D-1 offer) was all that significant of a downgrade.
Thanks for the report and video. I figured Pioneer had to have issues at QB since Ricardo's stats haven't been that impressive.
One question with a final of 45-3 how did Hill run for a TD off of a hook and ladder? Or is the 45-3 score wrong?
Hmmm, I respect your opinion but there must be something to Hill if Michigan State offered him and he has such a high ranking with the scouting services. I interpreted Michigan's decision to no offer as schematic more than a comment on Hill's ability to succeed at the next level. Stanford also offered. If Michigan had offered, and he accepted, I wonder if you would have the same commentary for this game.
I've never seen Hill play, but based on what I've heard he is a high-character guy who measures out at the 3-star level across-the-board. To put it another way, he's somewhat fast (probably his strength), somewhat strong (particularly for a small guy), and somewhat shifty, but not high Division-1 in any area. So, you might want him on your team, and he might represent your university well as a grown-up, post-football, but you'd probably pick (say) Vincent Smith (who seems to have high D-1 elusiveness) ahead of him, even though his overall RB score might be lower. Does that make sense?
I'm not the type of guy to pick on high school kids, but the QB at Pioneer must have absolutely no confidence in his arm and/or accuracy to not have hit Miller on a few of those passes. Miller was pulling away from the Chelsa DBs at will, and he's not necessarily a speed demon. Definitely looks like a better fit at TE than as a WR, but who knows where he'll wind up.
I've seen Nick Hill play in multiple games. He's the real deal. I'm not a scout or a coach, so I won't say whether he belongs in the MAC or Big Ten or NAIA. But he is almost always the best player on the field, and usually it's not even close. It's not just his ability to run. He's a solid blocker, and, as some have mentioned, a decent human being.
And having watched Mr. Hart for his entire career at Michigan, I do think the comparison is valid. The problem comes in assessing Mr. Hill based on the worst half of football Chelsea has played since I was wearing 32 for the Bulldogs (Boyz II Men were big then, for reference). Yes, he fumbled; so did Mr. Hart against Florida. Yes, he was out for a half due to injury; anyone remember 2007? One bad half should not be used to judge an entire career.
He was giving us his thoughts on the performance he watched. Also, Hart fumbling against Florida is a far cry from three fumbles against a HS defense. Hart had that many fumbles his entire college career or very close to it. That comparison is a joke if you ask me.
I think "He looks like a guy that would go to a MAC program, where he would become a star... against MAC defenses. It's easy to see why the Michigan coaches didn't offer" is pretty much a judgment of Mr. Hill's high school career.
My point regarding the fumbles is that it is dangerous to judge someone based on limited data. Someone who watched only the Florida game would assume Hart fumbles as a rule. Those who watched Hart in multiple games know that he sets records on not fumbling. Hill may not be as careful with the ball as Hart (who is?), but saying Hill is a fumbler based on one half is as dangerous as saying Hart is a fumbler based on the Florida game.
I am not saying that Hill is Hart. But I do believe that, for those unfamiliar with Hill, he shares many similarities with Hart. If you are familiar with both Hill and Hart, I would welcome a fact-based correction.
Tim, I appreciate the abundance of quality work you put into the blog, but...wow. Your scouting report of Nick Hill is extraordinarily scathing for a flimsy report apparently based on one half of football in which Hill's team suffered its worst loss in 15 years. Sure, he didn't play well, but neither did any of the 65+ other Chelsea players. If you're going to scout Hill -- though I'm not sure why you would, since it has little relevance here, and since you didn't mention him in the Huron/Chelsea writeup -- watch a few more games before you write him off.
I don't mean this as a personal attack, and I hope it doesn't come across as such. But your report on Hill is unfair and, quite frankly, uninformed. For example:
1)Hill's backup is athletically comparable? Not a chance. I don't have much of a football mind, but after nearly four years of watching Hill, I can promise you Adams (the random white kid) isn't in Hill's league as an athlete.
2)Not a tough runner? Goes down on first contact almost every time? That's laughable. He carried a tackler several yards for a first down on one of his first (varsity) carries as a freshman, and that play proved to be an good indicator of how he'd continue to run throughout his high school career. He's a physical back who frequently runs through contact. That's not even debatable.
If you'd like to get a real picture of Hill's athletic ability, I'd be happy to provide you stats and game films. But as it stands, you filed a report with little to no substantial knowledge of a player, and you did so with an unusual unfriendliness. That didn't sit well with me.
Thanks, Sgt. Wolverine. I've never seen Nick Hill play, and I don't think he's going to be an All-American or anything, but that scouting report seemed to consist entirely of "I didn't really watch him, nor shoot any film, but pretty much he completely blows in every quantifiable way".
Tim, that "scouting report" did nothing but damage your credibility--in my eyes, at least.
His quarterback doesn't have the confidence in his own arm to hit Miller on the always-wide-open deep posts (or deep crosses - look how open he is nearly every time he runs a route, but the QB is too scared to throw it), otherwise Miller would have finished with 200+ receiving yards in every single game
i agree, and have said the same thing before. Miller is always open. He's like 7-11. Pioneer's QB is just not good enuf. Just kidding. 'but imagine if Johnny Unitas were playing for Pioneer! I said IMAGINE!