I can already tell that he is going to be an active recruiter for us. I hope he can make some great connections with big time recruits.
Hello: Alex Malzone
Alex Malzone quarterbacking Brother Rice to their third straight state title (Photo: MLive)
A long and meandering search for Michigan's quarterback of the class of 2015 ended back at home. Birmingham (MI) Brother Rice rising senior Alex Malzone committed on the spot after receiving his coveted Wolverine offer while unofficially visiting campus today. Malzone becomes the sixth commit in the '15 class and just the second on the offensive side of the ball, joining OL Jon Runyan Jr.
4*, #15 QB,
|3*, #16 QB||3*, NR QB||
3*, #13 PRO-QB,
As you can see, Malzone's rankings are all over the place. Scout gives him four stars and ranks him inside their top 300, Rivals has him two quarterbacks away from four-star status, ESPN has their not-unusual disconnect between glowing evaluation and not even bothering to rank the kid, and 247 has him well below the four-star cut. I'm guessing some of these rankings will change now that he's committed; ESPN and 247 have him behind prospects generating very little in the way of major college interest.
The scouting services list Malzone as somewhere between 6'1" and 6'3", and other than a bizarre Rivals outlier of 166(!) pounds—stick-figure skinny—they all peg him in the 200-pound range. The general consensus is 6'2", 200, which looks about right based on photos and film. Maybe Rivals accidentally flipped the first '6'.
Malzone first made his mark as a sophomore, when he began taking snaps away from Brother Rice's returning senior starter as soon as he took command of the playbook:
"I was the quarterback on JV last year and then got moved up for the playoffs," Malzone told Scout.com. "This year, [starting QB] Cheyne [Lacanaria] was always there to help me. Halfway through the regular season is when I started to get the offense down. Whenever I had a question, he was there. He wouldn't push me to the side. He would help with the defenses and which receivers he looks for, and it helped me a lot."
After attempting just 24 passes heading into the state title game against Muskegon, Malzone connected on 8 of 11 passes for 167 yards and two TDs to lead the Warriors to their second straight MHSAA Division 2 state championship.
As the unquestioned full-time starter last fall, Malzone faced Muskegon once again in the state title game, and he had an even better performance the second time around, completing 20 of 24 passes for 263 yards and three passing TDs and adding 33 yards and a score on the ground in a 38-21 victory.
It shouldn't come as a surprise, then, that Malzone's big-game prowess and mental makeup earn consistent mentions in his scouting reports. Scout's Allen Trieu:
After flashing big time talent last season, many wanted to see how Malzone would do as the full time starter. He has answered that question to date, leading his team to several big wins and several last minute wins, exhibiting poise, calmness under pressure and a strong, accurate arm.
The free report on Scout, also written by Trieu, takes it a step further:
|Has the arm to make all the throws. Mechanics can still use polishing, but he has good velocity on his passes, shows excellent timing and is very accurate. Shows the ability to make tough throws into coverage and has great touch down the field. Shows calm under pressure and lead several late game winning drives and has been in big game situations. May not have ideal dropback QB height, but is a gamer and a winner. - Allen Trieu|
A gamer and a winner. /crosses off two boxes on quarterback evaluation bingo card
Also, as is tradition, "size" for any non-prototype QB is listed as an area for improvement. /crosses off another box
The mental aspect goes beyond winning big games; ESPN's evaluation details Malzone's advanced command of a Brother Rice offense that seems like it'll translate well to Michigan's pro-style (for whatever meaning that phrase still holds) offense:
Really shows good command of the scheme. Plays in a traditional, multiple set from both under center and out of the shotgun. Is it good ball handler and sees a heavy dose of play action. Is quick to flip his hips around gets set and work through progressions. Plays with confidence and also plays within the scheme. Does not take a lot of risks with the football, but his arm strength allows for him to. Can work through progressions get shows anticipation off the first read to get the ball on time.
ESPN also praises his arm strength, "gifted rhythm and timing," and accuracy, mostly brushes off worries about any mechanical issues, discusses how he'd be a more coveted prospect if he'd been this productive in another region, and... leaves him unranked.
The main knocks on Malzone are his height—at 6'2", he's not the pocket passer prototype—and some mechanical issues derived from a youth focused more on being a baseball pitcher than a football quarterback. As mentioned, ESPN largely dismisses the mechanical concerns:
Release is quick and over the top. Does show a slight draw back where the bottom point of the ball points backwards as he pulls back to deliver. It's not alarming, but is evident. Similar to Kerry Collins, but nowhere near as pronounced.
Trieu seems relatively unconcerned, as well:
The two knocks on Malzone were his baseball style release and his lack of prototypical height at 6-foot-2. Mechanics are something he has steadily been working on. He throws well on the roll, but is not a running threat, although he shows good presence and ability to climb the pocket and keep his eyes downfield. He also stands in tough and will deliver passes in the face of pressure.
Tim Sullivan caught him at a game against a very overmatched team from Canada last October, and it seems Malzone occasionally let old, bad habits creep back into his release:
At times, Malzone reverts to a long baseball-style throwing motion, bringing the ball low, and delaying his release. However, he puts good zip on it, and continued work on his mechanics will straighten that out. His accuracy is excellent, despite the long release. It can be even better (and quicker) by tightening things up.
By the Elite 11 camp in Atlanta this March, however, Malzone seemed to have worked those problems out of his system, according to Scout national analyst Scott Kennedy:
Alex Malzone made his way to the South from Brother Rice High School in Michigan. Malzone was selected as one of the Final Five participants in the final drill as well. Malzone has a lightning quick release in large part because of a short windup that almost gives the appearance that he’s pushing the ball. He still gets good velocity on his throws and without needing to bring the ball back, he gets it out quickly.
At last month's Rivals camp in Detroit, Josh Helmholdt ranked Malzone as the #5 offensive performer, noting his outstanding arm strength and accuracy:
Malzone came into the camp as one of the most recognizable players and he really lived up to the hype. The most noticeable thing about him was his rifle arm. The ball really pops off his hand and gets to his target in a hurry. Malzone's good footwork helped him throw a very accurate ball. He was able to hit most of his receivers in stride throughout the day.
Perhaps most importantly, Malzone shined when it came time to earn his spot in the quarterback pecking order during his throwing session for Doug Nussmeier:
“My conversation with Coach Nuss went very well,” Malzone said. “He’s been all around the country seeing guys throw. I think he has one more, maybe two more on his list. He told everyone from the beginning he was going to see everyone throw. And then see what happens from there. And that’s pretty much what he told me. He said he was very impressed.
“Coach (Fred) Jackson actually came to the school at the end of the day. He just wanted to let me know he talked with Coach Nuss. And that Coach Nuss said I did great job.”
To sum it up, Malzone displays excellent arm strength and accuracy, has good footwork and pocket presence, is working through mechanical issues with apparent success, and has a track record of producing at a high level. His height, in conjuction with his lack of game-breaking mobility, seems to be holding him back from higher ratings more than anything else.
Malzone also held offers from Pitt, Wake Forest, Western Michigan, and a slew of other MAC schools. Penn State, among several other more prominent programs, showed serious interest; they were at his throwing session as well, then ended up pulling in one of the highest-ranked QBs in the entire class last week in dual-threat Brandon Wimbush.
Brother Rice is gunning for their fourth straight Division 2 state title this fall, which will be their first season in 57 years with a new head coach after the legendary Al Fracassa retired on top following last year's championship.
The Rivals database search function is currently broken as all hell, so I can't bring up a list of notable Brother Rice products (I'm sure I'll get plenty of help in the comments); the most recent big-time prospect from BR is current MSU linebacker Jon Reschke.
After completing 27 of 35 passes for 474 yards, seven touchdowns, and no interceptions while taking snaps away from a title-winning senior QB during his sophomore season, Malzone excelled in his first year as a starter. He finished second in the Mr. Football voting in 2013, connecting on 190 of 281 attempts for 2,782 yards, 25 touchdowns, and nine interceptions, according to MaxPreps.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 40 time of 5.13, which is one of the least FAKE 40 times I've seen for a non-lineman. A token one FAKE is awarded due to the fact that I can't find the source of the time.
Single-game cut-ups, sophomore highlights, and a longer partial-season junior reel are available on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Shane Morris is the apparent successor to Devin Gardner after this year, and with freshman Wilton Speight already having a session of spring ball under his belt, Malzone should take a redshirt year barring the unexpected. If we assume Morris is a two-year starter, Malzone and Speight should compete for the starting job in 2017, when Malzone will be in his third year in the program.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan has their quarterback, at long last, and expect Malzone to be an active recruiter much like the signal-callers in the classes preceding him. Based on the current depth chart by class, which hasn't yet been updated for the commitments of Malzone and Garrett Taylor, Michigan has six spots left for the 2015 class, though that number will almost certainly grow by Signing Day.
The main positions of need moving forward are running back, receiver, tight end, offensive tackle, weakside DE, and both inside and outside linebacker; the Wolverines are in on several prospects at each of those positions.
Finally! Welcome Alex. Collin Powell said in his book that optimism is a force multiplier. I think getting a kid that wants badly to play for Michigan on the team will have a similar effect. See also: Hoke, Brady. I think he gets things fixed this season.
Congrats and welcome Alex!
So jacked to hear about this news. Character kid. Big arm. Go Blue.
Fantastic news! Glad we got the QB, while he may be a developmental guy, thats what Michigan needs along with some depth, he and Wilton will be great backups for SHane going forward and good-to-great starters eventually.
Great news, nice to get the QB position locked down for this class.
I have thought that it was inevitable that he was going to get an offer and then commit to us. I think he'll be a good qb so I'm happy about it.
Where the schools generally have academic admission standards.
We are starting to get some good depth at a position that was so thin a year ago.
Welcome aboad Malzone! Very happy to see him get offered. I just wish I could go back and find that one thread talking about our potential QBs from many months ago and find who the poster was that predicted Malzone would be our QB committ when he basically wan't on anyone's radar. Looks like a great pickup and you always goto love it when we get recruits that dream of playing at Michigan
God Bless you.
Ignorant question: Does this mean the coaches stop recruiting the other QBs that we've offered and that might have more upside? E.g., Kyle Kearns and Sheriron Jones. Or do we pack it up and move on.
Not to take anything away from Malzone, obviously -- if the coaches offered then they think he can be great for us and he is clearly excited to be a Wolverine, so three cheers all around -- just asking.
ETA: I just reached 100 MGoPoints and now I can upvote/downvote. Like magic. I may have become slightly erect. I love this site.
The coaches probably did not want to wait on any of the two in case they ended up missing out. This is a sure bet for them. Even if we have another awful season they still have a decent QB recruit locked up. We will just have to hope Hoke can win 9 or 10 games and the program gets back on track. Then in the 2016 class we may pick up a 5*.
well, should have known i was asking to be downvoted. oh well.
Sentence was begging for it.
Recent Brother Rice Football players of note:
Jon Reschke - 2013 4 Star LB (MSU)
Darris Sawtelle - 2007 4 Star OL (Tennessee)
Chris Colasanti - 2007 4 Star LB (PSU)
Charlie Gantt - 2006 4 Star TE (MSU)
TJ Lang - 2005 2 Star DL (EMU, now starting OG for the Packers)
Brother Rice has generally been considered a Michigan State school with Coach Fracassa and their AD having played football there.
Going back further Brother Rice put Mike Lodish in the NFL, and he played in more Super Bowls than anyone.
Also, Brian Brennan had a pretty good career with the Browns. Pete Mitchell. And of course Michigan's own Brad Cochran had a few years with the Raiders.
Paul Jokisch - Michigan Wide Receiver and Power Forward on basketball team in the 80's. Raiders Wide Receiver. (Ever seen that combo before?)
Steve Morrison - Michigan Linebacker
Dave Yarema - MSU quarterback in the 80's.
Mel Farr Jr. - UCLA running back
My guess is that his rankings will go up this year with a solid senior season, probably end up a solid 4 star across the board.
Welcome to U of M Alex!
I really like this class so far; Alex is a good fit at QB. We are lucky to have him.
Our recruiting seems to be on a good trajectory this year. By my count, in addition to Malzone, we have several 4 star DBs, Runyan for the OL, and a kicker. Furthermore, we are in serious consideration for elite athletes at several positions of need. With 6-10 spots likely to be left, we are doing quite well.
Kid stays composed when his protection breaks down early, eludes the rusher and steps up into the pocket and fires a dart in-stride to the WR 40 yards downfield for the TD. Mr. Chaos Quarterback guru George Whitfield would approve. He may not have Troy Aikman's cannon but his arm looks good enough to me. (I like the McCarron and Dreisbach comparisons above.) Look forward to seeing what this young man can do in the maize and blue in a few years!
probably won't see him get meaningful snaps for the next few years but I look forward to seeing him develop.
Hopefully he can help some of these guys
Seems like a real QB talent from everything I've read. It really just sounds like he isn't more highly rated simply because he is 6'2' instead of 6'3 or 6'4 and isn't a dynamic running threat - i.e. purely measureables. If Doug Nussmeier likes the guy, that's all I need to hear.
Before getting pouty that we didn't get a nationally touted name, let the kid play his senior year (and maybe even grow a little bit).
but is he a baller?
Good looking pick up. Is it unreasonable for me to think we can land:
WR- Tate or Mollette
TE-Clark or Wheatley Jr.
WDE- KLS or SDE Roseboro
That would be the ideal way to fill our spots obviously. I guess I'm curious what the coaches do when they get down to six spots and have certain needs. Do they call recruits and inform them the offer is on hold if the staff is expecting certain other kids to commit? I know they'll contact position groups and inform them they're no longer recruiting that particular position.
OL should be ready to be very good by the time he starts no?
(only partially /s)
Nice to get a commit from a qb that we don't have to worry about starting for at least three years.
May the University of Michigan be your gateway to sholastic and athletic success. I look forward to cheering you on the field and acknowledging your acedemic achievements.
Good luck sir and welcome to the University of Michgian.
Serious stones to never give up and keep chasing his dreams, even in the face of some drawn-out adversity. Excited to have him on the team!
See you in 2017. So far away. Hopefully we play in a rose bowl by then.
What a great get for Michigan!
... need more of these!!
I probably could look it up...but I'm a few bud lights into my Monday night and there's plenty of sober people to help a brother out.
When and who was the last QB to leave Michigan early for the draft? Any michigan QB leave after sophomore or junior year?
Not counting guys like Forcier or Feagin (if you remember him), who left cuz they had no choice.
Drew Henson is my first thought.
But it wasn't for the NFL draft.
From what I have read I am very happy for this kid. A dream come true. How great must he feel today. I do think that his height will be factor unless he keeps growing. I grew a few inches my senior year and my brother grew a few in college so if that is his major negative you never know.
Also who knows if he has to wait until his junior or senior year to start. He may not start at all or he may become extremely motivated and want to fulfill his dream to be a starter/ multiple year starter. If he wants it bad enough he can do it. If anything it sounds like he will be a good influence to recruiting, the locker room and by competing for the job.
Looks like a quarterback
After seeing his 40 time, I expected him to look like a statue in the pocket, but he's not that at all. I know, the level of competition has something to do with that, but still.
I hope he gets that 4th star across the board soon, which would help him be a force for us on the recruiting trail!
Is there a reason we're thinking Morris is the heir apparent to Gardner? I'm expecting a massive qb competition between the 2 going into 2015.
There are multiple reasons, including experience, recruiting profile, etc.
There are multiple reasons, including experience, recruiting profile, etc.
a kid who really wants to be at Michigan get picked for the one 2015 QB scholarship spot. I hope he wins the starting spot for his final two seasons at Michigan.
I agree, Speight will be pushing Morris for the starting spot in 2015. We are in a far better place as far as QBs then we were in '08! Now lets develop that awesome OL we are suppose to have!
CC last fall... looked to me to be a very good game manager...