At press time, Harbaugh had sent Michigan’s athletic department an envelope containing a heavily annotated seating chart, a list of the 63,000 seat views he had found unsatisfactory, and a glowing 70-page report on section 25, row 12, seat 9, which he claimed is “exactly what the great sport of football is all about.”
After pretty much letting the cat out of the bag on Twitter yesterday, Massillon (OH) Washington cornerback Gareon Conley confirmed today that he has committed to Michigan ($). He becomes the 15th commitment in the class of 2013—the 13th to earn a four-star rating on at least one recruiting site—and the second cornerback, joining Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis.
4*, #20 CB,
3*, 88, NR CB
Conley is flying under the radar to every service save Scout, though it's worth pointing out that Scout has updated their rankings most recently of the four. The sites are evenly split as to whether he's 6'1" or 6'2", and all agree that he's between 165 and 170 pounds. Considering Michigan wanted a bigger cornerback to add to the class and complement Jourdan Lewis, that's a pretty solid frame.
Bucknuts ranked Conley as the #16 player in Ohio for the class of 2013, one spot in front of Taco Charlton and two spots ahead of Mike McCray (this means you can probably expect him to move up when 247 updates their rankings). A concern about taller cornerbacks is usually their overall athleticism and fluidity in the hips, but neither is an issue according to Mark Porter ($):
“I think he may be the best pure corner in Ohio. His ball skills are second to none. His range and athletic ability are second to none. He can match up with the number one receiver. The trait that Cam (Burrows) has over him is he may be more physical. But Gareon is ‘twitchier’ in the hips.”
Scout's group of Midwest analysts also has Conley ranked as the #16 player in the state, and Allen Trieu had some high praise in his evaluation ($):
I may disagree with Bill's statement on Munger [that he's the best player in Ohio nobody has heard of], because this might be the best kid in Ohio no one's talking about. He's long, smooth, can run, and shows good ball skills and smarts. He makes plays in zone and in man coverage, and although he definitely needs to add weight, he's a solid tackler as well.
Scout's Bill Greene questions Conley's size—though I assume it's about his weight; his height is an unquestioned positive—but echoes the sentiments about his athleticism and coverage ability ($):
A fine basketball player as well, Conley has the skill set to succeed at the next level. Although not blessed with great size, he has shown the willingness to come up and hit in run support. His best strength would be his coverage ability, and his speed. Very similar player to Canton McKinley's Jermaine Edmondson, who signed with Michigan State.
“One thing you don’t see a lot of is guys that can defend and can play corner at 6-2,” said Palma. “Most corners are 5-9 or 5-10… maybe six foot. He is a good 6-2 with a real long wingspan. So what I think he does is he brings that size out there at corner that you normally don’t see. You think you are going to have a mismatch when you see a lot bigger wide outs. He matches up better with those types of players.”
As you can see, Conley's biggest assets are his athletic ability and coverage skills given his size. Once he adds some weight, he should be able to match up quite well against bigger receivers while still having the speed and agility to hang with quicker players.
When he committed, Conley also held offers from Northwestern, Toledo, and West Virginia. According to 247, Cincinnati, Indiana, Ohio State, Virginia, and Wisconsin also showed interest.
In 2011, Conley recorded 26 solo tackles, three TFLs, a sack, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He put up those numbers despite playing a large portion of the season while wearing a cast due to a wrist injury.
FAKE 40 TIME
Bucknuts credited Conley with a 4.5, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five—he's reportedly pretty fast, but that sounds like just an estimation or hand-timed run.
Junior highlights [RATHER LARGE PUNTER ALERT AT THE :15 MARK]:
I've seen this pointed out elsewhere, but it bears repeating: his long stride bears an uncanny resemblance to Steve Breaston's.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Conley brings somethat that no other corner on the roster will by the time he shows up on campus, and that is size. Of the CBs on the current roster, only J.T. Floyd breaks the 6'0" barrier, and he'll be gone after the 2012 season. If Michigan wants a taller cornerback—and somebody who can come up in run support—to play the "field" corner (wide side of the field, as opposed to the "boundary"), Conley could see action early in his career.
That said, he's going to have to add some weight first. 170 pounds is quite skinny for a 6'2" frame, and if Conley is going to match up with bigger receivers, he's going to need to add some muscle. He has two years to do just that, so we'll see how he looks when he shows up on campus. If he takes a redshirt year, he should be right in the mix for a starting spot across from Blake Countess in 2014, likely competing with a trio of Cass Tech grads in Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson, and Jourdan Lewis.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now almost certainly done recruiting at cornerback for 2013, barring a player like five-star Kendall Fuller deciding to come on board. They may be done recruiting the secondary entirely, as taking another safety to go along with Dymonte Thomas isn't imperative; again, however, a top talent like Su'a Cravens would have a spot available.
The Wolverines can now focus on bringing aboard a second tailback, one or two receivers, a nose tackle, and a strongside DE. After that, IN EARLY MARCH, the coaching staff can focus almost entirely on targeting the top players in the class and shifting their focus to the class of 2014. Jebus.
Higher recruiting rankings don't guarantee future stardom or even that a guy is the staff's favorite player at a particular position.
Kelly Baraka, Darnell Hood, Pierre Rembert, Jerome Jackson, Max Martin and Kevin Grady gave us a ton of 4-star running back recruits, but if we hadn't signed Mike Hart we might have been fucked for a long time.
I'll take anybody who ends up being more JT Floyd than Justin Turner, no matter their ranking on Scout/Rivals.
I'm impressed by both Anzalone and Jones on film, but what I really like about Gedeon is his athleticism and ability to play in coverage. I think the other two guys might be a little more physical against the run, but Gedeon is probably the best against the pass—from the limited film I've seen and the scouting reports I've read—and he should be able to put on a fair amount of weight before/during college and still be quite athletic.
Gedeon also sounds like he has great character and is very intelligent. He will bring those intangibles along with his football skills. Really like the fact that his brother is captain of the Harvard football team.
He must be skinny as hell... Unless he hits the gym real hard its tough imagine him playing soon if he is that skinny.
Your last point about now targeting top players is real exciting at this stage. It seems like we can sit back now and wait and see which elite players choose us at this point!
He's more than a year away from even stepping on campus, so I'm not too worried at this point (about him redshirting). It'll be better to evaluate him once he gets on campus. There's A LOT OF TIME to for him to get stronger and bigger.
Scout just added a player evaluation to his free profile [LINK]. Listed strengths are anticipation, body control, and instincts, while lone area for improvement (that they list) is jamming ability.
Conley has great length for a corner. He runs, changes directions and shows the fluidity to play the position even though he's a little taller than average. He has outstanding instincts and gets the jump on routes because of his timing and anticipation. Shows comfort in both man and zone schemes. Has good ball skills and height helps him with taller receivers. Needs to get stronger, but is a solid, aggressive tackler. - Allen Trieu
But I'm sure it is way better than anything Mr. Conley could whip up in his dorm room. It's cheap too. Seems like a total waste to boil down all those grapes when you could just spend a couple bucks and go to town on the PB&J's without the work.
On top of that, who even knows where you can buy pectin in A2? This is why I only pay attention to Rivals' recruiting analysis.
They gave 20 Ohio kids a 4-star rating last year, though that seems higher than usual. Looks like roughly the top 15-16 are usually the cutoff in the state. Roundtree was the last 4-star in 2008 at #17, to give a year-to-year comparison.
Interesting. I assumed that Conley would be a field corner because of his height and the fact that he's pretty solid against the run—despite his lack of bulk, which I'm assuming will be partially remedied before he even gets on campus. I haven't been very impressed with Countess in run support, and I thought that's what the coaches are looking for in a field guy.
Field (wide side) corners are typically the quicker guys with better coverage skills, since they have cover a larger portion of the field. Boundary (short side) corners are typically better in run support, since they have to deal with more blockers in a confined area.
I'm not a big fan of Conley's run support abilities, but with his size, I imagine he's a boundary corner.