Commitment Vine (that's a first) via Scout's Josh Newkirk
After talking matters over with his (Maize-and-Blue-blooded) family, Warren (MI) De La Salle linebacker Jared Wangler announced on Twitter that he's chosen to switch his commitment from Penn State to Michigan today after unexpectedly receiving a Wolverine offer last week. Wangler, the son of former Michigan quarterback John and brother of 2013 preferred walk-on receiver Jack, becomes the fourth linebacker in the 2014 class and the 15th commitment overall.
3*, #53 OLB
2*, NR OLB
3*, 77, #63 OLB
3*, 88, #38 S
3*, #69 S,
Wangler has a pretty bizarre recruiting profile in that, despite the middling rankings above, he earned offers from Penn State (Linebacker U, remember), LSU, and Michigan, not to mention an invite to the Under Armour All-American Game. This may have to do with his status as a tweener — he's transitioning from safety to outside linebacker, and at 6'1", ~215 lbs. (the general consensus of his size from the four services) might be a little undersized as a linebacker.
As for what linebacker position Wangler will play, that's yet to be determined; he told Steve Lorenz that Michigan is looking at him at two different spots after his visit yesterday ($):
"Coach Hoke, Coach Manning, Coach Mattison and Coach Mallory all were talking with us," he said. Wangler's dad made the trip as well. "They like me at both SAM and WILL linebacker and showed me the depth chart at linebacker for the future. It was something I had questions on going into the visit and I didn't realize that the opportunity for playing time at Michigan may be there for me earlier than I thought. We went over my film (a lot of it from his 7v7 work this off-season) and they talked about how they would like to use me and that they like my versatility. It answered a lot of the questions I had."
Given his skill set, I think Wangler makes more sense at WILL, but where he ends up may be determined by how Michigan's linebackers develop in the classes ahead of him.
As a safety-turned-linebacker, Wangler is pretty athletic for his position and well ahead of the game when it comes to his coverage skills; he's also a very willing and impactful hitter, which is good to see considering the concerns about his size. Scout's Allen Trieu lists those three areas as Wangler's positives on his free profile, with block shedding as the only negative, and provides this take on his game:
Former safety who has transitioned his athletic tools into the linebacker position. Is able to play over the slot and does a nice job in coverage, both in man to man and dropping into zones. Has good closing speed to the football and is a good striker who explodes into his tackles. Having just transitioned into playing in the box, he simply has to continue to get stronger and work on getting off blocks. Likely a WILL in college. - Allen Trieu
ESPN is a little more bullish on Wangler's ability to shed blocks, though with the (relatively safe) assumption that he'll continue to add strength:
Reacts quickly to the run and pass demonstrating the agility and balance needed to move through traffic and play downhill to the football. Fashes [sic] the ability to shiver, shed and keep his feet free when working in traffic. Added bulk with improved playing strength will accelerate his take-on and shed skill. Displays the foot quickness needed to avoid blockers and make plays in tight spaces.
The WWL is also very high on Wangler's pass coverage and tackling ability, citing his "relentless desire to chase down the football" as a means to get on the field as a special teams demon. With a redshirt year to add bulk, ESPN thinks he's got the frame and athleticism to be a productive outside linebacker. It's a very positive scouting report overall, and it should come as little surprise that ESPN televises the Under Armour game — though it is surprising, given all of the above, that Wangler isn't rated higher on ESPN. Fire and forget, I guess.
Penn State's 247 outlet had SpartanTailgate's Sean Scherer provide his scouting report on Wangler after his initial commitment, and once again his coverage skills come in for high praise ($):
"Wangler is a very versatile linebacker that will be effective in both the passing game and running game. I expect him to play outside backer, which will allow him to cover tight end, running back, fullback or even a slot receiver but also be effective in stopping the run. Wangler already does an excellent job of keeping his opponent in front of him and uses outside shoulder to help contain his target. By always chopping his feet, he's in constant motion, which allows him to create great angles and make a play."
Wangler participated in various camps and 7-on-7 tournaments over the last couple summers, and while he usually gets just a passing mention, the same couple positives keep popping up. Here's Trieu again after this year's Columbus NFTC ($):
Penn State commit Jared Wangler is another who may not be quite as big as some of the aforementioned guys, but is a smart kid, who, as a former safety, can run well.
247's JC Shurburtt, at the same event:
Penn State commit Jared Wangler (Warren, Mich./De La Salle) continues to add bulk and plays well in space. He also displays a high football IQ.
247's Steve Wiltfong from the Adidas Showcase at Grand Valley State:
Warren (Mich.) De La Salle linebacker Jared Wangler was one of the more fluid and athletic linebackers on site.
Wiltfong again from this year's Sound Mind Sound Body camp:
Penn State linebacker commit Jared Wangler showed good speed and strong cover ability against the running backs in 1-on-1s.
I think it's safe to say Wangler is athletic for a linebacker and solid in coverage. When asked to do a self-evaluation in the wake of his Penn State commitment, Wangler's report echoed those of the experts, along with a promising tidbit about his work ethic ($):
"The position I'm going to play is a lot like Mike Hull, number 43. They like my versatility, that's big for them. Right now, I weigh about 218 and have ran a 4.6 forty, so they think I have quick feet and play well in space. They also like my hands, They see me as someone that will most likely cover tight ends, maybe slot receivers. They also think I can grow into the type of player that can be physical enough to play in the box and make a tackle. Versatility is big, they feel like they can mold me into whatever they need, I just have to do my part and learn from the coaching, which I will. I know I won't have any problems with weight lifting. I love that and Coach Fitzgerald is the man. He'll have us all in shape."
Later in that article, Wangler mentions block shedding as the area he most wants to improve; he also says he currently maxes out at 325 pounds on the bench, with the hopes of getting that up to 350 before this season, so he's not joking when he says he loves the weight room.
Wangler's marquee offers came from LSU, Michigan, and Penn State; he also held offers from Bowling Green, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Eastern Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan, and Yale. That last offer is a pretty solid indication that Wangler won't have any academic issues.
Warren De La Salle, as you probably well know, is the school that produced current freshman quarterback Shane Morris, as well as walk-on receiver Jack Wangler. They play in the Catholic League, so Wangler faces some of the strongest competition that one can find in Michigan.
Per 247, Wangler recorded 76 tackles, 15 TFLs, 2.5 sacks, and an interception (which he returned for a touchdown) as a junior.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting sites list a 40 time, so all we have to go on is Wangler's self-reported 4.6 from the interview with PSU's Rivals outlet. That's really impressive for a linebacker, so despite Wangler's excellent athleticism, without any confirmation I'm giving that a solid three FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights ahoy:
Wangler also posted some 7-on-7 highlights from this summer that feature a some very impressive catches on both sides of the ball:
YouTube user DETROITNATIVECB has a bevy of single-game cut-ups, which are very useful for judging Wangler's real in-game impact. There's even more, as usual, at Wangler's Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Given Wangler's coverage ability, athleticism, and size (a little short for the strong side), I expect he'll end up at WILL when he gets to Michigan; that means Michigan has all their linebacker spots covered in this class with Michael Ferns at MIKE, Chase Winovich at SLB, and Noah Furbush potentially able to plug in at any of the three.
When Wangler gets to campus, James Ross and Royce Jenkins-Stone will both be juniors; the only other player on the roster currently projected to WILL is Ben Gedeon, who'll be either a redshirt freshman or true sophomore (likely the former) in 2014. Assuming Wangler takes a redshirt year, he'll compete for Ross's open spot as a redshirt freshman and go from there. If he ends up at SLB, he'll be working for a spot on the two-deep along with Mike McCray and Winovich; that seems like the tougher path for him to get on the field.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is very much done at linebacker now, which means CA four-star Dwight Williams is now out of the picture. The focus for the rest of the class will turn to reeling in the big fish: VA DE Da'Shawn Hand, MI DT Malik McDowell, and PA S Montae Nicholson are the most likely guys to end up in Ann Arbor.
Yes, I've left IL CB/S Parrker Westphal out of that for now, and you may have noticed that my Crystal Ball prediction for him has changed to Northwestern; that's not going on anything concrete (I was torn between predicting Northwestern and Vanderbilt), but it's looking more and more like Michigan may not have room in the class for Westphal, since they're done at corner and seem to like Nicholson more as a safety prospect.
Michigan will also continue to recruit CA ATH JuJu Smith and Glenville teammates ATH Marshon Lattimore and S Erick Smith; at the moment, those guys appear to be longshots, though it'll be interesting to see what happens with Erick Smith if Ohio State is indeed full at safety for the 2014 class.