As expected, Michigan got their second receiver for the 2012 class today when Ladue (MO) Horton Watkins WR Jehu Chesson committed to the Wolverines, according to multiple outlets. Michigan was in desperate need of two receivers in this recruiting class, and with the addition of Chesson and Amara Darboh, Brady Hoke and Co. can focus on landing some big-name targets at other positions. Here's the skinny on Chesson.
The four services agree that Chesson is 6'3" and around 180 pounds—he's a little skinny but has a very solid frame for a wideout. As for Chesson's skills, they're mostly in agreement as well, pegging him as a middle-of-the-road three-star. ESPN and 247Sports are a little higher on Chesson than Rivals and Scout, listing him around the 50th-best WR in the class instead of down below 80. Considering the other receivers this staff has pursued, it's safe to say they consider Chesson to be a sleeper.
Tall, lanky receiver who can go up and get the ball. Snatches it easily out of the air, but lets too many underneath passes get into his body. Great natural athlete with good leaping ability and straight line speed, but is not an elusive guy after the catch. Must add some bulk and strength, but is tough and willing to go over the middle and make catches.
The added bulk and strength stuff is standard fare for a high school recruit, especially one with Chesson's lanky frame. "Great natural athlete" is always nice to see. Here's what ESPN—who rated him the highest of the four services—has to say ($):
Comes off the ball with explosion and a nice stride. Gets into routes quickly and can eat up cushion with an imposing charge upfield. He has some value as a vertical target due to his frame/speed combination, but we are not convinced he is a great speed guy rather a competitive one. He can really elevate and adjust to the jump ball. Positions himself nicely and will high point the ball with good extension. Has flashed the ability to make the spectacular grab look easy and can make the acrobatic grab in a crowd. He consistently catches the ball well and wastes little time getting upfield to make things happen. Can adjust and pluck on the move on poorly thrown balls. He is pretty sharp as a route runner underneath ... Chesson is not quite as crisp at the intermediate levels ... He has the skill set and fluidity to be sharper. After the catch Chesson shows strength and some wiggle to not only make you miss, but also stiff arm and lower his shoulder to power through would be tacklers. He is not a huge homerun threat in space, but given his size he is pretty nifty and can gain valuable YAC and move the chains.
It's interesting that ESPN questions his speed considering his track exploits, more on which later, but the rest of this is quite promising. There seems to be general agreement that he's got good hands, needs a little work on technique, and is more of jump-ball threat than a guy who's going to break a big play on a short pass. As for that track stuff, here's a nice tidbit from a recent article by Tim Sullivan ($):
The physical abilities are certainly there. The 6-3, 185-pound Chesson has the size to outmatch defensive backs, though he will add weight and strength before contributing at the college level. He also possesses great speed as a high school receiver. He was the state champion in the 300 meter hurdles as a junior, and has run a time of 37.44 seconds - good for No. 34 in the country among high schoolers in 2011.
"I think the thing at our level that he does is before you even line up, he creates some matchup problems because of his height and length," Tarpey said. "He's got real long arms, he does a great job of catching the ball away from his body. I think that's a nice thing so teams planning for us definitely had to account for him."
Despite flying low on the recruiting radar, Chesson has had good showings at summer camps in Coral Gables, Gainesville, and St. Louis. Here's Rivals national analyst Keith Niebuhr after seeing Chesson perform at the Nike camp in Miami ($):
STRENGTHS: Chesson made a splash Sunday in Coral Gables by running crisp routes and catching seemingly every pass thrown in his vicinity. He's tall and lean, was quicker than most receivers on hand, and got in and out of his breaks quite well. A hurdler in high school, his leaping ability showed up often during position drills. WEAKNESSES: Because Chesson is a bit wiry, getting stronger is a must so college corners can't push him around at the line of scrimmage.
So, it seems we've got a tall wide receiver with good-to-great speed and solid hands who needs some work on strength and fundamentals. Chesson sounds like a player who could really excel with some good coaching and conditioning. To be honest—and I say this without trying to sound like I'm wildly biased towards Michigan, as I haven't been afraid to be critical of recruits in the past—I'm having a hard time figuring out why he's rated so low when reading these evaluations.
Chesson's offer list, outside of Michigan, falls in line with his recruiting rankings. The other two finalists for his services were Iowa and Northwestern, and he also held offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Purdue, according to Rivals. Scout also lists a UCLA offer and interest from Florida. Oklahoma State and Iowa have had a lot of success with receiver recruiting, so it's nice to see those teams on his offer list, but Michigan obviously stands out as his best offer.
In his junior season, Chesson caught 53 passes for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns. I can't seem to track down any senior year stats, but I'll update this if I can find them.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists Chesson as running a 4.5, and he claims he ran a 4.54 while camping at Florida ($). Considering his ability on the track, I'll give that a two FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights (if you're at work, might want to turn your sound off):
Chesson is a tough recruit to figure out, and I haven't had the benefit of seeing him play live. He looks promising on film, he's got great size (with the expectation that he adds some weight), he's fast, and he can catch—to me, he seems like at least a high three-star or four-star recruit. His rankings and offer list, however, say otherwise, and it's not as if he's never set foot at a camp or played in an area where there's no media exposure.
I'm going to go ahead and presume, with a more polished receiver in Darboh also arriving in 2012, that Chesson takes a redshirt year. As a redshirt freshman, he'll then be battling for playing time with Jeremy Gallon, Jeremy Jackson, Drew Dileo, Jerald Robinson, and Darboh (along with the freshmen in the class of 2013). Only Gallon has really proven that he can be a starter, and he's a better fit in the slot, so it's certainly conceivable that Chesson starts contributing in just a couple years.
That all depends on his development, and it's tough to project a player based on highlight reels. I could see Chesson becoming a great deep threat, and I hate to make such a lofty comparison, but the closest player in terms of style that I can think of is Braylon Edwards after watching his film. At the same time, Chesson obviously needs development, and with Michigan in on some talented receivers in the class of 2013 he could get buried on the depth chart if that doesn't happen quickly. This statement is full of duh, but really anything is possible here. I will go so far as to say I expect him to see the field at receiver if for no other reason than that he possesses a skill set unlike anyone on the roster and the team is so thin at receiver after next season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now down to four remaining open spots in the 2012 class, and things are starting to come into focus for those final spots. It's very clear that Michigan is looking to add at least one offensive lineman and one cornerback—and it's possible at both those positions that they'll take two players if the opportunity arises—and they'll likely take a tight end as well. The last spot will likely be a 'best player available' situation out of the recruits at O-line and DB unless a running back jumps into the mix.
As for who those players will be, that's an entirely different matter. The Wolverines are after several high-profile offensive linemen, including Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, Alex Kozan, Evan Boehm, Zach Banner, and Jeremiah Poutasi. It seemingly changes by the day which one or two of those prospects Michigan has the best shot at, so venturing a guess at this point is likely an exercise in futility. As for corner, Michigan is in good shape with Yuri Wright and appear to have a decent shot at flipping Armani Reeves from Penn State if he decommits. Options appear limited at tight end, but chances look to be solid with Sam Grant, high school teammate of Kyle Kalis. At running back, Bri'onte Dunn is no longer an option, nor is Greg Garmon or Wes Brown, but the coaching staff is taking a strong look at former Notre Dame commit David Perkins, a four-star whom most teams are recruiting as a linebacker. As always, there's a chance the coaches unearth an as-of-yet undiscussed recruit to fill the final spot or two—we'll just have to see. At the very least, the need at receiver has been filled.
Considering the other receivers this staff has pursued, it's safe to say they consider Chesson to be a sleeper.
I'm not sure this is accurate. Chesson's had an offer for months, hasn't he? This isn't a similar situation to Drake Johnson, to Drew Dileo, to Dan Gibbs, to Jake Ryan, to Mark Huyge, to many others. Chesson seems like he was one of 4 wide receivers this coaching staff wanted for quite a long time.
I think Ace means that the staff considers Chesson to be a sleeper in the sense that he's likely much better than generally regarded by others, not in the sense that "maybe he'll be good, but he's a marginal offer"...if that makes sense.
Chesson is a great pickup and a good play by the coaches. 6' 3" and his main weakness is he needs a year to redshirt which we can give him.
I have to wonder though if we're really done at WR though. If you look over class of 2014 and 2015 we have: Darboh, Chesson, Robinson, and possibly Hayes if moves to slot/Percy Harvin style utility player. That's 3 or 4 guys over two classes (plus Dever as a walkon). Since we struck out on Dunn, I have to wonder if the slot we saving for RB could be spent on a 4* or 5* WR if one of other prospects wants to sign.
I think we'll learn a lot more about that when we see what happens with Monty Madaris's planned January official. He's probably the best shot Michigan has at landing another four-star receiver (the general sense seems to be that Jordan Payton will end up at Cal) if they want one.
Shane Morris is accurate enough that he likes to throw deep or hit a man whos covered at times, and Chesson looks like the kind of receiver who likes to get deep, and who's open even when he's covered. With his size, speed, and instincts he and Morris could be a very exciting combo.
but just looked at the film, the first person he reminds me of is David Terrell. Big, and uses his size well. Looks to have huge, soft hands, and knows how to box out the defender. He's got some of Terrell's Old Spice swagger to him as well. With that combo of size, track speed, and hands, I agree his ranking really is a bit of a puzzle if he was showing up to the camps. Maybe his routes really suck, but man, that's a hell of a lot more coachable than size and hands. I'll take it. Good pickup.
"You know, for a bartender/bookie, you're pretty judgmental."
Chesson had a terrible qb in most of those highlight picks. He's never running any deep routes which would showcase his big play ability. Mostly deep curls and comebacks. But the thing is, he's triple covered almost every single time and always breaks the first tackle. He's the textbook amazing 2nd receiver. I like his style of play a lot.
I always like hearing about track exploits to give an indication of a prospects speed because 40 times can be so fake fake fake fake fake. Howeva, I can't get too excited about being the 34th best 300 meter hurdler. Not sure I have a context to even know what that means. 3rd in Florida in the 100 m I can guess he's pretty fast, but trying to get a vibe on how hurdling technique equates to football speed I'd have to say I'm lost.
I'm not down on the kid by any stretch I'm just speaking of the relevance of a 34th place in the hurdles.
34th fastest in the country is impressive, especially for someone whose sole focus is not on track. While the 300-meter distance doesn't give a great indication about his acceleration, being that fast at hurdles means he's got some explosive athleticism, and at that distance he's clearly got a good motor, as well—that's a long stretch to be running as fast as you can while leaping over obstacles.
Probably not as telling as a 40 time, but if the one he ran at camp is at all accurate, there should be no concerns about his speed. He certainly looks fast on film.
As an ex-track guy, I'll touch on this. The low hurdles are a lot different than the highs. They are pretty low, to the point where you don't need much technique if you have longer legs, it's more about speed and timing. I ran the 300 hurdles decently well and I have a 30in inseam without much technique training.
37.44 in the low hurdles is super fast. I bet there are skill position guys on our team that couldn't run 300 meters in that time without hurdles. And the 34th best time in the country is very impressive. That means that you're better than the state champ from most states across all divisions.
Sure, I'd rather my receiver have a nationally ranked 100m time, and I'm not saying he has Denard level speed, but it tells me that speed is certainly one of his strengths, and there will only be a handful of receivers in the Big Ten with better speed than him.
In what event? The 300 lows weren't my best event, I ran 41 something. I ran in the high tens in the 100m, 10.7-10.8 area, and low 22s in the 200. Not a nationally ranked guy by any means, but I could keep up alright for a white kid.
That is really good. I always had getting anything decent mid 11's in the 100m. I was kind of weird because my top end wasn't as fast but I had a real good start and could sustain well. I ran 400's in college and if I ran and trained for it more than 1 year I probably could have been quite good for a small private college, my best was mid 48's.
10.7 and 10.8 ? Thats pretty fast... im a junior in high school... being recruited by a couple of schools for football and track... I ran 10.72 last year before getting injured at the Bellair Meet... Nice to see another track guy on the site.
So if you're a junior now, that means you ran a 10.72 as a sophomore? That's very fast. I never broke 11 until I was a junior and even then it was only a couple times and not by much at all. If you keep working at it, you could put up some blistering times before you graduate.
Yeah Thanks.. I plan on it. More focused on football though even with my small stature (5'8).. Track is just something ive used to get more explosive and help my 40 time a tad.. im running sub 4.4 almost.
that we will still have Devin Gardner in 2013..... While I'm as geeked about Shane Morris as the next guy, lets not forget that we will still have an experienced quarterback on our roster who has proven that he can run our offense. Shane will get his shot, but don't count Devin out.
Welcome aboard, Jehu! I know he probably won't play with Robinson if he needs a redshirt season to bulk up, but based on the offense I saw this year, we need guys who can win jump ball battles and Jehu looks like he'll fit the bill nicely.
And completing the Good Names Duo for our WR corps.
I'm looking forward to the vicarious shoulder-chip. "Yeah, he's tall and has good hands and is competitive and catches everything in sight, and I guess being a hurdler means he's pretty agile and has good vision and can jump over defenders, but.... " Who was that walk-on defensive back we had to use because we were so desperate? The one who's too short and too slow? Yeah, he makes a couple tackles. Well, maybe a lot of tackles. Maybe all the tackles. How's that guy always in the right spot and managing to tackle everybody?
Jehu, welcome. May you be the Kovacs of the receiving corps, with nothing more in common than the place in our hearts.
Here's my quick survey of the Twitters/free info re: recruiting info that I haven't seen posted elsewhere yet - as good a place to put this info as any:
From Allen Trieu:
An in-state prospect that is just starting to pop onto the radar is Birmingham Brother Rice junior defensive end Sergio Perkaj. The 6'4, 220-lb Perkaj tells us Michigan coaches came by the school and he was invited to a bowl practice, which he attended and met Brady Hoke at. He had 60 tackles and ten sacks as a junior for Brother Rice
The nation's top ranked 2013 strong side DE Alquadin Muhammad reports a Michigan offer and talks about his interest [from Don Bosco]
Santa Margarita (Calif.) Santa Margarita Catholic junior offensive lineman Riley Sorensen has an interest in the Wolverines [visited recently by Michigan]
Indianapolis (Ind.) Pike 2014 QB Brent Lyles has already caught the eye of Iowa and Michigan
4star Chicago OT Jordan Diamond confirms his official visit to Michigan will be on Jan. 13
New poster to the blog, but have been lurking 2yrs. I had to break my silence when I saw this kids Brent Lyle's name pop up. He just completed his Soph. yr at Indianapolis Pike H.S. I watched him play his FR. yr. He was good, but we never expected to see what we saw after the QB switch 2nd half of the season. This kid is a beast pocket passer! Smart, witty, and willing to take the team on his back. Remember this name. If he ever donned THE winged helmet it would be a good thing!
"I walked straight up to that cat with the (osu) jersey on and told him to get out of my house! Right as I mushed him in the head." THIS IS MICHIGAN!