"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Houston linebacker Kellen Jones has just committed to Michigan. Tim's taken to writing up Hello posts before the kids even commit—dangerous!—so I'll let him get online to give you the rundown, but in brief: Jones is a 6'2", 230-pound middle linebacker, a four star ranked #195 overall by Scout. ESPN has him as a 79 and Rivals a generic three-star.
Sorry for the delay, I'm out of town for a cousin's wedding. -
4*, #11 MLB, #47 Texas
3*, 5.6, #32 ILB, #80 Texas
3*, 79, #33 OLB
First things first, the measureables: All three sites are in agreement on his height and weight, at 6-1, 210 (ok, Rivals says 209). Rivals and Scout call him a middle linebacker, but ESPN says he's more of an outside guy. Let's see why:
Flashes "shoot the gap", downhill ability vs. the inside run but not the big tough inside linebacker type who consistently stacks at the point.
That's something that can certainly be improved upon, and Scout also lists "size" as one of his areas to improve. The other is "pass coverage skills," though his strengths of "athleticism" and "speed" mean that, once he earns a bit of technique and play-recognition, he should be OK in that department. Let's finish up with the Scout profile:
Amazing on the blitz, he is as instinctual as you can find. He has a feel for getting through blocking and getting in to attack the quarterback, also good at blocking kicks. His size is okay but it is not above average. Good speed he uses it to his advantage on blitzes and coverage. Does a great job of working through blocks... Jones says he can bench 315-pounds and squat 515, earning him the nickname “Superman.”
Jones: “I’m able to read the play and can react fast. I’m a great blitzer and run stopper. I can also tackle and don’t let the guy get away.
“I’m working on my change of direction speed. I want to improve my hip flexibility and get better at pass coverage.”
Instincts and athleticism are at a premium for defenses under Rich Rodriguez, even if it means giving up a little size. He'll fit right in as that goes. Back to the ESPN profile for a more comprehensive breakdown of his game:
Note: although Rivals ranks him #80 in Texas, AggieYell.com pegs him all the way up at #35 in the Lone Star State.
Jones had tons of offers, and was as high-profile as any 3-star prospect (Rivals and ESPN) can be. Hometown Houston, Wyoming, and Boise State were his only non-BCS conference offers, but he also had 15 from auto-qualifying schools. From the PAC-10, Arizona, Stanford, and future member Colorado offered, SEC schools Arkansas and Vanderbilt offered, Virginia was the lone ACC offeree, and Illinois, and Purdue joined Michigan as Big Ten offers. In his home turf the Big 12, Baylor, departing Colorado, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, and Texas A&M all sent him offers.
The Michigan offer was the Big One, and as soon as he got on campus, he was convinced that Ann Arbor was the place for him.
Last season Kellen Jones finished with 75 tackles in nine games played. He also had 22 tackles for loss, 3 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovered, an interception, a safety, and six sacks. Also getting the attention of college coaches are his six blocked kicks, four punts and two field goals.
Junior Honors: First Team All-District; First Team All-State
Very nice stats, especially considering "OMG TEXAS FOOTBAW." The ability to force action with turnovers and sacks is especially encouraging.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals says 4.6, which is reasonable, all things considered. He plays fast on film, but as for laser-timed, verified times, that's still pretty fast. I'll say two FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones is a little below optimal size, but Obi Ezeh exits after 2010, and no other middle linebacker has proven himself yet. He'll have a chance to contribute early, especially if JB Fitzgerald and Kenny Demens don't displace Ezeh this year.
I don't see a redshirt for Jones, as he'll spend his freshman year on special teams and in some backup situations. Hopefully, he'll be physically prepared to contribute right off the bat (an early enrollment would be excellent, though I haven't seen indications that he's planning to do so). Within a couple years, Jones should challenge for a starting role at inside linebacker, even if he starts on the outside to get acclimated to the college game. If he can stay healthy, All-conference honors are a possibility...
But there are past injury issues, including concussions. When it comes to an issue of "kid's future" v. "football team's success," everyone should side with the kid.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Sadly, I can no longer copy and paste the "hey we still need offensive linemen and linebackers" portion from previous Hello: X posts. Jones looks like a good fit at middle linebacker, and Michigan has nabbed a couple OL recently as well. Those are still the main positions of need in the class, but no longer the top priorities.
Michigan can stand to wait on a few kids they want (Zettel, Hart, and hopefully a few big-timers down the road), while accepting commitments that seem to be in the near future (Posada). The class is at or around half-full now, so the coaches can hold off and hope a good season generates interest from some top guys.
This is shaping up to be a very good class. Last years class filled a lot of holes with quantity. This class looks to make up the rest with quality. As far as Jones is concerned, it's always great to get a kid that's as good in the classroom as he is out of it. Congratulations to him for the opportunity.
We needed a LB, and this guy is above avg. Good list of schools were interested, and though not elite, he is exactly what we needed in the class; a guy who can compete, and be here for 5 years possibly starting the last 2 years, and bringing depth before then.
Rivals lists him at 6'0" and 209 lbs whereas his Hello post puts him at 6'2" and 230 lbs. Wonder which is more accurate, but that might also take into account the discrepancy as to why he's only a 3* listed there.
Didn't know much about him before today, but man, I'm really, really excited about him!! True linebacker, and that highlight video....man, dude's a playmaker!!!
What I really like about him is he's not really reacting, but he's making things happen on D. Other than Graham, that's been by and large missing on our D. Also kid is all hussle...looks like he really finishes plays.
In Texas. Let that roll around in your head for a while. They've done everything to create the perfect football player down there except genetically engineer one in a petri dish, (or maybe they have). And some "expert" thinks he's only good for a 3-star rating? Horse feathers.
Has anyone else tried this Twitter thing? @CallMeNjia
...from someone who played h.s. ball in Houston. Jones goes to St. Pius X, which is a TAPPS school (Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools), and was first team all-state in TAPPS, not the public leagues (of which 5A is the biggie, or at least used to be when I was there). Unlike some states, the private schools in TX aren't anywhere near as competitive as the public leagues (or there's no way in Sam Hill I'd have been playing).
Howeva...look at that film and it's pretty clear that the kid is a 5A talent. Plus, his 3.43 GPA becomes that much more impressive because SPX is a rigorous academic place, and he'll have no problem handling the work at UM. But anyway, that's the explanation for the three-star ranking for a first-team all-state guy. He'll play like a 4-star, so don't even worry about it.
If that weren't good enough, check THIS out from Tom VH's post:
"We were in Coach Rodriguez' office, and my family was in there with me. I told Coach that I was committing, and my whole family broke into the Michigan fight song. My Dad, Uncle, me, everybody was singing the fight song. Coach Rodriguez laughed and said he had never seen that before. He was shocked."
Seriously, is he too good to be true or what?
"You know, for a bartender/bookie, you're pretty judgmental."
This is shaping up to be a great class, considering all of the crap associated with our program over the past few years. Hat off to the staff and to Mr. Jones. I wish you the utmost best whether in the class or on the field.
Someone earlier mentioned his initial burst as a positive, which I think is great. But watching the video you notice that every tackle he makes is a proper, wrap-up tackle. No launching, diving, jumping at ballcarriers or making arm tackles. He hits them solid, wraps them up and takes them down. Gotta love it.
As this recruiting class fills in, it's becoming increasingly evident that fall of 2011 will be M's breakout season. As more recruits from the past three classes --- such as Mr. Jones --- move into starting positions and the remainder give real meaning to the term "depth chart," I look for M to contend again.
Not saying M won't win a majority of its games this fall, but 2011 appears to be the year the program will re-emerge into national prominence.
A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it; it would be hell on earth!
Been changed to Mr. Blue on the recruiting board. This is trivial, but I look over that board pretty religiously. It's probably pointless, because of the Hello and Recruiting posts that give all the info (Happy Trailsing, news, fluff, etc) but still