Won't be needing that lanyard anymore.
Michigan picked up their third commitment in three days when Kenton (OH) linebacker Noah Furbush made the call for the Wolverines this morning, according to multiple outlets. Furbush becomes the 14th commit in the 2014 class and the third at linebacker, joining Michael Ferns and Chase Winovich.
3*, #59 OLB
4*, 80, #21 ILB
3*, 87, #53 OLB
3*, #43 OLB,
Michigan has gone from zero MGoBlog Sleeper of the Year candidates to three in a matter of days, as Furbush is the last four-star inside linebacker on ESPN and gets middle-of-the-road three-star ratings from Scout and 247, with Rivals yet to evaluate him.
There is some disparity over his future college position: while ESPN pegs him as an inside linebacker, the other sites list him on the outside, with 247 even listing a secondary position of weakside defensive end. That probably has to do with his size — Furbush is listed by all four services at 6'4" and 230-240 pounds. Michigan is reportedly recruiting Furbush as an inside guy, which just happens to be the spot where he's ranked the highest.
Furbush was an unknown quantity even to Ohio insiders as recently as last fall, until his junior tape started drawing attention. When Bucknuts compiled their initial 2014 top 50 list for the state of Ohio, Furbush landed at #22 thanks in large part to some impressive hits on his highlight reel ($):
"With Furbush, you like his explosion and the way he just destroys the ball carriers with his first four or five plays (on video). He really strikes people and strikes them pure. That’s harder to do than you think. He has that innate ability to destroy people when he hits them. He’s put on 40 pounds in the last year. I think he can be a pretty good defensive end.
“He has just come out of nowhere. I didn’t really see him during the season or even in the month or two after the season. We first saw (his video) in the last month or two.”
Furbush's physical play doesn't just come through on tape; Allen Trieu praised his strength when he went to Purdue's camp last month ($):
Noah Furbush, a linebacker for Kenton with several offers is a big kid who looks like he will only get bigger. He is strong and physical, throwing a few would be receivers to the ground off the line. We think with his size and growth potential, he may end up putting his hand down at the next level or potentially being a hybrid type guy.
That's two evaluations mentioning Furbush as a potential defensive end. With Michigan recruiting him as an inside linebacker, that could raise concerns about his coverage, but he performed well in that regard at a Toledo 7-on-7 camp last month, per Scout's Bill Greene ($):
A 2014 linebacker prospect out of Kenton, Ohio. Furbush was all over the field, showing speed and also leaping ability. His man-to-man coverage was excellent and he also got great depth in his drops. One to watch this year at one of Ohio's fine programs.
With the wide-open style of 7-on-7 football, being able to cover man-up as an oversized (for high school) linebacker is impressive. 247's Clint Brewster took a look at Furbush's tape and also came away impressed with his coverage, among other things ($):
He has excellent instincts and plays with a very high football I.Q. He doesn’t over pursue and does his job on each play. Furbush has outstanding pass rush technique and excels coming off the edge, getting after the quarterback. He shows excellent first-step-quickness. At 6-foot-4, and 230-pounds, Furbush runs well for his size and uses his long frame to his advantage, particularly well in the passing game, getting in between passing lanes and breaking up passes. He also uses his length to get off blocks very well. He does not stay blocked.
Aggressiveness and consistent, hard-hitting tackling are also mentioned as positives, which is in line with other evaluations. Brewster's notes the all-important pad level as an area for improvement, no surprise both because of Furbush's height and the fact that this has been said about every high school front seven prospect in the history of high school front seven prospects.
Furbush's high school coach thinks his athleticism helps set him apart from other prospects, per ESPN's Chantel Jennings ($):
“He runs like a defensive back,” [Kenton coach Mike] Mauk said. “He moves and changes direction very well. He’s physical and very aggressive. He has a great nose for the football and a great burst, and he makes plays. I think his best years of football are still ahead of him.”
Oh, and you can check off the box:
“He’s a tremendous leader and a great person,” Mauk said. “It’s just a great fit.”
If that wasn't enough, Mauk also spoke about Furbush with Scout's Dave Berk back in May, praising his work ethic first and foremost ($):
“Number one Noah is a tremendously hard worker and give his best to improve his strength, flexibility, speed and his conditioning,” said Mauk. “He’s always working to try and get better and I think that is what sets him apart.
“Sometimes, when you’re gifted with the abilities that he has, you look for days when he just goes through the motions. He never does and is always doing the very best that he can. I watch him go through training and I’m amazed at how strong he is and how hard he works to get better.”
Mauk notes in that article that Furbush was a wide receiver(!) for his freshman and sophomore years before moving to outside linebacker last year; at that point, Furbush weighed "195 to 200" pounds. Putting on 40 pounds of muscle and learning a new position in the course of a year definitely backs up what Mauk says about Furbush above — his effort in the weight room won't be an issue.
What jumps out about Furbush is his potential to line up at multiple positions. His coverage ability and hard-hitting nature make him a fit at inside linebacker, where Michigan plans to use him. His large frame, aggressiveness, and pass-rushing skill could lead to a move to strongside linebacker or even defensive end, depending on how much he bulks up over the course of the next few years.
Furbush isn't the highest-ranked guy in the class (obviously) and I'd guess we'd hear more negatives about his game if he were more highly-scouted and played better high school competition — Kenton played in Ohio's fourth-largest division last year, though they're moving up to Division III this fall despite a male enrollment of just 285 students — but his versatility gives him a good chance of finding a home somewhere on the depth chart.
Furbush chose Michigan over offers from Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan State, Mizzou, Northwestern, Pitt, Purdue, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and a handful of MAC offers. He also camped at Ohio State but did not pick up a Buckeye offer.
As said above, Kenton has played in Ohio's Division IV, so Furbush hasn't faced top competition in his high school career. Kenton hasn't produced a four-star prospect in the Rivals era, but they have produced two Division I quarterbacks: brothers Ben (Wake Forest) and Maty (Mizzou) Mauk, sons of the head coach.
Furbush finished his junior year with 115 tackles and a forced fumble, per 247.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the recruiting services list a real or fake 40 time.
Junior highlights from ScoutingOhio — it takes, well, not long to see why people mention hitting first when talking about Furbush:
Furbush also has a slightly longer reel that features almost the exact same set of plays and lacks the handy pre-snap arrow. He's not on Hudl, unfortunately, so there aren't extensive cut-ups that I can find; those would be nice, as we don't get to see much at all of Furbush in coverage above.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He'll end up somewhere! That's my bold prediction.
Okay, that's probably insufficient. I like how Michigan's coaches are thinking of using Furbush; if he's good enough in coverage, having an inside linebacker who can come downhill and lay the wood is always a plus, and Furbush looks like he could wreak havoc blitzing up the middle when Greg Mattison dials it up. If that's the position group of choice, Furbush will compete for one of the MLB/WLB spots — with his size, probably MLB — along with Michael Ferns and Ben Gedeon once James Ross and Joe Bolden matriculate through the program. That affords Furbush a redshirt year and a season as a backup and special teams player before he competes for a starting spot.
Furbush could also end up at strongside linebacker or even weakside defensive end, depending both on his growth and how the roster looks in a couple of years.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
While Furbush is the third linebacker in the class — and could potentially help out with depth on the strong side — his commitment doesn't spell the end of Michigan recruiting that position group for 2014, according to Sam Webb. The Wolverines are still pursuing four-star CA OLB Dwight Williams, who's scheduled to take an official visit for the Notre Dame game, and borderline 3/4-star MO OLB Jimmie Swain, who recently named Michigan to his top four. Look for the coaches to make a hard push to land one of those two, and we could see some late offers go out for a strongside LB should neither commit.
EDIT: Almost forgot to include the news that led to this commit watch — Furbush's commitment means camp standout Drue Tranquill is unlikely to get an offer ($):
“I spoke with Michigan (Thursday) and they previously offered a kid at my position, and he might commit soon,” he stated. “If he does commit then they’re not going to offer me. If he doesn’t then they (will consider Tranquill). So if he does commit, Michigan will drop out there.”
Happy trails, likely to Cincinnati or Purdue unless Notre Dame comes through with an offer.
As for the rest of the class, Michigan is still looking for a third offensive lineman (preferably a tackle), a safety, and a couple more defensive linemen. Top priority prospects include VA WDE DaShawn Hand, MI DT/SDE Malik McDowell, PA S Montae Nicholson, IL CB/S Parrker Westphal, and CA CB Adoree' Jackson. The Wolverines could also look to take a running back, though landing one isn't vital after last year's haul and with Michigan looking good at that position the 2015 class.