"I still think people know I put up decent numbers without playing a second on the [power play], but yeah, probably defensive guy is right, and it's fine," Hagelin said Monday. "I know what I'm made of and I know what I have done offensively in this League while playing a defensive role. I'm confident I can do a lot of damage offensively."
Over the course of the recruiting process, MI RB Thomas Rawls has made it no secret that he'd commit to Michigan if he had the chance. Michigan has offered, and according to the Detroit News, Rawls will be a Wolverine. Apparently his coach was unable to contain the excitement until Thomas's press conference, at which Rivals confirmed he committed to Michigan.
3*, #77 RB, #15 Instate
3*, 5.6, #20 Instate
3*, 76, #81 RB
The sites are in agreement: Thomas Rawls stands 5-10, and about 215 pounds. Their rankings of him aren't very high, but there are some reasons for that. Scout openly downgrades players for being academic risks (which is stupid, because it's easy for the layman to tell whether or not he ultimately enrolls at school - rankings should be about skill, not some abstract "value" parameter), and ESPN says that he deserves to see his stock higher than it is, apparently not realizing that they're the ones ranking these kids. More from ESPN:
He is a physically imposing back with good downhill attributes. Hits the hole with authority and flashes good downhill burst and momentum. Quick to see and hit the cutback. A decisive and aggressive runner who is constantly heading North with square shoulder pads and good lean. Displays good explosive out of his cuts and can change speeds to elude.
So far, so good. Weaknesses?
Breaks consistent first contact but did not see the pile pushing power we were expecting. Competition at times appears inferior.
So, uh "AWESOME, except he plays against crappy competition" means he's the 81st-best RB in the country? Color me skeptical on their methodology (more on it in the next section). They also say he has the speed to break big runs against high schoolers, but may not be able to continue at the next level - a more reasonable criticism.
If that's the extent of their criticisms, sign me up for a guy with the upside that a bowling ball-type guy with all the positive attributes listed in the top section.
“I’m a power back and a speed back. I’m also pretty elusive. I can break tackles and always find a crease.”
The elusiveness might be overstated, as that's one of ESPN's criticisms of Thomas, but the combo of speed and power seems to be right in line with scouting reports.
A lack of offers may have kept his overall rankings low, but somewhere in the 3-star range - just a bit higher in the pecking order - seems to be legit to me.
[Ed.: Touch The Banner may provide some insight into the rankings that ESPN's boosterism does not: "Many fans want to compare Rawls to Mark Ingram, the Flint product who won the Heisman for Alabama in 2009. Admittedly, Rawls and Ingram have some physical similarities. Both are approximately the same height and even have similar gaits. But Ingram (who was a 4-star recruit) is and was quicker than Rawls. Michigan fans might not like me for saying this, but Rawls reminds me of Kevin Grady."
OTOH, LeVeon Bell.]
Central Michigan was Rawls's only offer almost through the entire recruiting process. Though Michigan didn't offer until close to the end, they were always right there for him.
Why so few offers? His grades have been a question mark, and that scared away a lot of schools. He insists he'll qualify to play as a freshman, so hopefully it won't be an issue. The lack of offers is part of what kept his rankings low, so look at it with a critical eye.
Sophomore and junior stats from Scout:
Thoimas Rawls made All-State Honorable Mention, All-Conference and All-City for his sophomore and junior seasons. As a junior, he rushed for 1,056 yards and 16 TD's on 138 carries and recorded 101 tackles. He says he can bench 285-pounds, squats 405 and has a 34-inch vertical jump.
4.5, per the premium sites. That's pretty darn good for a running back with Rawls's size. Of course, his reputation is as a guy who's pretty fast for his size, so I guess it makes sense. Three FAKEs out of five.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan is in need of a power back, especially with the move to a pro-style offense. Michael Cox has shown flashes, but those have only been against the worst competition on the schedule. The previous coaching staff didn't trust his blocking or hands enough to play him on any regular basis.
However, Stephen Hopkins may have a lock on the starting (power back) position, and as an academic risk, it's probably for the best that Rawls takes a redshirt year to focus on academics and adjust to college life. That will also give him the chance to undergo a year of college weight training, and get acclimated with the playbook before he's ever expected to do anything on the field.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan really needs a defensive tackle and a tight end, but everything else going forward is pretty much gravy. There are five prospects - Fisher, Clark, Willingham, Barnett, and Cooper - still out there (that we know of), and the Wolverines should have room in the class to take them all, should they be so lucky.
Give me Jake Fisher and Darian Cooper and then I will get excited about this class.
Everyone is on the Brady Hoke train getting all excited about mediocre talent.
Don't get me wrong, I am excited about the new direction of the program and I'm glad we made the switch...got the right guy, all of that. However, we are talking about middle of the road guys like they are 5 stars that we stole from our rival teams!
Like I said, give me Jake Fisher and Darian Cooper, along with Clark and Willingham. and I will be more imressed.
I talked to Brady Hoke and he told me that he'll work considerably harder today in his efforts to imress you. Like he said, "it's not about getting more talent that fits what we're trying to do, it's about making sure that michboy40 is more impressed with our recruiting class."
Some of the teams he played against were not good I admit, but he played Bay City Western, Mt. Pleasant, Midland, and Midland Dow, all teams that appeared I believe top 20 in the state at some point this past season. In my opinion, the competition he faced is just as good as most in state recruits on average, just a lot more top heavy and bottom heavy teams.
I can attest for his speed. 30 seconds into the video up top (highlights of his senior year), you see him being chased down (unsuccessfully) by # 34 of Heritage. He runs track at Heritage and you will see him on the 400 M relay team that will compete very well this year. He ran a 4.5 for football, so I can only assume that Rawl's time is accurate as you can see him outrunning #34. I am pumped to see him in the Maize 'n Blue uniform! Most underrated player in michigan!