"He makes it really easy on you as a coach because he has tremendous football instincts," Michigan tight ends coach Jay Harbaugh said. "Things come really naturally to him. He doesn't have to see things too many times. He has a good sense for how things should look and feel, and he's a tough, physical guy."
Hello: Thomas Rawls
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.
Scout asks Rawls to talk about his own game:
“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.
And as a senior:
1,585 yards rushing on 450 carries; 21 touchdowns
He broke the single-game rushing record that a guy named Mark Ingram held for the Flint area, running for 343 yards and 5 TDs.
FAKE 40 TIME
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.
Welcome Thomas, great work getting eligible.
I figured the reason for no big time offers was because everyone knew he was blue all the way, with fred jackson jr and sr on guard..... and being a qualifying risk from the get go, too.
I am very happy with this addition to our class.
On another note, how is the snow storm going?
I'm in Chicago (it's hitting us before heading to Michigan) and in the last hour, all the sudden, it started blowing crazy winds- the trees are shaking outside like they do in a thunderstorm- and the snow has started coming down at a decent clip, making it swirl and stuff and cutting visibility. . . probably by 75%...and the "real" stuff isn't supposed to start for another 5 hours or so here, so, shit, it's probably going to be pretty bad. Supposedly the wind will cause 25 foot waves on Lake Michigan coming ashore, which is really rare.
Way to hog all the storm.
By the time it got to Ann Arbor, it's wasn't anywhere near as dramatic as was feared.
Scout's Allen Trieu has been very open that Rawls's academics factored negatively in his ranking. There's your evidence.
I wonder if his lack of offers contributed to his lower ranking more than his academic issues.
Just read that story--great link. I hadn't gotten the recruiting bug until coaching change, but this kid sounds like he has the work ethic to hack it in AA (going from lower grades to better ones once he saw the importance), even if he isn't a natural student.
If he worked that hard on grades, imagine what the kid's gonna do in the weight room and on the practice field, where he actually enjoys being.
Can't wait to see Rawls on the field, whenever it is.
Welcome to Michigan
so Demar Dorsey was actually, like, a 7 star?
Fred Jackson was seen saying he's like Mike Hart, but faster, with Tyrone Wheatley's breakaway speed, Chris Perry's toughness, and Denard's shiftiness, with Chad Henne's arm, Braylon's hands..... and Lloyd Carr's halftime interview skills
Welcome Rawls! Can't wait for you to tear up the field. GO BLUE!
Hope he works hard on his academics, as well.
Welcome, and good luck Thomas.
Can we get a Lou Rawls songs playing in the background???
Welcome Thomas Rawls!
Can someone confirm the "1,585 yards rushing on 450 carries; 21 touchdowns."
450 carries seems awfully high when you see how many big runs he had. That would mean he was stopped for no gain or losses on a high percentage of his carries.
Ya that number has to be wrong
I am really excited for this kid.
Somebody raised this question in an earlier Rawls post and I think the real number was around 150 carries.
Magnus calls it at 150 carries:
"As a junior Rawls had 138 carries for 1,056 yards and 16 touchdowns. Due to a senior year injury, he only played seven games; however, he still rushed the ball 150 times for 1,582 yards and 18 touchdowns. That's 10.55 yards per carry and 226 yards per game. He also caught 4 passes for 85 yards and 1 touchdown. As a linebacker, he had 101 tackles as a junior and 37 as a senior."
Personally I'm more impressed that he did that in only 7 games. Cupcake competition or not, he devoured the cupcakes like you expect a stud to do. Excited to see what he can do at the next level.
Welcome Thomas! I'm very excited about this kid.
I am feeling very Fred Jackson-like in my assessment of Thomas Rawls... a shorter version of the A-Train
This power back is a welcome addition to our class. I'm thrilled he hit the books and made the grade. Welcome, Thomas!
It's always easy to root for a kid like this who is fulfilling a dream by going to Michigan. Hope he has a great career and congrats to him.
BOOOOM!!! Glad to have Rawls in this class.
Welcome home Thomas! Great job putting it together! I am looking forward to watching you run over the bucknutz.
Scout may have said that. But plenty of players with borderline academics seem to get high grades. Certainly many schools will recruit such players. Half the players in the SEC write with crayons.
Glad your hard work has paid off! Keep it up and look forward to seeing you on the field!!
Not just a movie about the Civil War but the way this kid runs!! Nice addition to a pretty good class!
excellent start to the NSD week! M has had some great backs over the past 40 years (my time frame). We'll have to wait and see if Mr. Rawls will be one of them. Always like to get a kid who is burning to be BLUE!
he reminds me a little bit of edwin baker.
Didn't want to get flamed for mentioning it but yeah he does have some similarities not only to Baker but to Bell.
When I read that Thomas broke down in tears when he got his offer, I immediately loved the guy. With him being coached by Fred Jr., he seems like a son of the program. And unless the opposition in his video is terrible, this guy is a horse who will be ideal for Hoke's UM. Welcome, Thomas!
This is a kid that wanted nothing more than to play for Michigan. He could have let his academic troubles stop him, but he did not, and for this, he is my favorite recruit in this class.
I also think that this kid has the ability to be a monster back.
One note on the whole love of Michigan thing - that seems to be a real theme of this offseason. Hoke openly said that this was his dream job and accepted without asking about pay. Mattison called Michigan a special place and said that he wouldn't have left the NFL for anywhere else. Rawls broke down crying when he got his offer because he wanted so badly to play for Michigan.
This is good stuff. Go Blue!
I've fallen in love with this kid. When he talked about his changed academic performance, he said his mindset became "OK, I'm a young man about to become a man, so I now I've got to handle my business."
I hope he excels here--seems like a very likeable kid.
Also, sweet earrings.
Welcome to the Michigan family Thomas!
Now get ready to hit the books and hit some Buckeyes!
I think Rawls will want to prove the teams that didn't want him wrong and make the team that has given him a chance proud. It's very cool how he worked hard on his grades to attend his dream school. I'll be rooting for him.
From the MaxPreps and other articles I've seen, he had 150 carries in his senior year, not 450. He averaged 10.55 yards per carry.
I'm so excited for Mr.Rawls
a man amongst boys in his highlight video. Would be very nice to see local kid become a star in Ann Arbor.
I've actually been thinking for a while Rawls reminds me a lot of Kevin Grady. Similar running style, similar build, probably similar speed although Grady was likely a bit faster.
But I don't say this as a bad thing. Sure, Grady didn't turn out to be the monster we expected, but if M could have another Grady, minus the fumbling, injury and DUI problems, we'd have a helluva running back. Many of the runs Grady had where he wasn't hurt or fumbling were pretty solid, especially before his big injury. If that's what we get out of Rawls, then it's well worth the offer and he'll exceed his rankings.
He also reminds me of a few of the 2010 Iowa running backs, minus the crazy injuries or weed problems. Could be a lot like Marcus Coker, just a little shorter.
I remember being so psyched when we got Grady. He was going to be the "big back" that would dominate.
I attribute some of his problems to injuries and fumbling tendencies, but more to his lack of attention to S&C and practice. I can't find a source, but if I recall, some of the old coaches (Lloyd era) were pissed at Grady because they felt that he didn't put in maximum effort. While he was a big kid, his body never really developed beyond what he came in at.
To me, Rawls has the same potential that Grady had. Let's hope that he makes more of it.
but the fact that Michigan was his dream school and he worked so hard to make it happen- that is awesome, it's exactly what you want to see in our new players. I'll be rooting extra hard for this guy.
It's also similar to the way Coach Hoke felt about this place.. it was his dream job, number one choice. The good vibes coming from AA are giving me goosebumps.
Michael Cox thinks he would have shown flashes against everyone if it weren't for DICK ROD!!!!11!!! LOL!!1!111111!!!
I wasn't blown away by Rawls's highlight reel, but then I was convinced by McGuffie's mixtape that he'd be a Heisman candidate by the time he was a junior, so I don't really put a huge amount of stock in them these days. I'm really glad he's a Wolverine. If all he does is stay healthy, that will give him a leg up on most of the incumbent RBs on the team.
And I bet he is TOUGH too!
I hope I am wrong, but doesn't this kid sound like Kevin Grady?
Good at scouting, bad at reading.
Articulately put, however I think it would be better said like this: "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."