LIST OF WWE PERSONNEL?!?
We've got a vision quest
not so fast my friend
It's not exactly a vision quest because GA LB Roquan Smith has a very good reason for hanging around after signing day: UCLA DC Jeff Ulbrich is apparently taking a position coach job with Atlanta, and that news broke almost at the same time his commit did. Way to go, Jim Mora:
Speculation behind the scenes in the media is that at least one media outlet was aware Ulbrich was going to leave UCLA as long as three weeks ago, but sat on the story until after Signing Day.
“It was common knowledge,” said one reporter. “They just agreed not to report it until after signing day.”
In any case, Smith backed off his commit and is in the wind post-signing day:
Roquan Smith’s coach told the AJC on Wednesday evening that Smith has re-opened his recruitment, and will take a couple of days to figure things out. “He’s going to open things up with his recruiting,” Macon County’s Larry Harold said. “It’s pretty much UGA, Michigan, and Texas A&M – and UCLA is still in it. Coach Ulbrich told him that he hasn’t signed anything yet (with the Falcons), and that he hasn’t made a decision. So I think they are still in it as well. We’re going to sit back for a couple of days and see how this thing plays out.”
Smith's affection for Georgia seems to have been overstated—he did commit to UCLA after all—and 24/7 reports that Michigan feels they are in the thick of it. Keep an eye out. It's probably Georgia now, but stranger things have happened.
Like a running back flipping on the eve of Signing Day
The diaries were graced by a post from one of Karon Higdon's coaches:
I did not get a hint or a hunch on Tuesday or Wednesday morning. There were no clues. Karan went radio silent. Karan is a very mature young man and this was not uncommon for him to focus when it was called for. On Wednesday the crowds gathered and after nearly 200 people piled in to watch the announcement, Karan made his way wearing all black through the court yard. He had two hats in his hands. One Iowa. One Michigan. He looked me in my eyes as I shook his hand and embraced him. In his eyes I saw determination. I still didn't quite know but Iowa would've been my guess. He looked very focused and walked in and took his seat. We went through our announcements until he was the last one left. There was obvious anticipation and his mother was a nervous wreck. She really didnt know and neither did I.
Much longer, and recommended.
On to 2016
Aside from that potential top 50 linebacker and a grad transfer or two, the 2015 class is in the books. Eyes now turn to the 2016 class, which will be a critical one for Harbaugh to establish himself a silverback on the national level. Michigan has 14 seniors and one open slot, so our baseline is 15. Add a reasonable amount of attrition and graduate transfers and Michigan's looking at a class of about 20-24.
What that might look like by position:
QUARTERBACK: 1. Harbaugh takes a lot of quarterbacks and will obviously take at least one. With two in the most recent class, the O'Korn transfer, and no one scheduled to exit for two years, this is likely to be a rare one-QB Harbaugh class. That's even more likely if the #1 guy is CA QB KJ Costello, a national top 50 type who was highly interested in Michigan—like commit-last-summer-until-Hoke-dissuaded-him interested. If he hops on board Michigan might find it hard to grab another guy of sufficient quality to entice. Costello is giving serious consideration to Stanford and USC but even in articles from those sites he has some positive things to say about Michigan:
"Now they have Harbaugh and some big-time coaches surrounding him. I'm definitely interested. He's trying to start something new and build an unbelievable 2016 class and really get things rolling here. He was all fired up and I really dug him. He was cool."
If QB recruiting gets past Costello, OH decommit Messiah DeWeaver is a guy Michigan will keep after. There also seems to be initial mutual interest in national #1 (and Georgia commit) Jacob Eason and fellow five star Shea Patterson.
RUNNING BACK: 1 or 2. Higdon's commitment gives Michigan flexibility here. One is highly likely, as Michigan is going to lose three guys all at once in two years. Two is a possibility.
If the current staff is as interested in IL RB Kentrail Moran as the previous one was, Michigan might not have to wait long to get their first guy in the boat here. Moran flat-out told recruiting sites that he'd probably commit if Michigan hired Harbaugh, and lo, it came to pass. Moran just told an Illinois site that he was "wide open" with no leaders, though, so it seems like Michigan has not reached out to him yet. With 2015 in the books we should know within a couple weeks how serious the current staff's interest is in him.
If Moran falls through or they do take a second there are a couple of instate options: Southfield RB Matt Falcon had a nasty knee injury last year but is still a four-star type, as is Detroit King's Martell Petteway. (Falcon's reported interest in OSU is likely moot after OSU took two 2016 RBs.) GA RB Elijah Holyfield (yes, that Holyfield) almost committed($) to Brady Hoke and was reportedly hyped on the Harbaugh hire.
FULLBACK: 1. You know it's happening. No names yet.
WIDE RECEIVER: 2 or 3. Michigan has as lot of solid options but no blue-chips except Drake Harris and his no good very bad hamstrings. They'd like to change that, and there are a couple of big time options available. CA WR Dylan Crawford is close friends with Costello and visited at the same time he did last year. Fellow CA WR Theo Howard is planning a visit this month($) and gave M the ol' "dream offer" treatment. He seemed to mean it:
"They are my dream school. I know some say dream school and then name four or five schools, but I can say that Michigan is the school I've dreamed of playing for."
There is chatter that Costello, Crawford, Howard, and CA DB David Long would all make a trip to Ann Arbor together($) in the near future. If that does come off that would be major commit watch time.
Michigan also fired off an offer($) to three-star CA slot Demetric Felton. That's his second offer (Utah was first); he's also interested in Duke, so academics are a priority.
There are also options closer to home. Michigan's starting from behind with Detroit King WR Donnie Corley, but you know Harbaugh will be coming at him hard now. Chandler Park WR Jalen Martin is a (currently) three-star option; IN WR Austin Mack is being pursued by all the regional powers and Harbaugh will stick Michigan's name in as well. MSU commit and NJ WR Cameron Chambers will probably get a poke as well in case he's more interested in Harbaugh; he camped last year.
TIGHT END: 1 or 2. HARBAUGH LIKE TIGHT END SMASH. &c.
The prime target here is OH TE Luke Farrell, who figures to be a Michigan-OSU battle if OSU is going to continue recruiting Farrell after getting a commit from Jake Hausmann. CA TE Devin Asiasi would fill Michigan's sudden need for a guy named Devin who loves bucket hats and declared he would officially visit($) as soon as he got an offer. M also offered Philly TE Naseir Upshur, but he's tough to get a read on at the moment.
OFFENSIVE LINE: 3 or 4. Michigan already has IL OL Erik Swenson in the boat. He's strictly a tackle. Traverse City OL Thiyo Lukasa was on the verge of committing to Michigan early, then dropped M entirely during The Troubles and now sounds interested again. If Harbaugh goes after him hard I would bet he gets him.
Fellow in-state OL Michael Jordan is impossible to Google but has seven picks for M in on the 247 Crystal Ball, all of which date back to the Hoke era. Like Corley, they're currently behind but that could change in a hurry here.
Regionally, WI OL Ben Bredeson is a major national prospect who expressed a lot of interest in Michigan early. Can Harbaugh overcome the natural gravity of the Badgers? Virginia's Clark Yarborough visited Michigan twice last summer and spurred a rash of M predictions before things went south
DEFENSIVE END: 2. Still more depth required here. One of Harbaugh's first offers was to AZ DE Connor Murphy, the brother of former Stanford DE and current NFLer Trent. He was very excited about the opportunity.
In-state DE Khalid Kareem momentarily committed to MSU but put himself bac on the marker two days later; Michigan is after IL DE Josh King, though the current trend is OSU on him. Staggeringly huge Cinci DE Prince Sammons (6'8", 280) was interested last summer.
DEFENSIVE TACKLE: 2 or 3. A major need after zero in the 2015 class, tackle will be addressed in depth. The #1 target is also the #1 player in the country: NJ DT Rashan Gary of Paramus Catholic. Michigan has a couple of Paramus kids on the roster and hired his old high school coach in a recruiting capacity. Meanwhile his new high school coach played for Harbaugh in the NFL. That doesn't guarantee a commit but it should mean Michigan has an inside track.
There aren't a whole lot of other names out there other than Cass Tech OG/DT Michael Onwenu. As with many local guys, Michigan is behind right now with the transition and rush to finish the 2015 class but has the potential to move up quickly.
LINEBACKER: 3. Michigan has MD LB Dele Harding committed. Other than that, names have yet to pop up. Other than the best name: IL LB TUF BORLAND. Wisconsin will be tough (tuf?) competition, though they just changed coaches as well.
DEFENSIVE BACK: 3. This is also a spot where realistic names are currently thin. Michigan will go after PSU commit LaVert Hill, the brother of Delano, until such time as they're told not to.
Michigan is in the top eight for NJ ATH Ahmir Mitchell despite little contact thus far from Harbaugh. VA CB Patrice Rene first made a name for himself as a Canadian kid who showed to Michigan's camp; he is a high academic kid who should be interested in what Michigan has to offer when the staff gets around to evaluating him.
SPECIALISTS: 1? K Andrew David arrives and it looks like Michigan is trying to bring in an Aussie to compete with Kenny Allen at punter. Even if they do, the Aussie will be gone and Allen a senior by the time this class hits campus. Michigan could be on the hunt for a punter, especially if they're going heavy into a rugby style Allen may be unfamiliar with.
That's 19-23 guys in what should be a top ten class.
[Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News]
Gentry a huge get, Malzone a little bit overlooked as a result, the perpetually open Grant Perry, a few OL, and a big TE get.
DEs are clutch, Washington a favorite, overall class take.
A big year in state and a potential wave of California stars should put Michigan in a good spot. Shout out to Dele Harding, who hated Dave Brandon as much as the rest of us.
Praise is delivered unto MAAR.
"Across 110th Street"
"Sorry For Stealing Your Man," Jessica Hernandez And The Deltas
"Open Up Them Pearly Gates," Billy Strings and Don Julin (who are at the Ark on April 24th)
"Lie, Cheat, Steal," Run The Jewels
THE USUAL LINKS
Michigan's acquired another quarterback option:
— John O'Korn (@JohnOKorn) February 5, 2015
O'Korn is a transfer who was released from his Houston scholarship. A three-star recruit out of St. Thomas Acquinas in Florida, O'Korn was thrust into the starting job at a true freshman when Houston's QB suddenly retired due to concussion symptoms.
His freshman year was a quality one…
After losing the starting job, O'Korn announced a transfer and was given permission to talk to a number of impressive programs. Wisconsin, Miami, Syracuse, Florida, and Texas were interested. Jameis Winston hinted that he would end up with the Longhorns (while meeting flaccid motivational speech purveyor and megapastor Joel Osteen, bizarrely), but reporters around the program think that Texas wasn't in pursuit.
O'Korn was a prolific high school passer…
O’Korn’s commitment to Houston was consider a coup as the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native set single-season records at nationally renowned powerhouse St. Thomas Aquinas as a senior and was named MVP of the Florida Class 7A state title game. O’Korn only started at Aquinas his senior year, by which time then-Houston coach Tony Levine had already offered him a scholarship. Although offers from SEC and ACC schools came in as O’Korn’s star rose, he stayed loyal to Houston.
…but isn't much of a runner and didn't fit with what Tom Herman wants to do.
He'll have to redshirt this year, after which he'll have two years of eligibility. Michigan is now at their full 85 allotment of scholarships for fall (assuming that the Glasgows and Kerridge are on scholarship), pending any future departures or additions.
UPDATE: Chris Brown has an excellent point about Houston and O'Korn's dropoff last year:
.@slmandel O'Korn losing his OC, Doug Meachem, to TCU definitely had an effect on whole offense (and Meachem did pretty darn well at TCU)
— Chris B. Brown (@smartfootball) February 5, 2015
Michigan (13-9, 6-4 B1G) vs
Iowa (13-8, 4-4)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
|WHEN||7 pm ET, Thursday|
|LINE||Michigan -2 (KenPom)|
PBP: Rece Davis
Analyst: LaPhonso Ellis
Right: Last year was fun, unless you were Roy Devyn Marble. [Fuller]
Derrick Walton is out for a while, which Dylan points out robs Michigan of their best individual defender by Synergy's numbers. (Aubrey Dawkins grades out slightly better, but in a much smaller sample size.)
The dropoff is particularly large between Walton (93rd percentile in points per possession against) and Spike Albrecht (16th); expect Michigan to continue utilizing a liberal dosage of zone defense to compensate.
At this point, all home games are must-wins for those still holding out hope for an NCAA bid.
THE LINEUP CARD
Projected starters are in bold. Hover over headers for stat explanations; I've switched over to conference-only stats for %Min and %Poss now. The "Should I Be Mad If He Hits A Three" methodology: we're mad if a guy who's not good at shooting somehow hits one. Yes, you're still allowed to be unhappy if a proven shooter is left open. It's a free country.
|G||10||Mike Gesell||Jr.||6'2, 190||60||23||Yes|
|High assist rate offset by too many TOs. Solid inside arc, iffy outside shooter.|
|G||3||Peter Jok||So.||6'6, 200||53||22||Not really|
|Lanky, disruptive defender still developing offensive game.|
|F||20||Jarrod Uthoff||Jr.||6'9, 210||80||23||No|
|Solid outside shooter, rebounder, passer, and weakside shot-blocker.|
|F||30||Aaron White||Sr.||6'9, 228||74||22||Yes|
|Slasher who finishes well, gets a ton of points at the line. Good rebounder.|
|C||34||Adam Woodbury||Jr.||7'1, 240||50||21||Very|
|Very good rebounder. Not very skilled. Royal pain in the ass.|
|G||2||Josh Oglesby||Sr.||6'5, 200||56||9||Kinda|
|Tiny-usage three-point gunner who's been awful from field this season.|
|C||0||Gabriel Olaseni||Sr.||6'10, 237||49||26||Very|
|Athletic big. Great offensive rebounder. Solid shot-blocker. High FT rate.|
|G||5||Anthony Clemmons||Jr.||6'2, 195||46||15||No|
|Low-usage backup PG. Relatively low assist rate, somewhat turnover prone.|
The Hawkeyes have had an up-and-down year, and they're currently in a down period after blowouts at the hands on Wisconsin's unstoppable offense sandwiched a narrow loss at Purdue. Iowa boasts a road win over UNC and a season sweep against Ohio State; they've otherwise struggled against quality competition.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the preview.]
[Note: there were no microphones for media so I can’t get the questions verbatim from my recording. Instead I’ve gone with the gist of the question.]
“Thank you. Good to see everybody. Thanks for coming out today. Exciting day for us as a football program, for the families, and for the youngsters who work so hard to earn a football scholarship and to see that hard work come to fruition today is a very exciting day. We’re very pleased with our class. Very proud, really, and I think everybody that loves Michigan is going to be proud to call these youngsters their own.”
On how difficult it is to come in late in the recruiting process:
“It wasn’t difficult. It was a real joy. It was a real pleasure. Just the things that I learned about some of the players that were already committed under coach Hoke and his regime, and they did a tremendous job.
“You talk about some of those guys- Andrew Paul David. And his confirmation name is John, if you were wondering. Andrew Paul John David. You pretty much got the gospel covered right there. Grew up a Michigan fan. Great love of Michigan.
“Tyree Kinnel, somebody who was handed a Michigan football at birth, was committed here.
“Also, John Runyan Jr. I was told he wore a Michigan onesie when he was a year old.
“People have a love and passion for Michigan football. Grant Perry’s another who recently committed here and signed today. Grew up and Mark’s dad- Mark was a record-setting receiver in the state of Michigan. Over 13 records. But he grew up like me, Grant did. In the shadow of Michigan Stadium, getting autographs from football players and basketball players, dad was a coach. Mark was telling me that he’d bring Grant to practice and as a seven-year-old he always found a way to get a helmet, be running routes, [and] doing amazing things with the football at every practice that he went to. A winner. That’s what I’m really excited about in this class. Those two things; a lot of youngsters that have a real deep desire to be at Michigan and have won, and in Grant’s case he’s won at everything he’s ever done going back to little league baseball, basketball, and football, including three state championships at Brother Rice along with Alex Malzone, who’s also in our class.
“Did I tell you Andrew David was a really good short stop? Heck of a baseball player, too.”
[After THE JUMP: the pickle quote]
According to multiple outlets, Tyrone "TJ" Wheatley Jr. chose Michigan over UCLA this afternoon, and will join his legendary father—now the running backs coach—in Ann Arbor. Wheatley is regarded as an athlete who could play either tight end or defensive end; in this class, he'll most likely start out on offense. Wheatley is the 14th commit in the 2015 class and the first at tight end.
4*, #25 DE,
|4*, #13 TE||3*, 79, #12 TE-Y||4*, 90, #13 TE||
4*, #12 TE,
Only Scout evaluated Wheatley as a defensive end; perhaps not unrelated, they rank him the highest of the four services. The tight end disctinction appeared to hurt his ratings elsewhere. Wheatley was an early member of the Rivals250, but they only placed five TEs in their final rankings (as opposed to 17 SDEs). He came closer to the top list on 247—their top ten TEs made the Top247. Wheatley also made ESPN's Junior 300 back in July of 2013, then gradually slid back to a three-star—his underclassman evaluation focused much more on his potential as a defender than his final scouting report.
All four sites list him at 6'6" with a significant spread in weight: anywhere from 245 (Rivals) to 270 (Scout, which also gives him an extra half-inch of height). A recent quote from Wheatley Sr. pegs his son at 6'6", 255—he'd apparently reached 270 before cutting some weight.
I guess the lack of interest in New York high school football trumps the desire to evaluate a four-star prospect in person, as there's surprisingly little on Wheatley outside of camp and film evaluations. Luckily, most scouting reports focus on his prospects as a tight end, where he's expected to end up at Michigan.
ESPN likes his potential more on offense than defense; here's what they have to say about his ball skills and blocking ($):
Ball Skills: Displays good hands with the ability to extend and catch away from his frame. Displays ability to reach up and snag passes thrown above his head. Flashes adequate ability to adjust to throws off target, but displays some tightness and not always natural when having to open up frame and adjust.
Blocking: Flashes ability to deliver an initial pop and get good placement with his hands with enough strength to control defenders when he gets locked on. Needs to watch pad level and more consistently roll hips at contact. Displays adequate ability to adjust and get a hat on second-level targets.
Always with the pad level.
Wheatley worked out at tight end at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp way back in 2013, and he impressed GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):
At 6-6, 240-pounds, Wheatley Jr. certainly isn’t a gentle giant and despite the non-padded drill work the tight ends did on Saturday, the son of former Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley was able to use his physicality and size to his advantage in the 1-on-1’s against linebackers. Wheatley Jr. already runs refined routes for such a young prospect, showing a nice resemblance of footwork passed down by his father.
Much more recently, Wheatley had a standout performance in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl practices, earning top performer honors on the third day from 247's Alex Gleitman...
Alpha Dog: Tyrone Wheatley Jr.
The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end is one of the most physically imposing players on the East team, but it is his athleticism and soft hands at that size that make him the outstanding prospect that he is.
Wheatley had an outstanding today in general skeleton drills, as well as the scrimmaging and goal line sessions, flashing enough speed to get free from defenders, as well as using his strength and body size to get positioning in shorter yardage situations.
The chatter among onlookers at practice was that there was no question that Wheatley was the most impressive performer in today's practice session.
...and coming in second according to Rob Cassidy of Rivals ($):
Wheatley Jr. is a menace. He has a wide body and impressive strength. And while he usually shines as a blocker, he made his presence known in the passing attack on Friday. He didn't look pretty catching passes at all times. In fact, he fought the ball on occasions, but he always made the catch when targeted. He made a long list of plays throughout the afternoon and always seemed to find a way to get open in the flat.
Scout's free evaluation focuses on his ability on defense:
Wheatley plays tight end and defensive end, but he looks more comfortable and natural on defense. He gets off the ball quickly, but sometimes gets upright too quickly. Wheatley has the size to overpower an offensive tackle, and also can use his speed to get around the edge. In addition, he can run a play down from behind and is versatile enough to move inside and play defensive tackle if he adds the weight. -- Brian Dohn
That sounds pretty ideal for an SDE in Durkin's hybrid system. The other defense-focused evaluations come from 247's Clint Brewster in 2013, looking at Wheatley's sophomore film ($)...
As a defensive end, Wheatley is a destructive force with his size and strength. He is instinctive and can hold the edge in the run game or get after the quarterback with his extremely long wingspan. Wheatley Jr. has a pretty good motor and doesn’t quit, as he will make plays downfield or away from the line of scrimmage. He gets his hands up to deflect passes and gets in passing lanes.
...and a Rivals camp update from the following spring, when Adam Friedman named him the top performer at the NFL Prep 100 ($):
Wheatley was far and away the best player at the camp. The Rivals250 defensive end has added a lot of strength to his core and it helped him play with good leverage. Wheatley used that strength to help push offensive linemen out of the way en route to the quarterback. He also showed very good technique, beating offensive linemen inside and outside.
I'll give the final word to a man who's quite familiar with Wheatley—his father, who went into exacting detail on his son's game in a free interview with Sam Webb that's well worth your time:
Tyrone Wheatley, Sr.: “His route running, understanding leverage, understanding zone reads. I think that is the biggest improvement where he has blossomed, where last year he was just running to run. He was running routes. He didn’t understand coverage and how to set a route up, when the defense is in a zone or set man coverage up. Now there are certain routes that he likes and is he starting to (make more plays). He knows he is going to be doubled team or however they are going to play him. He sees that right off the bat. He understands the leverage and how to get open in those situations.”
The elder Wheatley noted yards after the catch and blocking technique as areas for improvement. Check out the full interview for his thoughts on TJ as a DE.
Wheatley held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, UCLA, UNC, Washington, and Wisconsin, among others.
Wheatley is the first four-star prospect in the Rivals era (2002-) to come out of Canisius. In fact, the only three-star prospect they've produced is 2014 Pitt signee Qadree Ollison.
According to MaxPreps, Wheatley had 11 catches for 182 yards and two TDs in a run-heavy offense and 68 tackles, 24 TFLs, ten sacks, three pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and two blocked punts on defense en route to NYSSWA Player of the Year honors as a senior. The previous year, he recorded 16 catches for 190 yards and two TDs along with 41 tackles, 14 TFLs, two sacks, an interception, and four forced fumbles.
FAKE 40 TIME
None of the four sites list a 40 time.
Senior highlights at tight end:
Junior offense highlights:
Junior defense highlights:
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page. Unfortunately, there's no available highlight tape of him on defense as a senior.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Wheatley could contribute on either side of the ball and fill a pretty big need; it appears he'll at least start his college career at tight end, where he could see the field immediately as a big blocker who can slip out into the flat and occasionally threaten up the seam. Whether he comes in on offense or defense, it's unlikely he'll take a redshirt—Michigan needs help at DE, as well.
While Wheatley's lack of top-end speed and post-catch elusiveness may limit his ceiling, he should be an important cog in Harbaugh's offense due to his ability to block and catch at his size. If he ends up on defense, he should provide depth and eventually make a bigger impact as a strongside DE.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Unless WR Van Jefferson pulls a surprise or Michigan sends out some late offers, Wheatley is almost undoubtedly the last commit in the class.
Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic DE Shelton Johnson announced a commitment to Michigan over fellow finalists Florida State and Miami in a ceremony at his school this afternoon. Johnson becomes the 13th commit in the 2015 class and fills a major need at defensive end. He joins Karan Higdon and Keith Washington among NSD commits for the Wolverines.
4*, #27 DE,
|3*, #37 WDE||3*, 79, #36 DE||4*, 91, #16 SDE||
3*, #20 SDE,
There's a split in Johnson's rankings—Scout and 247 both have him in the top-300 area, while Rivals and ESPN place him in the nondescript three-star category. All four sites list him at 6'5" and 220-225 pounds.
Scout's Jamie Newberg named Johnson the #4 defensive lineman in Florida—in a stacked class—heading into his senior season:
Johnson is not as highly touted as the others above here but this kid has a ton of talent. He looks terrific on film. Johnson can put his hand in the dirt or stand up. He can also slide inside. He has versatility and athleticism. Johnson gets off the ball well and can use his hands to shed blocks. He shows speed and lateral quickness.
ESPN likes his frame, though they point out he needs to weight and strength, and say that he's a good physical prospect in need of some refining ($):
Flashes ability to fire out and uncoil, but needs to continue add size to help him maintain and hold ground. Flashes active, violent hands, but needs to continue to develop hand usage. Displays enough range to be factor in backside pursuit.
Good burst and length can be assets in his development. Long and little straight line, but flashes ability to do decent job of dipping inside shoulder and turning the corner. Needs to learn to better utilize hands and reach. Flashes some ability to transfer speed-to-power and knock blockers back at times.
They add that he plays "with a physical and at times violent nature."
There's surprisingly little else out there on him. Johnson earned his FSU offer after an impressive camp performance last summer (video below) and got a late bump into the four-star range on 247 after his senior season.
Johnson held offers from Florida State, FAU, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Minnesota, Mississippi State, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. He had interest, but no offer, from Florida, LSU, and Georgia.
Atlantic has produced a couple of very successful four-star prospects in 2009 CB Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech, now on the New York Giants) and 2006 OL Orlando Franklin (Miami, now on the Denver Broncos). There's also a Big Ten connection: Minnesota RB Donnell Kirkwood was a 2010 three-star.
Johnson's stats weren't readily available and are impossible to Google thanks to the existence of an NFL player of the same name.
FAKE 40 TIME
Partial senior highlights:
This performance at FSU's camp last summer earned him an offer from the Noles:
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
There's not a ton to go on here, but Johnson is clearly in need of some seasoning before he's ready to see the field. Even with Michigan's thin depth chart, he should take a redshirt year unless he looks ready to contribute at the hybrid WDE/OLB position as a situational pass-rusher. For Michigan's purposes, it'd be ideal if he's able to bulk up and play SDE, which is quite plausible with his frame; that might take a year or two, however.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Johnson fills a significant need at DE. Michigan is now waiting on announcements from TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (any moment now) and CB Iman Marshall (4 pm). Wheatley is down to Michigan and UCLA, with the edge to the good guys, while Marshall is highly unlikely to end up in the class.
FL RB Karan Higdon: flips from Iowa to Michigan
CT TE Chris Clark: inexplicably chooses UCLA
AL CB/QB Keith Washington: flips from Cal to Michigan
MI RB Mike Weber: sticks with OSU
GA LB Roquan Smith: picks UCLA
TN WR Van Jefferson: 1:30? 3:45? Vision quest?
FL DE Shelton Johnson: 3 PM
NY TE/DE Ty Wheatley Jr: 3:15 PM
CA CB Iman Marshall: 4 PM
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Prattville (AL) three-star ATH Keith Washington announced his decision to flip from Cal to Michigan in a ceremony at his high school this morning, and immediately faxed in his LOI. Washington, who mostly played quarterback at Prattville, will suit up at cornerback for Michigan. He becomes the 12th commit of the 2015 class and the first at his position.
|3*, #147 CB||3*, #26 ATH||3*, 75, #117 ATH||3*, 82, #118 ATH||
3*, #76 ATH,
Rivals is much more bullish on Washington than the other three recruiting services, which all have him well down the position rankings. He's listed at around 6'2", 170—great size for a corner as soon as he adds a little bulk.
Due to Washington mostly playing quarterback in high school, there isn't a ton on him as a defensive back. TideSports ranked him the #30 player in Alabama heading into the 2014 season and had this to say about his potential ($):
A tremendous athlete with excellent speed. Washington is a natural playmaker. He is dangerous on the offensive side of the ball and should become a great defensive back at the next level.
ESPN's rather scant evaluation covers his ability as both a receiver and cornerback ($):
Plays any skilled position he is asked to. Runs with it, catches it and defends from either the safety or corner spot. Is gifted enough that he can be thought of as either a WR or DB.
Is light on his feet, has balance, and can run away from defenders thus is a threat from most anywhere on the field. Also demonstrated as a defender he can run down a ball carrier. He makes plays.
The most complete scouting report comes from GoldenBearReport, Cal's Rivals outlet, which posted one after his commitment there ($):
Physically, he's long and lean; and he really doesn't have a frame suited for some of the physicality required of a safety. He's strikingly similar to Malik Psalms, with a wiry frame and really long arms. I'd venture to say that while their top end speed may be similar, Washington looks smoother than Psalms and has great acceleration. His ability to turn and chase is impressive with his closing speed. His height and long arms help him in press coverage and playing the ball, and he's a willing though unpolished tackler. He comes high into contact and gets away with it at the high school level, but will definitely need to add strength and technique to not only effectively bring down bigger and more physical ballcarriers in college, but also to disengage from blocks on screens or runs to the outside. Still, his athleticism makes him a natural in pass coverage. With the desire to be aggressive in contact seemingly already within him, the technique to do it well and do it right can be coached.
Washington will take some molding before he's ready to contribute, especially given his inexperience at the position, but he appears to have a lot of potential—6'2" corners with fluid athleticism don't come around that often.
Washington held offers from Cal, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Mizzou, North Carolina, Northwestern, USF, and Wake Forest, among others.
Prattville has produced several FBS-caliber recruits in the Rivals era, most notably 2010 four-star Nick Perry, who started for the Tide at safety in 2014, and four-star 2012 athlete Justin Thomas, the starting quarterback in Georgia Tech's option offense.
Washington's stats mostly came on offense, where he passed for 1718 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for another 1201 yards and 20 TDs as a senior, per 247.
FAKE 40 TIME
Oddly, Washington participated in NFTC testing and did everything but the 40-yard dash. He did run an impressive 4.06 20-yard shuttle, indicating good acceleration and change of direction. His Scout spotlight lists a 4.3-flat, which gets four FAKEs out of five. He's fast, but that's elite NFL speed.
Defensive back highlights:
Full senior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Washington should redshirt while getting more acclimated to cornerback and add some strength. Only Blake Countess is set to depart after the 2015 season at corner, so it could take him a little while to work his way up the depth chart, though the move of Jabrill Peppers to safety opens up more of an opportunity. While there's not a lot to go on with Washington, he has all the physical tools to become an excellent player at the position.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now up to 12 commits and could take another corner if they desired should Jarius Adams want to join up. Other candidates to fill the remaining open spots are ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr., DE Shelton Johnson, RB Mike Weber (everything seems to be up in the air with him), WR Van Jefferson, CB Iman Marshall, and LB Roquan Smith—the last two are longshots at best.
We're off and running:
— Adam Shadoff (@AdamShadoff) February 4, 2015
Sarasota (FL) Riverview RB Karan Higdon, who visited Ann Arbor last weekend, flipped to Michigan from Iowa this morning after it previously appeared he'd stay with the Hawkeyes. Higdon becomes the 11th commit in the class and the first at running back. According to Sam Webb, his decision won't affect that of Cass Tech RB Mike Weber.
UPDATE: Or not.
— Steve Wiltfong (@SWiltfong247) February 4, 2015
|3*, #84 RB||3*, #45 RB||3*, 78, #70 RB||4*, 90, #29 RB||
3*, #40 RB,
Rivals and 247, especially the latter, are relatively high on Higdon, while the other two services have him as a lower-tier three-star.
Every site but Scout, which has him ten pounds lighter, lists him at 5'10", 180 pounds.
For a prospect who's made two earlier commitments (he also made an early pledge to USF), there's suprisingly little scouting out there on Higdon. Scout's Jamie Newberg has a free commitment capsule from when Higdon chose Iowa:
There is so much to like about Higdon. He’s pretty put together for his size. Higdon runs hard and is decisive. He’s not a dancer and you won’t see him going east-west but north-south. Higdon hits the hole and hits it hard.
Lets start from the bottom up. He has good feet, quick feet. Higdon has a strong lower body and runs with deceptive power. He’s thick up top and will only get bigger. I also like his vision. Higdon possesses good speed and quickness. He can also make defenders miss.
Higdon can also catch the ball out of the backfield.
A lack of top-end speed is Newberg's top concern. That's echoed in his ESPN evaluation, which likes his vision, shiftiness, and North-South running and concludes thusly ($):
Higdon is a productive inside runner with the burst to open up the run game outside but we do not see a big-play element at this stage. Could develop into an every-down back with added size and some growth but if that does not happen we see more of a complementary back who can fit into a number of schemes.
Hawkeye 247's Andrew Kulha has a detailed, free scouting report that you should check out in full. He's most impressed with Higdon's power and finish:
For as agile and quick is Higdon is at 5-foot-10, 190 pounds; he's still a very tough runner and you've gotta think that's what set him apart from other running back targets in the eyes of the Hawkeyes. He has strong legs that defenders bounce off of when trying to tackle low on him, he's not afraid to lower his shoulders, and he does a great job of using his off-hand to keep would-be tacklers off him. Whether it's a swipe, a rip or a pure stiff-arm, Higdon does a great job of using his off arm. He's almost too good at it, but we'll get into that later.
Higdon doesn't go down on first contact. In-fact, he runs through contact, which is something that you like to see from a running back prospect. He has a tendency to fall forward, which speaks to his awareness and maturity as a runner, and he has an above-average spin move that he utilizes to pick up extra yards.
Higdon may not be a home-run threat, but the rest of his game looks pretty solid; he might not wow you but he finds a way to get upfield.
Higdon held offers from Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa Kentucky, Nevada, South Carolina, USF, Syracuse, Tennessee, UCF, and Wake Forest, among others.
Higdon is one of two three-star propsects to come out of Riverview, along with 2008 Central Michigan signee Jahleel Addae.
I couldn't find senior stats in a quick search. Scout says that Higdon rushed for 987 yards (5.3 YPC) and 15 TDs on 185 carries as a junior despite missing three games.
FAKE 40 TIME
247 lists a 4.5-flat, which gets four FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan has enough depth at running back that Higdon should be able to redshirt. From there he'll have to work his way into the rotation alongside Derrick Green, DeVeon Smith, Drake Johnson, and Ty Isaac. He could find an early role as a situational back before making a run at the starting job.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan now sits at 11 commits, and despite the impending numbers crunch Webb stated they'd still take Mike Weber. Other potential signees include CBs Jarius Adams and Keith Washington, ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr., DE Shelton Johnson, and WR Van Jefferson, with outside-at-best shots at CB Iman Marshall and LB Roquan Smith. Chris Clark already announced his decision for UCLA.