landing spot. will be interesting to see how he does.
Just another day in the life.
Jim Harbaugh got drenched with water onstage at Migos. pic.twitter.com/WnX0p0rJSA
— Rachel Premack (@rrpre) April 14, 2016
One of our photographers wrote a book. You've probably seen Bill Rapai's hockey photos around these parts. If you like those you'll no doubt love his new book, which is about invasive species in the Great Lakes. For some reason it has a picture of an SEC coach reacting to Harbaugh's latest antics on the cover. Bill on the contents:
It’s called Lake Invaders: Invasive species and the battle for the future of the Great Lakes and it explains how these little beasties got here, the damage they are doing, how they might be controlled, and why you should care. (Yes, you should care.) There’s even a chapter on everybody’s favorite invasives, the Asian carps.
It's available on Amazon for anyone who's interested.
DRAKE JOHNSON GOT RUN OVER BY A FORKLIFT!? Yes. He is apparently fine afterwards, if 1) very bruised up and 2) understandably pissed off.
Harbaugh says Drake Johnson's injury is short-term, one to three weeks. Said it's a miracle right up there with Easter.
— Adam Schnepp (@aeschnepp) April 14, 2016
Do not run people over in forklifts, people. I shouldn't have to tell you this.
Tick tock the hot takes don't stop. All it took was for Jim Harbaugh to say some pointedly critical, but true, things for people to lose their minds about the dude. NJ.com columnist Steve Politi has been a reliable source of humor ever since that "Jim Harbaugh may be flashy, but Kyle Flood is real" column, and he is undeterred by being as wrong as humanly possible about that. His reaction to Man Invited To Give Speech may even top his earlier opus:
Steve Politi, a columnist for The Star-Ledger and NJ.com, said Paramus Catholic should be ashamed for having Harbaugh give the speech. …
"The big problem here is Paramus Catholic president Jim Vail who, in announcing his decision to give an out-of-state football coach a free infomercial at his school, called Harbaugh a great leader and educator. Come on, Harbaugh speaking to your students is as much a recruiting advantage for your football program as it is for Harbaugh at Michigan."
I love all these accusations that PEOPLE might be DOING THEIR JOBS WELL. While there's no doubt an element of publicity and recruiting on both ends, Jim Harbaugh is also a very interesting and successful person who might want to give people some guidance. And he's sure as hell going to be more interesting than whoever my high school graduation speaker was. I have no idea if there even was one. Chris Ash is openly envious, and he's real, so…
This undercurrent of "wait a second… wait just a minute here! I see what you're doing! You are trying to make your football team good!" is a never-ending source of entertaining spittle these days. Remember that Alabama dude who clutched his pearls and fell over because Michigan's satellite camp at Prattville was really about recruiting? This is just the latest episode. Here's Mike Florio accusing Harbaugh of the blazingly obvious:
If we’re going to pull back the curtain on why the SEC and ACC coaches wanted to keep Harbaugh out of their backyards, it’s only fair to pull back the curtain on why Harbaugh wants to frolic in them. Although Rosenberg does his best to defend the satellite camp process by baking the concept into the apple pie of American dream chasing, it’s obvious that the camps had become at least in part a pretext for recruiting the best players in a setting that, from the perspective of a high school kid, doesn’t feel like recruiting. It all leads to a more organic, authentic, and visceral bond.
That's the point! Also it is good! We have reached the point in this dumb conversation where people are accusing Jim Harbaugh of trying to have a real relationship with the people he recruits. I feel like I am going crazy here.
Yes, e-goons of the world, people have motives. When they pursue those motives within the rules and without negatively impacting anyone, pointing at them and screaming "YOU ARE PURSUING YOUR GOALS" is literally the dumbest argument possible.
I mean, yeah, get on Harbaugh for the various decommits last year. That's a legit criticism. This stuff is moron central.
Shots fired. I assume you've all seen the Harbombing of the satellite camp decision in SI. While Harbaugh talking to a dude who tried to sabotage the program with bogus allegations of NCAA violations is a frequent irritation, I'll take it as long as he's willing to say the things that are true in public:
Says Harbaugh: "You've got a guy sitting in a big house, making $5 million a year, saying he does not want to sacrifice his time. That is not a kindred spirit to me. What most of these coaches are saying is they don't want to work harder."
Hugh Freeze responded to this with the time-tested retort of the smarmy gasbag: muh families.
"I'll never apologize for wanting to be a father and a husband," Freeze said when asked about vacation time. "I miss enough volleyball games (and other things), that is a priority for me. ... I think we work very hard, I don't think working hard is an issue. If you're asking me if I want to add more nights away from my wife and kids, I do not. That window is closing for me to be a husband and a father and I think the kids that play in our system need to see me in that role an awful lot."
When someone talks about being a family man in this way they are always attempting to shut down criticism by being holier than thou. See: Dave Brandon's "this hurts my family" talk on his last-ditch media spree after the Shane Morris incident. It also blows by a point: if you don't want to do them, don't do them. Nobody's making you. You are in fact making the demands.
Freeze then doubled down on the smarm by criticizing Harbaugh for being right, but in public:
Freeze on Harbaugh: "We're probably not a kindred spirit in terms of making comments about other coaches in public forums like he has done."
— Nick Baumgardner (@nickbaumgardner) April 13, 2016
Along with being recursively hypocritical, this is an admission that Harbaugh is correct but also mean. I like mean.
Elsewhere in shots fired. High school coaches are just as fired up about the ban:
"Realistically, I shouldn't have been surprised." said John Ford, the head coach at Roswell High School, which is located north of Atlanta. "The NCAA works in opposition to what benefits young kids and student athletes. They work to protect the few as opposed to protecting and promoting the many. The hypocrisy is pretty well known." …
"I've been doing this for 15 years and I know it's really, really helpful for kids at these camps," [Toby] Foreman said. "It makes it extremely difficult, and I personally don't think the NCAA has kids interests at heart. You're almost punishing people for being proactive. Go out and recruit harder. Quit being lazy."
I wonder if the pushback on this is going to be sufficient to torpedo the rule change here. These days a lawsuit-stricken NCAA is very sensitive about public relations, and there are a ton of people on the warpath about this. It is really rare to see guys with skin in the game come out with these kind of statements, and the condemnation for the rule change has been near-universal. The only people sticking up for it are guys like Tony Barnhart who are more or less bought and paid for by the SEC and a less-than-lucid Dennis Dodd.
Tommy Tuberville, for one, thinks that the ban will not stand.
Elsewhere in how Freeze gets work done. Interesting little glimpse inside the sausage factory Freeze is running at Ole Miss from a doofus with money:
An Ocean Springs businessman claimed to have offered his guest house to unnamed college football players rent-free, only to later amend his story. But a source with knowledge of the situation said Scott Walker’s neighbors were told by the renters they paid for a two-night stay at his home last weekend.
Renting his home on a short-term basis would be a violation of local ordinances, and when first contacted by the Mississippi Press Walker said it was “four university players” who were “absolutely not paying” to stay in his guest house.
That raised red flags, because a booster (Walker is an Ole Miss grad and fan) offering free or reduced rent is a clear-cut NCAA violation.
Ole Miss cheats. Hardcore, all the time. That's how a nobody high school coach with one year at Arkansas State who arrives at a school with a fanbase that mostly still wants a plantation owner as their mascot and zero success in the past 50 years starts recruiting five-stars. I'm resigned to the fact that this will happen forever, and that the correct solution is to let people pay the players without repercussions.
But you run the cheatingest program in the country and you get sanctimonious about your free time? Harbaugh's just trying to level the playing field out a little bit here. Freeze can take his vacations and come back knowing that an Ole Miss offer has thousands of dollars behind it that a Michigan one doesn't.
That solution could be on the horizon. Via Get the Picture, this is a potentially huge move towards an Olympic model of amateurism:
Big East commissioner Val Ackerman told SI Now’s Maggie Gray on Friday that the NCAA is reconsidering allowing student athletes to sign endorsement deals.
Under the current rules, student athletes may not be paid for the use of their image or likeness or they would forfeit their amateur status and their collegiate eligibility could be affected. When Gray asked Ackerman why students shouldn’t be able to capitalize on the value they bring to their university, Ackerman responded that the NCAA is considering changing that rule.
“That’s one that’s actually under consideration I believe by the NCAA,” Ackerman said. “It’s actually a time right now where student athlete interests are being closely examined. I don’t have an answer for you on that one today but I will say that and a number of other topics are under review, and I think rightly by the NCAA and it’s very possible that over the course of the next year or two as these these ideas work their way through the legislative system you could see changes.”
In the next year or two! As always I will remind you that even if you don't like the idea of players getting paid directly by the university, opening up outside compensation is a very good thing when you command a money cannon like Michigan does.
Warde Manuel sticks up for his guy. Good to see that Manuel isn't shying away from the fight either:
“People say this is Jim Harbaugh, he wants to do it this way,” Manuel told the Free Press today. “No. This is a rule that has been allowable for a long time. With all due respect to … questions about not being able to recruit (during the NCAA quiet period), all that stuff was there before, and people did it. Now it’s no good? Some kind of way, it’s bad for the game? It’s crazy.”
That is direct and devoid of hand-waving CYA business speak, so bully for that.
Elsewhere in laziness. Iowa DE Drew Ott will not get a fifth year after a midseason injury. That's not much of a surprise since he played in six games a year ago and the NCAA does not budge on injury redshirts if you've played more than 30% of a season. The timing of the announcement, however, has irritated many since Ott cannot enter the NFL draft proper and will have to go the supplemental route. Why did this come so late? It's not on the NCAA:
In fairness to the NCAA, it does seem like the lengthiest delays in this entire ordeal were not their end -- it sounds like Ott's case wasn't even sent to the NCAA bodies that rule on this matter until late February. His case was with Big Ten authorities until that point. What took the Big Ten so long? Good question -- and one that neither Ott nor Kirk Ferentz had an answer for during their press conference earlier today. So perhaps our ire at the glacial pace of the decision-making in this situation should be directed at Jim Delany & Co. rather than the NCAA folks.
That is especially odd since Mario Ojemudia suffered a similarly ill-timed injury and found out he would not get an exception in December.
It'll be interesting to see what happens with MSU's attempt to get sixth years for three players, all of whom appear to have taken voluntary redshirts. MSU keeps telling people they'll be back but the NCAA is very strict about sixth years; going to be tough to come up with sufficient documentation about an injury when these guys have bios declaring they were scout team player of the week.
This is spring ball. There are guys on the field who are never going to play, there are guys on the field who are going to play who not playing very well, and the coaches, whom I haven't spoken to, are not going to show the really juicy stuff in a public scrimmage. Therefore all of this is written in very light sand.
But I think…I think I saw a cool variation of a thing that's all over Don Brown's 2013 playbook, and if you'll bear with me and a lot of asterisks we might learn a thing about how Michigan's personnel fits the stuff we've been talking about in the Dude Glossary.
So late in the spring game the Blue team ran a backside power play and got stuffed. Some of that was good play by the defense, some of that bad play by the offense. But the play design itself appeared to illustrate an example of a "Bear"-like* defense they can get into any time they're in 3rd and short or near the goal line, and then change up at the line based on what the offense shows.
* [It's not a real Bear because the backside DE is not in a 3-tech. Speaking of the Bear, JeepinBen wrote a thing on Buddy Ryan's 46 Defense when it appeared in Hoke/Mattison's first year if you want a refresher on that)]
THE PERSONNEL: BUTKUS, TECHNICALLY
"Butkus" is the one I described where they trade some middle meat on the line for extra upfield rush. BC would usually use this formation for a 46 Bear defense. I mentioned at the time that Michigan's NTs work just fine as the gap-attacking meatheads the Bear likes, and here Maurice Hurst is indeed the tackle. The "Butkus"—a hybrid specialty position that's meant to be a DE/OLB (Jake Ryan-esque player), is Alex Kaminski, who is 5'10/215 (the standup guy hanging off the edge at the top of the line above).
As for the rest, the End (E) is Chase Winovich, the Will (W) is Mike McCray, the Mike (M) is walk-on Cheyenn Robertson, the free safety (F) is Dymonte, the Anchor (A) is walk-on Garret Miller, the Rover (R) is Tyree Kinnel, and the Sam (S) is Lawrence Marshall.
If you said "huh?" at the last bit, yeah Marshall is a defensive end. In this formation that's not so important since he, like the Butkus, is in there primarily to be an edge-rusher/-setter. Forget that "Sam" is a "linebacker" and instead think about Will Gholston lining up outside tight ends and getting unblocked sacks.
Also remember Peppers is going to be somewhere on that map this year, and it's my guess from the way Brown set this up that the somewhere will be Butkus, i.e. the place they've got Alex Kaminski.
Anyway if you're counting that's really four DL who are the same as the white team's base DL, three linebackers who were the base linebackers, and the same four defensive backs. In other words Brown didn't take his 4-3 personnel off the field. He did, however, put them in places that emphasized different skills. I bet that will be a regular feature of this year's defense.
[After the jump: how they attack (I think) and how it works (I'm pretty sure)]
|Mckeesport, PA – 5'11", 205|
|Scout||4*, #273 overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#26 S, #10 PA
|ESPN||3*, NR overall,
#40 S, #13 PA
|24/7||4*, #313 overall
#15 S, #11 PA
|Other Suitors||PSU, Pitt, UCLA, VT, BC, MSU, Neb|
|YMRMFSPA||Mortal Jabrill Peppers|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from me.|
|Notes||Twitter. Pronounced "Khaleek".|
Ace put together a Semper Fi highlight reel:
Safeties go first in this series and Khaleke Hudson just committed January 27th, so this isn't going to be much different than Hudson's Hello post. I even authored that one since Ace was getting buried, so there won't even be a slight variation on takes here. The song is the same.
However, since Khaleke Hudson's song is hyperviolence it's worth revisiting. If you've followed this blog, like, at all over the past few months you're aware that we are slightly more enthused about Hudson than we are about Rashan Gary. Hudson is a short-area burst player with terrific balance, evil intent, missile-like attributes, and the smarts to be in the right place to make good on the former qualities. I've found no better description than this from opposing coach John Ruane:
"He is the best combination of strength, speed and burst I've seen in a long time," said Ruane. "Every tackle, run and block is violent with him. He will be playing on Sundays someday. And I'm happy he's graduating."
(Ruane offered that quote to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette when Hudson won their player of the year award—Steve Breaston is a previous recipient.) Local scout Joe Butler comes in second:
“He's a vicious hitter, a knockdown hitter,” Metro Index scouting director Joe Butler said. “He can play right away. He's ready. He's got everything going for him, all the physical tools and ball skills to make plays.”
At Mckeesport Hudson did everything possible for a player his size, playing RB, H-back, S, LB, KR, PR, a little WR, and even occasionally flicking passes on trick plays. His highlight film above is his collected effort in all of those departments plus his blocking, which appears to be a never-ending series of rim-rattling dunks on people. Highlight films can lie, but once they hit a tightly-edited 15 minutes they are far less likely to. And on top of that we saw him in the Semper Fi game, where he collected seven tackles, two forced fumbles, and four PBUs in about half a game after ripping up practice on both sides of the ball. Hudson is a FOOTBALL (period) PLAYER (period), as they say. Also he does rad tricks.
— Khaleke Hudson2⃣1⃣ (@NeverDone_21) May 25, 2015
Hudson got my attention when I turned on the Semper Fi game, but if I'd been paying attention in the run-up to it I would have noticed that he was getting an inordinate amount of praise from the people covering it. 247 has a thing where they pick five guys on each side of the ball on each day of an all-star game's practice; on day two Hudson featured on both lists. On defense he looked "very fluid in coverage"; on offense his performance at running back was dubbed "special" by the coaches. Meanwhile he was the top guy on defense on D on day one and oh hey look Peppers resemblance:
With his compact physique, Hudson looks like the hybrid linebacker/strong safeties that are starting to become very popular as teams move to more sub-package schemes to combat spread attacks.
247 was not alone, as Scout dubbed him the best safety and the best running back at the game:
Khaleke Hudson was the best overall player on the East squad. He was the best safety, and also the best running back.
…as a running back he had a knack for finding the holes with fantastic vision, then using his explosive burst to get through it in a hurry. He had a comfort to him at running back and could feel his way in and out of spots and holes.
Hudson is a tough, physical safety who hits hard. … He's also a plus athlete who runs well and looks very comfortable playing in space.
Scout also brought the Peppers resemblance to the table…
…a tough, physical safety who loves to hit. At 6-1, 200 pounds, Hudson has a strong, powerful build and is a prototype downhill safety who can fly off the hash in run support.
Hudson football played his way to nearly 3000 football rushing yards and 50 football touchdowns at 10 yards a pop over the last two years of his high school career while playing full-time on defense, where he is likely better. If this reminds you of a certain someone, well, yeah. Hudson:
"I know Michigan has said that I could play both sides. They actually think I could be very similar to Jabrill Peppers."
There is a 5'8" safety who runs a 4.9 in Kansas somewhere who was told the same thing by Michigan, but with Hudson it's easy to believe they mean it.
So why did it take that breakout Semper Fi performance to get on the radar with recruiting sites? I don't know. His junior tape is another impressive 15 minutes; Mckeesport is a big school just outside of Pittsburgh and so should have a solid competition level. But for whatever reason nobody was particularly taken with Hudson until very late. Penn State infamously turned down at least one commitment from him and possibly up to three. (This site projects that PSU fans will feel exactly the same way about Hudson as Michigan fans feel about Anthony Zettel, down to the fact that it's a bad memory about a previous coach.)
Michigan didn't even offer until November, although that was because DJ Durkin was skeptical:
A couple of Michigan's staff members were in love with Hudson's junior film and were trying to get Hudson an offer earlier in the process. … as Hudson's senior film started to surface in October, those assistants were able to finally convince D.J. Durkin to sign off on a scholarship offer.
Don Brown, on the other hand, had BC throw its hat in the ring long before that.
Rivals moved to a new system that seems to have dropped various posts, but it looks like the only scouting material they had on him was from a camp just before his junior year, when Josh Helmholdt noted he "was one of the most physically impressive" DBs at a 7-on-7 camp and that his break on the football was "definitely sufficient" but could improve. From there it's radio silence until Tim Sullivan interviewed Rivals's Mid-Atlantic guy about Hudson, he said all the best things…
“The way he moves on the field is so impressive. … His athleticism is fantastic, he’s a great form tackler, but he also has really good speed, he’s just a violent player. …
“His explosiveness if going to help him blitz. His strength will help him fend off would-be blockers. In coverage, he’s going to be able to keep up with guys. Being that nickel safety, he’s not going to have to guard the biggest players, especially against running backs and underneath routes, he’s ideally suited to cover. He can give big hits coming across the middle.”
…and then justified Rivals's generic three-star ranking by citing his lack of height, which was "not major Division I material." I dunno, man. Everyone has him at 5'11", and even if that's slightly generous I'd bet he's more or less exactly the same size as Peppers. And the dude just noted that his college position is not one that will emphasize height. So that's fine. As far as reasons to downplay a recruit go, I like ones that make no sense.
In a similar vein, I mentioned in the Metellus post that ESPN's take on Hudson would engender some discussion of the particular merits of their system, because the scouting report is rapture…
…reads the play quickly and has an excellent burst to get to the spot. Very good at reading and reacting. …has the speed and quicks to cover man, especially TEs or RBs. He is very good at his zone cover responsibilities. He opens to the ball, reads into the QB and has a rapid break to the football in flight. … very quick out of his stance/pedal and flies all over the secondary and into the line of scrimmage with speed and positioning. Aggressive and physical, he is a solid tackler.
…and the ranking is that of a guy who got left behind. This was even more acute in the immediate aftermath of his commit, when Hudson was the #86(!) safety. (Somebody got in a quick re-rank just before Signing Day.) Evaluations that seem to have little relation to the ensuing rankings are not uncommon at ESPN, as it seems like they tend to fire and forget.
On the one hand, they're open-minded enough to look at Metellus seriously. On the other, sometimes Khaleke Hudson ends up ranked below guys going to Louisiana-Lafayette. I like the fact that they're very different from other rating services but you have to take the good with the bad—ESPN is mostly focused on the kind of kids who will make televised announcements and the fidelity of their rankings drops off considerably once you get past ESPN300 types. On the other hand, they tell you why they like or don't like any particular player.
What is not in doubt is that Hudson is an archetypical Harbaugh guy. A multiple-position star who is seemingly designed by man and God to punish people is exactly the kind of player Harbaugh would carve from stone if that was required of him. (Meanwhile, Hugh Freeze sits next to an untouched rock complaining that he is a father.) Lorenz:
There is a certain style of player that fits the mold you think of when you think about the type of player Jim Harbaugh wants to recruit at Michigan; Hudson to us is one of those guys in this class for them.
Brown's arrival complicates our projections for Hudson slightly since his main comparison point, Peppers, is now playing a lot of linebacker and some other stuff. How that plays out during the season is still unknown—the guess here is that it's not too different from his 2015 nickel role. If so, then Hudson slides in neatly there. He will also likely get a hard look at the more conventional safety spots. He is a more natural fit as a hybrid space player, no matter what positional label you want to slap on him.
And then there's the other side of the ball. While it's a stone-cold guarantee Jim Harbaugh flips Hudson to offense in spring practice at some point during his career, the state of the roster should mean he ends up a defensive player. Michigan has plenty of tailbacks and a worrying dearth of safeties in 2017. If Michigan moves a couple wide receivers and they catch on and everyone's really excited about them then maybe it could happen. More likely is that starting safety Hudson is a candidate to get a few offensive touches a game, a la Peppers.
I might not be averse to that. Hudson's running back film above is terrific. He's got a lot of Mike Hart in him: great balance, ability to make the Madden back juke, pile-pushing power. Consistent praise for his skills…
Excellent balance when running the ball . . . Runs behind his pads . . . Good speed . . . Quick feet . . . Good lateral quickness . . . Accelerates quickly out of cuts . . . Willing and capable blocker
…and his ability to play both the A-back and B-back in Mckeesport's flexbone (along with various defensive positions) suggest he'd be able to hack it in college even if it's not a full-time thing.
Etc.: Jourdan Lewis is impressed. Committed on the same day Denard Robinson Cook was born NO PRESSURE.
Why Mortal Jabrill Peppers? I mean, he's not Peppers. But other than not being Peppers, he's basically Peppers.
If forced to pick someone other than Peppers I'd go with former Iowa safety Bob Sanders, who carved out a near-decade in the NFL despite being 5'8" because he was the deadliest oompa-loompa.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy, but a big split. Couple of sites paid close attention to Semper Fi and bumped him. Rivals's reasoning for not doing so doesn't make sense; ESPN's ranking doesn't match their scouting.
Variance: Low. At a solid 205 already, Hudson is more or less college-sized for a HSP. He appears to be able to play a ton of positions at the same time, so he's got a high football IQ. And he is very underrated.
Ceiling: High. I mean, he's not Peppers because he can't go play boundary corner like it's nothing, but I don't see why he can't just-about-replicate Peppers as a nickel, and that's a damn good player.
General Excitement Level: Irrational. I see no way Hudson isn't a major contributor. He would have been the sleeper of the year if Scout and 247 hadn't given him four stars. It's better this way since Hudson is so obvious I wouldn't be telling you much.
Projection: He'll play this year. Michigan is probably losing their entire secondary and must blood the new generation. In addition, Hudson is obviously going to play a ton of special teams since squat missiles with nothing but nuclear destruction on their minds are useful there. He should start spotting Peppers after a few games and give him a regular rest by midseason.
If Peppers leaves for the NFL, which I think most people expect, Hudson should to slot into the hybrid space player role more or less seamlessly.
Will he play offense? Probably not for a bit. Michigan has a lot of options at tailback now. Safety and HSP are much thinner. Hudson looks like a terrific back but probably isn't the kind of athlete who will demand that you play him both ways. Maybe if he hits the top end of his potential you talk about it when he's an upperclassman.
Michigan Leads For Slaton
Five-star FL OT Tedarrell Slaton has, at previous points in his recruitment, named Michigan his leader before walking back that stance. 247's Ryan Bartow has been going around Florida getting updates on seemingly every recruit in the state; when he hit American Heritage, Slaton once again said the Wolverines are out in front:
Slaton tells Bartow that Michigan "still has the edge" for his services. This is the third time Slaton has publicly placed Michigan ahead of the competition in his recruitment. Per Bartow:
The nation’s No. 7 offensive tackle, Tedarrell Slaton, said Michigan has the edge. Slaton also said Tennessee and Miami are programs he feels are recruiting him consistently.
In an interesting twist, Slaton added that he prefers to play defensive tackle. Oddly, there aren't full-season highlights of Slaton anywhere on his Hudl page or YouTube, and the single-game reels only feature scattered snaps at DT. His positional preference may not matter much anyway; Michigan would certainly take him and worry about the rest later.
Bartow also caught up with Flanagan five-star CB Stanford Samuels, who went further in depth on the top four—consisting of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and Michigan—he released over the weekend:
Michigan: “I like all the NFL guys they have on staff. All the guys on that coaching staff have been there and done that. When you have that experience it makes it hard for you not to get the right coaching.”
While Samuels has Michigan connections through his former coach, Devin Bush, and the three Flanagan teammates who will be freshmen this year, it's hard to see him ending up in Ann Arbor. He plans to make a summer decision and enroll early; unless he makes it to campus before then, FSU looks like the choice.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
[This is a series reviewing last year's primary contributors]
It’s worth remembering that Zak Irvin entered the season at less than 100% after losing months of practice and workout time to a back injury. He struggled to return to form early in the season, shooting an abysmal percentage from three – no doubt due at least partially to the lingering effects of the injury. Then, just like last year, he was thrust into a prominent offensive role due to injury and had to stay on the court for nearly entire games in conference play (only Yogi Ferrell played more minutes in B1G games in each of the last two years). After LeVert’s injury, Irvin was forced into much tougher shots, much more offensive responsibility, and a critical leadership role with both seniors injured.
While there were some notable highs – Zak was the best player on the floor in wins against Purdue and Maryland, and he hit a couple huge late-game shots like the one gif’d above – there were struggles as well. Because of his low shooting percentages (over three-quarters of his shots were jump shots, which had an incredibly low eFG% of 41.9%), his efficiency numbers were dragged down, and were the worst on the team:
But, as the chart shows, Zak used more possessions in sum than any other Wolverine. While his usage rate itself wasn’t abnormally high, the sheer amount of minutes he played drives his total contributions close to what you would expect from your lead guy – or at the very least, to within the range of the most critical of your offensive pieces. As you can see, Irvin is near the bottom of the pack efficiency-wise of those types of players.
[After the JUMP, how Zak handled the alpha role]
time to make another huge Swedish flag
Michigan is now waiting on JT Compher's decision, which he says he'll make after the World Championships—USA Hockey took CCM lock stock and barrel. I'm guessing he joins his linemates in the NHL. Either way the spate of departures has answered questions about which recruits will actually be on next year's roster: all of 'em.
Bork 2.0. Michigan in fact just added draft-eligible, Paris-born Swede Gustaf Westlund:
Winning a prep 'ship, Westlund (MI) was a consistent offensive look, using speed/creativity. Screams a high ceiling w/ the puck in open ice.
— Over The Boards (@OverTheBoards) April 12, 2016
[UPDATE: Westlund's father emailed to say that Westlund is a 2017 recruit.]
The late-rising Westlund was stuck playing low-level midget for longer than a draftable prospect generally does, so he was one of the few kids who end up taking their recruitment this late. He broke out in December, in fact:
The Gunnery #23 - 5'11" 160 - LC - 12/12/97
After playing Tier II Midget during the fall season, the Swedish native made his first real impression on the myriad of NHL scouts and college coaches in attendance for Monday's Berkshire Jamboree. Playing center, he showed off his wheels. He's a tremendous skater who has a good first step and can really move around the sheet. It will be interesting to see how he continues to adjust to the style of play over here, but he's an athletic, raw talent that should be watched closely. A few NHL scouts were very high on him after seeing yesterday's games against Kent and Northwood.
Like Andrew Copp, Westlund is under the radar because of his participation in another sport. In his case it's soccer. Copp turned out to be underrated. Hopefuly Westlund is as well, but probably not this underrated:
It’s absurd to compare anyone to Buffalo Sabres star Jack Eichel, but there are similarities in his skill set to that of the former BU Terrier. Westlund is a very good skater. He has a long, smooth stride that appears effortless. He can really get going quickly and seems to have that extra gear.
He has a long reach for a player that isn’t very tall. He does a good job pulling the puck back before quickly releasing a hard wrist shot on net.
Westlund is ranked #116 by the CSB and should be a mid-round pick. That is an excellent late addition, and one that Michigan needs. If JT Compher does sign Michigan will have lost five forwards; Westlund helps stanch that cut. Heisenberg shows Michigan with a couple of forwards beyond the NTDP guys but they seem like fourth-liners. Michigan will have a ton of defensemen next year even without Werenski and Downing, so a more or less permanent move forward is likely for someone. Cutler Martin moved up for a few games last year.
Meanwhile, the final CSB rankings came out. Michigan recruits on the list all fell significantly:
- #70 Griffin Luce (down from 54)
- #108 Will Lockwood (down from 69)
- #112 Nick Pastujov (down from 100)
- #117 Ken Johnson (down from 97)
- #146 James Sanchez (down from 135)
D Luke Martin is 2017 eligible and supposedly a first-round pick; Johnson may or may not arrive this fall. Other than him it's a bunch of guys like Marody or Kile: mid-rounders who might become nice players but are not going to replace Kyle Connor's production immediately. That Lockwood drop is a surprise since Kyle Woodlief recently named him a late riser.
The distant future, the birth year 2000. F Blade Jenkins and D Mattias Samuelsson made the NTDP. While that's an unusually low number for Michigan, three guys in the 2018 class—G Dylan St. Cyr, D Quinn Hughes, and F Joshua Norris—were already with the NTDP this year. (Although that may change. I'm going by the Chris Heisenberg list and he has just two skaters in the 2017 class. Kile, Shuart, De Jong, Allen, and Lohan will all depart next year. Very possible a couple guys are either misclassified or get bumped up.)
Jenkins was a shock selection in the OHL draft, going fourth overall to Saginaw. Usually that means that the player in question has an under-the-table deal already, but in the aftermath Todd Jenkins, the father, confirmed that Blade would play for the NTDP. Saginaw's GM was like "whatevs, man":
"Is it going to be easy to get them here?" Drinkill said. "No, it's not."
Saginaw is not a team that's particularly good at turning guys—Brandon Saad's college commitment was widely regarded as fictional long before he defected. But there will (probably) be a new coach so there's the potential for some wobble. FWIW, Jenkins's dad played at Maine.
Drinkill did give us a scouting report:
"Blade is the best player in the draft, and that's the consensus of the hockey world," Drinkill said. "He's got elite skills, but he's also the player who wants to be on the ice at all times. He will do anything to play."
Michigan hasn't had to worry about the OHL coming after commits for a half a decade; here's hoping Jenkins doesn't break the mold.
A note if you think you may have already read this post. You did. Your brain shut down because of the following section and won't let you remember it out of self defense. You should probably go read the Economist or something and come back later this afternoon.
what does any of this even mean [Bryan Fuller]
The nonsense doesn't stop. Ace covered much of this yesterday but since it just keeps coming, let's talk about satellite camps some more. Dennis Dodd wrote an article that was so nonsensical he took his twitter account private. In it he decries the hypocrisy of… I have no idea?
It's the reaction to closing that little loophole that smacks of hypocrisy. With satellite camps shutting down, the conversation suddenly became about depriving poor kids of opportunities.
This is in contrast to the conversation being about Harbaugh, I guess. This is because before Harbaugh was doing things, and now the NCAA is doing things. Thus the conversation shifts.
Proponents argued satellite camps provided “exposure.” I'm sorry, did that Internet that Harbaugh so expertly hijacked suddenly go down? Phone service, too?
This segues into a discussion of this new "Hudl" thing Dennis Dodd just discovered, which is so detailed that it even has… phone numbers. Therefore because Hudl there is no reason to have a camp. I'm not fisking this. This is not a fisk. I'm not
Here's the further hypocrisy: If satellite camps are truly about opportunities for recruits, it's about time to double down on that assertion.
Um, okay, and how would you do th
How about providing those same opportunities on the back end? Let college players participate in the NFL Combine without penalty. If they don't like their performance or draft projection, allow them to return to college and retain their eligibility.
AAAAAARGH WHAT DOES THAT HAVE TO DO WITH ANYTHING
THIS IS NOT A FISK
That jarring nonsequitur probably shut down many readers' brains and… just a second. Okay, I've prevented an infinite loop with the section at the top of this post. Anyway, in response to a satellite camp ban affecting high schoolers, Dennis Dodd suggests that the NCAA should loosen its rules for an entirely different cohort of people. He talks about the "hypocrisy" of people who don't like the ban without even gesturing towards a way in which their words and actions might conflict, and finally:
The whole satellite camp episode was a lot more about closing off Harbaugh than opening opportunities for all those deprived prospects.
This is 100% wrong. The clumsy total ban of satellite camps does significantly impact staffs and players around the country, leading to more unfortunate situations where a kid gets midway through his career only to discover that he's in the wrong place.
Gah. I'm going to do something more productive and argue with my plants.
Harbaugh don't stop can't stop. Dude is giving the commencement speech at Paramus. All I got for Michigan's commencement was some poet laureate.
There is a petition. While online petitions are of questionable efficacy, a big number on this one in what is essentially a PR battle might help something. Also it was started by Donovan Peoples-Jones's mother, which is interesting. We've heard a lot from current college athletes upset about the ban, but not so much from recruits. Even if this is indirect evidence it is evidence.
Mike Leach has no time for lyin'. Mike Leach is a gentleman and a pirate.
“The voting process, that’s a rabbled-up mystery too,” Leach said. “From what I understand, this is befuddling, and I do plan to find out because our conference voted to eliminate satellite camps, and yet the vast majority of schools in our conference were in favor of satellite camps.
“I can’t fathom how it’s possible we voted to eliminate it. I don’t know the details. Whether it’s smart, dumb or in the middle, it’s wrong. It’s wrong. If you’re some kid in south central LA who’s really worked hard at football and worked really hard for your grades, now all of a sudden you don’t have the opportunity to see as many schools as you would otherwise. That’s crazy.”
Leach said the vote will “further oppress low-income families.”
To be fair, the rule change was two sentences long. Hugh Freeze, he of the "you can't work because I don't want to work" quote, is also surprised about how words work in an Andy Staples article:
Monday morning, Freeze’s phone rang. On the other end was a coach wondering if he was no longer allowed to work the Ole Miss camp. The coach worked at an FBS school, and Freeze realized that coach would be banned by a rule passed Friday. … Freeze realized quickly that the ban had a serious consequence he hadn’t considered. In keeping Michigan coaches from working camps at high schools in Alabama, Florida and Georgia and Oklahoma State coaches from working camps at a Division III school in Texas, the schools also had banned Bowling Green coaches from working Ohio State’s camp and Arkansas State coaches from working the Ole Miss camp.
Freeze is clarifying his position into something even more selfish: you can work as long as you aren't competing with me.
“I would love to continue that,” Freeze said Monday. “I just don’t want satellite camps for the Power Five. I am for non-Power Five schools being able to attend and evaluate.”
This is so dumb it reminds me of the way college hockey works. We have a rule that 1) all athletes hate, 2) most of the Pac-12 hates despite the fact that they voted for this, 3) even people in support of it don't understand, and 4) turned the Sun Belt Commissioner into Perd Hapley. Staples again:
I’ve told you for a year that the satellite camp argument was one of the stupidest in the long and storied history of stupid NCAA rule arguments. It came to the stupidest logical conclusion Friday when a vote that should have been 11–4—because each Power Five conference vote counts double—against the ban came out 10–5 in favor of the ban.
Hugh Freeze's only asset as a coach is that he turns a blind eye to the most obvious bagmen in the country, and he will eventually be found out.
Yet another dumb thing. All other levels of football think satellite camps are fine. From an article on the impact to SMSB:
Despite the camp being held in Detroit, schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Eastern Michigan programs will not have the opportunity to scout and interact with potential recruits in what could be considered each program's own backyard. However, Football Champions Subdivision, Division II and other coaches will still be able to be in attendance.
This really is a rule that some selfish coaches voted into existence because they didn't want to be jackhammers.
The great Hackenberg debate of 2016 is not much of a debate. PFF posted a draft evaluation of Christian Hackenberg, presumably because they don't have a draftable grade for him and people keep asking them about it. They explained themselves. Witheringly so:
This season his completion percentage when adjusted for drops, spikes, etc. was 64.0 percent, which was 120th in the nation. In 2014, he was 105th. Every accuracy number you look at sees Hackenberg struggle, and the tape shows the same thing.
Even when under no pressure at all this past season, he completed just 61.9 percent of his passes. That’s the same completion percentage Cardale Jones managed on all plays, not just pressure plays, and Jones is a player whose accuracy is seen as a negative.
Hackenberg’s completion percentage under no pressure at all of 61.9 percent would only have ranked 44th in the nation, if it was his real completion percentage.
This goes on and on for paragraphs, each piling more problems on Hackenberg as an NFL quarterback. While it is by no means a nice evaluation it is backed by a ton of numbers and game charting and more or less confirms what any neutral observer saw out of Hackenberg over the course of his career: brief moments of being John Elway amongst a sea of turfed screens and airmailed out routes. Michigan got a taste of that last year when Hackenberg put together a couple of pinpoint, NFL throws on a day where his other accomplishments were seeing Jabrill Peppers misplay a jump ball and piloting an offense that barely cracked 200 yards.
The PFF evaluation seemed pretty definitive to me, but Penn State folk kind of lost their minds about it. Black Shoe Diaries in particular:
At what point do I, as a Penn State alumnus and fan, step back and try to be even more subjective about the NFL draft stock of Christian Hackenberg?
Did you mean "objective"? Because it feels like you meant "objective," but then the rest of your piece makes me think that you actually meant "subjective" since it's all hand-waving at some pretty eye-popping stats. PSU fans seize on one error—the Allen Robinson catch at the end of regulation against M a couple years back is held up as a example of a bad decision without taking the game context into account—to dismiss the whole thing when it contains startling facts like "16% of Hackenberg screens are off target."
While I don't know exactly how PFF goes about their business, my grades and theirs for Michigan players generally line up*, and charting pass accuracy is probably the easiest thing I do. An outfit like PFF isn't going to be so far off with the above numbers that Hackenberg actually looks good. By a few hundred words into the piece it's clear that the dude is just swinging in the dark, and this…
Lack of Upside
…is waving a tiny punt flag in the face of a guy who actually put in the work. At least it led to one of the most entertainingly one-sided twitter fights in recent memory:
@PFF_Sam sure, feel free to cherrypick lowlights and use those to back up your contrarian conclusion, that's a thing normal people do
— Black Shoe Diaries (@BSDtweet) April 11, 2016
This was said in response to a piece that dealt with every Christian Hackenberg throw over the past two years. He might get drafted but only because there are mugwumps running NFL teams. Hi, Jed York!
*[To the point that when they were pumping up the Michigan D and noted that only one major contributor wasn't grading out very positive I knew exactly who that was because I also had one major contributor not grading out very positive.]
Etc.: Basketball ticket sales not going well. Man hired to do job. Man has job, doesn't do it, and everyone thinks that's fine. Jimmy Vesey won the Hobey because the saps who vote for the thing bought his PR story about why he returned to college. Why does that even matter? I don't know, but it does.
Yesterday I was thumbing through a notebook I use for interview prep and found a projected line chart I wrote last summer for the 2015-16 hockey season. It had Tyler Motte, JT Compher, and Alex Kile on the first line; I had Kyle Connor on the second. I chortled under my breath and moved on. It was only in doing research for this piece that I rediscovered how long- two months(!)- the lines were arranged as such. It's easy to forget that Michigan started their season without Connor, Compher, and Motte together, with the trio we'll affectionately remember as the CCM line not seeing game action until the beginning of December.
Connor, Compher, and Motte launched a four-month-long assault on the Big Ten and the Michigan record books that produced numbers that will be tough to come across in the near future. They also produced the kind of moments that become seared into your sports consciousness; sports memories tend to be grounded in moments, not the chronology of events. I still remember walking up State Street after some game during the 2007-08 season and marveling at Kolarik and Porter the whole way back. I don't remember which game, but I remember exactly what it felt like to be a witness to something special. I liked Michigan hockey before 2007-08, but the credit for why I care enough to want to break down every goal scored over the course of every season falls squarely on Kevin Porter and Chad Kolarik's shoulders.
That feeling was back this year. For the first time in at least eight season we weren't just watching great players play, we were watching players play perfectly off of each other and accomplish things that caused that voice in the back of your mind to pick up decibels until it's practically screaming at you, reminding you that this is something to hold on to, something that doesn't happen every season.
The numbers give context to the memories: Connor led the nation in scoring and goals, Compher finished second in scoring nationally and led the country in assists, and Motte finished fourth in scoring nationally. Motte scored a goal in 12 straight games, a Berenson-era record; Connor ended the season with a 27-game point streak, another Berenson-era record. Connor scored more goals than any other freshman in Michigan history while finishing second in all-time freshman points. Compher had the second most assists of any junior in Michigan history. Compher, Connor, and Motte were three of the top 10 finalists for the Hobey Baker, which is just the third time in the award's history that one school has placed three players in the top 10. (Michigan also did it in 1994, when Steve Shields, Brian Wiseman, and David Oliver were finalists.)
Michigan's roster next year will look different, and it's not just because it's missing two guys (and possibly a third) who scored in droves. The way they played together is what set the CCM line apart. It's something that you don't see in hockey very often these days; creativity and communication can create beautiful plays, but the system a player is a part of has to allow the player to take some liberties for that to transpire. Michigan's system is well suited for that, and the results speak volumes not just about the system but about the way the abilities of three players blended to create a scoring threat that was nearly unstoppable.
Igor Larionov wrote a piece for The Players' Tribune that I've seen passed around NHL circles again recently, and the crux of his argument is that players are told to over-simplify their game at too early an age in order to eliminate risk. In his mind, this stifles creativity and leaves only a handful of players in the NHL who think the game three or four moves ahead and then act on those suppositions. In his words:
Our philosophy was about puck control, improvisation, and constant movement. Now, the game is all about “north-south,” chip-and-chase. We moved side-to-side and swooped around the ice looking for open spaces. A backward pass was just as good as a forward pass. You didn’t have to see your linemate. You could smell him. Honestly, we probably could have played blind.
Michigan had three boundlessly creative players on the same line. Connor's accuracy and quick release made him the perfect finisher, always open thanks to his linemates' ability to maintain possession and positioning near the net. Compher had some of the finest olfaction of any Michigan skater I've seen, seemingly throwing the puck around blindly only to put it precisely on the tape of his teammate's stick. Motte could turn and lift a puck from a sharp angle in such a way that the puck seemed to explode off his blade; he was the perfect netfront presence.
With a few exceptions, these three showed that you can be responsible defensively while also being creative offensively, and in the process they crafted moments that transcended box scores. To borrow from Red Berenson by way of Dickie Moore, you can't buy that kind of fun.
[After THE JUMP: I empty out my "CCM line" gif folder]
Sound Mind Sound Body provided exposure for thousands of area players. [Rapai]
The NCAA ban on satellite camps—and coaching at camps away from campus, period—is an ill-considered, haphazard measure that serves the selfish interests of a select few millionaires while hurting the exact people the NCAA is supposed to serve: the student-athletes. That's been the near-universal reaction from current players, recruits, parents, and media members alike in the wake of the ruling.
Khalid Hill, Jourdan Lewis, and Moe Ways, all of whom participated in the Sound Mind Sound Body camp, spoke out against the ban on Twitter over the weekend. Hill had some particularly strong words for the NCAA:
All I got to say.... pic.twitter.com/HOVhsIJhw4
— Khalid Hill (@Thatboylid80) April 10, 2016
Of greater concern to, say, the SEC coaches who pushed for the legislation, current prospects and their parents are also outraged. Five-star Cass Tech senior Donovan Peoples-Jones wrote a note about how much SMSB helped him and other local prospects, many of whom didn't have the opportunity to attend on-campus camps, get noticed by college coaches:
— Donovan P. Jones (@dpeoplesjones) April 10, 2016
Recruits and coaches at Bob Jones and Prattville high schools in Alabama, two of the planned stops on Michigan's summer camp tour, also lamented the lost opportunity:
Bob Jones coach Kevin Rose anticipated the camp at his school would draw about 500 players.
"I was really disappointed because, in my opinion, it's a lost opportunity for high school kids and high school coaches, especially that kid that's maybe not quite tall enough to make the measurables," Rose said. "We have a couple of guys that I think in a satellite camp setting could make a case for themselves, and obviously you're not going to drive to Ann Arbor or Michigan from Madison, Alabama. If they come to you, that's a great opportunity for kids and coaches. ... From our perspective, we feel like that was something very positive for high school football in north Alabama."
While the efficacy of change.org petitions is up for debate, it's very notable that one of the most-signed petitions calling for a reversal of the ban was started by Rozlyn Peoples, Donovan Peoples-Jones' mother. It's already surpassed 5000 signatures.
On Friday April 7th The SEC, ACC, PAC12, BIG12, Sunbelt and MWC conferences voted not to allow FBS (Football Bowl Subdivision) coaches to work camps at sites away from their campuses. This new rule will restrict and reduce educational opportunities for high school students and their parents by lowering the opportunities for youth to showcase their athletic talents and earn a college scholarship. If college coaches are only allowed to work camps on their campus there will be far less scholarship offers to high school students in the summer of 2016. This will in turn have a disproportionate impact on parents in the class of 2017 because:
-1. The effective immediate date of the NCAA ruling means they will not be able to see multiple college coaches the summer prior to their last year of high school
-2. The conflicting institutional camp schedule makes it impossible for students to attend multiple camps
3. The majority of students and parents that this affects come from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Fox Sports' Stewart Mandel penned an open letter to the NCAA asking for them to reverse course; they could do so before the end of the month:
On April 28, you will decide whether to approve a proposal passed late last week by the Division-I Council that bans FBS football coaches from conducting or working at camps and clinics outside of their program's regular facilities -- a.k.a. satellite camps. I realize that in most instances your role is primarily to rubber-stamp legislation, but in this instance, I'd urge you to rescind this ill-conceived measure.
It badly fails the one constituency your organization purports to protect -- the athletes themselves.
I wouldn't normally hold my breath for the NCAA to do something right, but the outcry in this instance has been remarkable. In one corner, you have the athletes (current, future, and former), their parents, high school coaches, media members, and a decent chunk of the NCAA's member institutions. In the other corner, you have this:
Freeze: "I’m selfish with my time,” he said. “I’m away from my family enough, and I just did not want to go." https://t.co/QPjNOK5QDf
— angelique (@chengelis) April 10, 2016
Hugh Freeze is paid $4.9 million per year to coach football in an area with enough talent that he has little need for satellite camps. He doesn't want to work harder for those $4.9 million, which is fine; that's his prerogative. What's not fine is he doesn't want anyone else to be allowed to provide these opportunities, which would probably cause him to have to work harder to avoid falling behind, and won't someone think of Hugh Freeze's children? Just, uh, while you do so, don't think about all those other children—the thousands trying to earn scholarships to attend college because their parents don't make $4.9 million per year.
At least he admits he's selfish, I guess.
Previously: Last year's profiles.
Note: Rivals appears to have broken their player profiles; the "News" tab didn't have anything under it for Metellus. I'm using Google but not much is coming up. These profiles might be light on their opinions as a result.
|Hollywood, FL – 6'0", 187|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#22 S, #51 FL
|24/7||3*, #1245 overall
#82 S, #161 FL
|Other Suitors||Colorado, FIU, FAU|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||HS teammate of classmates Devin Bush Jr and Devin Gil. Twitter.|
Georgia Southern commit Josh Metellus was just a name with a placeholder picture on most of the recruiting sites when he suddenly became a part of Michigan's class last June. The Hello post resulting from Metellus's flip is probably the shortest in the genre's history. Metellus had no scouting, stats, or 40 time. Ace posted his Hudl film and took a shot in the dark:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He will probably play safety?
At the time Metellus was joining a half-dozen other summer camp commits; fast forward nine months and he is one of the few left standing despite his low profile.
And it is a low profile, with one notable exception. Metellus is excellent evidence that the two-star ranking is more or less gone from Power 5 recruiting classes. When he committed he was an anonymous two-star or unranked. By signing day he was an anonymous three-star everywhere… except ESPN, which only got around to ranking him after his commit and liked what they saw enough to issue a fourth star. Aside from that I didn't find anything justifying the addition of a star from any site, or even any indication that his ranking changed. Metellus got a prototype "courtesy bump."
ESPN's system has its vagaries, as we'll discuss soon when we get to Khaleke Hudson, but at least they put some scouting next to every kid. Since their report is more or less it, let's see what they liked:
Below average safety measurables. Looks more like a hybrid type SS/nickel CB. Plenty of room to fill out. … Not always the most disciplined player when it comes to technique and position. … Plays everywhere in this scheme. At his best near the box in coverage. Good range defender who closes quickly and covers a lot of ground fast. … Quick to get over trash and utilizes his hands to shed. Big-time hitter who looks to initiate contact and get downhill quickly on run support. … Closes fast with explosive burst that leads to big hits. … Metellus is a physical ball-hawk who can run and hit with top tier safeties in this class. Unrefined at times in man coverage.
This sounds a bit like Hudson and a lot like the kind of safety that Don Brown used a lot of at BC, with the notable exception of the man coverage skills that enabled so much of what his outstanding 2015 defense did. Metellus has the physical ability to hack it there, and he reports that is indeed the plan:
“[Brown] sees me as a cover guy, a matchup guy. I’ll be matching up a lot with the slot receivers.”
Brown himself reiterated that take on Signing Day:
Josh is young but really smart. In my experiences talking football with him, he’s really sharp. He’s physical and is a safety with cover skills, which is important in our system.
Michigan is moving to a system where the safeties are going to be in a lot of man coverage, and at first blush Metellus is a good fit for that. "Below average safety measurables" is another way to say "kind of a corner," and those are the kind of guys Brown coached up at BC. Soon-to-be-former defensive backs coach Greg Jackson also offered his take:
Josh is a guy that is an aggressive tackler but at the same time he is a great cover safety. In this day and age, you need to have a safety that has the ability to cover as well as being a good tackler in space. One of the other things that caught my eye was his competitiveness.
No doubt that latter is what got Harbaugh's attention, and before that Devin Bush's.
Outside of ESPN, team-specific sites under the national umbrella did their best to fill in the blanks. At Rivals, Mike Spath talked to Sun Sentinel preps writer Ryan S Clark for a take on Metellus, one influenced by a recent Michigan hire:
"When I asked [Flanagan coach] Devin Bush Sr. about Josh he said, 'I tried telling you guys but no one wanted to listen. He did so well under the lights, and I don't know what these other schools are looking at, but take a look at his film, and you put his film against other guys, all I can say is really? How does this kid go unnoticed?'"
He'd express similar sentiments to Scout's Josh Newkirk, saying that he wasn't much different than the dudes at the Opening:
Metellus can make a lot of the same plays. He can run. He can open his hips and turn. He can change direction. He can make plays on the ball. He can come through the alley and make contact. He makes plays in the open field. He’s a very physical, versatile, and highly intelligent player.”
That is something approximating a consensus. Metellus is a guy with coverage upside who can hit; he's not a crazy athlete a la Dymonte Thomas; he's a smart, physical guy. This is all good, and the reason he is at Michigan. Keep in mind here that this version of Michigan is not averse to sending a four-star guy who ended up at Oklahoma packing; if Michigan didn't believe in the guy they would have put him on a boat to Kazakhstan.
But the recruiting rankings are what they are, usually for a reason. Around here we take rankings seriously in aggregate. They're not fate and this series exists because I think it's useful to look beyond the number of stars; all evidence suggests that they are predictive. So it must be said that there is no reason that the various recruiting sites wouldn't have taken notice of Metellus over the course of his senior season. He was committed to Michigan, playing on the eventual state champs of the largest classification in Florida. A lot of guys use those platforms to hurdle forward, as Brandon Peters did. Metellus's ranking remained static outside of Bristol.
Other than the ESPN evaluation every take above is from a Michigan coach or a guy who was about to be a Michigan coach. Those are not neutral, and so we're back here, looking at some very meh rankings with one notable exception and trying to split the difference. Touch The Banner does so:
The first thing that jumps out about Metellus is that he brings everything he has when he comes up to tackle. He's a solid tackler and can patrol the middle. He wraps up well and runs his feet through contact. I also think he does a good job in run fits and can wade through the trash, changing direction well in small spaces to dodge blockers and find the ball carrier. Metellus tracks the ball well in the air, and it looks like he does a good job of keeping things in front of him.
What Metellus isn't is a guy who leaps off the screen for any particular reason. He is a solid but unspectacular football player. He lacks great size and will need to get in the weight room so he doesn't get overpowered. He lacks great speed and is not a dynamic runner if he gets the ball in his hands.
He's probably not the 161st-best player in Florida this year, as 247 ranks him. But the film and the fact that no one bothered to hype a multi-year starter on a powerhouse suggest that Metellus is not a crazy sleeper who will make everyone regret their words and eat their hats and self-immolate at their wrongness. A decent starter is probably the ceiling.
Why Brandent Englemon? Englemon was slightly under six-foot, topped out around 200 pounds, was of absolutely no note to recruiting services, and had a solid career as a multi-year starter at Michigan because he was smart and healthy. He was not a guy who won you games; he was not a guy who lost you games. Steady and unremarkable is always underrated.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. There's no reason to think that his guy isn't heavily scouted and the "meh" evaluations are on point, but the ESPN outlier does give pause. ESPN is the kind of service that doesn't GAF about anything other than your tape. Meanwhile nobody else actually put scouting of him on the internet.
Variance: Low. Metellus isn't likely to be a superhero and isn't likely to bomb out.
Ceiling: Moderate. Likely tops out at good college safety who doesn't interest the NFL.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. I do like the fact that both Brown and Jackson talked about how he was a good fit as a cover safety. That kind of specific chatter feels accurate to me, and he's a guy who can be a unremarked-upon player on a very good defense.
Projection: It's all on the table for safeties this year. Metellus probably won't and probably shouldn't redshirt since the depth chart at the spot next year reads…
- Tyree Kinnell
…because Hoke's redshirt approach was dumb as dirt. He's not going to play meaningful snaps on D; he should get ST time and some garbage time snaps and if we're lucky he'll be an obvious choice to start next year because Michigan needs one or two of those at S. More likely is that he and his friends at safety are a major question mark headed into 2017.