Peppers at 10, which seems low.
While teammate Aubrey Solomon's commitment came as a pleasant surprise, four-star Leesburg (GA) Lee County S/OLB Otis Reese had already declared Michigan his leader heading into this weekend before pulling the trigger yesterday. Reese put Michigan on top as soon as he added an offer in April; two subsequent first-hand interactions with the coaches, first at the Leesburg satellite camp and then at this weekend's Under The Lights camp, proved enough to earn his commitment:
"I think this was a pretty easy decision for me," he said after pledging to the staff. "The coaches here have treated me like family since they offered and spending time with them when they came to our school gave me a great foundation to build off of with them. Once I got here and experienced things a little bit more, I wanted to make it official."
Reese is the fourth commit in the 2018 class, joining Springfield (OH) teammates Leonard Taylor and Antwuan Johnson and fellow Georgian Jalil Irvin.
|4* S||NR S||NR S||
4*, 92, #11 S,
4*, #11 S,
Only 247 has released ordered 2018 rankings, and they have Reese sitting just outside their top 100. At worst, Scout has him in the same range—they've given early four- or five-star ratings to 122 prospects in the class. Rivals didn't include Reese in their initial, unordered top 100, which came out in mid-April.
Reese is listed by all four sites at 6'2" and 190-195 pounds. While he's regarded as a safety prospect, he's got the frame to play outside linebacker, and according to 247's Steve Lorenz Michigan plans to use him in the same role (well, defensive role) Jabrill Peppers will play this fall:
While he's currently listed as a safety in our database, we're told that Michigan actually likes him at the SAM linebacker spot and that both Don Brown and Chris Partridge love his game. Remember, Michigan held a satellite camp at Leesburg early on in the month, so they were able to get a great look at Reese and reportedly loved what they saw out of him.
As you'll see on his film, Reese already plays a similar role in high school; he spends a lot of time playing in the box or over the slot.
Most of what's out there on Reese comes from Scout's Southeast analyst Chad Simmons. Reese's Scout profile features an extensive sophomore evaluation:
EvaluationSOPHOMORE EVAL: Reese is a physical football player. He played varsity as a freshman and has improved regularly since. His size has stood out from the beginning, and by the time he reaches college, he may be playing inside the box on a regular basis as a linebacker. He is a real field general and he is used in coverage, in run support, and he blitzes off the edge as well. He is a little tight in the hips and he can improve in coverage. At his best when coming down hill in attack mode. He can close well and he makes solid tackles.
- Blitzing Ability
- Closing Speed
- Tackling Ability
Areas to Improve
- Backpedal Quickness
- Hip Flexibility
That sounds like a player tailor-made for the SAM in Don Brown's defense. Simmons added some more details following Reese's commitment:
What Reese is, is a versatile football player. You will see him in coverage one play, then he is lined up in the box chasing a running back down backside, and on the next play he is blitzing the quarterback. He is a football player who has been on the Scout radar since his freshman season. He has a great frame, and he is still growing, so projecting where he ends up playing at Michigan could go back and forth between safety and linebacker. He has a nose for the football. He is exceptional in blitz packages and he loves to come downhill and play physical. He looks most natural when moving north-south and when playing inside the box. In coverage, he is solid, but that is an area he can improve on. Reese can improve his feet, hips and reaction to receivers when asked to cover. He has a great body, great frame and the best football is ahead of him. He loves to compete, he loves to learn, and he is going to play hard on the field.
In addition to sounding like a Don Brown SAM, he sounds like a Harbaugh guy.
Back in February, 247's Kipp Adams identified Reese as one of the top underclassmen in Georgia, and included a freshman and sophomore stat lines that show Reese's versatility:
The next big prospect out of Lee County is 2018 hybrid safety Otis Reese. Reese, at 6-2, 195, reports offers from Troy, Central Michigan, and Louisville, with interest from Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Georgia, and Tennessee. He had 55 tackles, four sacks, five tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries and four pass breakups as a freshman, and 52 tackles, six sacks, and seven tackles for loss during his sophomore season. Over the next two years, Reese should grow into a stout strong safety who can enforce the middle of the field.
That's impressive all-around production for an underclassman.
Reese holds offers from Central Michigan, Louisville, LSU, Troy, and UCLA. He camped at Alabama and Georgia but hasn't landed offers from them yet; several other top programs, including Auburn, Clemson, and Ohio State, showed interest. Michigan got a big leg up in his recruitment by being the first major program to offer him.
FAKE 40 TIME
Freshman highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
At the moment, it looks like Reese will have a clear path to the field at SAM as soon as he steps on campus. Jabrill Peppers will almost certainly be off to the NFL by the time Reese arrives in 2018, and if Khaleke Hudson is needed at strong safety—which looks to be the case—then there isn't another player on the roster who fits the role as well as Reese. Of course, Michigan hasn't come close to wrapping up the 2017 class; safety commit J'Marick Woods has a similar build and the coaches are expected to take a couple more safety-types. It's hard to imagine Reese won't have some competition by the time he gets to Ann Arbor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It has four players in it, and will presumably add many more. Here's the class, which is now fourth on the 247 Composite team rankings, as it currently stands:
[Photo: Chris Nee/247]
Before showing up to Ann Arbor for Michigan's big camp weekend, four-star Leesburg (GA) Lee County DT Aubrey Solomon was considered a Georgia lean with strong mutual interest in the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Florida, and Ole Miss. Solomon's commitment today, unlike that of 2018 teammate Otis Reese, came out of the blue. Just look at his Twitter feed, which is SEC upon SEC upon SEC until this.
On my way to ichigan ...
— Aubrey Solomon (@AubreySolomon91) June 17, 2016
This coaching staff is rather good at recruiting. Yes, they got a head start with the Leesburg satellite camp, but this still came as a huge surprise.
Solomon helps fill a significant need at defensive tackle; he's the second DT in the 2017 class, joining in-state three-star Phil Paea, and the 15th total commit.
4*, #9 DT,
4*, #4 DT,
4*, 84, #6 DT,
4*, 91, #14 DT,
4*, #6 DT,
While all four services have Solomon solidly in the four-star range, there's a bit of a split. ESPN is particularly bullish—as is Rivals when you go by position rankings—while Scout and especially 247 aren't quite as high on him.
He is unquestionably large. Scout, ESPN, and 247 all list him at 6'3" and 300-305 pounds. Rivals has what looks like an outdated listing of 6'4", 287.
There's not quite as much scouting as I expected out there for a recruit with Solomon's rankings and offer sheet. What's out there, however, is impessive.
Solomon first emerged on the radar as a freshman who very much did not look like a freshman at the 2014 RCS Atlanta camp. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt named him one of the top underclassmen in attendance:
The 6-foot-3, 279-pound Solomon immediately caught our attention at the beginning of camp from a physical standpoint. There was a shock when he said he was still 15 years old and just a freshman. His play in one-on-ones created further intrigue as he had no trouble battling with the top interior offensive linemen from a strength standpoint. There are some technical issues to shore up, but nothing that cannot be fixed and plenty of physical gifts that cannot be taught.
247's Chris Nee scouted Solomon the following February at the Valdosta MVP Camp, and from his vantage point it sounds like Solomon made strides with his technique in the interim:
DT Aubrey Solomon - A 2017 defensive tackle from Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County who was very impressive on the day. He could have easily taken home defensive line MVP honors as well. A big, physical defender in the middle. Solomon exhibited the ability to play with leverage, drive his blocker off the spot, and finish the play. He has good quickness for a big man and was very active with his hands at keeping blockers off-balance. He reports multiple early offers.
Scout's Chad Simmons saw him at the same event and was similarly impressed:
Great frame at 6-3, 305 pounds and he does a great job of using his size and power to press offensive linemen and close the distance. Has the lateral quickness to play down the line verses high level competition.
Rivals's Woody Wommack saw Solomon in a game setting last fall, and while he got tempo'd a bit he still managed to show his potential:
Class of 2017 Rivals100 defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon looks like the real deal and was very impressive in Friday's game, even though his team took the loss. Solomon is a legit 6-foot-4 and 300 pounds with very little bad weight, and he was in the backfield all night. Ultimately, Colquitt's no-huddle offense seemed to wear him down as the night went along, but his conditioning should only improve as his career moves along. Solomon, who favors Georgia, Florida and Auburn early on in his recruitment, will be one of the most sought-after defensive linemen in his class.
ESPN's evaluation focuses quite a bit on technique, repeatedly noting that Soloman has to develop consistency—like many of their reports, "can" "shows" and "flashes" all show up often. While the hedging takes away some of the impact, ESPN ranks him higher than anyone else, and there's a lot to like if he puts it all together:
Can fire off and capable at times of disrupting with quick penetration. Can be stout as well when he wins with quickness and leverage, flashing ability to explode out and uncoil at contact. Pads can quickly rise at times and when do can give ground and needs to work on taking on the double team. Does good job of bringing his hands, but needs to improve upper body strength and do better job of extending and creating separation and work to get off blocks quicker at times.
Can quickly get off the ball and get up-field and disrupt, flashing an effective club and swim. Shows flashes of attacking half-man and working a rip, but can look to lean on the swim move and if doesn't win with initial move can get stalled and needs to continue to develop pass rush arsenal. Has power to drive blockers back and collapse the pocket with bull rush when stays lows, but needs to work to clear and finish. Has tools to be disruptive interior rusher, but needs to continue to refine and be more consistent.
They conclude he can be a "very good, if not excellent Power-5 DT," most likely as a three-tech who needs a little time to develop.
Scout's free evaluation is one of the better ones I've read on a defensive tackle; it puts the technique issues in the context of his overall physical ability:
EvaluationAn athletic defensive lineman who knows how to get off the ball. He is most effective with his quickness. He has good anticipation and he reacts quickly in the trenches. Really gets up the field. Can make plays in the backfield. Gets consistent penetration. Can use his hands, but needs to improve that, and his moves to counter offensive linemen. When he struggles, he tends to play high, so he can work on bettering his pad level. Just a quick defensive lineman who can make plays. Plays hard and plays fast for a guy his size.
- Lateral Range
- Quickness off Ball
Areas to Improve
- Pad Level
That's a 305-pound high school defensive tackle with "lateral range" and "suddenness" as strengths. I very much like the sound of that.
Solomon holds offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi State, UNC, Ohio State, Ole Miss, South Carolina, and USC. I probably don't need to tell you that is an excellent list.
Rivals completely destroyed the functionality of their database so I don't have as much here as usual. Lee County also features fellow new Michigan commit Otis Reese.
None that I could find.
FAKE 40 TIME
Solomon's Scout profile lists a verified 40 time of 5.47, which gets zero FAKEs. With DTs, short-range quickness and agility is much more important than running 40 yards fast in a straight line. In that regard, Solomon looks quite good.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan will have to replace Ryan Glasgow, Chris Wormley (expected to play 3-tech this year), and possibly even Mo Hurst after this season, which will provide ample opportunity for freshmen to find a way onto the field. Solomon has that potential if he's technically sound enough; if he's not, he should quickly find his way into the rotation after a redshirt year, and he's got the look of a multi-year starter with NFL potential.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan can probably use another DT or two in the class in addition to Solomon and Paea, but Solomon's commitment makes that need far less dire. The 2017 class is now up to 15 commits, and that number is expected to get into the mid-to-upper 20s by Signing Day. Positions of need include offensive linemen of all sorts, WR, TE, SDE, CB, and S.
I'll leave this here:
— Alejandro Zúñiga (@ByAZuniga) June 18, 2016
Here's the class as it currently stands:
Always good to get a guy from Batman HS. [Keith Neibuhr/247]
247's Steve Lorenz reports Michigan, currently hosting a huge group of prospects for their camp, has picked up commitments from a pair of Georgia teammates:
— Steve Lorenz (@TremendousUM) June 18, 2016
Both play for Leesburg (GA) Lee County, where Michigan co-hosted a satellite camp with Georgia earlier this spring. Aubrey Solomon is ranked as the #6 DT and #94 overall prospect in the country.
Otis Reese, who Lorenz reports is being recruited as a SAM in Don Brown's defense, is an early four-star ranked by 247 as the #117 overall prospect in the 2018 class.
I'll have Soloman's full commitment post up as soon as I can get it together. Reese's will go up tomorrow.
Desmond Morgan significantly outplayed his recruiting ranking. [Fuller]
The good news: the defensive side of the 2011 hybrid RichRod/Hoke recruiting class turned out much better than the offensive side.
The bad news: that's a pretty low bar to clear.
This exercise will get a lot more fun next year, I promise.
Defensive Line: Roh 2.0 And A LB/TE/DE
In-state four-star DE Brennen Beyer was billed as a slightly less-hyped Craig Roh, which turned out to be a spot-on comparison in more ways than one. Like Roh, Beyer played early and often, appearing in 11 games as a true freshman on his way to 49 career appearances and 27 starts. Like Roh, Beyer bounced between defensive end and outside linebacker throughout his career. Like Roh, Beyer was a solid player who didn't post big numbers. If there's been a tighter YMRMFSPA fit, it's not by much.
The other two players listed as defensive linemen had uninspiring profiles and careers to match. Generic three-star DE Keith Heitzman's limited upside was apparent. Brian's projection:
May emerge into a depth defender in a few years.
After a redshirt, Heitzman was a low-impact rotation DE for a couple years, totaling 15 tackles before moving to tight end in 2014. He caught two passes that year, then Jim Harbaugh came in and told the fifth-year seniors they'd have to earn their spots; Heitzman wasn't a fan and grad-transferred to Ohio, where he posted decent numbers (22 receptions, 3 TDs) in his final season.
Columbus native Chris Rock (NTCR) saw his recruiting stock fall dramatically as a senior after he was initially billed as one of Ohio's top prospects. Rock left the program in the spring of 2012 before ever playing a down. In an usual move, he enrolled at Ohio State and walked on to the program after sitting out a year. He didn't see the field much in Columbus, either.
The star of the defensive class ended up being an unheralded recruit out of powerhouse Cleveland Glenville. The recruiting sites ranked Frank Clark as a middling three-star at tight end (Scout), outside linebacker (Rivals), and defensive end (ESPN). His profile features a rather fun series of headlines from the end of his recruitment:
Awesome sequence of articles from Rivals:
- Glenville LB close to being a Spartan? (money quote: "As many Spartan fans know, head coach Mark Dantonio does not push or pressure kids to make a commitment on their official visit.")
Save that face, yo.
Clark, of course, blew away those expectations in becoming Michigan's best defensive end. His college career ended in an awful way, with Clark getting kicked off the team for an ugly domestic violence incident. In spite of that, he went in the second round to Seattle and had an excellent rookie season.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the post.]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu.
|Baltimore, MD – 6'5", 330|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||3*, NR overall
#36 OT, #16 MD
|ESPN||3*, NR overall
#60 OT, #27 MD
|24/7||3*, #999 overall
#50 OG, #26 MD
|Other Suitors||UVA, MD, ARK, MSU, VT, Tenn|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
|Notes||Twitter. Gilman (Henry Poggi). UVA decommit.|
His Hudl film won't embed but is here if you're curious.
Dear reader, I have to admit that after three of the last four profiles covered two camp-friendly, massively-scouted offensive linemen and Rashan Freakin' Gary it is a considerable relief to arrive at a generic three-star. Stephen Spanellis's scouting reports are mostly "is large man, next," and this is fine. I do not have to first paste 5000 words into a template and then hew that down to ~1800. I can take 1800 and produce somewhat less than that. This is a long and solipsistic way of saying Spanellis is a bit of a project.
One thing that won't require work: his size. Spanellis is a biglarge hugedude. ESPN, which you may remember said Michael Ownenu had "nice" size as if he was not a super-dense space cyborg, is willing to confirm this:
…excellent overall size at this stage for a projected interior player. Possesses a good combination of height and bulk, but needs to watch how he adds size as frame at this point looks close to its ceiling
Tim Drevno focuses on that for his MGoBlue evaluation:
Stephen is a big, big man; he wears a size 18 shoe. … the type of guy who can really move people off the ball. He has great arm length, plays with good initial quickness, and can finish blocks.
“He’s a huge kid, 6-5, 330 right now,” Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell said. “He’s in excellent shape for that size and he’s extremely strong. Strongest player on our team. He has an unbelievable work ethic. First one in the weight room, last one to leave."
Spanellis's recruitment confirms this: these days an Arkansas offer more or less confirms you're one of the 20 biggest OL in any particular recruiting class. Check.
Assets other than his ability to provide shade are somewhat limited right now. Every once in a while you get an assertion that Spanellis could be a tackle in college, but the majority of reports say he'd get eaten up on the edge and can only play on the interior. Scout's evaluation of his game can't go a sentence without throwing in a "but":
…aggressive and finishes blocks, but he needs to improve his footwork so he can stay on a block better. He comes out of his stance quickly, but he needs to lighten his feet and drive his legs more in run blocking. He uses his strength and initial punch in pass blocking but needs to improve lateral quickness.
Aggression, power, size, and tenacity are assets—hey not bad!—and explosion, feet, and pass protection are areas to improve—uh. Clint Brewster's evaluation is a version of the above that's a bit nicer:
…excels in the straight-ahead run game as a mauler type of offensive lineman that Michigan looks for. He's physical upon contact and uses his body to overpower defensive lineman and drive them into the ground. Spanellis has some fluid movements to be able to turn his body on down blocks and cut off defenders.
ESPN's report does sound like their ranking for once, down to a serious lack of editing:
Displays good, but not quite the type of strength you may expect from size …doesn't display a powerful punch … doesn't display ideal lateral mobility to mirror. … Can use body and size to engulf and wall off defenders at times. Could struggle to adjust to moving targets, but displays good ability to locate and use angles to get a hit on second level targets. … a mid-to-lower Power-5 or Group of 5 [prospect].
"…does a decent job of bending and maintaining leverage on run plays. He finishes plays, driving people into the ground. He does a good job of working combo blocks up to the second level. … heavy feet and a thick lower body. He’s not a player who will hold up well against edge rushers, and he needs significant work in pass protection. He will need to work on his stance and footwork.
Spanellis's run blocking comes in for praise on the regular and is almost always followed by a "but" as the analyst describes heavy feet and iffy pass protection. Right now he's a big straight-ahead guy without much versatility; he's going to need some serious Drevno time before he's ready to see the field.
Spanellis should have the mental makeup to succeed. The UVA commit when he had other, more pig-shaped options indicates a guy who's interested in academics and from time to time you'll see an analyst note his football IQ. Adam Friedman:
"…shines as a run blocker, that’s really his game. He understands blocking schemes and who needs to get to the second level, where the double team is. He holds the point of attack very well. …very smart. He understands some of the things that you need to look for as an offensive lineman. He understands protection schemes.”
Being able to hack it in a classroom is a skill at least somewhat correlated with the ability to make split second decisions, and Spanellis appears to already be translating that kind of thing to the field. Knowing what to do against a blizzard of different fronts, slants, stunts, and other stupid defense tricks is more than half the battle for a lineman.
Spanellis might have more upside than it sounds above if he ends up at 300 and can suddenly move pretty well, or it was his footwork that was the main issue; either way it's pretty obvious he's got a long way to go compared to the other two OL in the class.
Why Ben Braden? Braden was also a simply enormous OL prospect who some people thought could play tackle despite some questions about his feet and general mobility. Like Spanellis, he was a middling three star. Braden started out at tackle, actually starting there as a redshirt freshman, before his pass protection issues forced him inside. He matured into a solid Big Ten guard over the course of last season and has a senior year yet to go.
Braden is a couple inches taller than Spanellis, which is to Spanellis's advantage. Braden's had problems with lunging for much of his career; Spanellis is more compact and should have fewer issues in that department. Spanellis should be able to match Braden's football IQ; he is a high-academic kid.
Guru Reliability: High. Gilman is a heavily scouted school and Spanellis was healthy. Not much disagreement in rankings or reports.
Variance: High. Very big guy with a long way to go.
Ceiling: Moderate. Doesn't seem like he'll ever be the kind of OL who's able to zone particularly well, which puts a cap on his upside. Does promise to be a big pile-mover, and Harbaugh Harbaugh Harbaugh.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Seems like a smart dude and Drevno's polished up a lot of guys like him until they're very shiny.
Projection: Redshirt. He'll be a long shot in 2017 for the three open spots, and then a long shot in 2018 for the one or two that will open up then. By the time he's a redshirt junior he should be rounding into whatever his finished product is going to look like. Assuming that Bredeson ends up staying outside he'll have a decent shot of being a two-year starter at guard.
Wilkes Visits, Adds Offer
Five-star 2017 Indiana wing Kris Wilkes visited Ann Arbor on Sunday. As expected, Michigan put forth an offer, though Wilkes has yet to offer up any quotes about it beyond a quick post-offer tweet. Most of the top Big Ten programs are after Wilkes, as are the likes of Butler, Kansas, UCLA, and Xavier. Kentucky, which hasn't offered him, currently leads his Crystal Ball.
Michigan's best bet in 2017 continues to be three-star in-state wing Jamal Cain. Last week, Scout's Brian Snow posted that Xavier is now "basically out" for Cain after adding 2017 wing Jared Ridder, who's also a 3/4 type; that leaves Michigan as the odds-on favorite.
Four-star OH wing Kyle Young, who also holds a Michigan offer, included the Wolverines in his top ten and told 247 he'll be on campus for M's team camp this month. Young is coming off a visit to Ohio State, which is considered the early favorite for him.
UMHoops's Sean Moran reports Michigan has been getting involved with top-100 2017 IL PG Nojel Eastern:
“After the first EYBL sessions a lot more schools have been involved,” said Eastern. “The head coaches text me more and I get more calls. New schools, Michigan, a lot of them call my mom, but the one that calls me is Michigan.”
Michigan needs a point guard this cycle and Eastern is one of the more intriguing prospects at the position: he's listed at 6'6", 200 pounds. If the coaches can get him on campus, an offer is likely to follow—MSU, OSU, Purdue, and Illinois are already among the schools to offer him.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
We're in this thing. Proudbox is carrying HTTV in its initial… uh… box, if you haven't already ordered a copy. In addition to HTTV the thing comes with a pile of other unique Michigan items, including a Harbaugh bobblehead that tweets trash talk at SEC coaches*. They're working with the university itself so each box comes with one piece of officially licensed merch and various other goodies like stuff from Shinola, Zingermans baked goods, special publications from The Michigan Daily, Michigan Marching Band music or "something really amazing," like a Jim Harbaugh bobblehead that tweets trash talk at SEC coaches***.
They've got an introductory deal for MGoBlog persons, and five percent of the proceeds go to the U or various charities like Mott. Check them out.
*[it does not do this**]
**[but maybe it does!]
***[again, it does not do this****]
****[unless it does!]
— Mike Kaye (@mike_e_kaye) June 15, 2016
Jarrod Wilson doing well. He was an undrafted free agent since he was so boring at Michigan, but it seems like he might make the Jaguars:
In just two minicamp practices, Wilson has collected two interceptions. While he is playing against third-string talent, it is hard to ignore his clear playmaking ability.
“It’s amazing, he’s very sharp," defensive coordinator Todd Wash said on Wednesday. "He comes in, he learns the package really well, and he puts himself in position to make a lot of plays out of the middle field. It’s good to see. Up until today he was what we called our 'ball aware player' who was leading the team so far here. We’re excited about his progress so far.”
…veteran free safety and high-profile free agent addition, Tashaun Gipson, sees a little bit of himself in the rookie.
"I've been truly impressed with Jarrod," Gipson said. "He's truly one of those guys, he reminds me of myself, I made most of my noise around this time [as a rookie] heading into training camp. Like him I was undrafted."
Those two interceptions are half of his career total at Michigan, where he would not have been described as a "playmaker"; he was more an underappreciated security blanket. Maybe that was more an artifact of his deployment than his skills.
Harbaugh in Tennessee. His camp stop in Murfreesboro draws a long, good article from SEC Country because it's more interesting than looking at an empty field. I like Harbaugh talking like he's in Fargo:
Harbaugh then asks, “Is there anywhere else you’d rather be?”
Players (halfheartedly): “No.”
Harbaugh: “Anywhere at all?”
The players grunt.
Harbaugh: “Heck no! Ya like football!”
At some point a little kid watching from the sidelines gets bonked:
A tiny grade schooler on the other side of the fence is struck in the mouth with a wayward pigskin. “Oooooh,” say the people nearby.
The child, outfitted in a No. 4 Michigan jersey, is crumpled on the ground as his parents tend to him. No crying. Just shock.
Harbaugh notices the commotion.
“Everything OK?” He yells from the practice field.
The child is still lying face down on the ground. Several adults give thumbs up.
Good start for that kid. Demonstrating toughness. Later, Harbaugh catches up with him:
Before Harbaugh can escape (he’s not trying too hard), the parents of a little boy approach him. Their kid is the one who got clocked by an errant football earlier in the night.
“That was you?” Harbaugh asks, bending down to get on the kid’s level.
The kid nods. The coach imparts his wisdom.
“That would’ve killed a lesser man,” Harbaugh said. “A lesser man would’ve been dead.”
Whole thing is recommended.
Say what? Athlon's All Big Ten team goes four deep and looks pretty reasonable to me with a couple exceptions. One is the inclusion of Bryan Mone, who probably isn't even going to start over Ryan Glasgow. Glasgow isn't included despite the fact that he should be second-team at worst. Ryan Glasgow is good, and nobody seems to want to acknowledge this.
I went in to WTKA today to talk about the USA soccer match to night and along the way we got to talking about Glasgow because Sam posted what he's hearing about the configuration of the defensive line*; he had the temerity to list Glasgow as a starter. This caused a lot of people to groan about how that must mean Mone isn't going to live up to the hype. I read this thread. It was boggling. Nobody appreciates Ryan Glasgow. Read the dang UFRs!
*[Which is that the starters will be read Gary/Glasgow/Wormley/Charlton and backed up by Marshall/Mone/Hurst/Winovich.]
The second thing:
I literally went "bwa hwa wha?!" when I saw Nicholson, who couldn't stay in the starting lineup of an abject MSU secondary last year. People improve, etc.; having Nicholson that high on your list is asking for a truly spectacular one-year turnaround.
BTW, Michigan guys on the list:
- First team: Jehu Chesson, Jake Butt, Mason Cole, Jabrill Peppers, Jourdan Lewis, Chris Wormley.
- Second team: Taco Charlton, Erik Magnuson, Amara Darboh
- Fourth team: Kyle Kalis, Bryan Mone, Peppers(PR), Lewis(KR).
Magnuson and Kalis are a bit high and leaving off Glasgow is goofy, but it's reasonable. I'd bet that Michigan's QB is better than Tommy Armstrong and Wes Lunt but since you don't have any idea who that's going to be it's hard to put them on a list. I applaud their bravery in leaving De'Veon Smith entirely off a list of Big Ten RBs that goes eight deep.
This guy again. OSU WR coach Zach Smith is really mad at Nebraska for some reason. It's a thing. This manifests publicly on Smith's twitter account, which is kind of like Harbaugh's if Harbaugh had the intellect of a cabbage:
The scare quotes around "claim" really make this one. Quotes in previous sentence not scare quotes but actual quotes since they were used to quote the tweet. Anyway.
Lotta starts coming back. Michigan has one of the most experienced OLs in the country:
That and a cup of acid thrown at a district attorney's face gets you legendary Batman villain Two-Face, but it's better than the alternative.
The usual spate of post-commitment scouting reports have come in since Luiji Vilain announced for Michigan on Sunday, and lo, they are good. The Wolverine's Brandon Justice talked to an opposing high school coach who made a lofty comparison—Jevon Kearse—and had difficulty finding an issue with Vilain's game:
"Without any disrespect to other teams we play, he's the first name that pops up that comes to my mind when I think about defensive ends we'll play," he said. "I wouldn't say he has any flaws - just some size and strength to add, and Michigan will take care of that. I think he's right where they want him to be. I think he's big enough where he can make an impact right away, like a third-down specialist. He's just too athletic to keep off the field."
247's Clint Brewster posted a film breakdown slideshow featuring a strength of Vilain's that I didn't highlight much in the Hello post:
Villain's play recognition is another important aspect of his game that stands out on tape. He never drops his head and his awareness for run/pass diagnosis are impressive. At defensive end you have to be a quick-thinker and react to plays in an instant. Vilain's awareness allows him to come up with many bat-downs on tape and he's able to diagnose the read-option and come up with stops in the backfield. His ability to diagnose keeps him a step ahead on plays where there's mis-direction in the backfield.
Discipline on the edge is paramount against today's college offenses; Vilain appears to have it.
Scout's lengthy, free scouting report ends thusly:
Vilain will compete from day one at Michigan and he's going to be hard to keep off the field.
Ultimately, I expect him to be a multi-year starter, all-conference performer and play on Sundays.
That would be acceptable.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson.
|Detroit, MI – 6'3", 370|
|Scout||4*, #140 overall
|Rivals||4*, #147 overall
#7 OG, #4 MI
|ESPN||4*, #130 overall
#8 OG, #2 MI
|24/7||4*, #36 overall
#2 OG, #1 MI
|Other Suitors||OSU, MSU, PSU, Bama|
|YMRMFSPA||Chance Warmack or
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Onwenu featured in two editions of FBO as well.|
|Notes||Twitter. Cass Tech (many persons). Army AA.|
Ace and Dave compiled a single-game reel from the Cass-Southfield game last year:
Mike Onwenu is a cyborg made of a super-dense alloy who arrived on this planet via atmospheric re-entry. I mean… probably? That seems as good an explanation as any. He had already been on the radar for a while when he arrived at one of the many, many camps he did over the course of his high school career and weighed in at 370 pounds. Around here we assumed this was in error and the enormous dude was in fact Juan Harris, the planet-sized Iowa DT commit. That's because Onwenu does not look like a 370-pound man.
Speaking of mass, Onwenu has a deceptive, compact 370 pounds that he moves extremely well. When he gets all that weight going in the right direction, the Michigan commit is a scary sight.
Nor does he move like one, but scale don't lie.
"There are not many offensive linemen I like more in this 2016 class that … Onwenu," [Steve Wiltfong] said. "Onwenu struggled a little bit with learning the new offense, but what he doesn’t struggle with is strength. No question he was the strongest offensive lineman on the field and he was also perhaps the quickest."
In addition to Onwenu's sheer improbable mass, he has tackle-sized arms. Onwenu had the biggest hands and second-longest arms of anyone at The Opening, which is a who's who of guys with big hands and long arms.
That helps his pass blocking, which was excellent in camp settings. Onwenu took a ton of one on one snaps against high-profile defensive ends. He held his own in an environment that's OL-unfriendly–especially so for man-mountains who get stuck on the edge for funzies. At the Opening he was repeatedly matched up with top-tier OSU DE commit Jonathan Cooper. Cooper eventually nosed ahead after a bunch of reps, but Onwenu got his too.
Michael Onwenu stuffed Jonathon Cooper. Michigan vs Ohio State https://t.co/7alrVMG8wD
— Tom VanHaaren (@TomVH) July 10, 2015
The reports coming out of these camps are unsurprisingly raves.
- Barton Simmons, 247: "…almost immovable at 371 pounds… very few offensive linemen have had the success Onwenu has had in the pass-rush one-on-ones."
- Greg Biggins, Scout: "…our top guard of the day and had some extremely impressive reps in the one on ones. …an absolute load but moved very well and had the best punch of any of the linemen we saw."
- Mike Farrell, Rivals: "…showed off amazing feet for a massive interior lineman and he reset as well as anyone. He washed opponents across the middle when they tried to go inside him and he extended his arms well and got his feet right when they tried to go outside. His balance was very good and he was solid inside and even outside at tackle."
- Steve Wiltfong, 247: "…played three different positions and was dominant at all three. … a force at the point of attack, showing he could handle different styles of defensive tackles throughout the day, whether it was a big, quick prospect like four-star Naquan Jones, or the shorter, more powerful Brice Brand. …took snaps at offensive tackle, showing his athleticism and feet, stoning Top247 defensive end Austin Robertson on one rep."
- Also Wiltfong: "one of the surest bets to be a producer on the next level….as usual good in pass protection drills and pass blocking, but he was at his best in the zone blocking drills, obviously looking really powerful in his 6-foot-3, 365-pound body, explosive firing off the ball and attacking defensive linemen in the run game as well."
- Dave Berk, Scout: "Keeps pad level low and uses quick feet, great hand placement and strength to fend off defenders. …moves like a player weighing 280-pounds but can he play four quarters of football at the next level at a high rate with the extra baggage."
- Josh Helmholdt, Rivals: "…dominated throughout the spring and summer….a big body, but he is also very light on his feet. He has a devastating punch and gets immediate extension, but he can also engage and move with defensive linemen."
Camp evals are more about potential than production and the above are ample evidence that Onwenu's got rare, once-in-a-generation upside. Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher has seen his share of top flight prospects and even he's never run across another Onwenu:
“We’ve never had a kid like him before. Never had a kid like that. That’s a gift to have a kid that big that can move and run. You don’t have kids like him all the time that can do that. He’s low contact, to the ground, good pad level, quick, can run outside zone, sweeps, he can play guard, he can play tackle, it’s hard to find kids like that. We’ve never had a kid at our school with his height, weight and his size.”
Nor has anyone else, at least not in a while. As discussed towards the end of this post, finding anyone vaguely comparable to Onwenu was a struggle.
Ownenu still has a long way to go. He was a defensive tackle early in his career, only moving to the offensive line as a junior in high school. Despite this the technique evaluations he gets are at least on par with most highly-touted OL. He's not Bredeson in this regard, but he's a lot closer than you might think. Clint Brewster:
…fluid body movement for a big player and can move and bend his body to combat rushers. He's able to find and hit opponents out in space. He can anchor down in pass protection and absorb contact. … work in progress with hand placement and proper steps. … generates torque through his hip-snap and has a violent upper body punch.
Naturally strong and wins when he gets his hands on defensive linemen. Would like to see him play at a little lower weight, which would improve overall quickness and mobility, but he bends well, plays with a great base and is technically sound. Could play guard or center in college.
ESPN continues its trend of extremely reserved evaluations, noting that Onwenu has "nice size for play in the trenches" without a single superlative or exclamation point or anything. They tend to like him if you can get past the usual suite of qualifiers:
Good height, with a thickly built and wide frame. … very good playing strength and adequate lower body flexion for size. … good, powerful initial punch. … just average initial quickness in coming out of his stance and getting set and can at times get top heavy and lean and expose himself to rushers moves. … Displays adequate pull ability once in motion, but can be beat slow out his stance. … not a real consistent finisher.
There are some technique issues in there but no more than your average OL prospect, and he has some positives in that department.
It's those 370 pounds—the very thing that makes Onwenu a uniquely enticing prospect—that also bring some doubt into his evaluations. A lot of people mention a lack of finishing from him on blocks. Son of a Coach:
What I hated to see was him not being a consistent finisher. He would put himself in good body position, but not sustain his block. This happened far too often and it looked a bit lazy. The other thing is that I expected someone his size to be a lot meaner.
Onwenu is slow out of his stance, sometimes steps with the wrong foot, does not use good hand placement, and does not finish plays on a consistent basis. Even on his highlights, it's rare to see more than a few steps with any kind of purpose. Once he reaches his assignment - a guy who's unlikely to move around the mountain - Onwenu essentially stops to watch the play.
The only thing I'd like to see more from Onwenu is finishing his blocks. For a guy with his size and strength, he doesn't knock a ton of opponents on the turf, and there were a couple plays when he caught himself not playing through the whistle—he got through the game fine at 370 pounds, but at the next level he's going to need better conditioning.
I'm a little skeptical about how much that matters since opportunities to truly "finish" a guy are rare on the college level. The lack of effort some people perceive is probably an endurance issue—Onwenu is delivering consistent good-enough blocks because he's easily tired. Because he's enormous.
Rivals also docked him once they saw his senior season, but the reasons they offered didn't entirely make sense:
…light on his feet and controls everything in front of him, but further evaluation this fall reveals that he is limited and the top 100 is a little high. Onwenu will be an interior lineman in college, but playing left tackle for Cass Tech this season he has trouble reaching defenders who are not lined up directly in front of him and second moves catch him far too often.
Those are both edge problems that won't apply when he's not playing left tackle, as Josh Helmholdt acknowledges. That downgrade brought Rivals down to about the level Scout and ESPN have him at so it's not outlandish, but I'm not sure what they expected.
Nose tackle is also a possibility. Onwenu mentioned he'd have an opportunity to play defense just before Signing Day, and Onwenu was on D-I radars as an underclass NT and drew praise at his various camp stops when he moonlit on that side of the ball:
Off the snap defensively, Onwenu can beat interior offensive linemen, and he's nimble on his feet.
showed he is a powerful, space-eating, run-stuffing defensive tackle.
TTB was actually a bigger fan of Onwenu as a defender:
The place where Onwenu shows a sense of urgency is at nose tackle on defense. He looks like a totally different player. He's quick off the ball, uses good technique, and finishes plays. He probably won't be much of a pass rusher because it's tough to contort 365 lbs. in enough ways to wiggle around offensive linemen, but he can be a run-stuffer in the middle, especially if Michigan is going to run any 3-4 looks.
There's already been considerable chatter about Onwenu moonlighting on that side of the ball when an opposition positively cannot be afforded a single yard, and this is Jim Harbaugh we are talking about here: they'll explore his two-way possibilities. Given the state of the roster, a full-time move is not likely unless there's a roster crisis.
Etc.: MLive interviews him, asks him what his favorite food is. He says lasagna and then clarifies: Sam's Club lasagna, the kind you need a forklift to buy.
Why Warmack/Watson? There is not a successful Michigan guard in Onwenu's weight class. Michigan took a swing with borderline 3/4 star monster Chris Bryant at the tail end of the RR regime; he saw a bunch of hype and scattered playing time before injury problems ended his career. Bryant was not in Onwenu's league as a recruit and offering him as a comparison isn't useful since nobody really saw him play. So we must venture further afield.
The problem with doing that is you don't find much of anyone with Onwenu's size. Best I can do is former Alabama OG Chance Warmack, who is around Onwenu's height and gets NFL bonuses for getting under 330. Warmack was listed at 320 coming out of high school, which is a very big difference unless that number was massaged downward. Warmack really, really panned out, getting picked tenth in the the NFL draft, and while Onwenu is not likely to repeat that just because of the way Gaussian distributions work that's the best I've got.
If Onwenu ends up on defense Gabe Watson is your go-to comparison. Watson was a humongous NT-only prospect who played at around 340 pounds. He was a five-star or near it, and a lot of people were disappointed at how his career turned out… for some reason. Watson was first team All Big Ten twice and got drafted in the fourth round. People are weird sometimes.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. Close to consensus but 247's heart-emoji eyes provide a bit of uncertainty.
Variance: Moderate-plus. Onwenu's potential, weight, and relative rawness make him a highly variable prospect. OL get taken out with injury frequently, and jumbo-jumbo types are at particular risk. Barring injury I can't imagine he's not at least useful as a run-stuffing nose tackle in a scenario where he doesn't work out as a guard.
Ceiling: Vast. Guy could seriously play at 330-340, which would make him a guard prospect unique in Michigan history. (Alex Mitchell does not count for purposes of this discussion.) If he hits his ceiling should be one of the rare guards who gets his name called during the first round of the NFL draft.
General Excitement Level: High. The Warmack comparison is useful in another way because it offers a feel: Onwenu is the type of guy who is a linchpin in the kind of offense that can deliver some good but not incredible tailbacks a Heisman trophy.
Projection: Is 370 pound OL, redshirt. Will have a shot at starting the year after, with three openings and not a ton of options. It's still probable that Bredeson and a couple of the veterans are ahead of Onwenu; 2018 is a more likely time frame for him to emerge as a starter, as there will be at least one opening and possibly more if the fifth-year seniors-to-be emerge. By that time Onwenu will have dropped significant weight and hopefully adds that ferocity to his game that is currently lacking.
And you know Harbaugh is going to have him play some defense. Expect him in short yardage packages in 2017 and possibly beyond.
Part 1: Ace covered the WRs and DBs, i.e. the fun part. His writeup is here.
2017 OL commit JaRaymond Hall [Eric Upchurch]
Last Friday a group of us attended Sound Mind Sound Body at Wayne State University. Their main football field had the QBs, WRs, and DBs, and Ace & Adam covered that. Two practice fields were then occupied by OL/DL and RBs/LBs respectively, so while watching one I couldn't watch the other. I spent most of my time trying to scout the linemen. Actually, because the roster sheets were organized alphabetically by first name instead of number, I spent most of my time scanning random numbers to figure out who a certain player was that caught my eye.
Eventually I settled for watching whoever Drevno and Mattison were talking to.
A few notes/observations:
Luigi Vilain was scheduled to appear but didn't make it. Some of his teammates were on hand. As Ace mentioned Antwuan Johnson was dinged up early so we didn't get to scout him. I thought 2017 Cass Tech OL target Jordan Reid would be there—he was on the roster—but I couldn't find him.
The SMSB staff are great.
With lineman drills no pads is a major advantage for defensive linemen, especially for quick little guys. The most successful blocks were often borderline holds, unless a lineman put a guy in the dirt, whereupon everybody clapped.
I learned a lot about why people who cover a lot of camps fall into the same vague observations. Unless you've been at this for way way longer than I have, the most apparent thing is how some guys look like amazing athletes and the rest look like your larger friends from high school. If you're there to scout just one guy in a group you'll spend most of your time marveling at how physically different he is while he's standing in line. Beyond that you can see foot speed and who got yelled at by coaches, who invariably coached "pad level" and "footwork."
If you haven't gathered by now these observations are going to be of dubious value to you.
Don Brown is a very INTENSE man.
Hall needed no shuffling through pages to identify; every time he took a rep the chatter died down as coaches and players paid attention. Drevno was giving Hall a lot of coaching between reps and ultimately had him doing a few things during drills that other linemen weren't, like keeping his hands nearly touching like in prayer while doing the shuffle. JaRaymond was taller than all but the one really really big kid.
Hall is super light on his feet and built on the lean side; Jason Spriggs was the comparison I made in my mind, and not just because I had just come from melting into a fanboy upon meeting Kevin Wilson.
The size thing was kind of an issue against bigger DL the few times he caught one, but he was credited by the coach running the drill (a Penn State grad assistant, who was Harbaugh-level into it all day) for using his space. Contrary to just about every other OL, the skinny unpadded little DEs couldn't rush by him. He just took 'em wide.
If I was creating an NCAA player I'd go heavy on the acceleration, lighter on the brute stuff. Also if I could edit hand size I'd put them way up there. Most players wore gloves but Hall didn't. I think he could curl his fingers over mine. I am running out of usefulness obviously so I'll move on.
[After the LEAP: Seth tries to scout more things that pro football coaches get wrong most of the time. Got that grain of salt? Okay then HIT THE JUMP]