“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Michigan picks up a legacy commit, as the son of former Wolverine Tony Gant has pledged to the maize-and-blue. OH S Allen Gant becomes the 13th recruit in Michigan's class of 2012.
3*, NR S
As you can see, the recruiting sites are lukewarm-at-best on Gant. To my surprise, he isn't viewed universally as a safety, as I had assumed to be the case (and that's the position he'll likely play in college). His profile has fallen off considerably since the days when he was considered the best 2012 prospect in Ohio ($, info in header).
24/7 Sports is the odd site out on height, calling him 6-1 whereas everyone else agrees he's 6-2. Weights range from 198 to 210. A good overall estimate of size then, is about 6-2, 205.
“I’m able to read the quarterback well and know what the offense is doing. I’m pretty quick and I hit hard. I’m a very hard-nosed player. I’d like to be better overall and get faster and quicker. I want to brake [sic] on passes better.”
"He is almost 6-2, and weighs in the 205- to 210-pound range. He runs a 4.6, he's got a nose for the ball, he's physical, and he is smart. Having that type of football intelligence, it just makes his job that much easier because you want to react instead of think out on the football field. Plus he's coachable. His football intelligence and coachability are his two greatest assets along with his physical capabilities."
As a fairly huge high school safety, he'd better be wiling to bring the lumber with regularity. At that size, the natural questions about speed (and a potential move to linebacker) arise:
Allen Gant is another of this outstanding defensive back class that has questions as far as what kind of athlete he is. It is actually more than that. It is where he fits. He has the talent to play receiver but I have never believed he had the speed. The big question will be if he is fast enough to play safety and if not does he have the frame to grow into an outside linebacker?
Gant is known for being an intelligent player, so even if he lacks a little bit in 40-yard dash time, being in the right spot to make plays can make up for that. The MSR Ohio Blog talks his game, and it certainly sounds like the instincts are present:
Last fall I was impressed with his toughness on the football field. Stood out as a free safety. Excellent open field tackler. Good ball skills. Anticipated well. Most of all, when he had a chance to "strike" he did. Covered sideline to sideline.
With 4 linebackers and another linebacker-y tweener (Mario Ojemudia) already committed, I'm guessing that Michigan's coaches are confident enough in his speed to remain at safety. Now that he's committed as a safety, hopefully some of the recruiting sites will rank him at that position and we can get a more accurate picture f where he stands.
Allen had offers from a host of MAC schools, including Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami (NTM), and Toledo, but he also had a few slightly bigger letters to his name. Boston College, Cincinnati, Stanford, and West Virginia had also offered the 3-star. It's not a murderer's row, but there are definitely a few worthwhile offers in there. He was expecting an Illinois offer ($, info in header) back in February, and his Rivals profile indicates he received it.
Gant had interest - but no offer - from several big-name schools. Florida, LSU, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and USC are some of the more notable names in that category.
Allen Gant finished his junior season with 56 tackles, three interceptions and two fumbles caused. He also had 20 receptions for one touchdown.
That was good enough for third-team All-State. He had a recurring hamstring injury through most of his sophomore year, which hampered his production in that season, but he led his team to a state title as a freshman.
FAKE 40 TIME
4.6 seems to be the consensus time, and while that's respectable for a strong safety (in fact quite god, I think), guys Gant's size aren't generic 3-stars if they can run that fast. I deem it three FAKEs out of five.
Gant junior video from ScoutingOhio:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
He's unlikely to be a big star unless the recruiting sites are just plain wrong, but after a redshirt year, he definitely has the potential to contribute on special teams. and he could end up a starter by the time he's an upperclassman.
Especially with a coaching change underway, it's tough to know where Michigan's current secondary players will end up, what quality of player we have on the roster now (I'm going to assume better than they've looked the past 3 years), so it's tough to project too far into the future. Gant has the feel of a solid upperclassman starter who doesn't get a lot of national (or conference) recognition.
As a youngster, he seemed like a future 5-star thanks to an early maturation, but that has fallen off as other prospects his age have matured as well (think Marvin Robinson). However, Gant has been injured over portions of the last two years, so when healthy, hopefully he can regain that top form.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's felt like it for a while, but spots are going to start actually getting tight now. Pending the decision of Wayne Morgan on Thursday, Michigan has two defensive backs in the class, as Gant joins corner Terry Richardson, and with a big DB class last year, there isn't a huge need for many more. If Morgan picks the Wolverines Thursday (and all indications at this point are that Michigan leads), that'll be a third DB. Brady Hoke and company would probably take a fourth, but the fifth guy is going to have to be somebody that think very highly of.
The needs going forward are still at defensive tackle and on the offensive line, particularly at tackle. A quarterback and a wideout are also needed, and a good running back would be nice, thank you very much.
I am sure you will appreciate and respect the advice your dad has to give in regards to the demands of being at, and playing football at, Michigan. Soon it will be your own time to shine - we look forward to rooting for you in the Maize and Blue and to referring to you not as Mr. Gant's son, but as Allen Gant, our safety who is one heck of a football player.
Welcome, Allen, we're excited you chose to come to Ann Arbor!
On WTKA this morning there was mention that one reason Allen grew up an Ohio State fan (besides living in Ohio) was that another relative was a coach there. So we can't blame him for his childhood leanings. Fortunately for us, and to Dad Gant's eternal bliss, he came back to his real family.
If you haven't listened to his announcement interview with Sam Webb, it's well worth it (on podcast). He clearly has more than football intelligence, and great sense of humor. A great addition to the Blue.
If he runs in the 4.6's, it's probably approximately a 4.6999999999999. Donovan Warren ran in the 4.6's before he entered the draft. Somehow I doubt a 210 lb. junior safety is just as fast as a college junior cornerback, but maybe I'm wrong.
Actually he runs between 4.55 and 4.6 consistently. Timed at OSU camp last year at 4.55. According to his HS Track Coaches, reportedly ran 4.51 & 4.55 during track work outs (plus throws shot put almost 49 feet & discus almost 150). Why no love for Gant? Have you seen him play besides looking at highlights? The Michigan Coaches did their homework. Why do you think an offer came before camp? They are not going to offer just because who he is related to. As an opposing father & coach and a fan of the Gants, I think I can speak for NW Ohio that we are extremely happy for Allen.