2013 Recruiting: De'Veon Smith

2013 Recruiting: De'Veon Smith Comment Count

Brian August 8th, 2013 at 11:41 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes, RB Derrick Green, QB Shane Morris.

This marks the completion of the 2013 recruiting profiles.

   
Warren, OH – 5'11", 224
     

Howland running back #4 DeVeon Smith is tackled by a pack of Kent Roosevelt Roughriders.

Scout

4*, #62 overall
#11 RB, #3 OH

Rivals

3*, NR overall
#37 RB, #26 OH

ESPN

4*, NR overall
#27 RB, #19 OH

24/7

4*, #218 overall
#15 RB, #13 OH

Other Suitors

Ohio State

YMRMFSPA

Mike Hart

Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Older brother Lance was at Wisconsin for a time. Howland, his HS, has sent kids to MSU and PSU recently but no Michigan players.

Film

Junior highlights:

Brady Hoke's recruiting in a nutshell: a near-consensus four star with a crazy fun highlight tape who Michigan won in a head to head battle with Ohio State has been almost lost in the shuffle. De'Veon Smith may not have the avalanche of hype Derrick Green does, but he's pretty damn good in his own right, a pounding ball of legs with a big-time stiffarm and excellent balance. If he was fast, he'd be Mike Hart but fast, but people say he's not that fast, so maybe he's just Mike Hart. (This comparison is about to get run into the ground. Gird thyself.)

This lost in the shuffle thing is something we need to correct, M internet. If we don't, Smith's coach Dick Angle—who is awesome—is going to find us. This comes from the beginning of Smith's junior year:

“I don’t think there’s a hell of a lot of difference between 4.6 and 4.5, especially when you’re 215 pounds and you’re running the football and you never fumble it and you always end up in the end zone,” Angle said. “So they can have their 4.3 guys and 4.4 guys and I’ll take Smith, even if he was 5-flat, which he isn’t. He runs a 4.5-forty consistently and all he does is score touchdowns, run for first downs, catch passes and wins.”

…quite surprisingly, despite all the high accolades from his coach, Smith is still without any scholarship offers. So what exactly is the reason for that?

Because there’s a lot of stupid coaches out there and that’s why they get fired,” Angle said. “They take 4.3 guys that can’t read, write, block, tackle, hold the ball or win. That’s the bottom line.”

"Because Stone Cold Dick Angle said so" is implied.

I'm seriously about the Mike Hart comparison on this one. For one, the first words out of his loquacious coach's mouth in another article:

"He does not fumble," said Angle. "He had one at the beginning of the year, and one in the playoffs, but that's it."

For two, Smith's low-cut, compact package of balance, vision and agility leads to a lot of Hart-like runs in which he hugs his blocking until it's time to burst upfield, at which point he often deploys Hart's patented hop-cut in the hole to evade most of tackler and bundle forward breaking infinite arm tackles. ESPN's evaluation is… is just Mike Hart:

…strong, sturdy frame that can withstand punishment … powerfully built low to the ground and it helps his impressive balance. He has good, not great, speed …runs with good vision and is quick to attack the hole. He makes subtle cuts through traffic and is able to burst through tight seams with his quickness. He runs with good lean, behind his pads … also an effective stretch and plant cutter. … He breaks through first contact on a regular basis, runs hard and generates great downhill power and momentum. He keeps his legs and body churning on contact, frequently bouncing off tackles while retaining his balance and forward drive.  … can struggle to make second level defenders miss to spring long runs.

Smith isn't quite the wizard at avoiding backfield contact that Hart was, but he compensates by bringing more power to his game… actually nevermind that. Smith does seem a bit faster in the open field. (If there was a stat for "most times caught from behind against one team," Mike Hart versus Michigan State would be your far and away record-holder.)

Scout's Allen Trieu amps the Hart comparison up by noting his "uncanny balance and ability to break arm tackles":

The kid is strong and runs with a refusal to be tackled. His ability to keep his feet while making cuts, breaking tackles and shoving would-be tacklers into the ground, is outstanding. He may not be a 4.4 guy, but we really like him.

Ace:

Smith may not have breakaway speed, but he displays everything else you'd like to see when running the football: great initial burst, good vision through the hole, legs that don't stop moving upon contact, and the power to punish defenders for attempts to arm-tackle.

I mean… if you watch his junior highlights above they are littered with plays in which Smith bounces off arm tackles, nearly falls over, keeps his feet, breaks a couple more tackles, gets swarmed by three guys, and then drives the ever-agglomerating mass of humanity a couple more yards before everyone falls over. Like this:

9459772347_7806867ee4_o[1]

Via Ace, obviously

The run before this and after this on his tape (starting around 3:30) are basically the same thing, as are many others.

That is something you can't teach. De'Veon Smith is good. I mean, this is two games from his junior year. Try and count the broken tackles:

While he's not going to bounce off four guys on many plays in college, frankly his highlight reel is more impressive than Derrick Green's. Green brings an elite level of size and speed that Smith doesn't quite, but I give the edge in high school faces crushed to Smith.

Smith was not a camp guy or a look-at-all-my-offers guy. As a result Rivals, the low outlier in his rankings, has frustratingly little to say about him that doesn't come from Tim Sullivan, who doesn't have a say in the rankings. I'm not sure their Ohio guy does either, but here's his take anyway:

"He's the classic Ohio power back," Givler said. "He's strong, runs with a lower center of gravity, with good pad level. He's not overly fast but he gets through the hole, and you don't always have to be a 4.4 guy to be a success. Look at this rivalry - Maurice Clarett and Mike Hart weren't the fastest guys but both were great players.

"The thing I like about Smith is that he's one of those guys that will be better with his 22nd carry than his sixth. He's a north-south runner that gets stronger as the game unfolds."

Ah, look, Mike Hart again.

Meanwhile in an evaluation that praises Smith for "being such a well-rounded back"—ie, everything—247's Todd Worly raves about his "explosive burst, footwork, and change of direction," pointing out that while Smith does lack pure straight line speed his short-area explosion is outstanding. (You can see this in his defensive highlights as well, as when he sticks a guy he goes backwards.) Worly also puts the ball security in context:

For a big play back that is regularly breaking tackles, it is very impressive that he has only fumbled twice in three years.

It's relatively easy for Carlos Brown to not fumble because strong winds will knock him over. For a guy constantly fighting for extra yardage to have that ball security is… well… it's a lot like Mike Hart.

And, of course, the pattern is fulfilled here as well. His coach:

"Probably his greatest asset - by far - is non-measureable: it's his presence," said Angle. "He has an aura about him. He's a team player, and when you're around him he just picks you up. He's never moody, and he's always got a smile on his face. That's his greatest asset, he just radiates confidence in the people that are around him, and he has it in himself in a very humble and unique way."

Is his coach done? Nope. Obviously not. This is Dick Angle, who should be interviewed all the time whether he has a player going to Michigan or not.

“To me he’s the perfect player. And he’s got an attitude that makes his work ethic outstanding,” Angle said. “He’s very humble and he’s probably the most likeable kid in our school let alone on our football team. And he’s a great team player and he’s a great motivator through his hard work.”

Sing Dick Angle, sing!

"He works on the things that he knows he might have slipped up on the week before, or he hasn't been working on, He's relentless in the weight room, he's relentless on the practice field, so he doesn't have to be told very much what needs to be done."

This is where the comparisons to Clarett stop.

Etc.: Your last piece of laughable Bucknuts homerism for the year is Smith's drop from #5 in the state to #14 after winning the DII offensive player of the year. BONUS Bucknuts commenter a couple years ago:

I'd take him and Derrick Green for the 2013 class of running backs and call it a day.

Sounds like a plan.

Fred Jackson:

“I’ll tell you what I like about DeVeon, he gets angry when you hit him. It pisses him off when you hit him. He just runs harder and harder after he gets hit. He is a contact kind of guy."

Why Mike Hart? The post has addressed this in depth.

Guru Reliability: Low-plus. Wide spread in the rankings, no camps, no All Star game, but was a healthy, known quantity.

Variance: Low. Already at excellent playing weight, fumbles not an issue, not a product of those high school teams where no one ever touches you en route to the endzone (see: Ty Isaac).

Ceiling: High-minus. Pure long speed seemingly the only issue, and while that's a big one there are a lot of excellent qualities Smith brings.

General Excitement Level: High. I like him, a lot, especially in the tight spaces Michigan will give him to work in.

Projection: Everyone expects a redshirt and one really makes sense here with Fitz a senior, good depth, Green in the same class, and Michigan apparently content to swing for the Fournette fences in this recruiting class. I bet he's at worst the third-most talented back on the roster right now, but Michigan can get away with an older guy picking up those snaps.

After a redshirt year (or frustrating non-redshirt year with spare playing time), Smith should emerge into Derrick Green's backup or platoon-mate, depending on how good Smith and Green actually are. I wouldn't be surprised if he got 30% of the carries as a redshirt freshman unless Green is unbelievable. Smith should split carries with Green for the next two or three years before emerging into the starter as a junior or senior, whereupon Damien Harris will play platoon-mate/backup.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Shane Morris

2013 Recruiting: Shane Morris Comment Count

Brian August 7th, 2013 at 8:26 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes, RB Derrick Green.

My editor ate DeVeon Smith, so this is out of order. No need for panic.

   
Warren, MI – 6'3, 200
     

shane-morris-p1[1]

Scout 5*, #40 overall
#3 QB, #1 MI
Rivals 4*, #81 overall
#4 pro-style QB, #2 MI
ESPN 4*, #127 overall
#8 pocket passer, #3 MI
24/7 4*, #81 overall
#4 pro-style QB, #2 MI
Other Suitors Alabama, MSU, Syracuse
YMRMFSPA Shorter, nicer Ryan Mallett or A Better Son/Daughter: Quarterback Edition
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post is like over two years ago. Ace scouts De La Salle against Pioneer. Presented without comment. Ace interviews him.
Notes Under Armour AA.

Film

Junior highlights:

Single game highlights from Stephen Nesbitt in Morris's senior opener:

Morris is kind of the reason these posts exist. When he committed over two years ago he hadn't been rated by any recruiting service, and while Ace has diligently tracked his progress in post after post (MGoBlog has 14 pages of posts tagged "shane morris"), nowhere do we have a unified dossier of what kind of player he might be. This endeavors to be it.

When not acting as Michigan's de facto recruiting coordinator or posing for ridiculous student ID photos, Morris moonlights as a tall left-handed QB with a monster arm and accuracy issues. These issues were compounded by a senior-year bout of mono that caused him to miss a large portion of his senior year. His junior year was unimpressive statistically on a poor De La Salle team, reputedly because he got no protection and no one on his team could catch.

So his lofty rankings were a result of camp after camp, as Morris seemingly took in every 7-on-7 on offer with the travelling MaxEx team you may be familiar with as the summer home of Dennis Norfleet, Csont'e York, and Khalid Hill. A scouting sampler from those outings:

  • 247 at the Ohio E11 regional camp: "Morris is at seemingly every event he can get to, eager to prove himself. On Friday he did just. He can put loads of velocity on the ball without digging deep, he showed great accuracy throughout the day and he has a smooth and natural composure in the pocket."
  • Scout at IMG/Madden: "He is the prototypical gunslinger. He has a quick delivery and a strong arm. He doesn't need to set his feet to generate velocity on his throws and can whip the ball from several arm angles. Like most gunslingers, Morris isn't afraid to take chances with the ball. Most of the time that works to his advantage, but at times he takes unnecessary chances throwing into traffic."
  • Rivals at an NLA event in Pittsburgh when it was really coming down: "Morris continued to throw darts despite the slick conditions. He was not throwing 100 miles per hour on every pass as he will do in camp settings, but he would let one rip if he needed to fit it into a tight window. For most of the day he varied his speed and trajectory appropriately and threw a number of great passes."
  • 247 at SMSB: "Morris dropped jaws with his impeccable footwork and ultra-quick release. Morris is so smooth and sound in his mechanics and can effortlessly fire the ball down field with just a quick flick of his wrist. Morris has also bulked up to over 200 pounds of solid muscle."
  • Rivals at SMSB: "clearly stood out as the top player at his position. The Rivals100 prospect is really in control of his game right now, and his passes are coming out of his hand beautifully with velocity and accuracy. He was told by Michigan quarterbacks coach Al Borges, who was working the event, to throttle it back some on day one, but overall Morris varied his speeds well during the event."
  • Ace: "The first thing that stands out about Morris is his arm strength—the ball explodes out of his hand with seemingly little effort. When he's on, it's a sight to behold. The problem—and ultimately why he dropped in the rankings—is that he's yet to show consistency; he still needs work reading defenses and relies too heavily on his arm strength to fit the ball into windows that sometimes aren't there."

In literally every superlatives article I have come across, Morris is the guy designated "Strongest Arm" or "Howitzer" or "Hosiest Hose For Hosing" or "Most Likely To Bomb Berlin With Only His Arm," usually with an accompanying note stating "this was an easy choice." Sometimes they tell you that he can throw harder than everybody ever, like this eval from the Elite 11:

There shouldn't be much question of who has the strongest arm any more. Including the college players acting as counselors, the strongest arm at the Elite 11 Finals belongs to Morris. When push comes to shove, Morris has a laser-like focus on the left side of the field. That's a habit he'll need to outgrow.

This is the upside. Morris has a huge arm and a ton of great tools for a quarterback. ESPN's evaluation loves every part of him save one, which we'll get to later. I'll skip the stuff about the arm strength and just note the QB stuff:

He possesses terrific feet, pocket movement, awareness and can buy time with good overall athleticism for the position. …  He works through progressions nicely, can check down and work from the first option to the next. … He rarely takes his eyes down within the pocket and scans the field under pressure and will plant and throw in face of the rush. He side-steps and resets with balance and is ready to get the ball out even under duress…. He shows a consistent and quick stroke over-the-top, which is tough to find with lefties, and can beat the rush with his release consistently. He shows good ability changing ball speeds and displays touch and timing on fade and corner routes. That may be best trait Morris possesses.

Wow, huh?  

Well, the downside is that most evaluations come with a caution about consistency. ESPN flat-out states that Morris's completion percentage is "nowhere near where it should be given his tools and this is an area in need of significant improvement." Scout's eval is another example:

Scout.com Player Evaluation:

STRENGTHS

Arm Strength / Pocket Awareness / Poise and Leadership

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Accuracy / Consistency / Decision-making

A better than advertised athlete who does a good job of escaping the rush and can make plays with his feet and throw on the run. … Downfield passes do not hang up and he has great placement on his deep balls. Great leader with a lot of intangibles. Sometimes trusts his arm and throws into traffic. - Allen Trieu

Y mas:

Morris had an up-and-down day, but when he hit his stride he made some incredible throws. He regularly displayed his ability to go vertical and make the big throw down the field. He also made some excellent throws underneath and into tight windows. He has a cannon for an arm and showed the ability to thread the needle at times. He battled some inconsistency and his accuracy was on and off, but still had numerous flashes of why he was so sought after.

Morris is a bit of a slow starter. A lot of evaluations say "started rough, but then warmed up," whether it's on day two of an event or just later in a competition day.

He had a stronger, more consistent day on Sunday than he did on Saturday. He has great arm strength and throws a tight spiral to all levels. He showed the ability to utilize touch and lay balls over the defense in the middle of the field. It was evident that Morris was missing some upper-tier wide receivers at the event as he was let down at times by the inability of his receivers to win well-placed balls.

…That tendency can be seen in that Pioneer game above: Morris tosses an ugly interception on his first throw of the season, misses a few guys, has another couple passes broken up, and then heats up even though his receivers generally do their best impression of Michigan State 2012.

Morris's evident upside was enough for the sites to rank him highly out of the gate, and after he was excellent at the Opening—which came right on the heels of the 7 on 7 just mentioned in which he had a he had a poor first day before leading his team to the Championship Game—he was proclaimed a five star by most sites.  Then he went to the Elite 11.

On the Elite Eleven. The once-prestigious quarterback camp has descended into reality-TV farce. Now crammed full with 25 prospects—most local camps will have half of that and give a large number of reps to the few true D-I prospects—the competition consists of around eight throws per day, frustrating scouts in attendance:

With trips to the beach for a Navy-Seal style bootcamp workout at 4 A.M. and chalk talk sessions behind closed doors, the final television product for ESPN should look spectacular when it airs in early August, but the on-field action was limited. … Ranking players off of 30 throws at a shorts and t-shirt event after having seen these players for over a year is for entertainment purposes only. Don't expect players to jump up in down in the actual Scout rankings after 30 throws.

You can see the inconsistency in the rankings: Scout named Morris the #1 guy there ("capable of making throws that only a few in his class can hope to match"), Rivals said he was #4 ("at the top because of his high ceiling"), as did 247 ("could at times approach the college counselors in terms of driving the ball down the field"), but the camp coaches left him off the "Elite 11" list that is the only semblance of the old camp.

I don't care. Both Scout and Rivals ranked all 25 QBs, placing the #1 and #2 "Elite 11" guys in their bottom five. One of those guys ended up at Fresno State and had one other offer from Mississippi State; the other is headed to Nebraska to be Taylor Martinez 2.0. People call him "Johnny Tebow" because he is a horse who can't throw. Those rankings are so intentionally bad that they may as well not exist. End Dilferrant.

Wait, more Dilferrant! AND we're talking about eight throws a day for a guy who clearly takes a little time to get in a rhythm anyway.

Anyway. Camp season wound down, Morris had a pretty damn good opening game against Pioneer. Ace:

The rough start for Morris stemmed from a combination of rushing his throws and trying to force the action too much…. throws either led receivers right into big hits or were overly ambitious tosses into small windows. …

Then Morris started to roll, reminding everyone why he was so highly touted in the first place. He showed improved touch on short and intermediate routes, as well as the ability to make an accurate throw across his body (see 3:10 mark above). He also toned down the happy feet; at 4:06, he steps up and makes an impressive throw while facing heavy pressure.

A big criticism of Morris last year focused on his often laser-like focus on the left side of the field; he'd stare down his top read and often force it there even if covered. While the pass fell incomplete, you can see the strides he's made in that regard at the 4:33 mark, as he looks off the coverage to the right, then moves on to his second read down the left sideline. That's a big advancement from last year and proof that Morris is picking up a lot from his myriad camp appearances.

And then he slowly unraveled with mono. When he came back it was not under ideal conditions. Tim Sullivan:

There was only one bad throw by Morris on which he was not being buried under pressure - the second interception. He unleashed the arm strength on that one, hoping velocity would make up for throwing it into coverage. On other throws, he was either crushed by a defensive lineman, a pass was straight-up dropped, or it was close enough that there's nothing to worry about.

He warmed up a little after those events, but by the an already-shaky De La Salle team had lost all hope of the playoffs and the season just kind of sputtered out.

Recruiting sites generally held Morris steady through his mono, but when he showed at the UA game his extremely erratic throwing (he was two of ten in the game) forced large moves down on most sites. Rivals mentioned he "did not look like himself" early. In 247's final update, Morris dropped from #19 to #81:

[Morris] continues to struggle with the accuracy aspect of being a passer, and this was especially evident the week of the Under Armour All-America game. With that being said, Morris still has plenty of potential and will likely start making gains in the accuracy department as he works to get more compact in his motion.

Morris took a similar plunge on Rivals for similar reasons:

It was a tough week for the five-star quarterback who never found his rhythm. Morris is coming off an upper respiratory illness that caused him to miss most of his senior season. His rust showed during practice and during the game. … No one can discount his arm strength, but he needs to become more consistent on his progressions and taking what the defense gives him.

ESPN had already started the process of moving Morris down when he got sick and went farther than any other site by the end of the year, likely influenced by the Elite 11 guys. 

Given Morris's tendency to start slow, this is not a surprise, nor will it be when you hear practice reports saying he's struggling early. Morris needs time to get revved up, and time to fix the mechanical regression he experienced due to his mono layoff. If Michigan has to turn to him this year, only bad things will happen; given a year or two—please be two—he has the potential to be anything he wants to be other than Denard Robinson.

Etc.: Not the guy who trolls Fall Out Boy on the internets. Family keeps him grounded. Here is an interview featuring the question "What was your response when U of M recruited you? Did you cry?"

Why Shorter, Nicer Ryan Mallett? Mallett was the hosingest hoser of them all as a five star out of Texas, but immediately alienated the entire team and Lloyd Carr in his single year at Michigan. After his transfer to Arkansas he displayed his talent for fitting balls into windows so tight they barely existed, throwing NFL lasers off his back foot, wearing backwards baseball caps, throwing arrogant interceptions, and occasionally lasering a five-yard pass into an incompletion. The end result was very Mallett: his completion percentage rose from 43% to 56% to 65% over three years in college and his YPA hit nearly 10 as a senior.

Morris is basically the same guy without the attitude and three inches of height. His challenges will be the same: throwing accurately, taking heat off the ball when he has to, and not thinking "I can make it!" when he patently cannot, at least not too often.

Why A Better Son/Daughter, Quarterback Edition? Sometimes when you're on, man.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. All the camps, but limited high school data and the great mono question about whether everyone is overreacting to a bad UA game that may be easily explainable.

Variance: High. Limited high school success and time, consistent questions about consistency, and that drop mean Morris has a high bust factor. On the other hand…

Ceiling: High. Guy could obviously be a top-level NFL prospect.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I believe Morris will round into a good player, but it's easy to see him being a pretty frustrating starter who whips in too many amazing interceptions. Variance is large. Borges's QB coaching skills will be under the spotlight here.

Projection: Redshirt all but impossible given the depth chart and the nonzero (even if slim) chance Gardner is out the door after one year as the starter. Will be the #2 this year, hopefully given over to backup duty only.

If Gardner goes, he's pretty much the starter by default with only Bellomy and a true freshman Wilton Speight for competition. If Gardner stays, Speight will be on a much more level playing field and that competition will have some doubt in it, plus there is a strong likelihood Michigan brings in a hotshot 2015 guy who would like to play Henne in a three-way artillery piece battle.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Derrick Green

2013 Recruiting: Derrick Green Comment Count

Brian August 5th, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York, WR Jaron Dukes.

   
Richmond, VA – 6'0", 220
     

bilde[1]

Scout 5*, #6 overall
#1 RB, #1 VA
Rivals 5*, #8 overall
#1 RB, #1 VA
ESPN 4*, #38 overall
#5 RB, #3 VA
24/7 4*, #84 overall
#8 RB, #5 VA
Other Suitors Ohio State, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, USC, Oklahoma, Miami, FSU, Oregon
YMRMFSPA Beanie Wells
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Army AA.

Film

Senior highlights:

If you watch only one play of this reel make it the run that starts at 10:20.

Army game (actual play starts at 1:30):

It's not that Derrick Green breaks arm tackles. It's that he doesn't notice them. Go ahead, watch the highlight reel. On the high school level, an arm tackle may as well be an invitation marked endzone, party of one. So, yeah, he's not that elusive, but he doesn't have to be, because he's elusive enough not to take a head on shot and anything short of that… no sale.

But don't take it from me, take it from everybody.

  • Brian Dohn, Scout: "Green is a durable, physical runner who doesn't have elite speed, but that really isn't needed to be success. Just think Emmitt Smith. … He is big, strong, accelerates well and has very good vision and balance. He is creative and he is difficult to bring down. He has quick feet, and his change of direction is very good. He can make subtle cuts and turn a 3-yard gain into an 8-yard gain in a flash."
  • Various Rivals Analysts: "You can't build a better-looking high school running back if you tried as Green already looks like he's in college." "Green is a bowling ball of a runner who is very strong North-South but has quick feet and good balance. Once he decides to hit a hole, and he is a decisive runner, he is a load to handle. It would have been nice to see some full contact because you could tell he would have shrugged off linebackers." "Green showed why he is the No. 1 running back in the country by hitting all the right holes, showing off great vision and flashing his trademark burst." "In practices and in the game, Green ran with toughness and speed, cut very well and showed he has the vision to make an early impact at the next level."
  • ESPN: "Green is a load and a strong, physically imposing runner ready to make the college jump…. Green is quick to get downhill and attack the hole and he gains momentum fast. … lacks fluidity through the hips as a lateral runner but shows sharp, subtle cutbacks and deceptive pick-and-slide ability at times. While he can sidestep and avoid tacklers, he is at his best when squared up and given a heavy dose of Iso and Power plays. … Displays very good power to break tackles. … drags tacklers and finishes runs falling forward. … likes contact. Has good speed for his size, but not a home run threat in college or a player who is going to make you miss with elusiveness."
  • 247's Clint Brewster: "I compare Green to former Auburn tailback Ronnie Brown, who played under offensive coordinator Al Borges with the Tigers. Both Green and Brown are excellent catching the ball out of the backfield and are three-down running backs."

Green's combination of size, speed, and willingness to show out at camps saw him rise to the #1 RB spot on both Scout and Rivals; he wasn't far behind as a top 50 player and the #5 RB on ESPN, a decision that was apparently very narrow

This is arguably the most talented running back class we have seen in recent memory. The discrepancy in talent from our top-rated back Kelvin Taylor to our fifth-rated back Derrick Green is minimal on film and from a grade standpoint.

…and while 247 is the resident skeptic they still rate him inside their top 100. And, like, compare him to a first-round NFL draft pick.

Yet more scouting reports say he's "a bowling ball style back with a low center of gravity" with "burst and explosiveness," a "powerful running back who can blow through arm tackles," a "downhill runner who is decisive finding and hitting the hole" with "deceptive quickness" and is "far from just a North-South power back." You get it.

The Green hype is to the point that FRED JACKSON, yes, that FRED JACKSON, can say things and your first inclination is not to LOL and rush to the Fred Jackson Hyperbole Tracker but rather to pull out a bubble pipe, put on a tweed jacket, and disclaim "indeed, verily":

“He’s the same type of guy as a Yeldon or a Lacy or an Ingram. He’s the same kind of guy, like those guys are. It’s just matter of everything working for you.“

“Derrick can roll for a big man, now. He had been clocked at 4.4 and 220 pounds. That’s pretty good. … I don’t want to compare him to anybody. I think he is different than Anthony Thomas. But he is built more like Chris Perry. His style reminds me of Anthony’s."

I… I just agree. I don't have snark about this. Fred Jackson, I agree. Fred Jackson, this is the sort of back who would hang out at Alabama, eating tackles for lunch and grinding out five yards on third and two. Yes.

Other comparisons on offer are LeVeon Bell

While both are big, strong and proven load backs, the similarity that really strikes you when watching them both is their ability to withstand the first hit and keep downhill momentum. Both of these backs have very good balance, and while they can break initial contact with power through the hole, they also have enough agility and quickness to spin and slip their way out of tackles through tight seams.

…and Marshawn Lynch:

"Both are explosive and violent runners, so it is an easy comparison to make. What I think makes them so similar is the physicality in the hole and getting into the next level. Neither guy is really looking to shake tacklers rather than hitting them with a stiff arm or just straight running over them. It is a mean streak and an angry approach to carrying the football, and they both have it." -- Adam Friedman, Rivals.com Northeast analyst.

    So pick a large, mean future first- or second-round draft pick.
    Now, there is some disagreement on certain points. Some people think he has near-breakaway speed, some not so much. Some people think he's great out of the backfield, others not so much. But no one disagrees that this person is essentially two years into college, physically…

Green looks like a college freshman or sophomore running back already [ED: 2011, ie, before his junior year of high school] with a tremendous build and very powerful legs. He is built like a bowling ball and is simply a ball of muscle that explodes and gains speed after his first few strides. What was most surprising however was his ability to catch the ball with soft hands.

ready to go

"Green looks physically like a college junior," Farrell said. "If you put him in any college uniform right now and told someone who had never seen him that he was a 1,500-yard rusher, they wouldn't blink an eye. Plus he's shown  the ability to block and catch passes now, so he's gone from a two-down back to an every-down guy. He's the most physically impressive running back we've seen in awhile."

If you put him in a Wisconsin uniform and helmet, you'd think he was a college senior coming off a 2,000-yard season. His legs are beyond strong and thick and he looks like a human bowling ball, ready to knock down pin after pin heading to the end zone.

The one minor note of disagreement comes from a review of the Opening from Scout, which worried that Green might turn into a fullback if he's not careful:

1. Derrick Green There were some mixed reviews on Green among the staff. He is strikingly thick for a high school running back which can worry you some as to how he develops and projects but even at that size, he has outstanding feet. Because he is so quick with his cuts and so decisive, he has the skill set to really complement his size well.

That is rather positive for a negative take, since the 1 by his name signifies he was the best tailback at the first day of that camp. But it is a point to consider.

Sort of.  Green entered high school with the opposite problem that most kids have: he needed to lose weight. That he's here is testament to his desire. He was actually a 268-pound freshman(!) who was told to play on the line because obviously but wanted to play tailback, so he dropped weight and dropped weight until he became the guy he is today, like Michelangelo carving David out of himself. Is that comparison overblown? Ask me in four years. (Ok, probably, shut up.)

But here is that pattern again, both in the work and the kind of person that Michigan is adding to the program.

Sam Webb: So you clearly know him better than most people here, most of the media. What should people know about Derrick Green that isn’t immediately obvious just by walking in and seeing him?

Domonique Hargrove: “One thing you have to know about him is, man, he definitely is a man of character, and he definitely keeps God first. … that’s what he kept saying, ‘I’m going to keep God first, he’s going to be one – Jesus is going to be the one to help me get to the top’, and hey, the proof is in the pudding, look at him here today, all his supporters, I love him, I love his mom and his dad, and I’m proud of him.”

Etc.: Star RB: OSU Will Always Be No. 1. Nope. Excellent profile article from 247 that's free. FWIW, Green ran a 4.56 forty to win a Fastest Man award as an underclassman despite being 230 at the time.

Why Beanie Wells? Yeldon and Lacy and This Year's Bama Back are also good comparisons but in terms of guys Michigan fans have seen an awful lot of, Wells is the best comparison available. He's a bit taller but about as heavy, was also the #1-ish tailback in his class, and combined enormous muscled pounding with quick feet and enough speed to make people pay for missed tackles.

After a debut season in which he split carries with Antonio Pittman, he took over the main job for his final two years, then bolted towards the tail end of the first round of the NFL draft. He averaged just under 6.0 YPC his two seasons as the starter. I mean:

Extraordinary combination of size and natural running ability. Downhill runner who attacks the line of scrimmage when running inside. Shows the patience to pick and slide laterally. Good burst to and through the hole. … Rare size and leg drive to move the pile. Rare vision and lateral quickness for a back of his size. Anticipates the cutback lanes before they appear and capitalizes on them. Surprising acceleration to break through the first wave of the defense and get to the second level. Brutal stiff-arm when in the open field to bat away defenders attempting to drag him down. Despite his size, shows good breakaway speed.

Hello, MY NAME IS Derrick Green.

BONUS: Wells was reputedly a Michigan fan growing up; Green was reputedly an OSU fan growing up.

Guru Reliability: Exacting. All the camps, All Star, heavily scouted top end prospect.

Variance: Low. Already college size, playing position, exacting guru reliability.

Ceiling: Vast. First round type back.

General Excitement Level: BOOM. Brady Hoke can't recruit skill positions, don't you know.

Projection: Beanie Wells comparisons don't stop at the talent's edge. Green, too, should split carries with a quality senior option as a senior before emerging into the starter for a two-year run that's appealing enough to the NFL that they snatch him up as soon as he's eligible.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Jaron Dukes

2013 Recruiting: Jaron Dukes Comment Count

Brian August 2nd, 2013 at 12:19 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones, WR Csont'e York.

       
Columbus, OH – 6'4", 200
       

thumbnail[1]

Scout

3*, NR overall
#60 WR

Rivals

3*, NR overall
#60 WR, #40 OH

ESPN

4*, #233 overall
#33 WR, #14 OH

24/7

3*, NR overall 
#84 WR, #31 OH

Other Suitors

Illinois

YMRMFSPA Taller Junior Hemingway
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace; Ace interviews him, twice.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior highlights:

Youtube also has video of Dukes brushing his teeth like a weirdo.

 

Michigan had brought in some large dudes the year before (Funchess, obviously, and both Darboh and Chesson hover around 6'2") but it was Jaron Dukes's commitment that truly inaugurated the era of enormous receivers at all costs at Michigan. Though he probably doesn't quite stand the 6'5" he was reputed to when he committed, it's clear that his size and body control are excellent while his speed is an Area For Improvement.

His coach is pretty blunt about it:

"He's realized he's at home on the field. He's a big 6'5, 200-lb receiver and he runs well. He's not a burner. He's a 4.6 guy, but he has tremendous, good hands. He has a great ceiling because he's only played football for three years …."

"He needs to work on overall size and speed. He needs to get to that 4.5 range to be legit in the Big Ten. In the Big Ten, the defensive backs are stronger, bigger, faster, so he has to get his body bigger, stronger, faster."

This was known from the beginning. His coming out party was as a junior in the state semi-finals, where he had six catches for 173 yards and two touchdowns against Cam Burrows and Trotwood-Madison. His first touchdown was a fade on which Dukes skied over Burrows and then ran through his tackle attempt for an 80-yarder. Separation achieved: zero. Separation needed: zero. Great success.

Dukes had a modicum of hype after that performance, but his total aversion to camps and lack of film out there—Scout posted some junior year stuff in December (ie, after his senior year), saying they'll "take what they can get" on Dukes—saw him remain in the three-star territory everywhere except ESPN, which is the least camp-oriented site. It didn't help that his production fell off, with just 31 catches for 553 yards and nine TDs as a senior. MGoUser Dubs took in a Dukes game and reported back a lot of that was due to his quarterback, who was a dual-threat sort, and in high school this often means "can't throw a lick."

They liked him enough to put him in their 300, because his speed is okay in their book given the rest of the package:

Dukes is a really good looking player with great size, length, wing span and deceptive elusiveness and top-end speed. He is a more agile, faster and physical version of 2012 prospect and Oregon WR Dwayne Stanford…. He has quick feet for a big guy and more than adequate speed. He is quick, fast, has a burst coming out of his cuts and can get good separation, but he is doing it on athleticism alone at this stage. He has good hands and very good ball skills. He can make the catch away from his body and is not shy about going over the middle. He possesses very good body control and change-of-direction skills, and he shows that he can turn a short gain into a big play. … He must learn how to become a good route runner through precision, tempo and spacing.

Others pretty much agree but chalk his lack of separation up to speed instead of much more fixable route-running issues. That scout eval mentioned above:

He's a big target, and uses it, as he does a nice job of going up and getting the ball and using his body to gain position on defensive backs. He's smooth, but not a speed demon, not a sudden guy, but he has shown that he can get into the open field and outrun guys in the open field. As he gets into a college weight program, he's going to get big. He has a great frame, and it wouldn't surprise us to see him as a 215-220-lb college receiver creating mismatches and being a red zone threat. We wouldn't even rule out some flex tight end.

Argh maybe should have saved BJ Cunningham for this guy. Anyway, Dukes's Scout profile's actual Areas For Improvement are "elusiveness with catch" and "quickness off line"; they like his blocking, ability to be a red zone weapon, and largeosity.

Kyle Bogenschutz caught a game of his as well:

Very impressed with his physical tools. …his attention to detail really jumps out. Dukes runs hard, crisp routes, specifically come back and curl routes that were very effective all night against a tough Pickerington Central defense. Dukes made a few people miss after the catch on a few occasions Friday night and dragged defenders with him to the ground after picking up an extra couple of yards. It appears Dukes can improve on locating the ball in the air and using proper timing to go up and get it.

So… the opposite of that ESPN evaluation. Back to Dubs:

As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine).  There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. … he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.

And that's about it as far as scouting reports go. As mentioned, it seems like as soon as he got the Michigan offer he was content to focus on his game: no camps, no senior highlights, nothing. This partially explains the dearth of offers listed above: he may have got some additional ones, but Dukes doesn't give a dang about reporting them.

As you might imagine, a guy who cares not a whit about getting love from the recruiting services fits The Pattern. His coach:

"He's very coachable," Haffele said. "That's probably his biggest asset. When guys start getting recruited heavy, you get the 'me' thing and the 'I' thing, but you ask him to block, he will. He's an honest, coachable young man."

Also:

"He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid."

Etc.: I've seen like four hook and ladders from his team just watching his film. Weird. He's the hook guy, FWIW.

Why Taller Junior Hemingway? Well, he's taller. He also promises to be a leaping downfield threat that goes up and high-points balls smaller defensive backs can't get to, the kind of guy that ends up on the end of a lot of "nonononono YESSSSS" balls. Hemingway was also a 3/4 star tweener, albeit one a bit more highly ranked than Dukes overall.

Dukes is going to be a big, thick kid, as well. Hopefully his blocking is better than Hemingway's, which was erratic at best.

Guru Reliability: Low. Guy was in stealth mode for much of his career.

Variance: Moderate. Top-end is not amazing; low end is Jeremy Jackson, a guy who just can't get out of the hip pocket of defensive backs.

Ceiling: Moderate. Is never going to be a guy who can crush you over the top, will have to work hard for most of the balls he brings in. A guy who gets more valuable as the field shrinks, though.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Again, seems like a useful piece instead of a potential #1. I think the class before this (Darboh, Chesson) and the two classes after (Ways, Canteen, Harris, Campbell) have about 4 candidates for the #1 jersey, though, so it's fine that this WR class will fill in the gaps.

Projection: One of the freshmen WR will play, and I couldn't tell you who. Whoever does will be mostly blocking, anyway. I'm guessing Dukes gets a redshirt because with Jeremy Gallon around Michigan doesn't need an endzone fade target.

Down the road, Dukes is in the same spot that his classmates are: looking up at the two guys from last year for the next couple years and watching tight end types eat into their playing time. Dukes's projected role as a sideline fade merchant will probably lock him in behind outside receivers until he's an upperclassman. Both York and Jones have attributes that project to the slot better.

Unless Dukes beats out one of the 2012 guys, when Darboh goes in three years Dukes will have his first major opportunity. By that point he'll have fierce competition from a third-year Drake Harris and second-year George Campbell. Michigan rotates their WRs to keep them fresh, so a role off the bench is not no role. I'm not sure Michigan's recruiting is going to allow Dukes a whole lot more unless Jehu Chesson doesn't work out (which he totally will) or injury strikes.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Csont'e York

2013 Recruiting: Csont'e York Comment Count

Brian July 31st, 2013 at 12:48 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman, WR Da'Mario Jones

   
Detroit, MI – 6'3", 190
     

492753[1]

Scout

3*, NR overall
#56 WR

Rivals

3*, NR overall
#75 WR, #10 MI

ESPN

3*, NR overall
#124 WR, #18 MI

24/7

3*, NR overall 
#66 WR, #10 MI

Other Suitors

Cinci, Syracuse, Illinois

YMRMFSPA BJ Cunningham
(minus the blocking)
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace; also, Ace scouts CPA against Old Redford. The message board notes that he can dunk.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior highlights:

Ace took in a CPA game:

Csont'e York is a guy who is really thankful for the emergence of camps everywhere all the time. He hit a bunch of them, impressed, and went from guy with Toledo and Bowling Green offers to Michigan commit. He did this for the usual reason: catching radius.

Bob Lichtenfels caught him at his NFTC appearance, and described Al Borges catnip:

York made everything look so easy that we started to take it for granted. By the end of the camp his circus catches were looking routine. He is very smooth in and out of his breaks. Possesses very good ball skills and gets separation from the defender. He uses his body well to shield defenders from the ball. Smooth, gliding type of runner. Not sure how good his top end speed is, but he is very tough to cover on the short to intermediate routes.

This is the book on the kid. Allen Trieu took in the same camp, said he was "the guy who really emerged" because of the same thing:

He's a tall, lean kid with fantastic ball skills. He's effortless when it comes to adjusting to the ball in the air and making tough grabs that are high or not right on target. He's not a burner, but can create separation and gave a lot of the top DBs trouble.

In another article on the same camp, Trieu added that he's "aggressive attacking the football in the air and has exceptional leaping ability." Top DBs at that camp included OSU commit Cam Burrows, BTW, so York was making a name for himself against serious men.

His coach:

“What makes Csont’e special is his ball skills,” Chandler Park coach John Jergovich said. “His natural ability to catch the ball at its highest point and not catch it with his body. He’s always catching the ball with his hands. His body control is ridiculous.”

Ace scouted him:

York capitalized on the few opportunities he had to make an impact, and all three of his catches—including one two-point conversion—featured his excellent ball skills and body positioning. York knows just where to put himself to shield the defender from the ball, and once he does that it's over—he catches the ball away from his body and reels in anything close. Only once did York have a remote shot at the ball and not bring it in, and on that play he almost made a spectacular one-handed grab on a fade. One play later, CPA ran the same play and he came down with a touchdown.

ESPN's version of same:

York is a long and lanky redzone threat with a wide catch radius and a penchant for making the acrobatic grab look easy. He is tall and lean, but with great flexibility and body control for a tall player that is still growing into his frame. … He is very natural in terms of his change-of-direction skills and body control. Has fluid hips for a taller receiver and is a smooth route runner who doesn't have to gear down a lot when going into and coming out of his breaks. He has long arms and good leaping ability. … His hands are soft and reliable. … Over the shoulder concentration is excellent.

All of this is pretty awesome you guys, and I hacked out about a bunch more stuff in that vein. 247 also notes that he has "extremely long arms," which make him play even taller than his ample height.

THE CATCH? Yeah, the catch. Guy is a consensus three-star despite the above. Why:

The problem with York is he is not an overly explosive player and lacks great speed and a second gear. Builds to top speed, does not bolt to it. Is limited after the catch to just extending plays for positive yards, but not a homerun threat.

Okay. That's why ESPN seems to be all about York but then ranks him in the triple digits. Trieu agrees in his Scout assessment, noting "elusiveness after the catch" and "speed" as negatives and noting that he's "not one who will give you a ton after the catch. On the other hand, "he's not a 4.4 guy, but has a solid burst and can create separation both underneath and downfield."

Also in agreement? Michigan State:

"It was Michigan, and what else should I say?" York said of his decision. "I actually grew up a Michigan State fan, but they said they questioned my speed and needed to see more."

Michigan did not after his camp performances, offered, and nailed him down. A few mid-level BCS schools (Cincinnati, Illinois, Syracuse) had thrown their hats in before that

In the ancillaries section of our post, York's coach says he's an enthusiastic blocker. Like, guy could have come from Pahokee:

" I think one of his biggest attributes is that he loves to block. Loves to block. I think he's just as excited putting a DB on his back or cracking down on a linebacker as he is to catch a touchdown."

HOWEVA, Ace caught him and was like WTF?

On most plays York simply jogged downfield if the ball wasn't coming his way…. On two occasions he ran directly into another receiver on downfield routes—part of that may be poor play design or a mistake by the other player, but York's routes weren't exactly precise.

When York did make an effort to block, it was pretty obvious that he was holding, and I'm frankly surprised he didn't draw a flag. When he wasn't able to latch on to a defender's shoulder pads, he was thrown aside with relative ease.

That was not a 49-0 blowout he could take it easy, man, in. York's team lost in double OT. So… blocking is a work in progress, as it is with a lot of high schoolers. Also maybe his routes, though apparently when he's in a camp setting those are excellent.

It is possible his high school team was not the most organized, but Ace mentioned that at times he didn't even bother to run routes in another section of his scouting report. Contrast that with this from the NFTC

The 6-2 prospect took countless reps, winning most of them and showing great ball skills, route-running and mismatch size. York has impressed us in several different settings and he deserves a lot more college interest than he is receiving.

and this

Besides having great size, York is a very technical receiver. He runs clean routes and makes sharp cuts, creating space for his quarterback to find him down the field.

…and there's almost a contract-year vibe from his camp performances. You prefer your guys to be robot killers, because then there's less of a chance they fade away when their motivation leaves them. Maybe there was something sapping his enthusiasm that won't follow him to Ann Arbor. Who knows?

Etc.: Has… unexpected musical tastes.

Bon Jovi is the man I love his radio station on Pandora Poison, Journey & Survivor can't beat them!

This may be why Brady Hoke offered him. Not saying it is, but you can't rule out an impassioned Hall & Oates conversation leading to an offer. Interesting answer to a "who do you respect most on the current team" question:

Which current player on the team he looks up to most: Defensive lineman Frank Clark. I've seen his work ethic. It's good. He goes hard at all times. That motivates me. He told me when I get up there it's about work, and you have to get it done. I also look up to Raymon Taylor, because he has the same work ethic, too.

Would like to be Braylon:

“I want to be the caliber receiver that Braylon Edwards was,” said York. “He was always so good at going up and catching the ball at its highest point and that’s one of my strengths too."

I would like this as well.

It's pronounced "Sawn-tay," FWIW. Has a great, sad story.

Why BJ Cunningham (minus the blocking)? Cunningham was a big-bodied, box-'em out, sit-in-a-zone-hole receiver for Michigan State. This one was hard for me so I asked Ace and he confirmed that York is "certainly a similar body type" to Cunningham. Cunningham used his frame and leaping ability to get balls downfield, since he was rarely able to just blow by guys.

The major difference right now is blocking, which Cunningham was unbelievably good at—like, almost a third tight-end good—and York is… not. York is also about 20 pounds short of Cunningham but should fill out to around the 210, 215 area that he did.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Some camps, kind of consensus, but not a lot of in-person scouting save Ace's, and it sounds like his compete level was not the same in high school as it was at camps.

Variance: Low-plus. Guy already has all the skills you want but isn't going to become George Campbell (who is committed to Michigan). The plus is for some uncertainty about that compete level.

Ceiling: Moderate. A guy who can be a nice #2 receiver if he works out.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Scouting reports here are a lot kinder than the rankings, at least for camp season.

Projection: From the camp reports you'd think he would be the receiver most likely to play, but that blocking thing from his high school game makes me (and Ace) think he'll get beat out by either Dukes or Jones to be the freshman WR who plays.

Then, like Jones, he'll have an opportunity next year as Michigan loses four guys who figure to see snaps (Gallon, Dileo, Jackson, and Joe Reynolds). York sounds like the kind of guy who can find a role for himself on third and medium as a chain-moving slant merchant and could play himself into a dozen or so catches. That's where he'll probably stay for the next year since no one leaves, and then he'll have a chance to be the #2 when Darboh leaves.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Da'Mario Jones

2013 Recruiting: Da'Mario Jones Comment Count

Brian July 29th, 2013 at 11:18 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill, HB Wyatt Shallman

   
Westland, MI – 6'2", 195
     

1080136[1]

Scout

3*, NR overall
#55 WR

Rivals

3*, NR overall
NR WR, #17 MI

ESPN

3*, NR overall
#83 WR, #12 MI

24/7

3*, NR overall 
#155 WR, #20 MI

Other Suitors

CMU, MSU(?), UCLA(?), Georgia(?!?)

YMRMFSPA a poor man's Steve Breaston
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Westland John Glenn (Lloyd Carr!)

Film

Senior highlights:

This used to happen quite a bit, but with the continuing expansion of recruiting coverage and Brady Hoke's chops on the trail not so much lately: there's not all that much out there on Da'Mario Jones. A Central Michigan commitment most of last year, Jones played on a team that only threw rarely

Jones’ recruiting profile has been kept under the radar by his role in Glenn’s run-heavy offense, in which he’s used as a blocker and ball carrier more than a pass-catcher. He’s currently unranked by Rivals.com, despite good speed and displaying a knack for getting open in summer camp experiences.

…and got most of his reps as a runner. He did not pop up on a lot of radars. I mean:

Jones played wide receiver - where he was targeted on just one downfield pass, a fade route that was thrown well out of bounds - and running back, where he notched 35 yards on 8 carries, including a touchdown.

Compounding matters, when Ace suggested he should go scout the kid I said "naw, man, Treadwell's coming," which we can all laugh about now but remains a bit of a facepalm from yours truly.

What is out there suggests that Jones is a slot-ish guy in the Breaston mold (ie, tallish), albeit without the ludicrous film of going to work. ESPN makes him sound like a poor man's version of our favorite punt returner:

He may not be a great speed guy, but is fast enough. Has a good solid frame to work with, needs to add strength, but possesses very good measurables. Shows adequate-to-good speed on tape. Has good height and arm length. Long strider that has good, but not great quickness and is pretty high cut. Has some ability to stop and start, but lacks elite explosion. … Will need to add some more mass to hold up at the next level. Can be inconsistent as a catcher, shows ability to snatch the ball out of the air, away from his body, but also is a body catcher. … high cut build limits fluidity and lateral agility. Good, but not great with the ball in his hands.

Scout's profile makes him sound like someone else entirely, though: 

Scout.com Player Evaluation:

STRENGTHS

Body Control

Elusiveness with Catch

Hands and Concentration

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Route-Running Skills

Very good athlete who uses his tools to go up and make acrobatic catches. Has good body control, leaping ability, and good hands. He has good ability after the catch and open field skills which he has shown as a return man, running back, and a receiver. He just needs a little polish as a route runner, but he has a lot of the other tools you look for in a receiver. - Allen Trieu

This reads like a repurposed Moe Ways scouting report. Scout was by far the most enthused about Jones, FWIW, as they apparently caught a game of his in which he was actually targeted quite a bit. Jamie Newberg:

He's 6-foot-2, 195-pounds and has speed, elusiveness and great ball skills. The weather and the fact that Glenn jumped out to a huge lead limited his touches, but he scored on his first two touches, a long touchdown run where he lined up at tailback and took a pitch and the second on a 36-yard pass. He later had a jump ball in the end zone where he was ruled out, but outjumped the defender and came down with the ball. He has the physical tools you want, and I like what he can do in the open field in addition to what he does when the ball is in the air.

Touch The Banner sees him working underneath and maybe not being too good at snatching stuff out of the air:

He's capable of getting separation from defensive backs, shows good footwork and route running, and has enough suddenness to set up double moves.  He's not a shake-and-bake type, but he does show a knack for making a cut upfield after running laterally.  Crossing routes should be an asset where he can catch the ball over the middle, look for a seam, and then gain extra yards.  He also doesn't shy away from contact, so he should turn into a plus blocker and gain yards that some receivers won't.

Notice that I said he "could be" an asset in the red zone - Jones isn't the most natural pass catcher, and he needs to work on snatching the ball out of the air.  You can see in his film that when the ball is above his shoulders, he struggles to catch the ball cleanly.   … Jones also shows good speed, but he won't blow the lid off a defense.

Yes, this is basically the opposite of the previous report. Low sample size. That's two votes for a Breaston-like slasher, so we'll go with that.

Jones's potentially fake 40 times do suggest he's a guy who has speed

Jones has been clocked at a 10.9 in the 100, and ran a 4.47 in the 40 at Michigan State’s camp and a 4.50 at Ohio State’s camp.

…and I lend those a little credence since he ran a 4.61 as a rising sophomore at the National Underclassmen Combine, which was the fourth-best time at a very large event.

How about some intangible bits to make you feel better? Jones did have a number of other schools sniffing around. Early they were mostly middleweights

The 6-2, 195-pounder out of Westland (Mich.) John Glenn verbally committed to Central Michigan back in July, but is seeing more and more interest from BCS schools on a daily basis. Schools such as Michigan, Iowa, Pitt, TCU, UCLA, Tennessee, Georgia Tech, Illinois and Indiana have all reached out, and it may be only a matter of time before some of them extend offers.

…but he got a flurry of interest right before signing day, reportedly landing offers from UCLA, MSU, and Georgia(!) and entertaining interest from FSU(!) and Alabama(?!?). Due to the nature of recruiting these days—"uncommitable" offers and all that—it's impossible to judge just how interested any of these schools were, but Georgia plays things on the up and up. An actual offer from Richt is a positive marker.

Jones also fits The Pattern. His coach:

"You know, you hear these clichés all the time, but it is the absolute truth that he is an outstanding young man. After every game, he comes up and shakes the coaches hands, he's a great student, teachers like him. He's a great leader in our school. He does everything right."

This is not quite an "I'd let him date my daughter" quote, but I assume that's because his coach only has sons.

Etc.: Played Pop Warner with Charlton and Butt. Ohio State fans LOLing at his flip are so cute. Jones on Jones:

"I'm a versatile receiver, and I'm not just the speedster guy," he said. "I like to be physical, I get off the line, I get off the press. I try to run clean, crisp routes, and make sure the defenders can't guard me. Once I run my route, I figure I have good enough speed to catch the ball and take it to the next level."

Why a poor man's Steve Breaston? A wiry guy around 6'1", Breaston was a high school quarterback who went to work but needed time to add weight and learn the position. Once he did that he was an excellent slot option, though he never mastered the ability to make a downfield catch until he hit the NFL.

Jones has a similar high-cut build and long-striding running style, has similar issues with inexperience since his team barely threw, and promises to be a quick-ish slot option. He is not Steve Breaston, though. Breaston was a top 100 player; Jones a generic three-star.

Guru Reliability: Low. There is very little information on him for a lot of reasons.

Variance: High. Bust potential is obvious, but late offers hint at great promise.

Ceiling: Moderate. Sounds like he will top out as a nice #2 or #3 option.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-minus. Has some upside, but has a long way to go and could get lost in the shuffle.

Projection: One of the three receivers this year will play. Who will be determined by fall camp. Jones seems to be the internet's tentative favorite, but the other two guys likely bring more blocking.

Down the road, receiving opportunities open up next year with the departure of Gallon, Dileo, and Jackson. The competition steps up significantly with the addition of Drake Harris and Moe Ways, however, and Jones is going to have to find himself a role as a slot receiver or get sparing snaps since it seems like Michigan hit on both of last year's recruits. Meanwhile, the role of the slot receiver in an Al Borges offense with a fully-stocked hybrid TE mini-fridge is unknown.

Jones looks like he'll have maybe a dozen catches a year unless one of Darboh and or Chesson doesn't work out, in which case he'll have an earlier opportunity to establish himself a starter. Third and fourth receiving options are all over the place—see the last three guys profiled plus Funchess, etc. I expect a long apprenticeship.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Wyatt Shallman

2013 Recruiting: Wyatt Shallman Comment Count

Brian July 23rd, 2013 at 12:09 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt, TE Khalid Hill.

       
Novi, MI – 6'3, 250
       

7407603728_6487184f0c_z[1]

Scout

4*, NR overall
#2 FB

Rivals

4*, NR overall
#18 ATH, #6 MI

ESPN

3*, NR overall
#1 FB, #10 MI

24/7

4*, NR overall
#1 FB, #8 MI

Other Suitors

OSU, MSU, Cinci, Syr

YMRMFSPA Aaron Shea
or Mike Alstott
or Tim Jamison
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post. Ace interview. Ace scouts CC vs OLSM.
Notes Detroit CC (Mike Martin). Twitter.

Film

Junior:

There is also a sophomore reel.

 

Wyatt Shallman is the weirdest multipurpose offensive tool Michigan acquired in this class, mostly because it took everyone—including me—about six months to believe he was an offensive tool at all. The recruiting sites considered him a defensive end before he committed. When 247 debuted its 2013 rankings, Shallman was #149 as a DE. On Rivals, he was in the same range at the same spot.

It was to the point where the only evaluation of the guy's offensive potential Ace could find was his own

Shallman is at his best running North-South, and while he doesn't have top-flight speed, he does get to the second level of defenders in a hurry. When he reaches the back seven, he has a tendency to put his head down and try to bowl defenders over, which often works but also limits his big plays—to his credit, however, there wasn't a single run in which Shallman didn't fall forward for at least an extra yard or two.

I was impressed … with Shallman's agility. He's not going to utilize a lot of fancy jukes or spin moves, but his go-to move—the quick jump-cut as he approaches an oncoming defender—worked really well for him. Shallman isn't going to make a lot of guys completely whiff at the next level, but he's shifty enough to get defenders off-balance, and with his power that's enough to shed tackles—Inkster defenders were bouncing off of him all night.

…because guys who are near top-100 players at defensive end play defensive end, end of story. Catholic Central coaches had to make some hard decisions about Shallman when he spent most of his junior and senior years battling hamstring injuries; they used him mostly as a defensive end, exclusively so for a large chunk of his senior year. Tim Sullivan caught CC's game against Brother Rice and saw zero snaps for Shallman on offense. When ESPN noted him as a standout from the road last year, it was after a two-sack game on defense.

But Michigan isn't totally crazy here. Ace caught games from Shallman as a junior and senior and though he made a lot of progress as a DE, Ace still thinks he's best on offense. When OSU offered him, it was as an H-back. His trainer is Mike Barwis, and Barwis makes it sound like he's got potential:

 

"Physically, he's impressive," Barwis said of Shallman. "Kids his size tend to be sluggish and lumber, but he is very explosive. That isn't common." …

"If someone is looking for a big power back and they want to slam it down their throat, he can do that," Barwis said. "He's going to be a big, explosive, fast, power back. We did that with Owen Schmitt at West Virginia.

"You have your stealth speed back like Steve Slaton, and the next thing you know you give the ball to this tank and he's running a 4.6, hits you in the mouth, and he's gone."

In Michigan's case, they'll have Power A and Power B (and Power C, probably), but you get the idea.

ESPN went back and redid Shallman's profile last February, focusing almost exclusively on offense—and probably going off junior tape:

Has great size and athleticism for the fullback position at the major level of competition; in fact we definitely see tight end potential. … Shows good flexibility, agility and balance as a ball carrier; for his size, he displays good vision and quickness getting up into the line from a regular fullback alignment; can pick and slide while continually gaining ground up to the second level; flashes the wiggle to make first tacklers miss in space however he lacks the burst or second gear needed to clear traffic and break into open space. This guy is a tough between the tackles, power runner capable of moving the pile and shortening the game in the fourth quarter. Does a good job blocking off the edge; brings his feet, rolls his hips and blocks through opponents.

Receiving is the main area for improvement.

Shallman's coach echoes the ESPN eval:

"As a running back, he's got very good speed," Mach said. "He's powerful. He's got the ability to break tackles, not go down on the first hit and get the extra yard. I think he'll be a tough running back."

And Scout does as well:

Scout.com Player Evaluation:

STRENGTHS

Foot Quickness

Hands

Size

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Blocking Ability

Durability

Light on his feet for a big man, Shallman projects as a big tailback at times and a fullback at others. Is a good athlete who catches the ball out of the backfield well. Good lateral quickness and agility for a kid who's 245-lbs. Will need to continue to learn and improve as a blocker, but does a solid job in that department as well. Has dealt with some injuries in his career.

Michigan may actually be a little crazy, actually, because their pitch to Shallman was running back, emphasis on "run":

"A lot of these teams were saying H-back or possibly even tight end," Shallman said. "So when he said, 'We want you at running back, we want you at tailback,' that really struck home."

One thing the Michigan coaches really like about Shallman is his size. Jackson told Shallman that it was rare to find someone with a body like Shallman's who is as explosive as he is.

Later Shallman would slighly clarify that running back would be amongst a number of positions he would feature at:

What the coaches have told him about when/where he'll be playing: Running back, U-back position where I can play tight end, fullback, running back.

Months of Shallman insisting Michigan saw him as a running back eventually caused three of the four sites to rank him as one of the top fullbacks in the nation; Rivals, the holdout, tossed him in the ATH pile. He held on to a fourth star because of his potential as a pure athlete, and ended up the top fullback because nobody saw him as a tailback and fullbacks don't get four stars. It's a little incoherent, but I feel for the sites on this one.

So… defense. When Shallman committed Michigan was yet to acquire the services of DeVeon Smith and Derrick Green, two highly-rated tailbacks who figure to push piles about as well as Shallman while bringing more big play potential to the table. Meanwhile, fullback/H-back is plenty crowded with Houma, Kerridge, and Hill currently also underclassmen.

Since the rest of those guys seem exclusively RB/FB types, it would not surprise to see Shallman move to the defensive end spot a lot of sites had him ticketed for before his commitment. There, he is probably the best fit at WDE. Notre Dame was recruiting him as a "CAT" linebacker, their equivalent in a nominally 3-4 system:

“They like me at the CAT linebacker position – which is kind of a linebacker/defensive end hybrid and a pass rushing specialist in their defense,” Shallman said. “They think my size and athleticism really translates well to that position.”

I'll spare you the digression on how ND's 3-4 isn't really that far from Michigan's 4-3 under down to the LB/DE hybrid, as that's beyond the scope of this post. SAM and SDE are also possibilities, with SAM more likely than SDE, where Shallman will always be undersized.

On defense, he's got pass-rush upside. Barwis shouldn't have dragged this guy out, but Barwis did so Barwis:

"The thing that makes him a unique prospect is that he's extremely quick twitch and explosive," he said. "Brandon Graham is a freak athlete, but Brandon is extremely quick twitch. This kid has that as well. Not to the degree that Brandon did when he went to the NFL, but I didn't see him when he was 15, either."

Josh Helmholdt caught DCC's 2011 opener (ie, Shallman's junior year) against Fordson, in which he impressed:

At times he looked to be protecting the leg, but mostly he went all out and looked sharp. His athleticism for a big prospect is outstanding and his speed is well above average for the defensive end position. We're still not sure if tailback is an option in college, but Shallman is definitely a high-end defensive prospect with a great motor.

Ace caught the OLSM game and came away with a glimpse at a mini-RVB:

Shallman is quick off the snap and plays much lower than he did last year, and he did an impressive job of getting leverage on his blocker and using his hands to break free; I didn't see him get pushed back more than once or twice on Friday. …

Perhaps most impressive was Shallman's ability to fight off blocks, as St. Mary's tried to cut him all night. He displayed great balance in fighting off low blocks; I don't remember him getting cut to the turf once.

Sullivan caught a game against an all-run Brother Rice offense:

Shallman had the strength to bull through offensive linemen - impressive for a guy who is probably not a lineman in college - and was able to two-gap his blocker on several occasions, maintaining leverage for runs that went to either side of him. On the pass rush, he was quick off the ball, and though he didn't have a wide range of moves to get by his blocker, he was able to harass the passer, even if it only resulted in one sack.

That' doesn't mean Shallman was perfect. … he was sometimes lackadaisical in pursuit down the field, and didn't show off a high motor. He also displayed only flashes of a killer instinct and defensive mentality.

Not sure if that's the persistent injury. Both of the other evaluations praise Shallman's motor.

The injury thing is a thing: after two solid years of hamstring issues you have to worry if that might become a chronic issue. Michigan might do well to give the guy a bit of an easier year just so he can get totally recovered before throwing him in the fire.

Etc.:  Has all the vines. Carries a briefcase at school. Claims to have once caught a ten-pound bass with a Spiderman fishing rod and a Lifesaver. FRED JACKSON SUPERLATIVE ALERT

“I like anything that big, that strong, that fast,” Jackson said of Shallman. “I talk to a few people where he worked out and they said he is the most powerful guy that they have ever seen at that young age.”

This man must be a running back.

Why Aaron Shea? Well, yeah:

Hoke compared Shallman (who measures at a whopping 6-foot-3, 245 pounds) to Aaron Shea, a former Michigan fullback and tight end who went on to play in the NFL. The Wolverines like his ability to be multidimensional on the field -- someone who will be effective in multiple facets such as knocking people off the ball, catching out of the backfield and usage as a single back.

A (slightly) converted tight end, Shea was more on the Khalid Hill end of things, though. Shallman may find a niche as a pounding even-more-thunder back a la Mike Alstott or Owen Schmitt. Dare we say Toby Gerhardt?

Guru Reliability: Low. Most are in the same range but it's clear they've punted on actually ranking him by thrusting him into the FB spot like they did Brandon Minor. Meanwhile, extensive injury and a total lack of camps mean I don't put much stock in their rankings even if they do like the guy.

Variance: Very high. Could be anything from Mike Alstott to Owen Schmitt (minus the self-helmet bashing, probably) to Aaron Shea to Tim Jamison to Guy Who Doesn't Play At All.

Ceiling: Moderate? Doesn't seem to have out-and-out star potential anywhere, but could develop into a fringe All Big Ten player on either side of the ball.

General Excitement Level: Moderate? I punt. Likely to be a contributor somewhere, though.

Projection: I'd imagine a redshirt is likely what with the multiple injuries and lack of offensive snaps as a senior. He is in the range of guys who get drafted on to special teams, though.

After a presumed redshirt year, your guess is as good as mine. WDE appears to be in good hands for the next few years, but so does RB/FB. Is he going to take carries away from Derrick Green? Is he going to take U-back snaps from a considerably more advanced receiver in Khalid Hill? Given Shallman's athleticism the answers there are "maybe situationally." His best bet early is proving himself more of a dual threat than his challengers at U-back—ie, Kerridge can't be a threat as a receiver, Hill can't block, Shallman is less of a tipoff when he's in. Or playing defensive end. Or, I don't know, making omelets at Bursley. Multifunctional.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Khalid Hill

2013 Recruiting: Khalid Hill Comment Count

Brian July 19th, 2013 at 11:09 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson, TE Jake Butt.

   
Detroit, MI – 6'2", 235
     

dm_120508_Khalid_Hill_Interview[1]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#18 TE
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#32 TE, #21 MI
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#8 H-back, #9 MI
24/7 3*, NR overall 
#31 TE, #14 MI
Other Suitors CMU
YMRMFSPA Phillip Lutzenkirchen
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace. Ace scouts East Village.
Notes Transferred from Crockett to East Village Prep, FWIW.

Film

Junior highlights:

Recommend the John Woo-approved touchdown at 20 seconds. Also, Scout's Josh Newkirk put together a reel of his performances at one 7-on-7 tourney that's impressive both for its length and some of the catches Hill brings in:

We're in the thick of this year's crop of hybridized, NFL-style versatile offensive players. You know, the guys that will let Michigan crank you from a big formation on one play and flip to a four-wide the next with limited personnel switching. Khalid Hill will live in the heavier end of Michigan's formations, moving to and fro across the line of scrimmage, blocking and heading out into pass patterns. SB Nation has an excellent primer on Hill's job description I recommend you take in all of, but the short version from the man who kind of invented the spot himself:

This takes you back to [former Redskins Coach Joe] Gibbs' description of the modern H-back: "An H-back has to have good hands and be super smart."

Bonus items include bone-shattering blocking (taken for granted at the NFL level, I imagine) and the ability to get vertical from time to time; Hill hits on at least a few of these categories. According his coach, he has them all

"He's a great pass catcher. He has the blocking ability of a lineman, the athletic ability of a skill guy, and the hands of a wide receiver, so he's a match-up nightmare. What he brought to the table for us this year was, he created mismatches down seams of the field."

…but coaches tend to get excited about their kids. To the scouts!

The one he's definitely got: hands. Virtually every report I've collected praises them first off. 247's Clint Brewster:

The first thing that really jumps off the tape about Hill is his catching radius. He can scoop a pass up off of his shoelaces or go up and make a tough catch well over his head. Hill also has good arm extension when making a catch, not allowing the ball to get close to his body. Hill is quarterback friendly and really makes an inaccurate pass look easy to catch with his natural adjustments. After the catch Hill shows an excellent burst of speed and can really make a bigger defender miss a tackle or plow over a smaller one. Hill does a great job of getting vertical on seam routes when lined up in the slot or attached at the line of scrimmage. Hill runs precise routes, really getting good separation from his opponent with sharp cuts and head nods.

ESPN:

Regardless of how he lines up he can help move the chains as a receiver. He has good hands and demonstrates that he can consistently extend for the ball. … good quickness and is active with his hands in working to clear past defenders who may try and hinder his release. He is a solid route runner best suited as a short-to-intermediate target. He has solid speed, but comes across as a kid who is a little quicker than fast and doesn't look to possess the ideal long speed to be a vertical threat. After the catch he will quickly get turned up-field and fight for what he can get.

You'll note an almost total lack of blocking notes in both evaluations above, and that's for a reason: ESPN says that's an area that "could use some real development."

But back to the receiving. Ace took in East Village Prep's opener, in which Hill went for a 65-yard TD, and reported back:

Hill's first catch of the season was a slant route that he took 65 yards for a touchdown; the throw was slightly behind him, but he reached back and plucked the ball out of the air without breaking stride, then turned on the burners and outran the entire Oak Park secondary. It was a very impressive effort that showed off Hill's potential as a receiver.

Hill looked very comfortable working over the middle, whether he lined up at tight end, H-back, slot, or wide receiver; he's at his best finding open space in the heart of the defense. His hands look good as well, as he caught everything thrown his way, making sure to catch with his hands instead of his body. When running routes, Hill showed why he earned a Michigan offer.

That is a piece of skill Michigan fans have recently seen out of Drew Dileo in a guy 50 pounds heavier and a half-foot taller: a rare quality. But back to the blocking issues.

However, Hill ran into problems when asked to run block. He had a difficult time staying engaged with defenders and knocking them off the ball; on several occasions, he never found someone to block at all.

Is it good news that Hill was such a valuable receiver as a high school player that his blocking can lack so badly? Well… maybe. In hybrid land a lot of these guys get picked for the one skill they have because coaches think they can fix the other bit. As we learned with Funchess last year, though, a mismatch guy is only a mismatch if he can block.

Once Hill can do that, though, he has potential to "surprise" defenses. Another recurring theme in the evaluations is continued references to his surprising—always surprising—athleticism. Scout's eval:

Scout.com Player Evaluation:

STRENGTHS

Body Control

Hands and Concentration

Route-Running Skills

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Size

Stocky kid with surprising quickness and athleticism for his build. Very light on his feet, has great route running skills and ability to catch the ball as a tight end or H-Back. Soft, reliable hands and good run after the catch schools. Will have to learn to block potentially from the backfield as he may see time there in college. Not your traditional tight end at 6'2, but has the skills to be a matchup problem. - Allen Trieu

The ever-popular "size" area for improvement and more references to his developing blocking skills feature.

Tim Sullivan caught him at a 7-on-7 event:

He looks like a defensive lineman … but has quickness and speed that are bound to surprise those who think he's just a big man playing tight end, rather than a true athlete. He isn't going to run by many safeties, but makes quick, sharp cuts to get open in the middle of the field, or toward the sidelines as an outlet on some plays. He has the frame and leaping ability to make high catches over the middle - and the fearlessness to jump and make plays with his body exposed.

Ace again:

Hill presented a serious matchup problem for defensive backs unaccustomed to handling a player with his combination of size and athleticism. Hill runs crisp routes and has soft hands, so while he doesn't wow you with his frame or speed, he finds a way to get open and has developed a great rapport with his future college quarterback.

You get the idea. Let's continue attacking the horse, though:

  • Steve Wiltfong: "The sure-handed Hill knows how to get open, and was the go-to guy for Morris throughout the weekend."
  • Brewster at SMSB: "Hill does a great job getting in and out of his breaks. He did a nice job of getting separation from his defenders and snatching the football with his arms extended to not let it get anywhere close to his body."
  • Sullivan at the Columbus NFTC: "Hill impressed again on Saturday, with more athleticism than he's given credit for at times, precise routes, and as always, very good hands. "
  • Ace at SMSB: "Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body."
  • I declare this horse deader.

Hill camped as a junior, which got him on Michigan's radar. He won the positional MVP there, no doubt a help as Michigan evaluated him for their early offer. It didn't hurt that Hill and Shane Morris rolled around the 7-on-7 circuit on the same team, as Ace mentions obliquely above. Morris developed faith in Hill to the point that you can get a 3 and a half minute highlight reel out of one 7-on-7, as you see above, while other guys on the Max Ex team (like C'sonte York) can only squeeze out a minute and a half by adding some practice reps in.

As a senior, Hill may have added some blocking skill after a shoulder injury forced an interesting, temporary position move:

“Two weeks ago the A-C joint in my shoulder got sprained in a game and I couldn’t do anything but block, that’s the only thing that didn’t hurt,” Hill began. “So I told my coach to put someone else at tight end and I’ll play offensive tackle. Same thing happened last year when I hurt my knee- I moved to tackle. I just want to be on the field to help my team in any way possible. It’s all about the team.”

(File under The Pattern as well.)

Sullivan caught one of his later games and focused on his blocking, which was much-improved in his eyes:

[Hill] was far more aggressive and willing to punish defenders in this game, and played a big role in opening up holes. He also used his hands to prevent the defender from disengaging, which allowed him to seal the edge.
Hill still shows a tendency to get off balance at times in his blocking, especially on the edge. While it's unlikely to harm the team in any significant way, that can limit big runs if they break into the secondary. On a similar note, he was beaten in space a couple times, but given his athleticism, that should be an easy fix to make.

He still had issues making second-level blocks after coming off combos, FWIW, something Ace noticed when he scouted East Village as well.

So… Hill has some developing to do as a blocker, especially because most of his activity is going to be of the lead variety from now on, something he hasn't done much of yet. That'll delay his bid for playing time; once he gets that down he has the potential to be a guy linebackers swear to themselves about when they try to take a block and he flits by. Hill has the potential to be a premium piece of the offense when space gets constricted.

Etc.: Junior stats: 29 catches for 448 yards, six TDs. Lingo ahoy!

"I feel great," he said. "There's a smile on my face. I'm cheesin'."

That's immediately post-commit.

Why Phillip Lutzenkirchen? Auburn's red-zone touchdown machine is the best I've got on the college level. Lutzenkirchen spent his days on the Plains blocking on short yardage and slipping out into uncovered pattern after uncovered pattern. His catching ability was superb for a guy his size and he brought enough wood as a blocker to convince AU opponents to sell out against the run, much to their detriment.

Lutzenkirchen is in the same height range but did top out at nearly 260 pounds; Hill may end up ten pounds short of that.

Guru Reliability: High. Lots of camps, and while there's a little divide in the rankings (Scout has him just a few players away from a fourth star; Rivals ranks him below an in-state tight end headed to Air Force) everyone says he's the same player.

Variance: Moderate. Will be a blocking back and guy who catches some short stuff, occasionally getting into a wheel route; blocking must develop.

Ceiling: Low-plus. While Hill can be a useful cog, that seems to be the limit. Does bring some potential as a consistent mismatch if he can learn to block, though.

General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Is kind of a fullback, and how many kind-of-fullbacks are going to be on this roster? On the other hand, seems like a red-zone efficiency piece, and who doesn't like red-zone efficiency?

Projection: Probable redshirt since most of the evals mention he has a long way to go as a blocker. He does fit the profile of a guy who will get time on special teams sooner rather than later, though, so nonzero chance he ends up covering kicks. A serious role in the offense will have to wait.

How long is a mystery. He's got Sione Houma and Joe Kerridge in front of him in terms of seniority, and Kerridge got a lot of playing time in which he showed some promise as a Kevin Dudley-style linebacker eraser… as a redshirt freshman. It'll be a battle for Hill to pass him full-time.

Situationally… yeah, there's room, especially after Gardner graduates and Shane Morris presumably ascends to the throne. A couple years down the road Hill will presumably be accustomed to blocking out of the backfield and his 7-on-7 running buddy will be looking for him in practice whenever they're on the field together.

Comments

2013 Recruiting: Jake Butt

2013 Recruiting: Jake Butt Comment Count

Brian July 9th, 2013 at 12:28 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton, DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OLLogan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox, OL Dan Samuelson.

   
Pickerington, OH – 6'6", 231
     

image

Scout

4*, #145 overall
#5 TE

Rivals

4*, #144 overall
#5 TE, #8 OH

ESPN

4*, #179 overall
#4 TE, #8 OH

24/7

3*, NR overall
#14 TE, #23 OH

Other Suitors

Stanford, UCLA, Wisconsin, NW, Tenn, Iowa, Notre Dame

YMRMFSPA Kyle Rudolph/Tyler Eifert
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post. Ace interviews him.
Notes

Early enrollee. Army AA. Twitter.

Film

Senior highlights:

Do you ever get the feeling that sometimes Al Borges sits in his basement watching film of the various tight ends and H-backs he's brought in and starts laughing maniacally? Dumb question. Better question: does Al Borges do anything but?

Yes. He goes to a lot of hockey games, for one. But anyway.

This site has proposed that Al Borges's goal as an offensive coordinator is to whipsaw defenses from one end of the spectrum to the other, and guys like Funchess and Jake Butt are key in this effort. You're a Michigan fan, so let me just mention the names Rudolph and Eifert. You get it. Tyler Eifert in particular was used as both a traditional tight end and a oh-god-I'm-5'9"-this-is-a-geological-feature-I'm-checking outside receiver in his last couple years at Notre Dame. Mismatch is the watchword here, and Michigan's going to keep bringing in and bulking up 6'6" guys until they get it. When Mark Porter needed a comparable, he went to the ND well:

“Jake reminds me a bit of Kyle Rudolph, who went to Notre Dame out of Cincinnati Elder. He’s long. He’s fast. He just needs to get into a college weight room and get bigger and stronger. He has the potential to be a great college tight end.”

In Butt Michigan has… well, that guy or Devin Funchess again. Scouting reports consistently praise his receiving skills before the end bit where they mention that he's a glorified wide receiver at the moment. ESPN:

…lean and will need to fill out his lengthy frame and add a good deal more mass. … He is not one of those receivers who just effortlessly plucks the ball from the air, but overall he does have a good pair of hands and will work to catch the ball away from his body when he can. … excellent arm length and demonstrates the ability to extend and catch the ball outside of his frame. He will do a good job of going up to get the ball and with his height he can be a tough matchup in jump ball situations. He displays above average straight-line speed, and while he needs to keep developing as a route runner he does display good movement skills in space. …  will also need to contribute as an inline blocker and that will likely need some development in this area…. will need to continue to improve playing strength, lower pad level and work to deliver a pop with explosive hip roll on contact.

ESPN isn't as gushy as a couple other evaluators are about the receiving aspect to Butt's game. In an environment where erratic quarterback play can distort receiver stats extensively—especially for guys who make their living in the middle of the field, where interceptions lurk—Butt was crazy productive, with 68 catches for over 900 yards as a senior. While that's not quite Drake Harris carpet-bombing, I've been doing these a long time and usually tight end have stats like 15 catches for 200 yards because asking a high school quarterback to throw to a tight end is basically asking him to throw a pick-six.

Anyway, those stats come from a polished receiving package. Scout's eval notes body control, hands, and concentration as assets:

Has the height, athleticism and hands to be a real receiving threat from the tight end spot. Does a good job of tracking the ball in the air and can go up high to make grabs in traffic. Runs good routes and isn't afraid to run into traffic. Is a tough, aggressive and willing blocker who just needs to add some strength and bulk to improve in that department.

He earned an Opening invite off his performance at an NFTC in Champaign:

TE: Jake Butt, 6-6, 231, Pickerington North (Pickerington, Ohio)
Breakdown: Butt was unstoppable off the line and looked like a receiver in the open field. The Michigan commit is one of the most polished tight ends seen on the NFTC tour this year.

Rivals named him to their list of "Summer Standouts" after a "terrific" camp season and a performance at the Opening at which he "more than held his own."

Scout on the occasion of his Army selection:

He has excellent size and speed and shows the ability to run, showing excellent body control, concentration and field awareness. He has decent speed for a big receiver. Butt is dependable and showed at the The Opening that he can be a valuable target in the passing game.

Butt was picked for the Army game but missed most of the practice week and the event itself with a cartilage issue in his ankle. In the brief period of time he showed out, he impressed Helmholdt:

"He went Monday and looked outstanding, both in blocking drills and running patterns. He is so well rounded. He definitely has the ability to handle defensive ends from the tight end spot, blocking, then on pass patterns, he has great ability to go downfield and make catches.

"One time he was 40 yards downfield, and I swore the ball was overthrown. He never broke stride, caught it over his shoulder. He's going to be a very accomplished pass catcher."

247 was a voice of dissent, and since I don't think the national guys are crazy enough to let anyone from Bucknuts near their rankings (Butt dropped from 10th in their eyes to 21st over the course of that senior season in which he was putting up 900 receiving yards as a TE) I'm guessing that meh evaluation is based on this Todd Worly evaluation that evaluates him as a defensive player as much as an offensive one and knocks his "inconsistent" motor, which, like, come on: guy is on the field for every play. The tight end bit:

He wasn't forced to attempt any highlight-reel catches Friday night, but he clearly possesses reliable hands, as he's comfortable catching the ball outside his frame on a consistent basis.

Weaknesses: He is pretty raw at this point, and will need some time to develop in Ann Arbor. While he possesses the ability to bend, he doesn't consistently play with it.

He is not a dominating blocker at the high school level because his get off isn't overly explosive, and he doesn't regularly play with the knee bend he's naturally capable of.

I didn't see anything else on their site to indicate why they were the outlier here. The focus there seems more on the blocking and his overall play, not his potential as a seam-stretching guy. FWIW.

Butt enrolled early and weighed in at around 230, so if Michigan deploys him this year that is suboptimal. As Funchess discovered last year, if you can't block a linebacker you're just a large, slow wide receiver instead of a matchup nightmare. Butt may find a role as the other tight end in certain sets. Let's let him explain it:

“They are going to play me at the “Y” and “U” positions on offense,” said Butt. “The “Y” is more like a traditional tight end on the line of scrimmage and the “U” position is more of a hybrid that can be moved around everywhere and even line up in the backfield. I’m really excited about it because that will give me a chance to show my versatility and also help out as a blocker.”

Michigan's tight ends on a continuum from Y to U: AJ Williams, Devin Funchess, Jake Butt, Khalid Hill. Insofar as the U position degenerates into a fullback-with-benefits situation you can add Shallman, Kerridge, and Houma to the U end of the list.

Early, Butt will moonlight as a passing-oriented U-TE, adding the capability to play inline as he moves into his upperclass years. Given the comments about his frame above, Funchess's surprisingly static weight, and Butt's trajectory

"On offense, we use him as a tight end, we flex him out and use him in the backfield as an H-Back to block out counter plays," Phillips said. He's a terrific athlete. He's our starting outside linebacker as well, and we very rarely sub him out. He's in great shape. The thing about Jake is, he's only 16, he just turned 16. He's 225 pounds now, and he was 190 a year ago - he could easily be 245 a year from now."

…it won't be a surprise if Butt ends up being a bigger guy than Funchess as early as next year. That was February 2012; a year later Michigan listed him at 231, but get him in a college weight program and muscles expand.

Meanwhile in guys with the opposite of character issues, Butt sports a 3.8 GPA, had that Stanford offer, and gets an impressive rapturous coach quote even for the genre:

"Jake is a tremendous worker, in the weight room and on the field," Phillips said. "I've coached numerous Division-I players and four guys that went to the NFL, and Jake is a harder worker than all of them."

Take #2:

Part of his production can be attributed to his natural athletic ability. Phillip adds that in his 25 years of coaching Phillips he has never had a player who works as hard.

"Jake competes every single play, every single practice," Phillips said. "From the stretches to the runs to the warmups to the drills to team sessions, he goes hard."

A pattern has ceased emerging and just sits there, impressing you with various aspects of its personality.

Etc.: Notre Dame's offer came the day after he committed to Michigan. Oops. Has a bit of a rivalry with crosstown rival Taco Charlton, if twitter is any indicator:

They really hoed me on NCAA! They made @bigjakeyB_1 the same strength as me! Back to lifting tomorrow

I'm faster then @TheSupremeTaco and stronger on NCAA guess we know who really ran picktown

I feel for the guys who didn't make it in at all though.

Why Rudolph/Eifert? Thought about Funchess, but we don't really know how that's going to end up yet, and Butt does not quite match Funchess's outrageous length.

For a better picture of what a guy like Butt might end up like, the ND guys are good comparables. Both came out of high school at 6'6", 220-230. Rudolph was an all-world recruit, Eifert a generic three-star. Split the difference and you get Butt. Both added 30 pounds over the course of their high school careers and went in the first couple rounds of the NFL draft.

Guru Reliability: High. Save the 247 outlier, basic consensus. Healthy, productive high school career, some camps, Army game performance was limited.

Variance: Moderate. Whenever you're talking about putting a bunch of pounds on a tight end you threaten to take away the receiving ability that would make him excellent.

Ceiling: High. NFL frame and athleticism.

General Excitement Level:  High. Yup.

Projection: Is Al Borges tight-end mad enough to put Butt on the field this year? Survey says… maybe. If he wants a goal line blocker, a spare OL is going to be a better option; if he wants a Stanford-like package the problem with that is going to be similar to the problem Michigan had last year: dudes can't block well enough to put defenses in a bind. Meanwhile Borges has other options at that U spot and it would be nice to get another year of separation between Funchess and Funchess 2.0.

But the situation here is a bit like QB. With only two non-freshman TEs on the roster an injury would force a noob on the field, so you need to be prepared for that eventuality. I bet he plays.

Going forward he's always going to be battling with Funchess for the starting spot, but that's going to be a distinction without much of a difference as the two guys grow and become more complete players.

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2013 Recruiting: Dan Samuelson

2013 Recruiting: Dan Samuelson Comment Count

Brian July 5th, 2013 at 11:46 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas, CB Ross Douglas, CB Jourdan Lewis, LB Ben Gedeon, LB Mike McCray, DE Taco Charlton,DT Maurice Hurst Jr., DT Henry Poggi, OL Patrick Kugler, OL David Dawson, OL Logan Tuley-Tillman, OL Kyle Bosch, OL Chris Fox.

   
Plymouth, IN – 6'5", 290
     

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Scout

4*, NR overall
#25 OT

Rivals

3*, NR overall
#33 OG, #11 IN

ESPN

3*, NR overall
#88 OT, #14 IN

24/7

3*, NR overall
#17 OG, #6 IN

Other Suitors

Nebraska, Pitt, Minnesota, Illinois

YMRMFSPA Rueben Riley
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post.
Notes

Decommitted from Pitt for Nebraska, then decommitted from Nebraska. Also, 'murica.

Film

Nothing embeddable. Does have a hudl page.

Wait… what is… three stars? Is that how you say? What? Yes, it's true: some recruiting services think a 2013 Michigan offensive line commit is a middling prospect. We cannot use the well-established script this time out. Panic!

panic

Even so, Samuelson was decently well regarded for… uh… three stars. He got a fourth from Scout and was the first guy with three at 247. In our hybrid eyeballin' star system he'd get 3.5. This would qualify as a lot of Big Ten teams' highest-rated lineman. Here he's sixth. Viva Brady Hoke.

Samuelson watchwords include "blue-collar," "tough," etc. Trieu:

“Absolutely he could bring with him toughness and a blue-collar work ethic. He really has the mental makeup of an offensive lineman. He’s a hard worker and a tough kid. He is a grind it out and get the job done kind of player.

“Samuelson is not going to go to any combines and put up ridiculous numbers. He’s not going to have that stellar 40-time or shuttle time, but he’s the kind of player that you win with especially in the Big Ten."

It does say something that the primary teams on him before Hoke swooped in were Pitt, now in possession of the Wisconsin offensive braintrust, and Nebraska. Scout liked those grinding aspects enough to bump him to four stars, again emphasizing he is a "tough, hard-nosed lineman" and his "blue collar" nature.

ESPN's evaluation is pretty positive relative to their "meh" rankings:

Is quick out of his stance when releasing up on linebackers or pulling to trap; flashes the ability to reach on offset down linemen and get a hat on active 1st and 2nd level defenders. Can get tossed at times needing to improve his agility and balance when playing in space. This guy is a tough customer who finishes with the effort we like to see when evaluating offensive linemen. His long arms should be and asset in pass protection.

They have a lot of technique questions and think he's a little bit stiff, FWIW. That evaluation conflicts with some others, which—get this—actually say a high school lineman has good pad level. Josh Helmholdt:

"He's an above average athlete for the position. He really moves his feet well. He plays with great leverage. I think that something that really stands out in his film is that he's always up underneath the pads of the defensive lineman. He just does a lot of things well. I wouldn't say there's any one thing that makes you say 'wow', he's just a well-rounded offensive line prospect."

I think a high school lineman underneath dudes pads is a wow experience but like okay. Clint Brewster also praised his "well above average technique" and mean ol' block finishing—another pattern. A negative: Samuelson's team barely passed, so protection is an unknown. Another from Allen Trieu:

"He plays at a small school that is a little bit in the middle of nowhere. It took some schools some time to find out about him. I think that one of the major areas of concern that was holding schools back from offering was level of competition."

As the scouts say, this is the kind of guy Wisconsin and Nebraska have plucked out of the Midwest for years. His weird recruitment—a quick commit to Pitt followed by a decommit to Nebraska and a decommit to Michigan, no camps at all—is of the variety that holds down reported offers and scouting interest.

At Michigan, Samuelson will play… somewhere. ESPN's profile contains a first:

Samuelson plays effectively at the guard position showing the upper body playing strength needed to control defenders when single blocking. However his size and athleticism appears better suited for the offensive tackle position.

His coach agrees.

"We run the football a lot, but Dan is really long and his arms are long. If you look at him you'd say he was a tackle, but he plays guard for us. So he could play anywhere. I think the sky's the limit for Dan. I think that he could be a real special player on the next level."

Scout projects him at guard, FWIW. The point is Samuelson also comes off the 6'5" swing guy assembly line and could play anywhere on the line according to Funk. Given the recruiting rankings and the odd fact that his high school used him on the inside—almost never the case for high-level D-I prospects—he's probably going to end up at guard, technically. Michigan seems to go with a next-guy-in setup that has sixth and seventh linemen that will pull into the lineup no matter who goes out. Samuelson will train at guard and tackle.

It does seem like Samuelson will stick around even if the depth chart looks brutal for much of his career. Staying close to his family was a major reason he decommitted from the Huskers and he knew what he was signing up for when he made that decision. His coach:

"The thing that separates Dan from a lot of the other kids is he wants to be good. Sometimes you get a big kid that's a superior athlete at the high school level, they're 17 or 18 years old, and they don't have a real strong work ethic. Dan wants to be good, he wants to prove himself. I think that's something that's going to carry him over when he gets into that program and into that strength training program, I think he's going to do really well."

Even if he doesn't start for a while, having a kid like that in your back pocket is a huge asset.

Etc.: The pattern from his coach:

He has been a multiple sport athlete in high school, and he is a great kid.  He has never been in trouble, he is a really good student and he has got all of the intangibles.  He looks the part… I can tell you that.”

Why Rueben Riley? Riley was a G/T swing guy who probably should have been a guard but was forced into action as a not-very-good right tackle, where his pass protection was exposed. His athleticism was pretty meh, his recruiting rankings in the generic three-star range.

Samuelson has an inch or two on Riley and could have higher upside on the outside with his long arms. I'm just looking for a run-oriented swing guy with middling recruiting rankings. OL YMRMFSPAs are hard.

Guru Reliability: Low. Relatively large swing in opinions, zero camps, not a highly scouted area.

Variance: High. Poor competition in Indiana, never really pass blocked.

Ceiling: Moderate. Punt!

General Excitement Level: Sorry sorry sorry: low. OL are weird and all that but I'm finding it hard to see a situation where Samuelson sees the field early given the strenuous competition. See below. Not that Samuelson cares what I think:

"I'm not scared at all (of the competition)," the 6-foot-5, 275-pound Samuelson said by phone this week. "I knew who's there, and that they're great, but it never scared me. I never looked at it that way.

"I looked at it like two years down the road, this school could be like Alabama, where no one can stop us because of our line."

Projection: Is OL, redshirt.

Then he's in the melee. Seems to be a heavy underdog to start as a redshirt freshman, and if that doesn't happen he's got a wait in front of him. The 2014 line projects to be a junior (Miller), three sophomores (Braden, Magnuson, Kalis), and a freshman (no idea but Bosch or Dawson if you put a gun to my head). If those projections are wrong the net effect will be to make the line younger, not older, unless Chris Bryant comes out of nowhere.

So… Samuelson is probably hanging around as the seventh or eighth lineman for a long time, with injury and washout his best shot at starting until he's a fifth year player. But OL are weird, you know the drill.

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