2013 Recruiting: Ross Douglas

2013 Recruiting: Ross Douglas

Submitted by Brian on May 21st, 2013 at 12:08 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill, S Dymonte Thomas

       
Avon, OH – 5'10", 180
       

Ross%20Douglas%20Avon_2[1]

Scout 3*, #55 CB
Rivals 4*, #241 overall
#22 CB, #14 OH
ESPN 4*, #33 CB, #22 OH
24/7 4*, #23 CB, #16 OH
Other Suitors PSU, Nebraska, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Northwestern
YMRMFSPA Courtney Avery
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from yrs truly
Notes PSU decommit. Early enrollee. Semper Fidelis game.

Film

Senior highlights:

 

 

 

Hey, look, it's a corner-sized corner. Ross Douglas is about the same size as Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, ie not huge, but not tiny. Along with Jourdan Lewis, Douglas comprises the (relatively) low upside, low downside section of the corner class. Unlike Reon Dawson and Channing Stribling, who could be anything from awesome to perpetual special teamers, Douglas is likely to be a contributor but not an out-and-out star.

That's not to sell the kid short. He has physical skills. Douglas first popped up on radars when he showed out as a 5'8" rising freshman(!)—ie, basically an eighth grader—and put up a 4.54 40 at a Rivals camp geared towards underclass kids. A few months later he replicated the 40($) en route to being named "combine king" at a similar event. A year later he'd picked up that Tennessee offer($) and was running 40s a tenth faster. He picked Penn State($) almost a year before signing day, decommitting when the NCAA broke out the flamethrower. 24 hours later he'd picked Michigan.

Michigan has acquired a slightly bigger and more advanced version of Courtney Avery. (Both were mostly offensive players. Douglas got two years as a defensive back while Avery barely played defense in high school.) Almost everyone describes him as a quick, hip-flipping fiend, with a couple guys making explicit comparisons to Avery. Scout's Bill Greene does as part of an extensive scouting report($):

WHAT TO LIKE: …pure speed athlete … He can run and jump with the best of Ohio's top defensive backs… skill set is more than adequate, and all he lacks is game experience at the position

WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS: At 5-foot-10, or 5-foot-11, Douglas is what he is. He is not a long-armed, tall cornerback. …

WHAT ARE THE INTANGIBLES? … I feel safe in saying there are zero character concerns with Ross Douglas. He comes from a great family, with his father being a retired air traffic controller, while his mother is an associate dean of students at Case Western. An older brother is currently enrolled in medical school. … I don't know what the ceiling is for Ross Douglas a player, but I suspect it is pretty high. I do feel comfortable saying he is going to do everything he can to reach that ceiling, and he should be a player Michigan fans can be very proud of.

He showed out at a lot of camps, drawing praise for his "ability to cover in the slot", and "effortless" hip-flip. At something called "HSPD" he was a "pass breakup machine"; at a Nike camp Mark Givler said it is "fun to watch" Douglas do drills because "his backpedal is outstanding and he flips his hips as well as any DB in the state."

At that Nike camp he drew strong praise($) from Josh Helmholdt: 

8. CB ROSS DOUGLAS, AVON, OHIO

Douglas is so consistently clean in coverage that you almost forget he is out there. … The 5-10, 175-pound prospect is not a flashy player. He stays in great position in relation to the wide receiver throughout routes and makes throwing the ball in his direction very unappealing. Douglas has all the speed he needs to stay with receivers and his technique is near flawless.

With that take it's no surprise Rivals is the most bullish on him. 247 was also impressed that day:

On this day, Penn State commit Ross Douglas was our pick for the top player of the talented group. He doesn’t have the height and length that is ideal in a corner prospect but he was the most fluid and natural defender in coverage at the event.

Douglas has great feet, flips his hips with ease and he also has some make-up speed to recover in tight spaces. The only thing he seems to be missing is that prototype height.

ESPN is a dissenter here:

He plays and pursues fast, but lacks ideal top-end speed and does not project to be a lockdown cover corner in college you want to leave on an island. He shows a good nose for the ball and is at his best playing the pass in front of him. He displays good footwork and balance as well as a good closing burst. He lacks a tight, fluid waist and doesn't always look smooth in transition when locked down in man, but he can recover with burst and proper inside positioning to make a play on the ball. He does a good job using his hands and leverage in tight coverage. He's aggressive and effective in press. He will reroute and take away the inside release. He competes for the jump ball when challenged deep in one-on-one coverage but can struggle versus taller receivers. We didn't see great leaping or ball skills.

Scout is kind of in the same boat. There's a lot of "good" in their profile:

STRENGTHS

Backpedal Quickness

Change of Direction

Hip Flexibility

AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT

Size

Good athlete with good feet and quickness. Good speed and ability to run downfield with receivers. At his size, bigger receivers may give him trouble. He will have to get stronger in college. Played more offense than defense in high school, so he will have a learning curve for corner, but is a smart, coachable kid with the athletic tools you need in coverage. - Allen Trieu

Ah, the always-funny "size" area for improvement. No one should ever give me access to Scout's database, because I'll immediately add things like "number of arms" to everyone's "areas for improvement."

It was more of the same at the Semper Fi game. Semper Fi is Yet Another High School All Star game. While no one's really sure if the Army game or UA game is #1, Semper Fi is definitively #3. It does represent a higher level of competition for everyone who shows up, though, and is the most recent scouting we've got for Douglas. That scouting is MOTS, for the most part:

  • Scout: "…made it hard for any ball thrown his way to make it to the receiver. He never lost sight of the ball or his man. … physical at the line of scrimmage and also [able to] flip his hips and run in coverage. …showed speed to make up ground late on a deep ball.
  • 247: "Douglas does not have outstanding size, but he’s got good hips and feet, can change direction well and has excellent recovery speed."
  • Rivals: "…downright giddy over the chance to compete with top-level competition. When he was forced to rotate out of drills, he immediately begged to get back to the action. He was fundamentally sound and had his moments of greatest [sic, no idea], but his spirit and competitiveness helped him stand out.

The idea. You have it.

But wait, there's more: in addition to Douglas's physical skills, you have that "is an awesome dude" statement from Greene above. His coach strongly backs that POV:

"… I promised [Hoke] one thing that Ross Douglas will never do: he'll never embarrass Michigan's football program, ever. He's a top-notch athlete and he's got great character and he comes from a tremendous family. … In addition to that, he's worked extremely hard on his technique. He works on his craft harder than anybody probably I've ever coached."

Helmholdt chimes in($) by calling him "very smart" and "very instinctual," so the above the neck stuff all seems to be there. The Rodriguez-mentioning moratorium is temporarily lifted so we can compare the 2010 class—down to ten guys of 27—to these Hoke classes in which everyone shows up and stays around unless they get injured.

 

 

Etc.: Like dang near every other DB in the class, he's been told that nickelback is where he'll get his first swing($)—in this case where he got his first swing since Douglas enrolled early. He has apparently lost that battle to the six-foot-plus thumper Dymonte Thomas.

Upon his commitment:

Coach Hoke told me all the defensive staff raves about me," Douglas said. "They are bringing in four corners this class and they brought in four [defensive backs] last class, so they just want me to compete. They said there is a lot of opportunity at Michigan."

Why Courtney Avery? Smallish cover-oriented nickelback from Ohio who mostly played offense in high school.

Douglas has several things on Avery, though: an inch or two, two years of experience, three quarters of a star (Avery was a consensus three-star), and a number of good-but-not-elite offers. While Avery has struggled whenever he's been asked to move outside, Douglas has enough upside to project him as a potential field corner.

You could go Blake Countess here if you're being optimistic, but the scouting reports on Countess were rapture. Douglas's are a couple notches down from that. Maybe split the difference between Countess and Avery?

Guru Reliability: Exacting. Camps, healthy, played the position for a couple years, All Star appearance, basic agreement save ESPN's fire-and-forget take.

Variance: Low-plus. A slight amount of uncertainty about his experience at corner, but two years as a starter there is barely less than a full-timer would have at this point. Has whatever the opposite of character issues is.

Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Is never going to be tall or Charles Woodson. Has enough skill to be a solid contributor.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Should be a contributor and will at least be solid depth. Could be a fine starting option; seems unlikely to be a war daddy.

Projection: Despite the early enrollment a redshirt could beckon. Douglas seemed behind not only the starters but a couple vets in spring at both field corner (boundary seems out of the question for him as a freshman) and nickel. More likely, Douglas gets special teams time and the occasional snap on defense this year.

Next year it's probably more of the same. Michigan loses only Courtney Avery. Competition for playing time will be fierce. The best bet for PT in year two is for Douglas to become a preferred option to Dymonte Thomas on third and long. Tough road, that. It is totally great that a guy like Douglas is the option off the bench in case someone goes down. That's a luxury right there.

Given the emergence of Thomas and Countess having the field corner spot on lockdown for the next year or two, that redshirt looks pretty tempting.

2013 Recruiting: Dymonte Thomas

2013 Recruiting: Dymonte Thomas

Submitted by Brian on May 16th, 2013 at 12:22 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling, S Delano Hill

   
Alliance, OH – 6'1", 180
     

Dymonte_Thomas.vs_.Alliance1[1]

Scout 5*, #4 S, #39 overall, #2 OH
Rivals 4*, #12 S, #109 overall, #4 OH
ESPN 4*, #10 ATH, #93 overall, #4 OH
24/7 4*, #11 S, #80 overall, #4 OH
Other Suitors Ohio State, Notre Dame
YMRMFSPA Stevie Brown
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Urban Meyer is still on him hard. Army AA. Early enrollee.

Film

Senior highlights can be found on hudl. They're mostly offense. Also they are impressive.

If there's one thing extensive googling of Dymonte Thomas assures you of, it's that at this very moment there is an Ohio State fan posting speculation about Dymonte Thomas opting out of his LOI to a twenty-page thread. Someone else will respond to him by pointing out Thomas is already on campus and never actually signed a LOI, and the original poster will respond "yeah, but…" and spin out his reasons for optimism in re: Dymonte Thomas. This is less speculation than dead statistical certainty.

This is kind of strange for a guy that liked Michigan so much he pulled the trigger right after the Denard After Dentist ND game, ie going on two years ago, and never gave any indication of wavering. Or at least it would for any other fanbase.

In any case, Michigan fans have been patiently waiting for and OSU fans derangedly pining for Thomas because he is an Electric Athlete. I do recommend those hudl highlights linked above, which consist mostly of Thomas putting the jets on at running back and leaving chasers yards in the dust. Despite missing most of three games he put up 1,270 yards at 7.3 a pop, largely by doing this:

What He Does Has the capability to score a touchdown anytime he touches the football. Five of Thomas’ touchdown runs went for 50 or more yards. His one TD catch was for 57 yards.

There's one where he decides to split the safeties and the safeties find out their angles have been calibrated so badly that neither gets within five yards of the kid. I expected at least one of 'em to take their helmet off, quit football forever, and fade away as he walks out of the stadium, but the clip doesn't extend long enough for me to test that hypothesis.

That's the kind of thing that gets this kind of quote deployed:

“He has given the program so much and carries himself the right way at all times on and off the field. I’ve heard so many other coaches and even college coaches say he’s one of the most electrifying athletes they’ve ever seen on a football field.” — Ed Miley

Did we mention that Thomas started as a freshman, was also a wrestler and picked up MLB draft interest? Guys like Thomas are the reason recruiting sites had to invent the "athlete" position. Merely seeing him on the other team causes fever dreams about maybe coaching that kid:

1, Dymonte Thomas, Marlington RB-LB-S
Strengths: Just about everything. He’s a great football player. He’s very explosive on both sides of the ball. He’s very aggressive. He has a nose for the football and he’s a great kid, too…  When you play Marlington, you worry about taking Dymonte away on the perimeter and you take your chances inside, which wasn't a good option last year.
Weaknesses: I don’t know of any. If we had him, I often thought where would he play, and it’d be any number of positions. He does it all well and he’s such a great tackler.
— Opposing coach

More capital-A Athlete takes:

  • Allen Trieu: "college-ready build already … one of his best assets is his speed … simply an excellent athlete."
  • Bill Greene: "combines speed, quickness, and great athletic ability with the love of contact … should end his high school career as one of the greatest all-around athletes in Stark County's storied history."
  • Coach Ed Miley: “I’ve seen big guys, physical players. I’ve seen kids that can run. He is a combination of size and speed. I know he’s 6-1, 190, 200, but he plays much bigger than that. He is very explosive.”
  • Josh Helmholdt: "The first thing to know about Thomas is that he is fast… extremely fast."

And perhaps most remarkably, ESPN's evaluation of him does not state "he is more quick than fast" or "lacks a top gear," which damn near every evaluation of a non-lineman will throw in there at some point even if you are pretty damn fast. Instead($):

Thomas is a physically impressive looking athlete and overall football player. …  Plays a hybrid type role … He is quick to read and react and flashes very good closing burst when he locates the football. Gets through the trash with good lateral agility. He plays the position fast and pursues with a high motor and little wasted motion to the ball. Has the range to make plays in all three levels of the defense and is a true ball-hawk. He closes hard and with impressive pop. Runs through and is a hitter who will force turnovers and bring an intimidating presence to the position. … has the size, athleticism and ball skills to develop as a coverage guy along with very good make-up speed.

When ESPN does not note you are not as fast as an NFL player, you are fast. QED.

The catch, such that it is, is that Thomas has not shown an ability to play safety yet. Marlington used him as a weakside linebacker. Thus many of the scouting reports on him mention an uncertainty about whether he has the coverage technique to get the stars his athleticism suggests he should. No one pounded on this more frequently than Josh Helmholdt, who declared three different times that he didn't want to "get too bullish on his ranking until we were able to more thoroughly assess his coverage skills" despite also joining the "extraordinary athlete" chorus. The big reveal($) after Thomas played safety at the Army All-American game:

…Dymonte Thomas was the prospect I felt had the most to prove at the all-star games because we had not seen him in coverage yet. Thomas started out with a rough first day of practices at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, and his lack of experience in coverage was evident. But as the week progressed Thomas adjusted well, and by the Army Bowl he was in on a lot of plays and was able to show off his speed. At the end of the day, where we had Thomas ranked going into the Army Bowl was pretty accurate.

In one week he went from incapable to in on a lot of plays, so they ranked him correctly. Seems a little stubborn there.

Similar notes of concern come from Scout's Scott Kennedy, who lists "coverage awareness" as a weakness and says "coverage awareness and technique will come with experience on defense," which is the nice way to put it. Scout is the most bullish of the four sites, FWIW, probably because this is the good bit of their eval:

STRENGTHS

Change of Direction

Closing Speed

Toughness

…plays both sides of the ball with aggression. He attacks the defenders when he's running the ball, and he punishes ball carriers on defense. A strong safety type, Thomas has good acceleration and balance. He's good enough on offense to stay at running back similar to Matt Elam (UF) at the same stage.

ESPN notes that "he is not asked to defend a lot in space and man-to-man coverage skills are an area that will need some refinement" and says that he's not much for flipping the proverbial hips at this juncture.

Of course, Thomas has already been on campus for a semester. In that time he seems to have locked down the starting nickel spot. Michigan has been making do with small cover-oriented guys like Courtney Avery there ever since Thomas Gordon was needed deeper. As a result the nickel package has very rarely featured anything except coverage from the nickelback and has been limited to passing downs only. In modern football that is a bit of a problem. See Jake Ryan lining up over triple WR formations to murder screens. It works, but it would be nice to murder screens and have Jake Ryan rushing the passer.

Thomas brings a different skill package and can be deployed on nominal running downs. especially against the spread. Steve Wiltfong:

“He has a chance to be special at Michigan. …physically ready to go. He has the size and speed you’re looking for at the safety position. He can come down and play near the line of scrimmage and he can also cover and deliver the smack to ball carriers. He can force turnovers with his physical size of play. He is a fantastic get for Michigan there.”

His coach is talking about Thomas as a safety here but is even more so laying out the blueprint for a hybrid nickel defender:

"His advantage will be the time he has played linebacker in the box for us, because unlike a lot of high school defensive backs, Dymonte is used to the physical contact and loves it. He is used to coming up and thumping people, and he can close on the ball."

Greg Mattison declared him "definitely physically ready" and talked up his coachability:

“He’s very fast and he’s a young man that it’s not too big for him. He comes in everyday and you correct him, he doesn’t go in the tank. He immediately says, ‘ok what do I have to do?’ Very seldom does he do it wrong again.”

…“Based on the spring you’re going to see a guy that’s headed in the right direction to be there quite a bit this fall,” said Mattison.

“He’s a guy that, this summer, again, if he continues to do what he’s doing -- but we’ve been very happy with him.”

Thomas's attitude, cited just above, is another asset. I always perk up when I hear a kid's dad was in the military; Dymonte's dad is a former Marine who put his kids through "boot camp"($) if they slacked off. Thomas was also more than fine with splitting carries with eventual Tennessee recruit Alden Hill:

"Look, Dymonte is a one in a million type of player," Miley stated Friday. "We've had Division-I recruits here the past few years in Zach Higgins (Michigan State) and Alden Hill (Tennessee), but there's nobody like Dymonte. He has started for four years now for me, and I love the kid. Dymonte has never met a stranger, and he's the most personable kid on the team, yet he's a team player first."

"Everybody was worried about his stats last year but him," Miley added. "How many five-star recruits play scout-team tailback, to give the first defense a better look? Dymonte does. He will do whatever it takes to make himself and the team better. He will finish his career with over 5,000 yards rushing and 400 tackles. The 5,000 yards rushing will be amazing because he has split carries with Hill, who ended up with 4,973 yards. Imagine if Dymonte had the carries that Alden had the past few years? What would that yardage total look like? He will end up over 5,000 yards rushing as the second option most of his career. And he's the best defensive player in Stark County history, in my opinion."

It may take some time for Thomas to become a refined engine of death. It looks like it'll take less than the skeptics above predicted what with the instant starting job.

Etc.: Can do the worm, so will probably get the safety role on the victory formation. Wrestling highlights! 3.5 GPA. Could see some special teams duty:

" Michigan will probably use him as a kickoff returner too, and Mattison said he could help out on offense."

I guess there are worse things to hear about a commit:

…came up in run support very well Tuesday and even when he struggled with guys like [Derrick] Green, he came back as physical as ever.

Hey, we got that kid too! /self high five

Why Stevie Brown? I know that probably made you break out in hives, but think about good late Stevie Brown: the kind of athlete who can pop a lead blocker and get out to the edge, who blitzes with speed and brings a load, who can cover underneath and down the seam. Who plays a hybrid LB/DB role. That's what Thomas is now, both as a high school linebacker and possibly—probably—Michigan's starting nickelback this fall.

Meanwhile, Brown finally figured out that whole safety thing en route to eight interceptions and a New York Giants interception return yardage record; Thomas has the same NFL-level athleticism and questions about his ability to translate that into reliable deep safety play. As a recruit, Brown was in the same range as Thomas; Dymonte's probably an inch or two taller. This comparison is a tight one.

Guru Reliability: Moderate-plus. Heavily scouted, Army guy, but positional questions and this review comes after we got a lot more information about the kid at Michigan's spring practice.

Variance: Moderate. Obviously brings all the athleticism you could want to the position and should be an okay starter at the very least.

Ceiling: Vast. Ripped a starting job away from a senior in no time flat, would be competitive in a race with Denard.

General Excitement Level: Just under vast. Smart kid with great personality and military dad should mean he scrapes his high ceiling; still, whenever you're projecting…

Projection: Um, seems to have already taken over the starting nickel position?

Down the road, Thomas may get a shot at replacing Thomas Gordon next year. In an ideal world I think he sticks at nickel for his career, operating as a frequently-deployed spread antidote and triple threat (rush the passer, defend the run, cover) in a system where he is as much of a starter as anyone else on the team. Michigan will of course cross-train the guy at deep safety to give them added flexibility and injury insurance. Like Gordon he may get dragged deeper because Michigan needs him, but that'll depend on Delano Hill, Jeremy Clark, and Jarrod Wilson… unless Thomas is just too good to ever take off the field, which you can't discount.

Also, I will not be surprised if Thomas ends up being the primary kick returner at some point. He has the raw Stonum-like speed to be a vertical threat there.

2013 Recruiting: Delano Hill

2013 Recruiting: Delano Hill

Submitted by Brian on May 13th, 2013 at 4:00 PM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson, CB Channing Stribling

       
Detroit, MI – 6'1", 190
       

492744[1]

Scout 4*, #21 S, #7 MI #270 overall
Rivals 4*, #23 S, #7 MI
ESPN 3*, #23 S, #11 MI
24/7 4*, #25 S, #4 MI
Other Suitors Iowa, Pitt, Syracuse, Illinois, Cincinnati, ND (interest only)
YMRMFSPA Poor man's Marlin Jackson
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Cass Tech(like everybody man). Member of the Greg Oden club. I think it's the mustache.

Film

Hill doesn't have a full senior highlight reel. Maize and Blue News did get some film of him from a couple games:

And he's got the usual junior reel:

 

Did I say Michigan had recruited three oversized corners in this class? I may have meant four, as despite being a strapping 6'1", 190-and-counting pounds, Cass Tech safety Delano Hill also got the "we try you at corner first" spiel:

For Michigan a big factor was clearly the determination that the 6-1, 190-pounder can also play corner.  According to Hill, it’s not a position that is as foreign to him as some might think.

“At Cass Tech we play a lot of man to man coverage, so our safeties have to cover,” he explained.  “So (the safeties) cover the slot a lot.  And I’ve played corner.  I try to be versatile and play every position in the defensive backfield.  (Michigan) said I can play both, but they are going to start me off at corner.”

That was not a fluke, either. Hill started poking around before his Michigan offer and got some interest from Notre Dame. They were thinking about him in the same way:

"ND really likes Delano as a corner and he's starting to like them as well," Crowell said. "He's getting looks from everywhere all of a sudden. I'm pretty sure Arkansas is going to offer soon and Florida and Florida State are asking about him."

Whether that's at boundary or nickel I don't know, but a couple of recruiting analysts suggested it could be the former. It appears that everyone short of a 6'4" Jeremy Clark will be tried at corner first, with those who can't hack it moved to safety.

Somebody has to play there, though, and with Dymonte Thomas currently holding down the nickel spot the assumption here is that Hill's dalliance at corner is just that and by the second week of fall practice he's eyeing the two-deep at safety.

Michigan actually passed the first time around, only offering Hill a couple months after an eye-opening performance at the… er… Opening. By that time he had been committed to Iowa for months. He flipped in four days. Who is your daddy. Yes. Your daddy.

Anyway, Hill comes in with an enticing combination of size, speed and lick-depositing ability. He'd run respectable 40s at various camps in the 4.5-4.6 range; he laid down a 4.44 at The Opening, and backed that up with his play. A compilation of things said in the aftermath:

  • Allen Trieu (Scout): "good sized safety who surprised by how he could move that frame … used that speed to make a number of big plays in 7 on 7s, including a pick six."
  • Barton Simmons (247): "A safety with some size and physicality to him, no one expected Hill to be near the top of the list in the 40-yard dash. In fact, if we thought he had this kind of speed, his ranking would likely be a good bit higher."
  • Keith Niebuhr (247): "always one of the better safeties in attendance [at camps]. With his performance this weekend he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. … Iowa [erp!] is getting a star."
  • A non-bylined 247 article talked up Hill's "movement efficiency," which Hill has "in spades." Sayeth 247, "He may not look like he is moving fast but he doesn’t take false steps and he gets where he’s going in an effortless manner."

The best 40 at the Opening was a just tenth faster than Hill's; combined with his size that's impressive.

That performance followed a series of other strong camp appearances. Hill won the Columbus NFTC DB MVP (hope you like acronyms!). ESPN picked an all-combine team that was Cam Burrows and three Michigan guys: Reon Dawson, Ross Douglas, and Hill:

DB: Delano Hill, 6-0, 194, Cass Tech (Detroit, Mich.)
Breakdown: Hill is the prototypical ball-hawking safety, impressing with his ability to up and get the ball over receivers. Easily made some of the days best plays and was awarded MVP of the group.

Yeah, Hill beat out the other two eventual M commits and OSU five-star-ish CB Burrows. Here's why($):

…made a lot of plays in one-on-one and 7-on-7 play. He sees the field extremely well from his safety position, and closes passing lanes quickly. In each of the events we have covered Hill at in recent months he has come down with a number of interceptions, and that was the case again on Saturday. Usually cornerbacks take home MVP awards from the defensive back group because a lot of the work is in man coverage. Hill's win as a safety attests to his abilities in pass coverage.

Scout mentioned that he is "not a corner, but can cover man to man" before going with "solid, dependable, and always seems to be making plays." At the Only Incompetent Germans invitational($), Hill played corner, showed himself "extremely fluid for a safety when he flips his hips to run with receivers" and displayed "outstanding field vision."

Meanwhile, that tackling stuff bit is also reputed a strength. ESPN's eval($) echoes the above assessment of his good-for-a-safety man coverage skills; they get a little gushy about the other important bit of being a safety:

Hill is an aggressive run defender with good zone coverage skills; also displays the athletic skills needed to cover inside receivers.  … a tough customer who demonstrates the open field tackling skills which not only limits yards after contact but should prove beneficial as a special teams coverage defender. We see the flexibility, agility and balance needed to play in space; does a good job coming out of his pedal and flipping the hips when covering inside receivers. … His run support is outstanding; will come up and force off the edge while demonstrating quickness filling the ally; is a very aggressive downhill run defender with the ability to move through traffic; displays very good long pursuit ability.

This is another eval that doesn't match up with an ESPN ranking. They place Hill a three star outside of the top ten kids in Michigan and this evaluation finishes by saying "he may not be an immediate starter" but it'll be tough to keep him off the field early in his career. Go figure.

In any case, Scout's Allen Trieu also notes that he is a "very sure tackler"

Tackling: One of his strengths is that he is a very sure tackler. He plays under control, has good technique, and I've rarely seen him miss tackles or take bad angles.

Bottom Line: Good size, good speed, and a good skill set. Hill is a great pickup for Michigan, as he brings a little size into this secondary class. He should be a great special teamer as well.

Trieu reiterates that on Hill's scout profile, listing instincts and tackling as assets:

A good sized safety and a sure tackler in the open field. Does a good job of diagnosing plays, finding the football and coming in under control when attacking ball carriers. In coverage, he can play over the tight end and slot and cover man to man or in zone.

And since he is a Cass Tech safety he of course must be ripped. Rivals:

Several of the players on this list are well-traveled on the off-season camp circuit, and that includes Hill. The frequent competition has helped Hill's progression but does not appear to have kept him out of the weight room. The 6-foot-1, 190-pounder gets thicker and more ripped every time we see him, yet he still is out there moving well and showing plenty of range from his safety position.

So this all sounds fantastic. Hill has speed, acquits himself decently enough in man coverage to get looks at corner from ND and Michigan, and brings excellent tackling ability to the table.

He's a fringe four star on three of the four sites, but it seems like there must be a catch, right? The scouting above is that of a consensus top 100 player, as it describes a reliable, heavy-tackling safety who can cover. The offer list is pretty meh though. Michigan took their sweet-ass time getting around to their offer. Maybe that was because they had an inkling he'd flip to them whenever they did, but, like, where's the Michigan State offer, let alone PSU/OSU/ND?

I don't know, man. That's the only red flag in a recruiting profile that otherwise indicates stardom beckons.

Etc.: Hoe is het met Delano Hill? Wilcher:

“Delano runs 4.4 and at worst a 4.49.  He runs between 21-something and a 22 flat in the 200.  He has good recovery speed and good footwork.  Great feet.  He can play anything.  He is tall, he is strong, and he is physical.  He is going to be able to go out there and lock up people (at corner) or he can drop back and play safety.  He has got it going on.”

Why a poor man's Marlin Jackson? At just over 6-foot-even and around 200 pounds, Jackson was a kick-ass run defender as a boundary corner, probably the best I've seen at Michigan. He was also a corner-safety tweener both at Michigan, which moved him to safety his junior year and back as a senior, and in the NFL.

He was also a near five-star recruit, which Hill isn't. Okay, so Hill's not likely to live on a five-star receiver's hip as a true sophomore. If he is really a boundary corner/safety tweener with "outstanding" run support, he may not be far behind. At the very least his cover skills can be an asset underneath and against tight ends.

Guru Reliability: Exacting. Hill hit a ton of camps, has electronic 40s, plays at Cass Tech, and the rankings above are an eerie consensus: #21 S, #23 S, #23 S, #25 S. I don't see why he doesn't rank higher—basically no one has a negative for him—but he's thoroughly scouted even if the rankings don't necessarily match the scouting.

Variance: Low. Already at pretty much college size, playing the position he projects to in college, a lot of experience, all the camps. Seems to have a good grasp of safety nuances already. High floor kid.

Ceiling: High. 200 pound safety running a 4.4 who has good hips for his position.

General Excitement Level: High? I guess so. I am usually skeptical about Cass Tech recruits because they just don't work out all that often (Joe Barksdale and Thomas Gordon are the only ones I can recall from probably about a dozen), but Hill is appropriately sized for his position and gets universal praise for safety skills… all of them.

The downside is offers. Hill did not pick up another elite offer other than the Michigan one, and while being committed usually slows down that sort of thing, Michigan had to be convinced late. What is the disconnect between the scouting reports, which sound great, and the offer list?

Projection: With Dymonte Thomas competing at nickel and Marvin Robinson gone, Hill has a clear path to early playing time on special teams with an eye to replacing his Cass Tech counterpart in year two. He'll have to wrest the job away from Jeremy Clark and possibly Thomas; I think he will.

2013 Recruiting: Channing Stribling

2013 Recruiting: Channing Stribling

Submitted by Brian on May 9th, 2013 at 10:54 AM

Previously: CB Reon Dawson

   
Mathews, NC – 6'2", 170
     

Page_4_1118111_thumb[1]

Scout 3*, #32 CB
Rivals 3*, 28 S, #10 NC
ESPN 3*, 77, #93 ATH, #33 NC
24/7 3*, #38 ATH, #21 NC
Other Suitors NC State, maybe
YMRMFSPA Morgan Trent
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from me(!).
Notes Butler HS (Jamar Adams). Twitter.

Film

Hudl film is also available. Stick around to 1:45 to see a crazy kick return.

Welcome to episode two in "Michigan just wants you to be 6'2", cornerback." In this case, they want you to be that so badly that they'll offer you at camp even though your offer list currently reads "Charlotte and the SWAC." That's Channing Stribling's story.

Virtually the first articles most sites wrote about Stribling came at Michigan's camp. I mean:

Q: When you came up for camp, did you even consider this a possibility?

No sir, to be honest, I didn’t think so at all. Me and my friends, we came up here mainly to visit Ball State and some of the MAC schools. I didn’t think Michigan would even look at me. I went to N.C. State’s camp two weeks ago and Kentucky’s camp right before I went to Michigan.

Then the first day of one-on-ones, they told me they liked me, but I thought they were just trying to be nice. But they were really interested.

And Michigan already had Conley, Thomas and Lewis committed. I don't think they expected to offer the kid either. Ball State did offer, by the way. He still picked Michigan.

Sam Webb's impressions from that camp:

How this kid is such a relatively obscure prospect while playing for  such a powerhouse program is a mystery.  Standing 6-2 and maybe 165-pounds, this Tar Heel State product is extremely fluid (despite his length), and possesses quickness that belies his size.  Though not a blazer, he has good football speed.  Furthermore, he has really good leaping ability and ball schools.  Some schools might be scared away by his slender frame and lack of elite top end speed. Others, meanwhile, might see pure potential… a youngster that could become more explosive once he adds more muscle to his slender frame.

Michigan got lucky in one particular way; Stribling was a recent convert to defensive back and had performed at the other camps he hit up as a wideout, not a defender. It's possible if he'd played corner at NC State or wherever he would have picked up an offer and possibly taken himself off the board.

When the sites got around to ranking him, they were relatively enthusiastic. Rivals moved him up to their highest three-star ranking. He's only a few spots away from four stars (their safety cutoff is 24). Scout has him three spots away from a fourth star at CB. The other two sites gave him perfunctory you-committed-to-Michigan three star rankings, but we're talking about a guy who had offers from Charlotte, Howard, and Hampton before he hit Michigan's camp. (He might have had an NC State offer, too, but there's conflicting information on that.)

The main reason he popped up those rankings is… well, he got a Michigan offer and committed. But a strong #2 is a bust-out senior season. He kicked it off($) against Tennessee commit and top 50-ish WR Marquez North. Stribling(1) had more receptions than North(0) in that matchup. IE, Stribling picked off the first pass of the game and helped shut North out the rest of the way.

ESPN's Kipp Adams, a writer for their Georgia site, caught that game and came back claiming Michigan had pulled off "grand larceny"($):

Through nine months, more than 70 programs have come through Butler High School in Matthews -- and with good reason. … The fact that all of those coaches missed on Channing Stribling is remarkable. …

In this humble writer’s opinion, Brady Hoke and his staff should be wearing ski masks when discussing Stribling on signing day, as they have stolen a gem from the Tar Heel State.

Scout's Chad Simmons named Stribling his "top performer($)" of that week of the season, saying it "looks like [Michigan] got a steal" and "has great length, plays the ball well, and has the body to really add significant weight." Simmons wrote a separate article on the kid as a result:

You have to love the size right away. He is a long and rangy corner with potential to add significant weight to his frame. He can work on his footwork, making his back peddle more smooth, and his explosiveness out of his breaks, but he showed he could play the ball, he turn and ran with receivers well, and he did a nice job of keeping his eyes on the quarterback and receiver.

Stribling has a lot of upside on the next level. He juggles multiple sports, so once he begins to focus on football and football only, he is going to get better fundamentally and physically.

Stribling continued to annihilate all comers as he helped drive Butler to a state championship. He had another pick and a kickoff return TD the next week added two more INTs over the next three games, scored four touchdowns in their hsfopoff opener, and had a TD and INT in the state championship game, whereupon Scout claimed he had "huge upside."

As a result, everyone and their uncle named Stribling a potential sleeper. Tom went with him on a Wolverine Nation roundtable; Rivals's Mike Farrell named him as a guy who would be getting a bump (albeit apparently not a huge one) after just a couple weeks of season; 247 picked him as a class sleeper for Michigan, noting his senior stats:

Michigan signed four other defensive backs that were tabbed as four-star recruits, however Stribling has the size at 6-foot-2, 170-pounds, and athleticism, 4.5 in the 40-yard dash, to be the best of the bunch. …he registered 37 tackles, 14 pass breakups and six interceptions while also being a playmaker on offense with 37 catches for 636 yards and eight touchdowns.

So there you go. Stribling showed up in a big way as a senior. He's got pounds to pack on, and when people ask him about his strengths he says this:

Not having to totally guess [anymore], but knowing how and when [my opponent] is going to break. I know what he’s going to do before he does it.”

Raw upside length, upside length raw, raw raw length upside. You get the idea. Compounding that upside business is the Copp factor, in which a kid who plays a bunch of sports in high school can get a lot better once he focuses on just one. Stribling plays basketball and runs track as well.

A few more details on what Michigan's won from ESPN:

…a tall, rangy athlete with very good ball skills and long striding speed. Talented prospect with big play potential on both sides of the ball. Could be a late bloomer with his physical upside. While high-cut without overly smooth transitional skills, this is still a prospect we feel can play on the perimeter at the college level and have success. Lacks elite initial burst and explosion but brings a lot of quickness, speed and range to the position and can turn and run with most receivers with his good acceleration and top-end speed. … Can stick to the hip in-phase and while his high-cut frame makes it difficult to sink out of breaks, his length and range also make it difficult for receivers to create separation. Has the height and high-point skills that are coveted on the outside to matchup with today's taller receivers. Can turn and run with most wide outs but we question if he has the hips to transition smoothly without wasted motion versus faster vertical receivers at the BCS level.

Does that sound like the #33 player in North Carolina? His coach:

“Long arms. He controls his body very well. You see a lot of kids in high school that size, they have a tough time managing where everything is going, but Channing does a great job with body control.”

Finally, Stribling brings the sort of personality Michigan is looking for. He spent the full week at camp, giving Curt Mallory an opportunity to get the know the guy's talent and coachability…

"Channing came to our camp (in the summer) not only for a day, but for the whole week, I got a chance to be around Channing all week long," Mallory said. "I really got to work with him more than just once. You see his height, you see his range and you see his competitiveness.

"The more you were around him, the more you fell in love with him -- he really brings a lot of length to the position."

…and his coach indicates he's a program guy:

“With his competitiveness it rubs off on his teammates he raises the level of play among his teammates. He is a great kid the teachers love to have him in class; Channing has a great personality and a great respect for those in authority. He is mature kid but still a kid who interacts well with adults and kids."

Michigan's swinging for the fences here, and so far so good.

Etc.: Is from a military family. Plus one. Hoke is not Urban($):

"A lot of other schools were talking to me about offering me later after they see what type of stars I had and where I was ranked, but Michigan was different," Channing Stribling told Scout.

"They saw me at their camp and they did not care that I didn't have all the stars and that I wasn't ranked high. They liked me and they offered me. That is what really stood out to me when I committed to them."

Why Morgan Trent? Trent is pretty much the only tall-skinny-long corner in recent Michigan history unless you want to count Troy Woolfolk, who was constantly injured, and James Rogers, who was not very good.

Trent was a bit faster, Stribling is a good amount longer. Trent couldn't change direction very well, and when people talk about a 'high cut' athlete that's one of the things that comes in that package of worry jargon. That's basically Stribling's limiting factor: how fast can he change direction?

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Stribling was virtually unknown until his Michigan commitment and while the sites did check him out as a senior, they are still working from a relatively slight knowledge base. It seems tough for the sites to shoot someone way up unless they see a guy in person at one of their camps, for a lot of reasons.

Variance: High. Raw upside length.

Ceiling: High-minus. Frame excellent, lacks that top-end speed.

General Excitement Level: Aw, crap. I don't like doing this so early in the profile series when I haven't dug deep on most of the class, but…

Sleeper of the year

The last three years of SotY: Jake Ryan, Desmond Morgan, and last year's co-award to Ben Braden and Jehu Chesson. I think that's a pretty good track record right there.

This determination is made easier by the fact that traditionally I hand this out to a guy with no four-star rankings and there are only a few guys who meet those criteria this year: Stribling, Csont'e York, Khalid Hill, Dawson, and Da'Mario Jones. Soon this award will be "the guy who doesn't have four stars somewhere."

Projection: Almost certain redshirt. He's got another year to work his way into the lineup slowly behind Countess/Taylor before Taylor's graduation throws the boundary corner job open. If you're asking me right now to pick who wins that battle, I say Stribling. Tentative, obviously.

2013 Recruiting: Reon Dawson

2013 Recruiting: Reon Dawson

Submitted by Brian on May 6th, 2013 at 1:38 PM

Previously: Last year's pile.

Our annual kickoff reminder about what "You May Remember Me From Such Players As" is: a playing-style comparison, not a projection. If player X works out, he'll probably remind you of player Y. Player Y is usually pretty good since he's had a successful-enough career that you probably have an idea of what he plays like.

   
Trotwood, OH – 6'2", 175
     

Reon Dawson 3[1]

Scout 3*, #42 CB
Rivals 3*, UR ATH, #52 OH
ESPN 3*, 77, #41 CB
24/7 3*, #87 CB, #58 OH
Other Suitors Arizona, Pitt, UVA, Purdue, Illinois, Cinci, WVU
YMRMFSPA Chris Gamble?
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Trotwood-Madison (Roundtree, Shaw, Moore, classmate McCray). Cousin of Dermontti Dawson. Twitter.

Film

Junior highlights:

Here is his hudl page as well, which has senior stuff.

Are you a large human? If so, large human, I have good news for you. Michigan is going to recruit you.

Reon Dawson kicks off this year's recruiting profile series because 1) for whatever reason I've always started from the DBs and worked my way towards quarterback and 2) it seems thematically appropriate to kick things off with one of three(!) 6'2" cornerbacks Michigan brought in, now that Dymonte Thomas is threatening to start at nickel. Since Dawson was a 1-for-1 replacement of Gareon Conley, another 6'2" player Michigan wanted to bring in at corner, Dawson is the most thematically appropriate player of the three. Michigan is going to be big, everywhere, and if their original plans are thwarted they'll go get a similarly big plan B, in fact the kind of Plan B that causes Ohio recruiting analysts to compare him to the plan A($).

As far as Dawson goes, he is large, fast clay for Mallory to shape into a cornerback. Like seemingly every wide receiver Michigan's bringing in for 2014, Dawson thought his meal ticket would be basketball and came up a few inches short. As a result, you can put him in the "raw" pile($):

“I didn’t play my freshman year because I thought I was going to go to college for basketball or track.  I really didn’t play my sophomore year.  I got in a couple games, but junior year was when I really stepped on the scene with Cam and all of them.  They really made me better because going against them every day.  You’ve got to get better or you’re going to be on the sideline. I’ve got good recovery speed, I’ve got good ball skills, I’m long, and that allows me to check longer receivers.  When I went to Illinois they measured me at 6-2, 175.”

That height and weight is a lot more credible than the 4.39 he supposedly ran at Alabama's camp in his first-ever attempt at a 40 yard dash. Southern speed, man. Also Ohio speed, I guess, as he claimed the same time($) at an OSU camp.

Even if that gets five FAKES on the fake 40 scale, Dawson does get called fast quite a bit. ESPN praises($) his "quick feet, smooth hips and very good top end speed"; Josh Helmholdt's first impression of him($) was "very tall for a cornerback and very fast"; Mark Givler notes his "tremendous top end speed".

In fact, a couple folks called Dawson just about an ideal athlete for defensive back. Givler again:

- Tall, long-armed athlete that fits the mold of what college coaches are looking for in their defensive backs.

- Still very raw in coverage, has a tendency to hesitate before making his breaks.

Notes: Dawson went from a virtual unknown going into last summer to a player that now holds several BCS conference offers. Dawson was a starter and key contributor on Trotwood's state championship team this past fall and has an impressive combination of size and speed. Though he's still a work in progress in coverage, Dawson will likely end up as a defensive back but it would be interesting to see what he could do at wide receiver.

And Allen Trieu:

Tall corner with long arms. Good speed and athleticism. Has good instincts and good ball skills. Is relatively inexperienced and needs to work on his technique and get stronger, which will improve his tackling, although he has been proven to be a reliable open field tackler. High upside guy with ideal physical tools for the position.

247's analysis goes with "excellent physical tools."

[HIT THE JUMP for THE CATCH dangit you probably just want the positive stuff I suck at jumps]