2014 Recruiting: Wilton Speight

2014 Recruiting: Wilton Speight

Submitted by Brian on August 19th, 2014 at 10:19 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, WR Moe Ways, WR Freddy Canteen, WR Drake Harris, TE Ian Bunting.

       
Richmond, VA – 6'6", 234
       

 

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#30 QB
Rivals 3*, NR overall
NR QB, #27 VA
ESPN 4*, #257 overall
#13 pro QB, #8 VA               
24/7 3*, NR overall
#23 pro QB, #16 VA
Other Suitors Miami, NC State
YMRMFSPA John Navarre
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Also senior highlights on hudl.

 

It's back. The Michigan Artillery Piece QB has been revived and recruited in the form of Wilton Speight. Yes, Shane Morris before him is a pro-style guy. He is not a 6'6" man-mountain who will only cross the line of scrimmage in the event of an emergency or Buffalo Stampede.

Wilton Speight is. Seriously. Compare him to someone, ESPN!

Physically he reminds us of Brock Osweiler (the Arizona State Osweiler, not the high school version).

I think you mean "the 6'8" Brock Osweiler—the 6'8" Arizona Osweiler, not the 6'8" high school version." This is your context.

When we're talking about artillery pieces, it's about fitting footballs into tight windows at high velocity 99 times out of 100. That's why Tom Brady is married to a Brazilian supermodel; it's why people still put up with Ben Roethlisberger. Can Speight reach those heights? It's a bit murky right now.

Speight was going all out in high school, flying out to be tutored by Noted Quarterback Guru Steve Clarkson monthly. This is dedication.  Dedication is good, and it comes with impressive quotes from Clarkson:

"His arm is every bit as strong as Ben Roethlisberger, and I've worked with Ben. … I've known Al Borges for well over 20 years, so we actually talked quite a bit before the commitment. He wanted to know what kind of player Wilton was.."

"His football IQ is very high, and he's just deadly accurate. … This is a kid that I think plays on Sundays, that's how good he is. I don't throw that around that often, but this kid, I think he plays on Sundays."

Clarkson and Speight did collectively take a radical step forward from his destiny. Scout's Greg Biggins:

At the time,  I was at one of Steve’s camps and I was thinking, okay this guy is kind of tall, gawky, does not really look the par, kind of really over the head release.  I thought he is a nice enough guy, maybe he will go to lower level MAC school if he is lucky kind of a thing.

And then!

I saw him again last year at the camp and he was incredible.  It was a night and day difference in terms of just being comfortable as a quarterback. ….   just from three years ago to today, it is like it is a different sport he is playing.”

This was not enough to get him a bump but recruiting sites succumb to momentum like any other human endeavor; it's generally the case that guys who improve a lot late remain underrated.

[After the JUMP: arm strength not in Morris's league, surprising mobility, Borges's horrific QB recruiting track record.]

2014 Recruiting: Ian Bunting

2014 Recruiting: Ian Bunting

Submitted by Brian on August 13th, 2014 at 10:23 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, WR Moe Ways, WR Freddy Canteen, WR Drake Harris.

       
Hinsdale, IL – 6'7", 227
       

Ian-Bunting[1]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#21 TE
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#9 TE, #15 IL
ESPN 4*, #200 overall
#6 TE-H, #8 IL             
24/7 4*, #230 overall
#6 TE, #10 IL
Other Suitors ND, FSU, Neb, OSU, OU, UO, USC
YMRMFSPA Jesse James,
or TE Devin Funchess
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post by me.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Senior highlights on HUDL. Note that he's pure WR in the above but a WR/TE as a senior.

If Ian Bunting was a track off of R.E.M.'s 1994 album Monster, he would be the King of Catching Radius and how's that for a convoluted reference to a deep cut from a 20-year-old album I don't even like that much. I digress.

The Brady Hoke era has seen Michigan receivers pivot from fleet little bastards to majestic yachts with more catching appendages than Ganesh. Bunting is at the extreme end of that scale, a 6'7"(!) kid with long arms and skillet-sized hands. I think that bit about the hands may literally be true:

"I wear XXXL gloves -- although I might have to go XXXXL next year cause they're getting kind of small (laughter) -- and have size 17 feet."

Bunting can palm a basketball in (on?) one finger. E-fact.

We've just discussed a couple of receivers who aren't totally covered even when they are; Bunting is like that plus three inches and maybe not minus a whole lot of speed, at least in a straight line. Once Bunting gets up to cruise he gets going. His coach:

"He was a great receiver, and I think he was the second fastest kid on the team last year at 6-foot-6, so just athletically tremendous potential."

Tremendous deployment of tremendous there. Some evaluations have the distinct whiff of Funchess:

…dominant during 7-on-7 play, running away from the smaller defensive backs. Bunting has really good ball skills and catches everything thrown his way.

Others just come out and say it. Clint Brewster:

Bunting shows a good burst after the catch and has enough speed to take it the distance. Similar to Michigan’s Devin Funchess, … shows strong hands with the ability to extend and pluck the ball out of the air. He does a great job of catching the football in traffic. … I really like Bunting’s burst in and out of his breaks for as tall and long as he is.

Tim Sullivan:

top-end speed is plenty fast enough to stretch the field deep. Bunting's greatest asset may be his hands. Not only are they soft to catch passes, they're huge and give him great range reeling in the ball.

Overall, Bunting calls to mind another tight end that Michigan fans are very familiar with: U-M sophomore Devin Funchess. He doesn't have quite the burst off the line that Funchess has, but has similar top-end speed.

When Bunting attended the opening he was battling a hamstring issue (one that's thankfully a year old now, knock on wood) and playing tight end for the first time ever, but still impressed. 247 listed him as a riser after a "ton of big plays" and said he proved he was "one of the nation's elite."

[After THE JUMP: hands, hands, lack of blocking, hands, a desire to block.]

2014 Recruiting: Freddy Canteen

2014 Recruiting: Freddy Canteen

Submitted by Brian on August 6th, 2014 at 11:52 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty, WR Moe Ways.

       
Elkton, MD – 6'1", 176
       

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Eric Upchurch

Scout 4*, #172 overall
#31 WR
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#47 WR, #9 MD
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#168 WR, #26 MD
24/7 3*, NR overall
#58 WR, #10 MD
Other Suitors Tenn, Rutgers, Maryland
YMRMFSPA Mario Manningham
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Eastern Christian Academy (Brandon Watson). Jungle beats.

Film

JUNGLE BEATS

Yeah, still on that. There's not very much out there even now. Here's cutups from one game as a senior from Scout:

247 also posted clips from a game against Maplewood.

Welp. This series has always gone from the back of the defense to the skill positions on offense. This means any ability for this post to be prescient about Freddy Canteen is out the door. Y'all already expecting some rapture business this fall.

That is a shame, because hoo boy were Ace and I hyped about Freddy Canteen since about two seconds after his commitment. Ace said he thought Michigan got a "major steal" in his Hello post; I was repeating JUNGLE BEATS on twitter about every six seconds. The genesis was of course the video above, which remains as mesmerizing as it was when Canteen committed.

That what he did as a junior instead of play football. As you may remember, ECA is a weird school, a football version of basketball prospect factory Findlay Academy. Their first season was Canteen's junior year of high school; ECA got to play three games before Maryland's high school athletic association came down with a ruling that said no one could play them. Canteen locked himself in a gym for the next nine months trying to break as many fitbits as possible.

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He joined a band called And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead Fitbits. He sent Louis CK several jokes about fitbits. &c

This left him off the radars of both recruiting site and college for a long time. Canteen's first BCS offers were from local schools that aren't really powerhouses: Rutgers and Maryland. ECA embarked on a summer-long tour of various summer camps, though, and when he hit Michigan an offer did not take long to get issued. Tennessee followed shortly after when ECA hit Knoxville, but Canteen was already headed for Ann Arbor. He announced a few days later.

Evaluations were thin on the ground then—I remember finding the Jungle Beats video was a major step forward at the moment—but the recruiting sites have filled in the gaps. Michigan has won a route artisan. This was as a 160-pound sophomore:

A terrific route runner with sneaky acceleration, Canteen gets separation easily and has sure hands. He catches the ball at its highest point often and he has the hops to go up and get it.

At the Rivals Camp Series the next year:

There may not have been a better route-runner on the field than Canteen. If he gets a clean release from the line, the defensive backs were rarely able to catch up and make a play on the ball. One of the things that stood out about Canteen was his explosiveness out of his breaks. One multiple occasions, Canteen fooled the defensive back with a hitch-and-go route and ending up with a wide open touchdown catch.

Scout's Brian Dohn took in an ECA game last year:

Canteen is fluid in and out of breaks and he did a nice job of setting up defensive backs with subtle moves before planting his foot and making his cut. …

Canteen has exceptional body control and very good footwork near the sideline, and not only can he go up and catch a ball, he tracks it low and can get down to the turf and get his hands under a low-thrown ball. …

Canteen is versatile and exciting. He has elusiveness in his ability after the catch, and he is an exceptional route runner who did not disappoint. He is good on film, but it doesn't do justice to the speed he plays at when watching him live.

The downsides: blocking and size. A couple of other evaluations do mention that Canteen's spindliness does mean he can get jammed at the line. That's something a few more pounds will help with.

Prior to that ECA game, Dohn saw Canteen at a local 7on7 at which ECA won the title:

He ran exceptional routes, there was no one who could cover him during the day, and he was effective in the short passing game and also getting behind the secondary time and again. The best way to describe Canteen's dominating day was the gasps when he actually dropped a pass. Yes, turns out he was human.

Scout's in-person evals caused them to move Canteen up about a hundred spots in their rankings.

Five-star Florida commit Jalen Tabor is from the same area, and the two had something of a camp rivalry going. Tabor is a fan:

"He’s got good routes.  I definitely respect Freddy Canteen.  We go at it all the time.  That’s my man.  We just had 7-on-7 at Maryland.  The whole championship game it was just me and him. My coach said, ‘go get (Canteen).’  And they were testing me.  We were going at each other.  So I’ve definitely got a lot of respect for Freddy Canteen. He is going to be good in college.”

This may be why:

He has top-flight speed, above-average hands and shiftiness in his route running. Canteen beat Jalen Tabor deep for a touchdown on the first play of one game and, in another game, scored a touchdown leaping in the back of the end zone and on an out-and-up route.

So, like, at this point when his coach says something outlandish like

“Freddy Canteen I think is the best receiver in the country.  I know how (the recruiting services) operate.  You have fit the measurable as far as size is concerned for them to give you a five-star rating.  But if there is a better route runner in the country than Freddy Canteen, tell me who he is.  I don’t think there is one.  I think the expertise on the staff at Michigan allowed them to spot that rather quickly.”

…you're kind of like "seems in the ballpark of reasonable, at least." I mean, I've got a dozen more evaluations that I'm hacking down to snippets like so:

  • 247: "Canteen understands how to get open and has slick moves after the catch.  Runs very precise routes and can stick his foot in the ground and get separation from a defensive back. Tremendous hands and shows a great feel for the game."
  • Rivals: "…caught a wet, heavy football that was often off target with consistency and made some of the more impressive grabs downfield on jump balls."
  • His coach: "“He is such a gifted route runner.  I guess I would compare Freddy to something like a Reggie Wayne type kid.  He runs routes with the precision that allows him to be opened and allows him to finish off plays in the end zone because of his quickness."
  • You get the idea, surely. Freddy Canteen has been in a lab for the last few years, repeating route experiments with a control group and excellent sample size.

On the meh end of the scale, ESPN's evaluation says he's a nice underneath guy only:

Has an ability to make plays but does not possess the explosive speed that will scare defenses from any point on the field. Is more of a possession receiver than he is a big play guy.

As per usual I have no idea when this evaluation was issued or if ESPN did anything other than watch some cut-ups. That's especially relevant in Canteen's case. ESPN is an enormous outlier here—the next-most pessimistic site has him 110(!) spots higher in their position rankings—and there are many reasons Canteen would be mis-evaluated at a particular point in time. Take it FWIW: not much after spring. Speaking of…

And then he showed up for spring practice. The buzz he generated was immediate:

Teammates and coaches raved about Canteen's impact almost from the first day of spring camp. He's a player with 4.4 straight-line speed, he's agile and explosive enough with his feet to make things happen in the slot, and his general knowledge of football and the speed at which it needs to be played on the college level seems to be ahead of other players his age.

Michigan wide receivers coach Jeff Hecklinski remarked that Canteen brings a speed to the position that the staff hasn't had since it took over in 2011.

By the time the spring game-type substance rolled around he was the guy who started opposite Funchess. (FWIW, Darboh was held out.) He hauled in a 44-yard catch and would have had a second long bomb down the sideline except Gardner left the ball short, allowing Countess to recover. In the aftermath, there was one name on my lips:

Freddy Canteen went from freshman to Manningham in the space of 15 practices …

Also reminiscent of 86, at least as a freshman: people screaming at Canteen about where to line up pre-snap. There was one memorable play in Manningham's freshman year where Fred Jackson was having a conniption fit on the sideline trying to get Manningham to relocate himself; Manningham did not and scored a touchdown anyway. Canteen dredged that memory up on Saturday.

Injury issues for Darboh and Drake Harris removed them from the equation, and one or the other may end up in a prominent role (likely Darboh). Still, Canteen sped past the three guys in the class ahead of him and a guy (Jehu Chesson) coming off a promising redshirt freshman year. That indicates the kid is for real. When does Brady Hoke ever sound like this about a freshman?

"Once you watched him compete in winter conditioning and the things coaches are involved with and just his everyday approach to the game, you knew he had the work ethic and maybe the maturity to be beyond some other guys," head coach Brady Hoke told ESPN.com in late March. "What he’s done out here, I don’t know if I expected it. But we have a lot of confidence in him."

Worth noting that Hoke said he may be either outside or in the slot when fall rolls around. Either way, he will make plays.

Etc.: I SAID MAKE PLAYS:

"He's a playmaker," Funchess said. "All playmakers go out there and make plays, and he's been making plays all spring."

MAKE PLAYS:

"(I'm a ) playmaker, to be honest," he said. "I just want to make plays."

MAKE PLAY:

“He’s earned his respect out here,” said quarterback Devin Gardner. “He’s played well and made plays."

Why Mario Manningham? If there was one guy who was a death merchant at Michigan solely because of his routes and quickness, it was Manningham. He too leapt into the starting-ish lineup as a true freshman at about six-foot-even because he was able to get over the top of anyone at will.

It's easy to throw your quick guy in the slot, and hard for that quick guy to immediately say "bro but we could get 50 yards instead of 15"; Manningham did that. Canteen did it too; to start the spring game as an early-enrolled freshman over a returning contributor plus three guys in the class in front of you is an immediate indicator to upgrade expectations.

Also a viable comparison: Tyler Lockett. Not sure if he's as fast as Lockett.

Guru Reliability: Low. Canteen was mostly off the radar by the time he committed because of ECA's problems. Recruiting sites tried to make up for it by going to ECA games when they actually got to play, but they seemingly did not move him up enough.

Variance: Low. Technician already, has put himself in position to play immediately after strong spring practice. Slight size concerns but the guy is 6'1"; he'll fill out.

Ceiling: High. "Oh, wide open."

General Excitement Level: Very high. Again, narrative of this guy's spring is mondo exciting.

Projection: Obviously playing this year. I do think Darboh's return to full health will bash him to the #3 guy on the outside, and he'll have a slightly less impactful year than the current expectations. This is mostly because I think Darboh is real good and people are sleeping on him after his redshirt.

There is an opportunity in the slot, where Norfleet and (maybe) DaMario Jones are currently. Normally you'd be hesitant to bounce a freshman from one spot to the other but with a guy as advanced as Canteen it may work out.

Next year I expect Funchess to be in the NFL, paving the way for Canteen to start and have major impact.

2014 Recruiting: Moe Ways

2014 Recruiting: Moe Ways

Submitted by Brian on August 4th, 2014 at 2:41 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole, OL Juwann Bushell-Beatty.

       
Beverly Hills, MI – 6'4", 195
       

ND Prep v DCD Football

Scout 3*, NR overall
#58 WR
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#61 WR. #6 MI
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#59 WR, #5 MI
24/7 3*, NR overall
#91 WR, #10 MI
Other Suitors Iowa, Kansas, Pitt, Rutgers
YMRMFSPA Braylon Edwards
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from me(!).
Notes Detroit Country Day (Kenny Demens).

Film

Senior highlights:

Also junior highlights.

If you listened to our recruiting podcast way back in February, you know that I'm super enthused about this class's wide receiving corps. Freddy Canteen's quick emergence into a guy to be excited about has already put the class ahead of the curve, and he is only #2 on my list of wide receivers I expect to exceed expectations.

Er. Other's expectations. I'm not trying to pull the he's-underrated-says-recruiting-ranker thing.

Anyway. #1 is Mo Ways, who only got three stars on most sites despite being 6'4", fast enough to take the top off a defense, and extremely productive. With future Iowa QB Tyler Wiegers throwing to him, Ways had 51 catches for almost 1,000 yards as a junior and upped his numbers to 55 and 1300 as a senior, with 25 touchdowns in there.

Let's get the bad bit out of the way first.

The primary issue with with Ways as a prospect is his hands. As a junior he had a tendency to make facepalm-worthy drops. This one was from his opener:

3. Maurice Ways, WR, Detroit Country Day (2014): Ways would have been in strong consideration for the top overall spot on this list except for a key drop on 4th and 15 with his team down a point. The pattern was a post and Ways had separated from the defensive back. His quarterback put it on his number, but he simply dropped it and U-D Jesuit went on for the win.

This was a pattern. Only the guys who were around consistently knew about it and they had to be diplomatic about it because they were around consistently. They gently suggested that Ways should catch the damn ball. Most of these assertions were on message boards, because message boards are ephemeral and that's the reasonable way to approach things.

But like this is some Real Talk from Tim Sullivan here:

"He's basically a high school version of Braylon Edwards, where he drops easy passes but then makes the astounding play. He's just inexperienced. But it'll come, and when it does, he'll be really, really good."

You can see an echo of that in this later Sullivan eval:

There has been a major question about Ways' hands in the past. There should not be anymore.

Inherent in that is the good news. Ways's senior season saw him leave the drops behind; that's why you can say "major questions" without getting exiled to the land of people who don't get interviews. Ways started making the easy plays while continuing his tendency to make crazy stabs on impossible balls. Sullivan again:

…he was catching balls high over the middle - including several behind him - without any bobbles or "fighting the ball." The accuracy of his quarterback Tyler Wiegers was only OK on this night, but Ways made him look excellent. Whether it's mastering the over-the-shoulder deep ball, a screen pass in traffic, or even a sideline route, Ways made every catch asked of him.

I'm generally skeptical of hands evaluations; once you get a reputation you're always considered iffy in that department because the frequency of drops is so low. See Steve Breaston, who got a rep as a guy who drops passes because he did drop a bunch over his shoulder but was otherwise excellent in his career. (Braylon absolutely deserved his rep, sadly.)

That skepticism tends towards favoring the player, but it's balanced out by the tendency of recruiting analysts to do the same. So let's go to the evaluations that are just looking at the guy as a senior. 247:

Ways has excellent hands. He catches the ball away from his body and really plucks it out of the air.

ESPN:

Very, very good. Has strong, big hands. Excels in a crowd or on the jump ball. Can elevate and shows body control and sideline awareness. Shows toughness in a crowd. Makes difficult grabs look easy. Consistently catches the ball in stride and away from his frame. Hands are soft and extremely reliable.

That's great. I love that pattern: guy gets a lot better, ratings hang on to some preconceived notions, people who pay close attention or who just look at him as a senior are like "wow." The reason this series exists is because I think assembling all the data on a guy with an eye towards the flaws in the rankings is a useful exercise; a guy like Ways is right in the heart of that.

Ways's inexperience helps us understand his trajectory. Ways arrived at Country Day a basketball player and only took up football because you're required to play two sports there. He didn't break through until he was a junior:

"This was actually my third year playing football and my first year playing varsity," Ways said.

He's been steadily improving since. The summer before his senior year he hit a bunch of the camps in an effort to up his game. The resulting articles were a bunch of "this guy is a lot better than he was when I saw him before":

Michigan coaches are pleased, as Ways himself relates:

"Coach Hoke talked about how impressed they are with me and my development on the field and off the field physically. When talking with Coach Hecklinski, he alluded to the fact that my film this season really showed him that I improved on the things I got to work with him on at the camp this off-season and that it's really encouraging to know that I'm putting in the necessary work off the field in my free time."

+2 points for using "alluded"
-1 point for being unnecessarily fancy when Heck probably just said it instead of vaguely gestured in its direction

Ways may or may not be able to rip downfield a la Braylon. There is much conflict on this point. Well, part of it. Everyone thinks he's got the frame and basketball rebounding skills to sky over defensive backs productively. Kyle Bogenschutz reported from Ways's standout performance at Michigan's camp:

…he ran a straight-line deep streak down the sideline. The ball was very underthrown - and looked as though it would be intercepted. But Ways adjusted to the ball, twisting his body as he leapt toward the ball. He snagged it over the cornerback's head, falling to the five-yard line for a 35-yard gain.

 Brewster:

Ways is a big, strong, outside receiver that can stretch the field and go up and get the deep ball. Athletic-looking frame with prototypical length and thickness.  … Locates the ball in the air well and adjusts his body to position for the catch while shielding off the defender. Displays strong hands to secure high-velocity throws off his frame.

He is one of those guys who isn't particularly covered even when he's covered. "Huge target"; "wide catching radius"; that ESPN stuff I bolded above about playing in a crowd. On this there is no disagreement.

There is disagreement about how threatening Ways will be downfield. ESPN's evaluation says he's going to be more of an underneath guy

Speed is above average, but he looks to be quicker than top end fast.  …More of a possession type that will catch everything and has red zone upside. His size gives him big play ability when the ball is in the air in contested match-ups. May never be a guy that wins consistent foot races, but he is a smooth athlete who can extend plays.

…as does 247's eval immediately after his commit:

Ways isn’t the fastest kid on the field and some are concerned about his overall speed. He doesn’t have great moves to get past defenders after the catch but shows he can break tackles with good strength.

On the other side of the ledger is another section in that same ESPN scouting report:

Separation Skills

Is a cut above this level of competition in this area. Is a smooth glider that can eat cushion quickly given his size. Can cut and shows burst into and out of the break. Will sink hips, but must be careful of pad level. Fluid stride makes speed tough to gauge for DBs.

Cumong, man.

Tim Sullivan was impressed after an in-person evaluation against Notre Dame prep:

Ways' initial burst off the line also looked improved. He has always had good speed, but it has taken him a few steps to build up a head of steam and really get moving. …was beating defensive backs in press or off-coverage with his speed, something he'd had trouble with in the past. Of course, that hasn't stopped him from being speedy after that burst, either. He was routinely burning the opposing defensive back downfield.

Some of this is probably an artifact of when you saw him. 247's evaluation notes that Ways "really improved his straight-line speed" since his junior year and pegs him as a 4.6 guy in a laser-timed 40—equivalent to 4.4 by the standards of FAKE that are generally applied to HS 40s.

As we've learned with Devin Funchess, when you're huge and leapy you don't have to have elite burst and quickness to be open enough downfield. Manningham works; Edwards works; Funchess works.

As a bonus, Ways is an excellent blocker on the edge. WR evaluations rarely mention anything about what happens when the kid doesn't have the ball, but Ways was impressive enough to get repeated mentions from the evaluators. Sullivan:

He was not just a capable blocker, but went the extra mile to take pride in his blocking in the run game. He has developed physically and should be a devastating player on the edge at the college level.

Brewster says he's got "great work effort" and is a "relentless" blocker. Add that to your list of reasons Ways isn't getting the hype he probably should.

Etc.: Really wanted to be at M:

"I think playing in front of 115,000 people on Saturdays," Ways said. "But not just that, the tradition. What it wins to wear the winged helmet and put that jersey on. Just being a Michigan Man. I'm looking forward to it all."

Okay one more description of a circus catch:

had a few highlight plays throughout the day, reeling in a one handed grab in the morning session, corralling the football with one of his big mitts and bringing it into his body as he hit the turf, and catching a go route over both a corner and safety in the 7-on-7 skeleton.

Touch The Banner was a fan. Is a fan, I imagine.

Why Braylon Edwards? Yes, that is a big name to put on Ways. But he's an instate kid with a modest recruiting profile who has the size, speed, and leaping ability to be a top flight downfield threat. Ways also has the hands questions, though he seems to have put them to bed. Edwards ran a probably-FAKE 4.48 HS 40, FWIW.

Junior Hemingway is another comparable as a guy who absolutely excels in a crowd but didn't get consistent separation on deep routes. His hands were better; his speed was worse; he is three or four inches shorter than Ways.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. I think their rankings did not keep pace with Ways's improvement. Everyone was like "this is a different player" and no one made the adjustments. Ton of scouting, though—this post was 5k words before I cut a lot of stuff out—and he was at camp and healthy.

Variance: Moderate. Speed and hands questions may limit him to being a solid contributor; if he hits the high end of the upside he's a star.

Ceiling: High. Junior Hemingway plus four inches! Braylon Edwards with hands! Both of them put together so that he's got four hands to catch the ball with!

General Excitement Level: Due to Hoke's level of recruiting success it's been difficult to find anyone even qualified to be "Sleeper Of The Year" based on our previous criteria of no four-star rankings, so this year we're allowing guys with one four-star in. So, surprise! Mo Ways is our Sleeper Of The Year.

I love the guy's frame, I think his year-to-year improvement bodes very well, and watching him on film it seems like he does have the athleticism to give defensive backs a hard choice. He should be at least a solid #2 over the course of his career and I wouldn't put his ceiling there. This is an entirely different kind of three-star than the ones they brought in in the previous class.

Projection: Normally I'd think the guy plays, but Michigan does have a lot of depth on the outside this year: Funchess, Darboh, Chesson, Canteen, Dukes, and maybe Jones unless he's a slot. That's a lot of guys, and Ways may top out as the kind of receiver who the NFL likes but not enough to induce an early entry. 50/50 on a redshirt; getting one is no slight.

2014 Recruiting: Juwann Bushell-Beatty

2014 Recruiting: Juwann Bushell-Beatty

Submitted by Brian on August 1st, 2014 at 1:34 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone, DL Lawrence Marshall, OL Mason Cole.

       
Paramus, NJ – 6'6", 320
       

 

 9-8-2013-paramus-cath-nj-28-0-gilmanmd-i-59[1]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#50 OT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#33 OT, #11 NJ
ESPN 4*, #142 overall
#11 OT, #4 NJ
24/7 4*, NR overall
#23 OT, #10 NJ
Other Suitors UF, FSU, Miami, MSU, BC
YMRMFSPA Logan Tuley-Tillman
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Has outstanding "what you talkin' about Willis" face. Paramus Catholic (Peppers)

Film

Senior film:

Hudl page. 

Bushell-Beatty is always going to be The Other Paladin, what with being the high school teammate of one Jabrill Peppers. It's not out of the question that a couple of teams recruiting him did so with an eye on Woodson 2.0. But Bushell-Beatty is a quality prospect in his own right, a four star on two sites and the top tackle who isn't one on Rivals. And he did have offers from two of Florida's big three.

That's because he's an enormous gentleman. Most evaluations start with that fact. Clint Brewster:

First off, Bushell-Beatty has outstanding size at about 6-foot-7 and 310-pounds. He has long arms and doesn’t carry a whole lot of extra weight on his frame. Bushell-Beatty has good flexibility and can bend for a 6-foot-7 player.

Scout's Brian Dohn:

Bushell-Beatty is big and long, and just getting around him is a challenge for some defenders. The 6-foot-6, 310-pounder does a good job blocking down the line of scrimmage and also spinning the defender to open holes in the running game, but he is most impressive in pass protection. …

His arm length made it even more difficult to try and get around him, and once he was able to engage the defender, he didn't get allow him to get loose again.

Elsewhere, his coach calls him plain "humongous," an Under Armor game evaluation praises his "outstanding size with a good frame," and Brewster pops up again to say he's an "NFL sized offensive tackle with great range and physicality in the run game." This is his main appeal: if it works out you've got a guy the NFL will be lusting after.

His assets other than size are a little fuzzy. Some guys praise his pass protection; some say he needs to work on it. He does seem to be quite good at plowing furrows into the ground in the run game:

Had a physical punch in the running game and is able to get his long arms on defenders and lock into them. … Bushell-Beatty’s strength is the running game, where he can use his size to overpower people but he has the foundation to develop into a better pass-protector.

Tim Sullivan took in a Paramus game in person:

He can move exceptionally well, and has the agility you'd expect out of a play with a much slimmer physique. He runs, does a good job blocking down, and keeps his feet moving in run blocking and against the pass rush.
Bushell-Beatty also has plenty of strength. Though his upper body is disproportionately small compared to the rest of him, he shows off a good punch, and drives well with his lower body to open cavernous holes for his running back.

That offhanded mention of a disproportionately small upper body is a large part of JBB's appeal. Line coaches of all varieties are the Sir Mix A Lot's of the college football world. Their ideal prospect is a weeble, but they'll take humans who have exceptionally low centers of gravity for 6'6" behemoths. JBB is a wide, wide human.

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via GBW.

True tackle types look ineffably weird; JBB looks weird. Long arms, an enormous waist, and a bottom-heavy build: like Logan Tuley-Tillman before him, Bushell-Beatty is straight off the NFL tackle assembly line. Er… midway through the NFL tackle assembly line. Actually rather close to the start of it. But they've got the frame together, and it looks great.

Like a number of Michigan's recent tackle recruits, he comes with a series of question marks. His body isn't where you'd want it to be, and while this is often the case for high school OL he's a lot further away than, say, Mason Cole. This was true as late as the UA game:

Bushel-Beatty carries a little too much weight and could benefit by getting in better shape, as his foot-quickness started to lag in the passing game as the game went on.

Tim Sullivan noted something similar:

Physically, he possesses the size and attributes (arm length, athleticism in his feet) to develop into a bigtime college player down the road, but he also showed up as an unfinished product. He needs to work on re-shaping his body to trim fat and add muscle. That will help him in a variety of ways: he will be more flexible, more able to capitalize on his quickness, and much better in pass-blocking.

And his coach says he's got to drop around 20 pounds:

Sam Webb:  What is the ideal playing weight?

Chris Partridge:  “Those college coaches know a lot more than I do, but I would guess that he should be around 305 – between 300 and 310.  He is probably heavy right now.  He is around 325 and I think he has to cut down a little bit, but those guys will handle it.  They’ll get him ready.  That’s their livelihood.”

Given recent precedent that should only take a year with Wellman. Getting to the right weight is only part of the process though; once your there they continue adding strength and subtracting body fat until you're out the door.

Bushell-Beatty is also raw. He's only played football for four years, with his first two spent on JV, so you get a lot of items about consistency and pad level:

Bushell-Beatty can improve by being more consistently aggressive on every play. He can benefit by having better posture and a flat back in his stance. He can also improve by keeping a lower pad level, particularly against many of the shorter defenders he will face.

When Bushell-Beatty gets it right he tends to hilariously bury players as you see in the video above; off the highlight film he's much more variable. Think of him as Willie Henry, high school OL. I mean:

While run blocking, Bushell-Beatty has a tendency to stand up right and that will cost him in a big way in college. He needs to have better knee bend, and not reach for the defender, which compromises his balance and ability to finish off blocks.

Strength is also something that needs to develop, and that will make him more explosive and punishing as a run blocker.

That evaluation finishes with a statement that he's going to need a number of years before he approaches a finished product.

The good news is that JBB is coming along as quickly as you'd hope a relative newbie would. When Sam Webb caught up with his coach midseason, Bushell-Beatty was on the verge of being held out because of injury but still performing above his coaches' expectations:

" We elected to let him go and he is playing awesome ball.  I can’t wait until he gets healthy over this bye week to see him play.  We counted two games ago that he had 12 pancake blocks.  That’s insane!”

 Brian Dohn:

It can't be stressed enough how much improvement Bushell-Beatty made in the last year, and if he continues to make those strides he will play a big role at Michigan. Bushell-Beatty is a work in progress, and his length, his work ethic and his size make him an intriguing prospect.

His coach at the UA game thought he picked things up quickly but also threw in a bit of a worrying not related to what's currently his other major drawback:

“I can tell where he’s gotten better from yesterday to today,” Hegamin said. “So what that does say, at least is he learns quicker, he learns very fast.” …

“Honestly its just effort,” Hegamin said. “I just want to see him constantly be better at how he goes about his business on a daily basis.”

That "at least" in there gives you an indication of his preparation level relative to the other guys at the game.

At Michigan he's slated to be a tackle. Michigan needs him there what with his predecessors also in the boom-or-bust mold and his frame is one of his major assets. He gets considerably less attractive as a prospect if he's not using those long arms to fend guys off on the edge.

With Cole immediately sliding into a backup left tackle spot, it looks like JBB will live and die with his ability to play right tackle. (As always, we're ignoring the Shane-is-a-lefty thing for simplicity.) Fortunately for him it seems like he's got the skills for that spot. His UA coach:

“Definitely, in my opinion, he’s a right tackle,” Hegamin said. “He’s got that big, thick right tackle build, I wouldn’t even be surprised to see him at guard some because he’s a pretty big, stout guy.”

Another UA evaluator noted that while he played left tackle in that week of practice, long term he seems like a better fit on the right. In general that means he's more of a road grader than a nimble pass protector. FWIW.

The last word from Sullivan:

In the end, Bushell-Beatty was about what we expected: a very high-ceiling player who has his work cut out for him to reach that potential.

Put him in a meat locker for three years and see what you've got.

Etc.: BC fans were excited to make his top three. A kid from Paramus signed up with Slippery Rock! Not so basic training.

Why Logan Tuley-Tillman? Not ideal to grab a guy who hasn't seen the field, I know, but Tuley-Tillman was another bottom-heavy monster tackle with technique and weight issues who a lot of folks rated highly because his upside is top-notch. Other folks looked at how far away from his upside he was and gave him the three-star-meh ranking.

Tuley-Tillman had a much more dramatic weight swing that saw him adding weight upon arrival whereas Bushell-Beatty is going to have to cut some; either way both guys are high-quality clay to mold. And they've got hyphenated names. Is that like comparing Nik Stauskas to a white guy? 

Guru Reliability: High. Everyone's basically saying the same things, uber-scouted high school, all star appearance. The spread in the rankings is an eye of the beholder thing for a guy who is very much a boom-or-bust guy.

Variance: High. Two plus years away from any reasonable chance of seeing the field.

Ceiling: High. NFL first round pick upside.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Add another lottery ticket to the tackle spots. JBB is a good bet for Michigan's situation, as he should not have to play until he is an upperclassman and if he does not make it they're likely to have someone else who does.

Projection: Obvious redshirt.

After, he's likely to have a long wait. Michigan has Magnuson, Braden, Tuley-Tillman, and Fox for two years after his redshirt, plus Cole. Whoever breaks through at tackle this year should keep JBB in the on-deck circle for another two years.

His first real shot should be as a redshirt junior, when one or two tackle slots are likely to open up when Mags and Braden graduate. No one can tell you if he's going to be the obvious choice or obviously not yet. Ask again later.

2014 Recruiting: Lawrence Marshall

2014 Recruiting: Lawrence Marshall

Submitted by Brian on July 18th, 2014 at 3:00 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante, DL Bryan Mone.

       
Southfield, MI – 6'4", 245
       

LM2[1] 

Scout 4*, #104 overall
#12 DE, #4 MI
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#22 WDE, #7 MI
ESPN 4*, #121 overall
#13 DE, #4 MI
24/7 4*, #221 overall
#11 WDE, #4 MI
Other Suitors OSU, MSU, Neb, Oklahoma, Tenn, Florida
YMRMFSPA Taco Charlton/Frank Clark
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Senior highlights:

Via Maize and Blue News, single-game highlights of Marshall vs Farmington:

Despite twice fulfilling a lifelong dream to play for a prestigious football program, Lawrence Marshall had a rough, rough year. His father died from complications from diabetes; his grandfather followed a couple months later with heart issues. A few days after that, Marshall was on the field for Southfield, eye-black stickers under his eyes reading RIP.

Marshall soldiered on, and so will we. But, you know, keep it in mind.

-------------------------

About that "twice" bit in the previous paragraph: Marshall had one of the weirder recruitments in this class, as he leapt at an Ohio State offer on an early visit. That turned out to be a rather impulsive decision that he retracted a couple days after it happened; after opening up his recruitment he visited various places and eventually re-pulled the trigger in favor of Michigan, but not before picking up a number of impressive out-of-region offers, as listed above.

Those offers came because Marshall provides a physical package that promises an explosive edge rusher once he can fill out his frame. He'd already fielded Michigan and Michigan State offers by early in his junior year, when he was a relatively spindly 6'4", 205, because he can get in the backfield:

Marshall still has a lean frame, but he does not have issues with strength at the point of attack. He does a great job creating upfield momentum, which all starts with his explosive first step. Marshall comes off the line hard and low, and puts an exclamation point on his sacks by being a heavy hitter.

Brewster:

… an explosive weak-side defensive end that can really get after the quarterback. He has a quick first step and can close very well. Marshall shows great snap awareness, allowing him to get a jump on the opposing offensive tackle.

Marshall did not quite pull a Bryan Mone (MEEEEAAAAAAT), but he's filled out his frame relatively quickly. By the end of his senior season of high school he was 225; he told Mike Spath he was 240 at the Offense-Defense Bowl, the world's worst-named all star event; he's listed at 245 on Michigan's tentative roster. This process has apparently not damaged his quickness one bit. Marshall on Marshall:

"I didn't miss a step. Everything that I had before, I still had, but then my punches got stronger. I could feel myself beating the offensive linemen with better moves, with more power. And I think I actually got faster too because I added some explosion at the snap."

As the blockquotes below indicate, that is a consensus view.

Athleticism is Marshall's calling card, with everything else trailing behind. Trieu makes the case for:

Very long frame. Has great athleticism, change of direction and speed in pursuit. Has all of the tools to be an elite pass rusher, just needs continued work on his technique. …Has to add some weight, but all of the raw tools are there.

Raw. Tools.

While the rankings above are nearly identical to Bryan Mone's—three sites around the 100 mark and Rivals shrugging—in this case Rivals has made its case thanks to the local reporters. Sullivan seemingly carpooled with Marshall to his games this year, and pointed out that while he's got upside he has trouble getting off blocks:

If his speed rush on the edge doesn't find home (and it only did on a couple occasions in this game), his counter moves are limited. … Most of Marshall's flaws are technique-related, and have little to do with his athletic ability (as is expected with someone in just his second year of varsity ball). In addition to limited use of his hands to fight off the blocker - which he did improve over the course of the game - he stands straight up on the snap too often, which is telegraphed by his stance.

Josh Helmholdt took in the Cass-Southfield opener:

He is best when he can line up outside at a seven- or nine-technique and use his speed to run by offensive tackles. He did that for a first-half sack and was tracking ball carriers to the other side of the field with his speed. Marshall has trouble releasing from offensive linemen once they get their hands on him. He shows flashes of explosive, athletic playmaking ability, but he needs to develop consistency to be an every-down defensive end at the college level.

That criticism was echoed by 247 after Lorenz attended the opener:

still has difficulty disengaging blocks at points, but was very impressive physically and did not look even the slightest bit slower after putting on about 30 pounds since this time last season. He never quits on a play, and made a couple backside pursuit tackles that may have prevented Cass Tech touchdowns. He looked great.

Great is in the eye of the beholder, as always. As an athlete with potential develop, he looked great. As a technician, not so much. FWIW, ESPN's evaluation is surprisingly muted for a guy they have just outside their top 100, heavy on "flashes" and "can"; with a prospect like Marshall who adds a bunch of weight and improves a lot ESPN's fire and forget ratings and evals are ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

The good news in that department is that Marshall's senior year saw him develop quite a bit as a footbaw player. Allen Trieu:

…more of a potential guy as a junior but he really put it together as a senior. He turned a great final season. He added weight and strength and now looks like a kid who could come in and contribute early. He's active and plays with a great motor. He still has to work on his technique, but all the physical tools are there and he improved by leaps and bounds from what was an already good junior year.

247 took another look at him towards the end of 2013, nothing that he's "already shown great improvement" and is "bigger, faster, stronger, and nastier":

shows an even quicker first step and has improved his pass rush moves and technique. Marshall looks more comfortable in his stance and has a larger repertoire of moves. He has an elite swim move to get past the offensive tackle and can close on the quarterback in a flash. … Marshall has significant untapped potential and is an ascending talent whose best football is ahead of him.

You get a cookie if you can predict the next sentence. 247 lists pad level as an area to improve. They also mention that he "shows" violent hands but only erratically.

Meanwhile, Sullivan was impressed with his consistent improvement:

He defeated a couple blockers on the edge, and was much more disciplined in keeping contain than he was early in this season. His strength was overwhelming for Lathrup's right tackle, and is one area of his game that he has been developing as well. When he hits, the opponent is sure to feel it, and he had one particularly violent tackle along the sideline early in the game.

By late in the season he was suggesting that he was "likely" to get the fourth star over-eager message boarders had been badgering him about for six months despite the fact that he has no hand in the rankings; this was a departure from his previous stance that Marshall was ranked where he deserved to be and is probably more meaningful than the fact that he did not actually get that star.

By the time the O/D Bowl came around, Marshall was actually drafted to play DT(!) because of his increased size and power, and it was not a disaster.

Marshall looked comfortable and capable of taking on double teams by the center and guard, over powering them or standing his ground on nearly every rep. When it came time to showcase his athleticism, Marshall again didn't disappoint, able to blow by some of the stiff guards looking to slow him down and get directly to the running back in the back field.

The competition level there is a considerable step down from the UA and Army games, for what it's worth.

Etc.: His troll job is a little less awesome after the events of last year, but A for effort.

Why Taco Charlton? Both WDEs with NFL potential who were dogged by assertions that they were not any good at football as juniors who had breakout senior years. Those breakout years still found a number of skeptics about how far away from that hypothetical ceiling they were, and not without cause. Ranked in approximately the same fashion as well.

I know this isn't a comparison that really tells you much since Charlton has not established who he is as a player, so Frank Clark is another option. Clark came in a safety-sized DE and took a long time to turn his athleticism into enough DE-type footbaw knowledge.

Guru Reliability: High. Well-scouted, healthy player. Variance in rankings actually a reasonable reflection of his status as something of a boom-or-bust player.

Variance: High-minus. Still needs some weight and still needs a lot of technique work. If that 245 is accurate, though, he's put a lot of size concerns to bed. He'd already be five pounds away from where Ojemudia is without the benefit of a college S&C program.

Ceiling: High-minus. Doesn't have crazy blow-you-away athleticism or size, but he is probably an A- in those categories.

General Excitement Level: High-minus. Wish he was further along but the quick improvement suggests he's coachable and will get towards his ceiling. Unless, of course, he does not.

Projection: With a number of other WDE types on the roster and a couple linebackers who could put their hand down in pass rush situations, you'd hope Marshall could redshirt. He's probably going to be good, he didn't enroll early, he could use the extra time to get to 260-270, he's raw, and there's a high probability he's not going to be an early NFL entry. If they were still in the under I'd say it's highly probable.

They are not, though, and Taco Charlton has moved over to SDE for at least one year. That leaves Michigan two deep at WDE, a situation which has seen this coaching staff play freshmen consistently. So he'll be in the running for the WHY wasted redshirt of the year as he runs behind Clark and Ojemudia.

Marshall could see serious time as early as next year, depending on if the over sticks. If they go back to being a primarily under team, Charlton probably moves back and he's going to have to fight through a couple guys. If they stick with the over he'll at least be a platoon type with Ojemudia and will have an excellent chance at starting since Ojemudia seems near his physical ceiling and Marshall's got another 20 pounds to add.

2014 Recruiting: Bryan Mone

2014 Recruiting: Bryan Mone

Submitted by Brian on July 16th, 2014 at 12:14 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush, LB Michael Ferns, DL Brady Pallante.

       
Salt Lake City, UT – 6'4", 315
       

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Bryan Fuller

Scout 4*, #88 overall
#6 DT, #1 Utah
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#23 DT, #4 Utah
ESPN 4*, #91 overall
#7 DT, #1 Utah
24/7 4*, #83 overall
#9 DT, #1 Utah
Other Suitors BYU, Wisconsin, Utah, UCLA
YMRMFSPA Alan Branch
Previously On MGoBlog Ace breaks down a Mone game. Hello post. Brief interview.
Notes Highland (Sione Houma). Believe it is pronounced mon-AY

Film

Ace's breakdown:

Also there's some junior highlights and "highlights" from the UA game in which he mostly stalemates his guy but doesn't do anything amazing.

The guy profiled most recently in this series may have a problem becoming big enough to contribute in college. Bryan Mone will not have this problem. Mone's final couple years of high school saw him go from an almost slender kid sites projected as an SDE to a monster suited for the middle. One reason why: MEAAAAAAAAAAAT.

MEAT. Also meat.

Mone went from 245 to over 300 in a couple years, and then kept going. At some point he went too far, with 247 listing him at a whopping 338 up until Signing Day, though that was probably outdated. When Mone committed he told Sam Webb that he was at 340 with a goal of getting down to 315, and after his early enrollment that's the weight he is listed at on Michigan's roster.

So while he's still got a ways to go before he's a Mike-Martin-esque slab of beef, he's on his way. When he gets there he should be a quality player, if you're not Rivals. Scout's Brandon Huffman:

Mone is exactly how you draw it up when you're looking for an impact college tackle. He has a great frame, plays with good pad level, has plus level quickness and is relentless in pursuit. He does a great job getting off blocks, uses his hands very well and plays with a motor. He has the ability to fit in with a 4-3 or 3-4 scheme and could see the field early in college.

This probably isn't the first time I've ever seen a high school defensive lineman praised for his pad level, but it feels like it. Colleague Scott Kennedy is probably the most positive of anyone:

Huge, active defensive line prospect who is incredibly quick for his size. Actually played some defensive end in his high school's 3-4 formation at well over 300 pounds. Uses a club-like rip and swim move to knock tackles off balance. Wicked punch off snap. Changes directions well in space to adjust to backs trying to avoid him in the backfield. Gets tremendous leverage even though he's taller than most high school linemen he faced.

247 concurs:

very athletic for his size. Mone is very quick off the ball and can use his athleticism to swim around offensive lineman or use his size to bull-rush. One of Mone’s biggest assets is his hands. On film, Mone shows violent hands and uses them to gain proper leverage in the trenches. …nimble on his feet for a 300-pound athlete, showing great change of direction and the ability to avoid lineman when needed.

They list pad level as an improvement, because of course they do. Pad level. Meat.

ESPN is a little more reticent, but still positive:

flashes of a very good initial burst off the ball but you would like to see little more consistency from him there. …when he fires out low, brings his hands and uncoils at contact he is more than capable of putting a blocker on his heels and holding his ground. When he brings his hands he displays the upper-body and hand strength to extend and shed, but he needs to be more consistent with his pad level and hand usage. …needs to more consistently utilize his size and power. … Has good lateral mobility.

They also mention that his violent hands give him some upside as an interior pass rusher.

Aaand coach:

"He uses his hands very well and he has real good feet for a big guy. He changes directions really well. "

The overall picture here is that Mone is a big, explosive guy with hands that are either great or in need of improvement, depending on your point of view and whether you're comparing him to the average high schooler or a finished product.

And then there's Rivals. Rivals was always down on Mone for whatever reason—he was 180th there despite being 76th on the 247 composite in September—and took the opportunity presented by the UA game to club him down to the generic three star range. No one else did. Most thought he basically justified his rating. 247:

stout at the line of scrimmage and couldn’t be moved around by opposing offensive lineman. Mone has violent hands and good swim move, with the ability to play multiple shades along the defensive front. Mone was in on several tackles behind the line of scrimmage and looks college-ready from a physical standpoint.

Rivals's Mike Farrell seems to be the main skeptic, listing Mone amongst droppers:

lacked the athleticism and quickness at the snap needed to be the No. 185 player in the country. He struggled more than any other defensive tackle short of three-star Lamont Gaillard and three-star O.J. Smith.

Nothing else suggests a major drop on their site. But then a Rivals guy who was more focused on the Michigan guys provides a potential explanation:

…Mone's main drawback at this time is in his conditioning and body composition. On some days at practice, Mone looked unbelievable for several reps before starting to run out of gas. While those were his better days (on others, he was having trouble adjusting to the quality of competition), the fact that his better performances featured an obvious weak point is a negative. Fortunately, he shone on gameday.

Hell, Rivals even named him one of his team's top performers:

10. DT BRYAN MONE, SALT LAKE CITY (UTAH) HIGHLAND

Mone was very active during the third practice. The Michigan commit was quicker off the ball today and more aggressive with his arms. When he combined those violent arms and his great lower body strength, Mone was able to generate a lot of push in the middle on the defensive line. During pass-rushing drills, Mone was able to make the offensive guards open their hips and finish where the quarterback would be.

With Mone's quick emergence this seems more like an overreaction to limited reps by a guy who doesn't really know much about the prospect. It's Junior Hemingway again. Hemingway is now an NFL wide receiver; Rivals bashed him down to three stars because someone saw him bad at an all star game. Farrell gonna Farrell.

Mone enrolled early and this has paid off for him. He emerged as contender on the line. While he has the potential to be a nose tackle at his size, Michigan sees him as a three tech:

The 3-tech is where Michigan will play the Salt Lake City (UT) Highland native next season.

"That's where they want me to play," he said. "I can use my power, which is what I am best at. Michigan wants me to get down to somewhere a little over 300 pounds, so I have some work to do there, but I can get it."

That was at the UA game, where he said he was 326. Michigan played him at the three this spring; he and Maurice Hurst Jr were both impressive enough to blast Willie Henry, who flashed buckets of promise during the second half of last year, down to third string. Motivational or not (clearly motivational), that's a good sign. Collectively the freshmen seemed to have cleaned out the three-tech depth chart. In the spring pratice thing he "flashed into the backfield regularly," sayeth this site.

Mone should be able to hit his weight goal by fall, as his balloon period was more a function of a lack of experience being huge than anything to do with his work ethic. Coach quote:

“The kid never comes off the field. To be 300 lbs. and yet be able to do that, it says a lot about him as a player and his work ethic. He works his guts out in the weight room and does a real good job for us. He is big, strong, powerful, and tenacious. He flat gets after it."

Mone is also a sterling example of The Pattern, as he cares for his disabled brother and maintains a 3.3 GPA. If he misses practice at some point it'll probably be for church.

Etc.: TTB take. SBN's Bud Elliot says he's not "one of the few game-changing DT that come along every other year or so" but he is in the next tier.

Why Alan Branch? Branch was another guy who was unnaturally agile for a guy his size; like Mone he was able to get into the backfield with regularity from a three-tech spot. Branch's height seemed like it might be a problem for the ol' pad level but in practice he was just too enormously strong for it to make much difference.

Bonuses: Branch was ranked in approximately the same place by most services, and came from a relatively obscure Western state (in his case, New Mexico).

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Near consensus except for Rivals, All Star appearance. Weight fluctuation makes things a bit difficult and Farrell gonna Farrell.

Variance: Low. Already college-sized and pushing for playing time, Mone's floor is a legit four-year contributor.

Ceiling: High. Easy to see him going high in the NFL draft as a 315 pound guy who can run.

General Excitement Level: High. Serious breakout potential either this year or next. College sized already, great work ethic and smarts, just needs to reshape his body a little bit and then it's time to come out and play.

Projection: Will play this year, and I won't even complain. Will be part of the three-tech rotation with Hurst and Wormley unless he gets sucked over to nose tackle. That's unlikely unless Pipkins does not recover well from his injury.

Longer term, Mone and Hurst should combine to shove Wormley over to SDE next year, especially if Michigan does go back to the under. Those two will fight tooth and nail for the starting three-tech job for the next four years—whoever comes out on top is likely to be real good. And substituted frequently.

2014 Recruiting: Michael Ferns

2014 Recruiting: Michael Ferns

Submitted by Brian on June 30th, 2014 at 3:56 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich, LB Noah Furbush.

       
Saint Clairsville, OH – 6'3", 230
       

rn_michaelferns_ms_200[1]

Scout 4*, #179 overall
#8 ILB, #9 OH
Rivals 4*, #211 overall
#14 ILB, #7 OH
ESPN 4*, #129 overall
#7 ILB, #2 OH
24/7 4*, #198 overall
#7 ILB, #9 OH
Other Suitors Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, 'Bama, MSU, Stanford, Wisconsin
YMRMFSPA Desmond Morgan
Previously On MGoBlog Ace gets a big ol' I See What You Did There for his Hello post.
Notes Twitter. Enrolled early.  Participated in UA game.

Film

Junior year:

Hudl also has stuff from the first half of his senior year.

Michael Ferns is the recruit most likely to be known by random people who watch Good Morning America or read the kind of sports blog that's mostly pictures of taut young ladies. The former know Ferns because he did a very nice thing.

…Ferns took a sweep 52 yards down the left sideline and had nothing in the way of him and a touchdown.

But he slowed down as he approached the end zone and walked out of bounds at the 1-yard line. …

Two days earlier, freshman Logan Thompson’s father, Paul, died from a sudden stroke. Once McLean learned that Logan would indeed suit up for Friday’s game against Edison, McLean began to formulate a plan to help his freshman wide receiver “honor his father.”

Secretly, McLean instructed Ferns and the other skill players, if given the chance, to stop short on a touchdown so they could get Logan in. … McLean simplified the isolation play call with three words: “Just follow Ferns.”

“Mike and the line opened up a huge hole for Logan and he ran it right in,” McLean said.

The latter group of people knows Ferns because he's a baller, as Ferns posted Mississippi State's best effort to his Instagram account.

image

He did not appear to be swayed.

image

He was not even moved when Mississippi State asserted that they had a truckload of swag in Stark-Vegas.

Before he was twice-viral, Ferns was a big-time prospect playing at a small high school near the Ohio-West Virginia border who was picking up offers super early. Notre Dame issued him his second before he'd finished his sophomore year of high school, with Stanford, OSU, PSU, and Michigan following suit within a few weeks. After a round of visits, Ferns was down to Michigan, ND, and Penn State. He pulled the trigger in early August, with almost 20 months to go before signing day.

This early recruitment has taken off in the last few years, but the difference with Ferns is that teams were eager to have him on campus and have him commit—these days an "offer" often deserves scare quotes. Ferns was a sure thing, though:

“He showed up at 6-3, 220,” Saint Clairsville coach Brett McLean said today of Ferns, who is up to 235 pounds. “He played junior high football for us as a quarterback in the seventh and eighth grade. We knew we had a special player.”

He'll gradually add 10-15 pounds over the course of his career, but he's about as physically ready as you can be as a freshman, and he has been for years.

As a result, Ferns was placed in everyone's top 100 early before dropping about a hundred spots most places. (ESPN, as per usual, moves people less.) Because of the early commitment, small school, and inopportunely timed injuries, there's surprisingly little scouting out there for a consensus top-200 guy. But here goes anyway.

Ferns gets described as a "throwback" a lot, and while any highly-touted white linebacker is going to get hit with that term Ferns earned it. He played through the state playoffs his junior year severely compromised by injury. Bucknuts' Mark Porter:

“He is a throwback type. He is very physical. Obviously, everyone watched him play hurt in the playoffs and play through the pain and show off his toughness there. I think he could be an All-Big Ten linebacker up at Michigan.”

Mike Farrell of Rivals didn't quite invoke "throwback" but offered a slightly backhanded compliment in that vein:

"He is the stereotypical Big Ten linebacker," Farrell said. "He is explosive to the football and takes great angles. He is hard-nosed and physically impressive. He is exactly what you expect when you think of a major prospect from this area at that position."

It was when Ferns struggled through the early part of the Rivals Five-Star challenge before withdrawing with a leg injury that Rivals dropped him, stating the backhanded part of the above quote directly:

at his best when he is playing downhill and stuffing the run. Camp/7-on-7 settings do not showcase that element of the game, but they give a good sense of how a player moves in space and plays coverage. Those are the aspects of Ferns' game he needs to work on. He had trouble changing direction and turning to run with backs and tight ends down the field.

They also mentioned that flaw after an earlier Rivals camp that got Ferns his invite to their fancycamp, saying he was "stiff" in one on ones and such.

While both of those evals came in situations where only one set of eyes was there, there are echoes of that criticism a couple other places. ESPN mentions that he is "not real fluid opening his hips" as he attempts to get depth; they do credit him for being instinctive and "athletic enough to get to his spot" in zone. Allen Trieu puts in a mention that he "needs to work on coverage" in a brief scouting report.

That is the main—seemingly only—drawback. Everyone else praises his "great size and good closing speed," or things along those lines. Trieu's report mentions his track career and loves everything except the coverage:

ready for the college game. As a track kid, he has the straight line speed to run down ball carriers and is great when he’s coming forward… he’s a great blitzer and run defender.

247's Steve Wiltfong likes his size, versatility, and even those drops:

“He is a guy who gets into his drops quickly. He can survey what’s going on in front of him quickly. He can get to the ball quickly. He is a great athlete and a lot of top schools were recruiting him as a tight end.  … He brings great size to the linebacker position.”

ESPN:

Tall, well built with great bulk and solid functional strength. Possesses good range and straight-line speed to go sideline-to-sideline.

Is at his best filling downhill inside the tackles. Plays smart, reads keys and sees plays develop leading to very few false steps. Quick to get off the mark and fit his inside run gaps. Generates good short-area power. Plays square with adequate leverage and is difficult to turn out of the hole at his size. …appears much more effective pursuing downhill than laterally.

Tim Sullivan:

He has the mass to stop runners dead in their tracks, but is also athletic enough to make plays on the edge of the line. He has good hands and is very knowledgeable between the lines. …  not the type of player to chase running backs down outside the box. … classic run-stuffer more so than a spread-capable linebacker at this stage in his development."

Mississippi State:

… baller. Balls out with truckloads of swag. When balling out, balls further, reaching new frontiers of balling. Skee Lo was thinking of this guy. …Swagtruck baller. Six-hundred star recruit.

Thanks, Mississippi State.

So… Ferns is a guy who goes and hits people hard if they don't run away from him.

Ferns enrolled in January. Alarmingly, a hamstring injury slowed his progress. Count up the "injury" mentions in this article and… yeah. Two is probably a coincidence. Four is getting a bit alarming.

As a result of the hamstring, Ferns was held out much of the spring and did not seem particularly close to breaking into the two deep what with Michigan returning five players with meaningful experience.

Given that depth chart it would make sense to redshirt Ferns. Michigan has Ryan, Gedeon, Morgan, Bolden, and probably Mike McCray in front of him at the MLB and WLB spots. Linebackers tend to play on special teams, though. He's a strong candidate for Argh Why U No Redshirt of the year.

Etc.: Graduated high school in three years. Had a 4.0 at one point. The Pattern: yup.

Why Desmond Morgan? Ferns is a high-IQ thumper that limits YAC and played all over the field as a high school player at a small school. This fits closely with Morgan, who was actually the QB for his high school team. Both are at their best reading and going hard in restricted spaces.

Ferns is much higher ranked but Morgan has clearly outperformed his recruiting rankings in college; while no one will confuse Morgan with a coverage specialist he has generally gotten to the right spot at the right time for Michigan. He's adequate or maybe a little bit better there.

A potential area where this comparison falls down: a lot of people say Ferns is an excellent blitzer and has some of that vertical explosion Jake Ryan does.

Guru Reliability: Medium. Near-consensus on the rankings but injury held him out or slowed him down at some critical points where he could have confirmed his early offer flood and top-100 rankings. Played for a small school against iffy competition.

Variance: Medium. Advanced physically (thus the early offers), little positional projection, high IQ. On the other hand, low level of competition and he has had a lot of injuries, to the point where he may actually be injury-prone instead of just unlucky.

Ceiling: High-minus. Seems to lack the bit of athleticism necessary to warrant a "high"—like Morgan may top out as a B+ player. Does have that A- upside if he can blitz.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. I'm a little down on Ferns relative to his rankings because he can't seem to stay healthy. If that recedes there's a good chance he contributes.

Projection: Doesn't redshirt, causing my mandibles to clack angrily every time I look at a depth chart by class for the next four years. Sees special teams time almost exclusively.

In year two, backs up either Gedeon or Bolden at MLB; will take a run at a starting spot vacated by Bolden in year three, and then has another shot a year after. Pretty much exclusively an MLB/WLB prospect, with MLB more likely since it somewhat limits exposure to coverage issues.

2014 Recruiting: Noah Furbush

2014 Recruiting: Noah Furbush

Submitted by Brian on May 21st, 2014 at 12:29 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler, LB Chase Winovich.

       
Kenton, OH – 6'4", 240
       

Noah Furbush[1]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#56 OLB
Rivals 3*, NR overall
NR OLB, #42 OH
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#21 OLB, #14 OH
24/7 3*, NR overall
#33 OLB, #18 OH
Other Suitors MSU, Tenn, Neb, NW, Mizzou
YMRMFSPA Brennen Beyer
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Has a twitter.

Film

Junior:

There's no senior reel per se but a guy seems to have taken video of everything Kenton did last year, so a youtube search for Furbush brings up a ton of tiny clips.

Many, many recruits have their heights and weights overestimated. The only organization that more brazenly overstates such things than high school football  programs is the WWE. But yes sir, I believe that Noah Furbush is a large man. I might even believe he is from Parts Unknown.

Just watch those clips: Furbush is unidentified most of the time, so as you watch the ballcarrier the experience is one of wondering where the hell that defensive end came from. Except when he's playing defensive end. Then he came from defensive end.

Furbush is already an rather enormous linebacker at 6'4"+ and 240-ish pounds, without the benefit of a college S&C program. And there are a lot of evaluations that suggest his 6'4", 240 may even understate things. The phrase "every bit of" tends to get thrown around. Allen Trieu:

This kid is every bit of his listed size. When we saw him in person, his stature really stood out. He’s not just tall, but he’s long and pretty filled out and has big hands.

Tim Sullivan:

The first thing that jumps out about Furbush is his size. … He's every bit of his listed 6-4, 230 pounds, if not a little bigger.

As a result, there is a lot of chatter about Furbush being a future DE or the kind of OLB who is closer to a DE than not—think ND strongside LBs, or Jake Ryan. None of this is coming from Furbush or Michigan, though, who recruited and accepted his commitment with the idea that he would be a middle linebacker, or even a weakside linebacker. I know, man. Weird.

Defensive end is frequently suggested elsewhere.

  • DUANE LONG, 247: "I am looking at Furbush now as a defensive end. He is a long kid with a really good frame. If he really is 6-foot-4, 240 pounds, it is just a matter of time before he is 255. Not many kids stay at linebacker at that size."
  • TENNESSEE COACHES: "Furbush, who claims to have been timed at 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash, said he’s being recruited by Tennessee to play the Leo position, a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker spot in the Vols’ 4-3 base defense." [ed: OSU also uses the Leo; it's just a fancy name for what we've been calling WDE in the 4-3 under.]
  • ALLEN TRIEU, SCOUT: "Michigan is going to try him at middle linebacker, which he hasn’t done a lot of but he could also play SAM or defensive end. He’s a tough, blue-collar type player who goes 100-percent and shows good closing speed. I really like him as a pass rusher and a blitzer. I think he does that much better than he does dropping into space."

Scout's Dave Berk adds his name to the DE chorus, as does Magnus.

There are a few people who think he's got the skills to be an inside linebacker. 247's Clint Brewster is more enthusiastic than the rest of his rating team, stating he's "definitely a four star" in his evaluation and talking about LB skills… albeit OLB ones:

plays with great aggression and intensity. He runs through ball-carriers with a real nasty disposition. Furbush would be a great fit in the 3-4 defense. He can play over the tight end and has the athletic ability to drop and play in space. Furbush has excellent acceleration to the ball and explodes through tackles. He has excellent instincts and plays with a very high football I.Q. He doesn’t over pursue and does his job on each play. Furbush has outstanding pass rush technique and excels coming off the edge, getting after the quarterback. He shows excellent first-step-quickness. It was tough to find improvements Furbush can make because it looks like he is coached really well and also plays with outstanding aggressiveness. He has what you look for at linebacker.

All right, even the LB-positive evaluations tend to make you think he's an LB/DE hybrid.

His coach has even higher praise

“I think as a player he’s going to bring exceptional athleticism,” explained Mauk. “He’s got exceptional explosion, power and is a very physical player. He’s very athletic and has got good speed, good burst and he makes a lot of plays.

“He’s also long and athletic at 6-foot-4, 235-pounds and moves and reacts and changes direction extremely well.

“I think he’s athletic enough to play linebacker,” he said. “But also tough enough and physical enough that if they need to put him down and rush the passer, I think he would be really good at that as well.”

…but coaches being coaches sometimes they judge based on their level of competition instead of projecting kids to college. Elsewhere Mauk is quoted saying Furbush "runs like a defensive back," which seems impossible.

Outside of his coach, most evaluations focus on that explosion and ability to get in the backfield. Long again:

He is an explosive player and comes off the snap like a shot. He shows the top end speed to run down plays on the other side of the field.

Mark Porter of Bucknuts:

you like his explosion and the way he just destroys the ball carriers with his first four or five plays. He really strikes people and strikes them pure. That’s harder to do than you think. He has that innate ability to destroy people when he hits them."

Sullivan's live report:

had a very physical, nasty streak to his play … good burst from the linebacker position, even if his top-end speed is never going to blow anyone away. He was able to get into the backfield and finish plays repeatedly… stayed very disciplined.

Tim liked him as a two-point SAM linebacker best, FWIW.

At Kenton Furbush rotated through SAM, MLB, and DE, because you can do that in high school when you can throw your teammates into the ballcarrier if you get bored. Furbush actually played most of this season with a cast on his hand, which did little to slow him down. When it was time to take the thing off, he removed it himself with hedge clippers.

Michigan identified Furbush early. They were his first offer; MSU, Tennessee, and a dozen or so others had followed by the time Furbush committed in July. Ohio State had him into camp and there were some reports that he had impressed (there was one photo from the camp that communicated just how huge he is that I regret not being able to find again) and was being seriously considered if some of OSU's targets ended up elsewhere, but without the offer Furbush wasn't waiting around.

He's a good fit for the Pattern, of course. Coach again:

“He’s got a great work ethic and is very dedicated and hard working always trying to improve and get better. He’s got great group leadership skills and is a guy who’s got good morals and is a great student as he places a heavy emphasis on his academic work."

Whether or not Furbush can stick on the interior he has a lot of good arrows. He's a lot closer to a finished product physically than a lot of guys and has a violent upfield acceleration that is likely to stick with him. His rankings aren't great but Michigan's eagerness to offer says something. Furbush didn't play defense until he was a junior and blew up physically without ever showing up at a camp to announce his new found big skrong muscles. It's not often you get guys showing up to games and going "whoah" because a guy is bigger than he's supposed to be.

That might prevent him from doing what Michigan thinks he'll do; it's a pretty good sign for his usefulness somewhere or other. And if they're right…

Etc.: Queensbury rules.

"I would consider myself a pugnacious competitor on the football field," he said.

Pattern alert: had a 3.9 GPA. Plans on engineering. My man. All-Ohio Division IV DPOY.

Why Brennen Beyer? Beyer was a high school OLB who has bounced between SAM, WDE, and now even SDE with middling success. Though Furbush is already almost as large as Beyer is as a senior, Beyer was a higher-regarded recruit because his hand technique was already quite advanced. Both guys are 6'4"; Beyer shows the kind of decent ability in space that allows him to be an asset on zone blitzes that I imagine is Furbush's reasonable upside.

If the coaches are right about Furbush at MLB it's either time to break out the kazoos or Johnny Thompson comparisons.

Guru Reliability: Low. Furbush ignored the camp circuit and played at a school that does not have a ton of high-level recruits. He was basically unheard of before Michigan offered. And despite being the only service to give Furbush four stars, ESPN has no scouting report for him.

Variance: High. Positional uncertainty. Very easy to see him getting sucked into the tweener vortex.

Ceiling: High. If 6'4" MLB works out that's pretty nice.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Boom or bust prospect.

Projection: Your guess is as good as mine. Michigan will try the MLB thing for his freshman year because in the over that's where he fits until he's 260, if he does end up hitting that weight. A redshirt would make sense for a guy who's going to take some time to find a home.

Down the road, if Michigan goes back to the under he ends up at either SAM or WDE unless he is actually Brian Urlacher—unlikely. Once he gets much above 250 he's either going to have to be an athletic freak or move down to the line, and that'll take a couple years max.

2014 Recruiting: Chase Winovich

2014 Recruiting: Chase Winovich

Submitted by Brian on May 13th, 2014 at 4:14 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, CB Brandon Watson, CB Jabrill Peppers, LB Jared Wangler.

       
Jefferson Hills, PA - 6'4", 215
       

b4a9f210c64d11e3a1960002c9cebcb4_6[1]

Winovich is already Adam Jacboi's least favorite player

Scout 4*, #281 overall
#26 OLB
Rivals

4*, NR overall
#18 OLB, #6 PA

ESPN 3*, NR overall
#48 OLB, #13 PA
24/7 4*, NR overall
#25 OLB, #7 PA
Other Suitors OSU, Pitt, MSU, Stanford, FSU, Miami, Oregon, VT
YMRMFSPA Jake Ryan
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes

Film

Eighty yard touchdown run on third and 25:

Junior year:

Senior year stuff is on HUDL.

It was pretty easy to project Chase Winovich's future until a few months ago. Winovich comes with the violent upfield acceleration that Jake Ryan does, so redshirt him, pack some pounds on him, and unleash once properly marinated to be Ryan 2.0.

Then Ryan got moved to MLB and Michigan decided they were going to be more of an over outfit and things got murky. Winovich is tall and fast and has played his share of high school MLB, so the obvious thing is to do the bit in the previous paragraph and hope it all works out. And it might. It's just less obvious that it will.

Nonetheless, Winovich has a number of arrows pointing in the right direction. He chose Michigan in a heated battle with OSU and had a smattering of other A-level offers. After he committed he had an outstanding two-way senior season that saw three of the four services offer up a fourth star to him.

Let's see what we've won. Scout's Brian Dohn:

He runs like a receiver and is flexible. He has a very good feel for the game, anticipates well, has speed and burst and plays a physical style. … explosion in two or three steps is outstanding. He closes quickly and gets to the quarterback to make the play.

…patient as he watches the play develop. There is no guessing on what is happening. When it sees it, he plants his left foot in the ground and explodes to the right to make a tackle and shut down what looked like a big running lane.

247's Clint Brewster:

instinctive first step and blows plays up before they even happen. Winovich plays with outstanding aggression and is very explosive. He has excellent speed and can make plays from sideline to sideline. Winovich has enough speed to chase down running backs far down field. He does a nice job of using his hands to shed blockers and scraping to get to the ball carrier…. a force coming off the edge as an outside linebacker and can really close on the quarterback. … great fit as an outside linebacker in college, where Michigan is recruiting him at.

His coach:

"He's an all-out kid that's always playing at full speed, he's big, he can run, he just finds the ball and closes. He's a guy who is going to do whatever it takes to win, whatever he has to do. He's all about winning.

"We had him play on special teams, he played running back, he played quarterback -- whatever he asked him to do, he did it."

Scout also praises Winovich for his "knack for making big plays" and his ability to "fly to the ball every play." I wonder if he reminds Michigan's coaches of anyone. Hecklinski:

"A great family, wonderful family. Chase is going to remind a lot of people of Jake Ryan. Fun-loving, great to be around, great smile, great teammate."

Alright then. I concur; watching Winovich's tape was like seeing skinny Jake Ryan ripping around.

While he's relatively skinny at the moment, that won't last. Brewster mentions Winovich's "long frame and huge wingspan"; Scout notes he is "all of 6'3"+ plus" with "room to get much bigger" 

So that's the vertical attacking bit. How much he gets to do that is unknown; Michigan could flip back to an under next year; he could maybe get large enough to play nickel DE; etc. If he does end up on the interior long term, middle linebacker is something that he is at least a decent fit for. Multiple scouting reports praise his sideline-to-sideline range, coverage potential and tackling…

  • Brewster: excellent pursuit speed and angles, as well as being able to drop into coverage and get in passing lanes. Winovich runs through ball-carriers instead of catching or meeting them.
  • Kyle Bogenschutz: Winovich's athleticism and ability to run sideline to sideline stands out. In 1-on-1's, Winovich ran step for step with a wide receiver down the sideline and into the corner of the endzone before making a leaping and juggling one handed interception,

Finally, his ability to pick through traffic is also an oft-repeated asset. ESPN:

Maintains good leverage on the ball and isn't fooled by misdirection. Although he needs to become a more physical take-on guy, his quick hands allow him to shed and get off blocks. Demonstrates the quickness, balance and agility needed to avoid blockers and make plays in tight spaces. Moves through traffic very well, showing excellent sideline-to-sideline range.

Dohn:

… changes direction well and has very good feet, which allows him to navigate through congestion and avoid blocks. … Winovich shows his ability to run to the sideline and make the play. Again, he tracks it well and gets to the ball carrier quickly. He is also able to get through the traffic to make a tough play look simple and natural.

The MLB thing is actually rather plausible as long as he gets big and can shed guards.

Negatives are not mentioned much; when they are it is the obvious thing: he is 215 pounds. Brewster also mentions that he could "do a better job of getting his pad level down to take on contact" as a 6'4" LB, which is also something that shows up on film. Winovich tackles a lot of guys high. In HS this allows him to run through guys and flex afterwards; against guys his weight but squatter it might not work out so well. ESPN also mentions that he's inexperienced in coverage.

If you're thinking all this sounds pretty good for a guy who didn't crack anyone's top 250, well… yeah. The OSU battle even though OSU was already in possession of a couple of OLB types is also another positive sign. Even though Winovich got bumped by the recruiting sites out of sleeper of the year territory, it seems like he's still underrated.

As far as next year goes, a redshirt seems certain. Bogenschutz reported that Winovich was down to 208 by the time the O-D Bowl came around. That is well short of what he'd need to see the field at 6'4" even if he was at SAM, or WILL, or whatever the light, tight-end-tracking linebacker is going to be this year. Winovich doesn't appear to be the kind of guy who demands/asks to be on the field immediately; he told Nick Baumgardner that "my goal isn't necessarily to play as early as I can, it's to be the best player and contributor I can be for Michigan."

Etc.: Man, you could do a lot with high schools named these things:

The Thomas Jefferson football team shut down rival Elizabeth Forward last week in a sterling defensive performance.

"NOT SO FAST, FORWARD" SAYS JEFFERSON

ELIZABETH LEAVES THOMAS JEFFERSON ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD WITHOUT A CAR OR A GIRLFRIEND NOT THAT I'M BITTER THAT HAPPENED TO ME, THE HEADLINE WRITER

etc.

Also from that article, we may have a replacement for Jordan Morgan as far as trolling goes:

Q: Given the pre-game hype, do you consider the 42-0 win against Elizabeth Forward as a statement game for the TJ football team?

A: I think our true statement will come once we win the WPIAL championship, but beating Elizabeth Forward is simply a tradition to us at this point.

Older brother played at BGSU. Cute photo alert. Yoinked away from OSU:

"I had Ohio State jerseys, I had Ohio State buckeyes in my room, I had the Ohio State flag in my room," Winovich recalls. "I even had an Ohio State-themed credit card."

Why Jake Ryan? Same frame, same five-yard explosion that makes Ryan so adept at finishing plays in the backfield. Ryan was bigger coming out of high school; Winovich sounds like he's less of a wildman—for both good and bad. Ryan was a true sleeper, but obviously an underrated player.

Guru Reliability: High-ish. Healthy, played for PA powerhouse, little projection in terms of position. Some disagreement, though an understandable one since ESPN is way more fire-and-forget with their rankings than others.

Variance: Moderate-plus. Has to add a lot of weight, and there is some positional uncertainty.

Ceiling: High. Small area burst like that is very appealing. If he works out can be the sort of LB who racks up 15-20 TFLs and gets confetti thrown at him in postseason awards and whatnot.

General Excitement Level: High. Variance is variable. But dat burst yo.

Projection: As mentioned above, redshirt should be a lock. Afterwards it depends on whether Michigan sticks with the over or goes back; if they go back he is a natural fit at SAM and will contribute immediately, fighting with McCray and lighter guys to start. The over is trickier; he'd probably be at WLB in that setup, as Bolden/Ferns/Gedeon are a bit shorter and stouter. That would allow Michigan to flip their setup, as well.

So it's a bit fuzzy. Winovich is likely to find some sort of role because of his ability to go from point A to point B in a flash.