2015 Recruiting: Tyree Kinnel

2015 Recruiting: Tyree Kinnel

Submitted by Brian on June 29th, 2015 at 1:27 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles.

       
Dayton, OH – 6'0", 205
       

Tyree-Kinnel[1]

Scout 4*, #150 overall
#10 S
Rivals 4*, #225 overall
#15 S, #10 OH
ESPN 4*, #196 overall
#12 S, #7 OH          
24/7 4*, NR overall
#16 S, #13 OH
Other Suitors ND, MSU, Ark, Bama
YMRMFSPA non-superman
Jabrill Peppers
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace. Brandon Brown interviews him.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Also senior and junior hudl film and a WTKA interview with Sam.

The world was a very different place when Tyree Kinnel committed to Michigan. It was August of 2013. Michigan was coming off a bumpy year induced by Denard Robinson's ulnar nerve turning traitor, but before that they were contending for the Big Ten title a year after Brady Hoke entered on wings of fire, winning the Sugar Bowl. Innocent Michigan fans frolicked in local meadows, unaware of the nuclear fires just over the horizon.

In the cratered aftermath Kinnel pokes his head out of his foxhole and cries out for his classmates. "Crawford! Campbell! Harris! Anybody? Anybody?" Alex Malzone pops up, helmet in bad shape but otherwise none the worse for wear. Otherwise… silence. Wither the commits of yesteryear, yea. We shall remember them as they were on recruiting sites, and get only slightly bitter when they do something good in college.

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

This is a long and largely unnecessary way of saying that Kinnel had a lot to think about after he decided on Michigan. After Shawn Crawford defected to the den of iniquity that is Notre Dame he tried to bring Kinnel along. He visited; he decided to stick out Michigan's coaching search instead. Kinnel really wanted to be at Michigan.

As a result there is a lot of chatter about where he might go and less actual scouting than you'd expect from a guy who committed before his junior year. And a lot of the scouting that exists is in the immediate aftermath of his commit—it's a bit dated. But we forge on.

In Kinnel, Michigan's locked down a potential replacement for Jabrill Peppers after he blasts off to the NFL. That's not to say he is Peppers. He is a safety-sized gentleman who is capable of covering people one on one, though. Rivals Ohio analyst Mark Givler:

"He's a strong kid, a good sized kid. I really like his versatility in the secondary because he's able to cover like a corner, but he also plays the game like a free safety. He'll bring some versatility back there, and he'll move around wherever the coaching staff will need him to move." …

"I think he's ultimately probably a free safety, but again, he's been put in a lot of man to man coverage situations at these camps and performed very well. He could have easily been a corner the way he performed at these camps. His build and strength to run sideline to sideline, though, makes him a great free safety prospect."

247's Mark Porter:

“Kinnel is just a great athlete. I would put him up there with guys like Cam Burrows and others like that from years past. He’s half safety and half corner. He has great coverage skills. He has good size. He is a fit kid.”

Rivals' Josh Helmholdt:

"He has the body, size and physical measurable of a safety, but he covers like a cornerback, I am very high on him as a prospect. He is certainly very talented, and physically, he brings everything to the table that you want from that position."

You get the idea.

If Michigan sticks with the perma-nickel defense they appear to be running with Peppers that would make him a strong candidate for that slot. If he does end up at free safety, that's fine too—the back half of his high school career was spent there (and running back and punt returner).

Some other scouting highlights:

  • Clint Brewster, 247: "always around the ball …able to track the ball down on deep passes and make the INT or pass breakup. He does an excellent job of fighting for the ball and out-competing the receiver. … excellent quickness and a great burst to get to the ball-carrier. … elite agility and quickness. … could make the switch to cornerback at the next level if need be"
  • Dave Berk, Scout: "Brute strength is above average … biggest question we’ll have going into his college career is the smoothness of his hips flipping out of his backpedal … no problem covering a lot of ground and does a great job in the deep half of the field showing above average instincts.  His ability to cover an area and be in position to make plays is extremely high for such a young player."
  • Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "Physically, Kinnel is everything that a college coach wants in a safety. He showed off his speed on kick returns and in closing on plays to be made. He's never going to be the fastest player, but he has enough speed to make an impact at either the strong or free position. He's a hair over 6-1, and every bit of his listed 190 pounds with even more room for growth. He showed off his strength in making forceful tackles (especially the disrupted screen play) without getting full leverage behind his body."
  • Adam Gorney, Rivals: "Multiple times on out routes, Kinnel came up and stepped in front of the pass. He showed off great instincts and a great ability to read receivers' routes and then come up to make the play. Kinnel's backpedal is smooth and then he turns and runs well with receivers."
  • Allen Trieu, Scout: “High football IQ who may not have the straight line speed some desire. Great body control and instincts with the ability to provide strong run support. Tough hard-nosed player who has no problem putting a hit on an offensive player. Great hands  … Must continue work on coverage skills.”

What separates Kinnel from the all-world hype of Peppers is the usual: speed and size. Kinnel isn't a slouch in either department, but neither is there a unanimous chorus of "wow" at his raw athletic tools. Nobody ever said Jabrill Peppers was "a bit more athletic than many believe him to be," as Tim Sullivan did($) after an in-person evaluation.

It's hard to tell whether how real size concerns are since so many evaluations come from old film, but after watching Kinnel's junior tape 247's Clint Brewster said he was probably "closer to 5'10, 180" and "more quick than fast." He ran a 4.5($) at OSU's camp as a rising junior, which sounds excellent until you remember that OSU's camp is where all the kids get their 4.2 40s. He's still pretty big and quite fast. In that same eval, Sullivan noted that he has "plenty of speed to get things done." He's just not Peppers.

He is a high football IQ guy who really really wanted to be at Michigan

Wednesday morning Tyree Kinnel expressed the dream he shared with his father to play at Michigan. During his speech to those in attendance at the school’s gymnasium, Kinnel thanked his friends, coaches, teachers, family and parents. After catching his breath and soaking up the moment, Kinnel looked back at his parents a second time and told them. “The Dream Came True!”

…and was calling audibles as a junior in high school. His high school DB coach:

"He has the size and speed, but he has something that you can't teach a lot of players: he has the instincts to see things before or as they are happening. This gives him the ability to make reads quicker and make plays. He knows how to disguise coverages and he knows how to read opposing offenses. As his position coach, I've given Tyree the permission to call audibles on our coverage."

Everyone's got bust potential; Kinnel's seems very low.

Etc.: Postgame interview indicates serious beard game. Will wear #17. Had 73 tackles, 4 INTs, and three return TDs as a senior.

Why non-superman Jabrill Peppers? Kinnel offers a combination of safety instincts and man-to-man cover skills that should make him a hybrid space player like Peppers figures to be this year. As spread offenses respond to the intense quarters coverage that had MSU's D at the top of the world two years, the importance of covering the slot as he bombs deep is a priority, and Kinnel is a guy who offers that ability.

I usually try to grab someone in the same talent stratosphere—or that we've, you know, seen play—but Michigan has not deployed anyone of Kinnel's ilk in my memory.

Guru Reliability: High. Kinnel was healthy, playing the position he projects to, and hit a reasonable number of camps.

Variance: Low. Not much mystery here.

Ceiling: High-minus. Consensus four star who is a very solid athlete playing a spot he projects to well.

General Excitement Level: High. Note that there are levels above "high" in this arbitrary ranking system. Kinnel should be a contributor and a starter, probably a good one.

Projection: You'd think he's in line for a redshirt since Michigan has a veteran two-deep (Wilson, Hill, Clark, Thomas) in front of him at safety even if you don't slot Peppers in there. We don't know Harbaugh's inclinations in this department yet, though. One thing that might help: safety types are often drafted for special teams, but Jon Baxter likes to use a lot of starters there. That should reduce demand for pointless redshirt wastes.

Anyway, after a freshman year spent either getting no or very few snaps he will have on opportunity to compete for a starting job in year two after Jarrod Wilson graduates; more likely he has another year of sparse snaps. If Peppers hits the NFL in two years, that will be his first prime opportunity.

The Freshmen Have Numbers 2015

The Freshmen Have Numbers 2015

Submitted by Seth on June 9th, 2015 at 11:14 AM

Guess what jerks?

This morning the freshmen got their numbers, and started telling people. Lorenz posted those he was able to gather, which was all but the transfers, Ulizio, and Shelton J. (Warning: 247 autoplays videos on their pages so mute first if you don't want blang blang blaring through your speakers).

May your obsessive compulsive videogame rosters be accurate, and your visions of greatness now come a bit more into focus around the chest and back areas. I'll update this as more come in today.

Freshman #s:

# Name P Hgt. Wgt. You may remember this digit from…
10 Zach Gentry QB 6'6" 230 Tom Brady of course, but also Todd Collins, Jeff Cohen, and friend of the blog Kyle Anderson. Da'Mario Jones was wearing this through spring so looks like he'll have a new jersey.
12 Alex Malzone QB 6'2" 205 (Spring) Surprisingly few 12's have remained such through graduation (Grbac and Gardner both wore it for a time). Dreisbach was the last QB to do so.
22 Karan Higdon RB 5'10" 190 Harbaugh era mooseback Gerald White is the only RB I can remember wearing it.
81 Brian Cole WR 6'2" 190 (Spring) Historically a TE # at Mich (I always think of Kattus). Was C'sonte's
9 Grant Perry WR 6'0" 183 Dileo, Diallo, Martavious Odoms, and Mercury Hayes. And of course "The Rece" Butler
8 Tyrone Wheatley Jr. TE 6'6" 245 Wore 9 in HS. Little round number on a big Wheatley body? I'm a fan. (Walk-on Joe Hewlett gave it up)
77 Grant Newsome OL 6'7" 280 Lewan, Long, Pape, Jansen, Jenkins, Trgovac, Tabachino, Guy Curtis, Art Walker...
75 Jon Runyan Jr. OL 6'4" 275 Sr wore 69, Jr wore this in HS. Last great interior OL to wear 75 was Baas. OTs include Schofield, Skrepanak, Yearby, and Bubba Paris.
70 Nolan Ulizio OL 6'5" 293 Wore 70 in HS. Bobby Doherty is the one that springs to mind; Mark Erhardt wore it during Harbaugh years.
? Shelton Johnson SDE 6'5" 225 Waiting on #. Wore 7 in high school; I doubt Poggi gives it up.
4 Reuben Jones WDE 6'4" 225 Less weird when you consider he'll be playing a role not too different from Cam Gordon's. Of course you remember a certain quarterback who wore this.
17 Tyree Kinnel SS 5'11" 197 "Wolf" Dwight Hicks wore it in the '70s, J.O.W. in the early '90s.
6 Keith Washington CB 6'2" 175 You remember Donovan Warren. One back you certainly don't remember wearing this was Harry Kipke when he played for Yost (he wore it one year).
16 Andrew David K 5'8" 170 M used to leave 19 for kickers (Bob Bergeron, Remy Hamilton, Mike Gilette). Andrew's the first 16.

Nothing yet from the transfers but their previous numbers were all available-ish except O'Neill's.

Name Prev # Pos Starts Elig You may remember this digit from...
Jake Rudock 15 QB 25 Grad transfer Garrett Moores would have to move. Grbac obviously, also Loeffler.
John O'Korn 5 QB 16 So (RS) Other than Tate you mean? Johnny Wangs! Walk-on Kenny Sloss will have to give it up.
Wayne Lyons 24 CB 20 Grad transfer Took Blake's spot, took Woodson's NFL # – several safeties (Bobby Abrams, Charles Drake RIP) but I can't think of a CB other than Hollowell.
Blake O'Neill 39 P 12 Grad transfer Finley! Complication: Houma wears this and plays punt coverage in case you forgot this.

Friday Recruitin' Doesn't Know What That Word Means

Friday Recruitin' Doesn't Know What That Word Means

Submitted by Ace on February 13th, 2015 at 2:01 PM

Happy Trails, 2015

Roquan Smith signed his financial aid agreement—but not an LOI!—with Georgia today, ending his recruitment after that whole ordeal with UCLA and their now-departed defensive coordinator, who reportedly still tried to recruit Smith in an unofficial capacity after doing this:

Last Wednesday, Smith committed to UCLA over UGA in front of ESPN cameras. But he decided against turning in his NLI after reports surfaced later that day that Bruins defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich had accepted a job with the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons.

Smith said Ulbrich had told him on the eve of signing day that he had “declined” the job offer from the Falcons, per UGASports. On Thursday, Ulbrich (now with the Falcons) declined comment to the AJC about Smith’s claim.

While Smith didn't end up at Michigan, it's great to see him spurn both UCLA and the LOI process. With Mike Weber sticking out his commitment to Ohio State, we can now close the books on the 2015 class.

Race For QB Spot?

Michigan offered two 2016 quarterback prospects this week, four-stars Brandon Peters and Dwayne Haskins. While Haskins looks like he'll be a difficult pull—a day after the offer, he named a handful of schools sticking out to him that didn't include Michigan($)—Peters looks like a serious candidate to commit. He told The Wolverine's Brandon Brown that the offer vaulted Michigan to the top of his list ($):

"I'm totally pumped," Peters said. "It would be an awesome experience to play under a coach like Jim Harbaugh. It's awesome. I definitely would put Michigan at the top now, to be honest with you." 

Per 247's Steve Wiltfong, Peters quickly locked in an unofficial visit for April 4th, Michigan's Spring Game.

With Michigan likely only taking one quarterback this cycle, the Peters news has left many asking where that would leave KJ Costello, the top QB target on the board for Michigan. In what may not be coincidence, Costello is looking to get on campus very soon, per Steve Lorenz:

"I am looking to visit in the next two weeks or so," Costello said. "It'd be my dad and I. I have been talking to the coaching staff all the time."

It looks like, one way or the other, Michigan should have a lot more clarity about their quarterback situation for 2016 in the near future.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]

This Week's Obsession: Class of 2015 Roundtable

This Week's Obsession: Class of 2015 Roundtable

Submitted by Seth on February 11th, 2015 at 2:14 PM

 

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Upchurch

I changed up the format this week since the question was a seven-parter. A reminder of who everyone is:

  • Brian: Blogger of mighty repute.
  • Ace: Lead reporter, recruiting/basketball guy.
  • Seth: Associate editor/site business guy
  • BiSB: A funny person.
  • Adam Schnepp: Press correspondent (Heiko's old job) and hockey guy.
  • Alex Cook: Basketball correspondent
  • Dave Nasternak: J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Lead Backend Logistics Strategist and Associate Vice President of Name Day Nittany Lion Taunting and Corporate Titlery (i.e. a responsible adult)
    The Question Seven Questions:

Brian: Best recruit? Most important? Most likely to outperform ranking? Best name (nationally)? Guy who got away who will haunt you? Guy you are most irrationally enthusiastic about? Overall class hot take? Harbaugh?

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

BEST RECRUIT?

BiSB: Brian Cole. He's a fantastic athlete, but more importantly Cole is a guy with speed in a position where, despite the assertions of some, SPEED IS A GOOD THING THAT CANNOT BE TAUGHT AND IS A GOOD THING. One caveat: Roquan Smith takes this category if he picks Michigan.

cole
Five votes for the superlative in-stater. [Allen Trieu/Scout]

 

Seth: Brian Cole. In a terribly weak in-state class, this player this year was the perfect opportunity for Dantonio to flip the in-state script—no weird families or MSU connections or coaches who lock players in their cars during their Michigan visits or questionable transcripts.

AND he's a great player at two positions of need. Other than Borgesian leapers at receiver there's Canteen and Drake Harris's un-Dude hamstrings. Safety is an even greater need; if by some holy luck Peppers stays through 2018, Michigan would have two safeties in 2018. I'd gladly take Cole and four more just like him.

Adam Schnepp: Zach Gentry. I am an unabashed fan of gun-slinging giants who causes Physics and Anatomy to get into a fight over who left THAT loophole open. I think about fitting him into a Harbaugh-ffense and find myself chortling under my breath. If you're a commit who makes me chortle when thinking about your fit with Michigan's system then you too could be a contender for next year's Best Recruit.

Dave Nasternak: Probably Brian Cole. I can see arguments for Gentry, but I think that Cole is the best overall player, right now. And I think (hope?) he is the only member from this class who will not see a 2015 redshirt...if for no other reason than they just will not be able to keep him off of the field. There are a handful of places that he should be able to contribute early -WR, Returner, ST coverage, etc.

Ace: Another vote for Cole. He's such a good athlete that it's hard to imagine he won't end up contributing somewhere, and he's especially impactful with the ball in his hands.

Alex Cook: Brian Cole. The whole "the best players from Michigan go to Michigan" thing is, um, patently false, but there's a good chance that Cole will be the best homegrown recruit in this cycle. Oh, and he was a presumed State lean before committing to Michigan - and he stuck through the coaching change? Great. I'm sold.

Brian: I'm going with Zach Gentry. You do not get guys flying past safeties 50 yards downfield at 6'8" anywhere, and Gentry improved considerably over the course of his career. John Navarre running Buffalo 100 Meter Dash? I'll take it. Gentry has higher bust potential, yeah, but that upside. Yooooooo.

[Hit the jump for most important, sleeper, best names, the one that got away, and bloggers going squeeee]

Monday Recruitin' Probably Offered You

Monday Recruitin' Probably Offered You

Submitted by Ace on February 9th, 2015 at 2:11 PM

2015: Not Dead Yet

Well, I'll be damned:

In a move that comes as something less than a shock, UCLA announced Sunday that defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich "has stepped down" from his position on the Bruins' staff.

Ulbrich has been widely linked with new coach Dan Quinn's Atlanta Falcons staff and is expected to become the Falcons' new linebackers coach, per reports.

With that news, it's unlikely 2015 top-50 LB Roquan Smith will re-commit to UCLA. After taking a break last weekend, Smith will reevaluate his final four—UCLA, Georgia, Michigan, and Texas A&M—this week. With the extra time, Smith's coach believes he'll be more assured of his decision, per GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):

“He’s actually relieved,” Harold said. “Like I told him, and the relief comes from the fact he gets more time. He went on five straight trips so of course the last trip you take is still fresh on your mind and he didn’t have like two days to hash everything out. He was conflicted up until he went on television. I told him you can go with your heart now and not turn a letter in and make a better decision because I want you to be 100-percent sure.

Georgia is the presumed favorite, but Michigan should be right in the running—yes, despite the "Michigan University" sign, which Smith's coach admitted was his error, not his star player's.

There's no substantive update on Mike Weber and whether or not he'll ask out of his Ohio State LOI.

[Hit THE JUMP for updated 2016 rankings, a ton of new offers, and more.]

MGoPodcast 6.17: Recruiting Espectaculo

MGoPodcast 6.17: Recruiting Espectaculo

65 minutes.

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[Robert Kirkham/Buffalo News]

OFFENSE

Gentry a huge get, Malzone a little bit overlooked as a result, the perpetually open Grant Perry, a few OL, and a big TE get.

DEFENSE/OVERALL

DEs are clutch, Washington a favorite, overall class take.

2016 LOOKAHEAD

A big year in state and a potential wave of California stars should put Michigan in a good spot. Shout out to Dele Harding, who hated Dave Brandon as much as the rest of us.

BASKETBALL

Praise is delivered unto MAAR.

MUSIC

"Across 110th Street"
"Sorry For Stealing Your Man," Jessica Hernandez And The Deltas
"Open Up Them Pearly Gates," Billy Strings and Don Julin (who are at the Ark on April 24th)
"Lie, Cheat, Steal," Run The Jewels

THE USUAL LINKS

Hello: Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

Hello: Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

Submitted by Ace on February 4th, 2015 at 3:47 PM

According to multiple outlets, Tyrone "TJ" Wheatley Jr. chose Michigan over UCLA this afternoon, and will join his legendary father—now the running backs coach—in Ann Arbor. Wheatley is regarded as an athlete who could play either tight end or defensive end; in this class, he'll most likely start out on offense. Wheatley is the 14th commit in the 2015 class and the first at tight end.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #25 DE,
#279 Ovr
4*, #13 TE 3*, 79, #12 TE-Y 4*, 90, #13 TE 4*, #12 TE,
#312 Ovr

Only Scout evaluated Wheatley as a defensive end; perhaps not unrelated, they rank him the highest of the four services. The tight end disctinction appeared to hurt his ratings elsewhere. Wheatley was an early member of the Rivals250, but they only placed five TEs in their final rankings (as opposed to 17 SDEs). He came closer to the top list on 247—their top ten TEs made the Top247. Wheatley also made ESPN's Junior 300 back in July of 2013, then gradually slid back to a three-star—his underclassman evaluation focused much more on his potential as a defender than his final scouting report.

All four sites list him at 6'6" with a significant spread in weight: anywhere from 245 (Rivals) to 270 (Scout, which also gives him an extra half-inch of height). A recent quote from Wheatley Sr. pegs his son at 6'6", 255—he'd apparently reached 270 before cutting some weight.

BLOODLINES

Impeccable.

SCOUTING

I guess the lack of interest in New York high school football trumps the desire to evaluate a four-star prospect in person, as there's surprisingly little on Wheatley outside of camp and film evaluations. Luckily, most scouting reports focus on his prospects as a tight end, where he's expected to end up at Michigan.

ESPN likes his potential more on offense than defense; here's what they have to say about his ball skills and blocking ($):

Ball Skills: Displays good hands with the ability to extend and catch away from his frame. Displays ability to reach up and snag passes thrown above his head. Flashes adequate ability to adjust to throws off target, but displays some tightness and not always natural when having to open up frame and adjust.

Blocking: Flashes ability to deliver an initial pop and get good placement with his hands with enough strength to control defenders when he gets locked on. Needs to watch pad level and more consistently roll hips at contact. Displays adequate ability to adjust and get a hat on second-level targets.

Always with the pad level.

Wheatley worked out at tight end at the Sound Mind Sound Body camp way back in 2013, and he impressed GBW's Kyle Bogenschutz ($):

At 6-6, 240-pounds, Wheatley Jr. certainly isn’t a gentle giant and despite the non-padded drill work the tight ends did on Saturday, the son of former Michigan great Tyrone Wheatley was able to use his physicality and size to his advantage in the 1-on-1’s against linebackers. Wheatley Jr. already runs refined routes for such a young prospect, showing a nice resemblance of footwork passed down by his father.

Much more recently, Wheatley had a standout performance in the Semper Fi All-American Bowl practices, earning top performer honors on the third day from 247's Alex Gleitman...

Alpha Dog: Tyrone Wheatley Jr.

The 6-foot-6, 260-pound tight end is one of the most physically imposing players on the East team, but it is his athleticism and soft hands at that size that make him the outstanding prospect that he is.

Wheatley had an outstanding today in general skeleton drills, as well as the scrimmaging and goal line sessions, flashing enough speed to get free from defenders, as well as using his strength and body size to get positioning in shorter yardage situations.

The chatter among onlookers at practice was that there was no question that Wheatley was the most impressive performer in today's practice session.

...and coming in second according to Rob Cassidy of Rivals ($):

Wheatley Jr. is a menace. He has a wide body and impressive strength. And while he usually shines as a blocker, he made his presence known in the passing attack on Friday. He didn't look pretty catching passes at all times. In fact, he fought the ball on occasions, but he always made the catch when targeted. He made a long list of plays throughout the afternoon and always seemed to find a way to get open in the flat

Scout's free evaluation focuses on his ability on defense:

Wheatley plays tight end and defensive end, but he looks more comfortable and natural on defense. He gets off the ball quickly, but sometimes gets upright too quickly. Wheatley has the size to overpower an offensive tackle, and also can use his speed to get around the edge. In addition, he can run a play down from behind and is versatile enough to move inside and play defensive tackle if he adds the weight. -- Brian Dohn

That sounds pretty ideal for an SDE in Durkin's hybrid system. The other defense-focused evaluations come from 247's Clint Brewster in 2013, looking at Wheatley's sophomore film ($)...

As a defensive end, Wheatley is a destructive force with his size and strength. He is instinctive and can hold the edge in the run game or get after the quarterback with his extremely long wingspan. Wheatley Jr. has a pretty good motor and doesn’t quit, as he will make plays downfield or away from the line of scrimmage. He gets his hands up to deflect passes and gets in passing lanes.

...and a Rivals camp update from the following spring, when Adam Friedman named him the top performer at the NFL Prep 100 ($):

Wheatley was far and away the best player at the camp. The Rivals250 defensive end has added a lot of strength to his core and it helped him play with good leverage. Wheatley used that strength to help push offensive linemen out of the way en route to the quarterback. He also showed very good technique, beating offensive linemen inside and outside.

I'll give the final word to a man who's quite familiar with Wheatley—his father, who went into exacting detail on his son's game in a free interview with Sam Webb that's well worth your time:

Tyrone Wheatley, Sr.:  “His route running, understanding leverage, understanding zone reads.  I think that is the biggest improvement where he has blossomed, where last year he was just running to run.  He was running routes.  He didn’t understand coverage and how to set a route up, when the defense is in a zone or set man coverage up.  Now there are certain routes that he likes and is he starting to (make more plays).  He knows he is going to be doubled team or however they are going to play him.  He sees that right off the bat.  He understands the leverage and how to get open in those situations.”

The elder Wheatley noted yards after the catch and blocking technique as areas for improvement. Check out the full interview for his thoughts on TJ as a DE.

OFFERS

Wheatley held offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Florida State, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami, Nebraska, North Carolina, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Syracuse, UCLA, UNC, Washington, and Wisconsin, among others.

HIGH SCHOOL

Wheatley is the first four-star prospect in the Rivals era (2002-) to come out of Canisius. In fact, the only three-star prospect they've produced is 2014 Pitt signee Qadree Ollison.

STATS

According to MaxPreps, Wheatley had 11 catches for 182 yards and two TDs in a run-heavy offense and 68 tackles, 24 TFLs, ten sacks, three pass deflections, four forced fumbles, and two blocked punts on defense en route to NYSSWA Player of the Year honors as a senior. The previous year, he recorded 16 catches for 190 yards and two TDs along with 41 tackles, 14 TFLs, two sacks, an interception, and four forced fumbles.

FAKE 40 TIME

None of the four sites list a 40 time.

VIDEO

Senior highlights at tight end:

Junior offense highlights:

Junior defense highlights:

Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page. Unfortunately, there's no available highlight tape of him on defense as a senior.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Wheatley could contribute on either side of the ball and fill a pretty big need; it appears he'll at least start his college career at tight end, where he could see the field immediately as a big blocker who can slip out into the flat and occasionally threaten up the seam. Whether he comes in on offense or defense, it's unlikely he'll take a redshirt—Michigan needs help at DE, as well.

While Wheatley's lack of top-end speed and post-catch elusiveness may limit his ceiling, he should be an important cog in Harbaugh's offense due to his ability to block and catch at his size. If he ends up on defense, he should provide depth and eventually make a bigger impact as a strongside DE.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Unless WR Van Jefferson pulls a surprise or Michigan sends out some late offers, Wheatley is almost undoubtedly the last commit in the class.

Hello: Shelton Johnson

Hello: Shelton Johnson

Submitted by Ace on February 4th, 2015 at 3:38 PM

Delray Beach (FL) Atlantic DE Shelton Johnson announced a commitment to Michigan over fellow finalists Florida State and Miami in a ceremony at his school this afternoon. Johnson becomes the 13th commit in the 2015 class and fills a major need at defensive end. He joins Karan Higdon and Keith Washington among NSD commits for the Wolverines.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #27 DE,
#291 Ovr
3*, #37 WDE 3*, 79, #36 DE 4*, 91, #16 SDE 3*, #20 SDE,
#364 Ovr

There's a split in Johnson's rankings—Scout and 247 both have him in the top-300 area, while Rivals and ESPN place him in the nondescript three-star category. All four sites list him at 6'5" and 220-225 pounds.

SCOUTING

Scout's Jamie Newberg named Johnson the #4 defensive lineman in Florida—in a stacked class—heading into his senior season:

Johnson is not as highly touted as the others above here but this kid has a ton of talent. He looks terrific on film. Johnson can put his hand in the dirt or stand up. He can also slide inside. He has versatility and athleticism. Johnson gets off the ball well and can use his hands to shed blocks. He shows speed and lateral quickness. 

ESPN likes his frame, though they point out he needs to weight and strength, and say that he's a good physical prospect in need of some refining ($):

Flashes ability to fire out and uncoil, but needs to continue add size to help him maintain and hold ground. Flashes active, violent hands, but needs to continue to develop hand usage. Displays enough range to be factor in backside pursuit.

Good burst and length can be assets in his development. Long and little straight line, but flashes ability to do decent job of dipping inside shoulder and turning the corner. Needs to learn to better utilize hands and reach. Flashes some ability to transfer speed-to-power and knock blockers back at times.

They add that he plays "with a physical and at times violent nature."

There's surprisingly little else out there on him. Johnson earned his FSU offer after an impressive camp performance last summer (video below) and got a late bump into the four-star range on 247 after his senior season.

OFFERS

Johnson held offers from Florida State, FAU, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Minnesota, Mississippi State, NC State, South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. He had interest, but no offer, from Florida, LSU, and Georgia.

HIGH SCHOOL

Atlantic has produced a couple of very successful four-star prospects in 2009 CB Jayron Hosley (Virginia Tech, now on the New York Giants) and 2006 OL Orlando Franklin (Miami, now on the Denver Broncos). There's also a Big Ten connection: Minnesota RB Donnell Kirkwood was a 2010 three-star.

STATS

Johnson's stats weren't readily available and are impossible to Google thanks to the existence of an NFL player of the same name.

FAKE 40 TIME

None listed.

VIDEO

Partial senior highlights:

This performance at FSU's camp last summer earned him an offer from the Noles:

Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

There's not a ton to go on here, but Johnson is clearly in need of some seasoning before he's ready to see the field. Even with Michigan's thin depth chart, he should take a redshirt year unless he looks ready to contribute at the hybrid WDE/OLB position as a situational pass-rusher. For Michigan's purposes, it'd be ideal if he's able to bulk up and play SDE, which is quite plausible with his frame; that might take a year or two, however.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Johnson fills a significant need at DE. Michigan is now waiting on announcements from TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (any moment now) and CB Iman Marshall (4 pm). Wheatley is down to Michigan and UCLA, with the edge to the good guys, while Marshall is highly unlikely to end up in the class.

Signing Day Liveblog

Signing Day Liveblog

Submitted by Brian on February 4th, 2015 at 1:31 PM

FL RB Karan Higdon: flips from Iowa to Michigan
CT TE Chris Clark: inexplicably chooses UCLA
AL CB/QB Keith Washington: flips from Cal to Michigan
MI RB Mike Weber: sticks with OSU
GA LB Roquan Smith: picks UCLA

TN WR Van Jefferson: 1:30? 3:45? Vision quest? 
FL DE Shelton Johnson: 3 PM
NY TE/DE Ty Wheatley Jr: 3:15 PM
CA CB Iman Marshall: 4 PM 

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Hello: Keith Washington

Hello: Keith Washington

Submitted by Ace on February 4th, 2015 at 9:55 AM

Prattville (AL) three-star ATH Keith Washington announced his decision to flip from Cal to Michigan in a ceremony at his high school this morning, and immediately faxed in his LOI. Washington, who mostly played quarterback at Prattville, will suit up at cornerback for Michigan. He becomes the 12th commit of the 2015 class and the first at his position.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #147 CB 3*, #26 ATH 3*, 75, #117 ATH 3*, 82, #118 ATH 3*, #76 ATH,
#954 Ovr

Rivals is much more bullish on Washington than the other three recruiting services, which all have him well down the position rankings. He's listed at around 6'2", 170—great size for a corner as soon as he adds a little bulk.

SCOUTING

Due to Washington mostly playing quarterback in high school, there isn't a ton on him as a defensive back. TideSports ranked him the #30 player in Alabama heading into the 2014 season and had this to say about his potential ($):

A tremendous athlete with excellent speed. Washington is a natural playmaker. He is dangerous on the offensive side of the ball and should become a great defensive back at the next level. 

ESPN's rather scant evaluation covers his ability as both a receiver and cornerback ($):

Plays any skilled position he is asked to. Runs with it, catches it and defends from either the safety or corner spot. Is gifted enough that he can be thought of as either a WR or DB.

Is light on his feet, has balance, and can run away from defenders thus is a threat from most anywhere on the field. Also demonstrated as a defender he can run down a ball carrier. He makes plays.

The most complete scouting report comes from GoldenBearReport, Cal's Rivals outlet, which posted one after his commitment there ($):

Physically, he's long and lean; and he really doesn't have a frame suited for some of the physicality required of a safety. He's strikingly similar to Malik Psalms, with a wiry frame and really long arms.  I'd venture to say that while their top end speed may be similar, Washington looks smoother than Psalms and has great acceleration. His ability to turn and chase is impressive with his closing speed. His height and long arms help him in press coverage and playing the ball, and he's a willing though unpolished tackler. He comes high into contact and gets away with it at the high school level, but will definitely need to add strength and technique to not only effectively bring down bigger and more physical ballcarriers in college, but also to disengage from blocks on screens or runs to the outside. Still, his athleticism makes him a natural in pass coverage. With the desire to be aggressive in contact seemingly already within him, the technique to do it well and do it right can be coached.

Washington will take some molding before he's ready to contribute, especially given his inexperience at the position, but he appears to have a lot of potential—6'2" corners with fluid athleticism don't come around that often.

OFFERS

Washington held offers from Cal, Duke, Indiana, Kentucky, Louisville, Miami (YTM), Mizzou, North Carolina, Northwestern, USF, and Wake Forest, among others.

HIGH SCHOOL

Prattville has produced several FBS-caliber recruits in the Rivals era, most notably 2010 four-star Nick Perry, who started for the Tide at safety in 2014, and four-star 2012 athlete Justin Thomas, the starting quarterback in Georgia Tech's option offense.

STATS

Washington's stats mostly came on offense, where he passed for 1718 yards and 17 TDs and rushed for another 1201 yards and 20 TDs as a senior, per 247.

FAKE 40 TIME

Oddly, Washington participated in NFTC testing and did everything but the 40-yard dash. He did run an impressive 4.06 20-yard shuttle, indicating good acceleration and change of direction. His Scout spotlight lists a 4.3-flat, which gets four FAKEs out of five. He's fast, but that's elite NFL speed.

VIDEO

Defensive back highlights:

Full senior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Washington should redshirt while getting more acclimated to cornerback and add some strength. Only Blake Countess is set to depart after the 2015 season at corner, so it could take him a little while to work his way up the depth chart, though the move of Jabrill Peppers to safety opens up more of an opportunity. While there's not a lot to go on with Washington, he has all the physical tools to become an excellent player at the position.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan is now up to 12 commits and could take another corner if they desired should Jarius Adams want to join up. Other candidates to fill the remaining open spots are ATH Tyrone Wheatley Jr., DE Shelton Johnson, RB Mike Weber (everything seems to be up in the air with him), WR Van Jefferson, CB Iman Marshall, and LB Roquan Smith—the last two are longshots at best.