Previously: Last year's profiles.
|Dayton, OH – 6'0", 205|
|Scout||4*, #150 overall
|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|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Brandon Brown interviews him.|
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."
“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.
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.