2016 Recruiting: Sean McKeon

2016 Recruiting: Sean McKeon Comment Count

Brian June 23rd, 2016 at 12:17 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks.

       
Dudley, MA – 6'5", 240
       

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#29 TE
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#34 TE, #2 MA
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#23 TE-Y, #2 MA
24/7 3*, #1253 overall
#61 TE, #3 MA
Other Suitors VT, BC, Syracuse, UConn, Harvard
YMRMFSPA Kevin Koger
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Early enrollee.

Film

Senior:

Sean McKeon has virtually no recruiting accolades. On the other hand…

image

…Harbaugh's earned some trust when it comes to plucking tight ends from obscurity. This comparison may not be entirely unprompted. Drevno:

Sean is a guy that can really bend, has great flexibility and great ball skills with a good catch radius. He can be a complete tight end as a run blocker and pass receiver. He is a big athletic guy, kind of reminds me of a Coby Fleener-type; has that same type of athleticism.

And it seems clear that their interest in McKeon is much stronger than that profile would suggest. David Reese—a linebacker who signed with Florida—decommitted largely because M did not have an early enroll spot for Reese. They had one for McKeon. Various other low-rated commits were outright jettisoned; there was never a whisper that McKeon could end up in that same boat. While I'm not particularly happy with how Michigan dealt with the guys they no longer wanted, the silver lining is that you know Michigan doesn't have buyer's remorse about the guys who did sign.

There are other positive indicators for McKeon. His frame is paired with some pretty impressive athleticism:

...elite athlete for a player his size, holding the fastest verified 40-time of any tight end in the country at 4.65 and also the highest vertical jump (36.2 inches).

That was from a Nike event and was only current as of his commitment in mid-June last year. Some some dudes may have passed him; if so it was not many. McKeon's ability to go recurs frequently in his scouting reports; so does Drevno's assertion that he can "really bend". ("Bending" is being able to play football in a compact stance instead of standing straight up; it is a major factor as players try to achieve the all-important good pad level.)

Allen Trieu liked him at Michigan's camp (like, camp-camp, on campus camp) last year, naming him the #2 player in attendance, just behind future four-star MSU commit Trishton Jackson and ahead of David Reese, Corey Malone-Hatcher, and a then even more completely obscure "Benjamin St John"*:

Loved how he could bend for his size. Very naturally athletic and catches the ball well. Lean frame with the room to grow.

ESPN:

Excellent height with just adequate bulk. …Doesn't look to play quite as fast as he may test, but displays above-average top-end speed … enough speed to make the occasional play down the seam. Between height and leaping ability can be a factor in jump ball situations. …doesn't display much burst out of breaks. … physical tools to be a productive receiver and with continued development can be an effective blocker as well.

Brian Dohn:

…intriguing prospect because of his combination of size, speed and athleticism. …releases well off the line of scrimmage and gets into his routes well. He high-points the ball in traffic and is also tough to bring down after the catch. When blocking, the intent and desire is there, but he needs to get stronger to stay on and finish the block.

"Blocking ability" and "strength" are the areas for improvement; those are easily improved.

Adam Friedman:

"…really good athlete, you can see that on film. … great frame and size for the next level."

Touch The Banner:

…good acceleration  …. will be able to get separation from linebackers with that initial speed burst…. can catch the ball with his hands outside the frame of his body….willing blocker who shows some pretty solid technique, and he has the feet and the hips to be effective in the run game.

Clint Brewster:

…comfortable being attached to the offensive line as a blocker. …reliable hands and does a nice job sitting in open spots and showing the quarterback his numbers so he can be seen. … straight line speed and ability to threaten the seam. McKeon can extend and pluck the ball when it's in the air but shows some stiffness when he has to turn and adjust his body.

The bolded section from Brewster is something that pops out on film. He looks like a capable receiver downfield. He does not look like Jake Butt, who has a certain je ne sais quoi to his movements. I suppose coaches would call that fluidity. It doesn't seem like McKeon has that ability to change direction that allows Butt to win matchups against safeties and even occasionally corners.

Even so you may be asking yourself how a tight end prospect with those measurables gets ignored by the scouting services. There are a few reasons. The state of Massachusetts is a football wasteland scouted about as heavily as Liberia. McKeon's camp career appeared to begin and end after one or two that got him a suite of East Coast offers he was content with before Michigan leapt in. And his high school was one of those that tends to run run run:

"You can't tell his routes and catching because there's not a whole lot of film on that. The bit of film there is at tight end is mostly blocking. You know he's willing to mix it up, and he can move guys off the line."

He led his team with 19 catches as a junior; second place wasn't close. A tight end playing bad competition and running few routes who doesn't show at camps is destined for shruggie rankings.

McKeon has impressed coaches since his arrival. While I didn't notice him at Ford Field or the spring game—I was too busy going DANG at Ty Wheatley Jr—every month or so Steve Lorenz bangs the drum that he's got a good shot to play this fall:

We have been told on numerous occasions that McKeon is a player capable of playing in his first year depending on how his camp/off-season goes.

Don't rule out Sean McKeon as a year-one contributor at tight end. Physically, he's already there outside of building some weight.

I listed that Harvard offer above for a reason, as it implies McKeon will have little trouble imbibing a college offense and making it a part of his brain. Jay Harbaugh emphasized that in his take:

…Sean is a very intelligent, hard-working guy who is nowhere near reaching his potential as a football player … above average explosiveness and is an outstanding bender for his size. What he has done in the classroom in high school proves that Sean is willing to study and be a complete football player and student.

One of my main takeaways from watching Harbaugh's Stanford teams was that he put a ton of mental burden on his blocky/catchy types, who were expected to move willy-nilly about the field and make on-the-fly adjustments, especially when the Cardinal ran power. This applied moreso to FB/H-back types than inline players; the sheer number of formations and motions was still kind of boggling.

I'd be inclined to redshirt McKeon all the same. Michigan has Butt, Bunting, Wheatley, and (more or less) Hill ready to go this fall and will almost certainly play Devin Asiasi, about whom more in a couple days. I'm also guessing that Ben Bredeson gets a bunch of run as a sixth OL. Michigan plays a lot of tight ends. They don't play enough to absolutely need McKeon, either this year or next.

*[This would be current CB commit Benjamin St Juste. Trieu did well to get the name of a complete unknown almost correct; I mention it just to re-emphasize how out of nowhere St Juste came from.]

Etc.: Super-advanced wolverine drawing technique:

image

The gentleman scholar also wants to be a computer engineer if football doesn't work out. Don Brown was interested him as a DE(!) when he was recruiting McKeon to BC.

Why Kevin Koger? Koger was a guy with solid-to-good size who could threaten down the seam with surprising speed. Frames are pretty comparable, with Koger entering at 235 and leaving at 260. Recruiting rankings were not; Koger was the #6 TE in the country per the composite. Koger may have been a bit overrated since he was as likely to drop an easy ball as make a spectacular one-handed stab. And he wasn't open like Butt is open.

I thought about Mike Massey here but his MGoBlue page had him at 231 pounds as a redshirt senior, which is bonkers. Can't imagine Harbaugh's running anyone that size out there at TE unless he's a Eubanks walking mismatch type. Butt is another potential comparison, though one we dismissed above; have to roll sixes there.

Guru Reliability: Low for the reasons detailed above. I get why their skepticism is warranted. I don't think it hold much weight.

Variance: Moderate. Does have to add some weight, could be a mirage because he doesn't play good competition. On the other hand, could have gone to Harvard and already drawing praise after early enrollment.

Ceiling: High. Big frame and ability to move it. Blocking upside seems good as well.

General Excitement Level: High-minus. McKeon just about got sleeper of the year status. I already issued that to Josh Uche and have another gentleman in mind for a second slot; I don't want to go to three. If I did, McKeon would be the pick. Repeated insistence from inside the Michigan program that McKeon is a high upside guy who could easily play this year is a major plus.

Projection: He'll probably get scattered snaps as a frustrating burned redshirt. Next year it's similarly tough to find playing time with all of the aforementioned names save Butt ahead of him and Zach Gentry coming online. In year three he should be bulked up to 250 or 260 and will be a candidate for serious run.

With the pile of tight ends Michigan will have available your guess is as good as mine who emerges from the melee. McKeon is a very good bet to be a contributor and guy who gets complicated blocking assignments right.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Nick Eubanks

2016 Recruiting: Nick Eubanks Comment Count

Brian June 20th, 2016 at 10:52 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu, OL Stephen Spanellis.

 

       
Plantation, FL – 6'5", 215
       

 

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#30 TE
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#9 TE, #34 FL
ESPN 4*, #258 overall
#2 TE-H, #46 FL
24/7 4*, #270 overall
#11 TE, #36 FL
Other Suitors UF, Bama, LSU, UO, USC, Texas, SoCar
YMRMFSPA Devin Funchess
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Senior:

Nick Eubanks had the most alpaca-out-of-nowhere commitment since Carlos Brown. The first word that most Michigan fans heard about him was the fact that he'd scheduled a mid-week official visit mere days before it was supposed to take place; the day after that trip he committed over offers from a bevy of SEC powers and USC.

Whenever you're talking about a guy who's not a super blue chip you have to evaluate how committable those offers are. In Eubanks's case those offers were almost certainly OFFERS; Eubanks took an official to Alabama and had scheduled trips to Florida and USC before Harbaugh short-circuited things. Florida sites were calling him the Gators' top target at the position and more or less assuming he was in their class, a la Josh Uche. (In their defense, he said UF led in late November.)  Bama may not have taken him; the rest of his list almost certainly would have.

That's because Eubanks has huge upside as a receiving tight end. Michigan 247 named him the guy with the highest upside in the class—although I assume that comes with an "other than Gary" disclaimer—because he has "NFL size and length" matched with "natural movements and athleticism." Others are on board:

…everything that colleges are looking for in a modern-day tight end. He's a big, smooth athlete who can really run and rack up yardage after the catch. Eubanks is a legit 6-foot-6 and should really fill out nicely over his college years.

instant mismatch for Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage. His catch radius is incredible and he's a nightmare to cover in space.

One of the freakiest tight ends in the 2016 class … has been timed as fast as 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash

nearly unlimited upside at the tight end position. He's 6'6"/230 and can leap like a basketball player. He has a frame that can build healthy weight.

The kid’s a freak,” said Cape Coral Island Coast coach Wayne Blair …. "was just jumping over people” against Daytona Beach “He’s what everybody’s looking for in that flex, hybrid tight end,” Blair said. “And he’s still relatively new to football.”

He can leap like a basketball player because he was focused on that sport for most of his life. (Perhaps not a coincidence: his brother is named Kobe.) And everyone knows that short and fast power forwards make pretty good flex tight ends, eventually.

His upside is such that even too-cool-for-school ESPN offers up a report that's detectably positive:

… nice combination of height, length and athleticism. … excellent straight-line speed for size. … top-end speed to threaten the intermediate to deep part of the field and present a vertical threat. … needs to continue to develop as route runner. … Good hands with ability to extend for the ball. Displays very good body control to adjust to passes thrown off target. With height and leaping ability can be threat downfield in jump-ball situations. … still needs to develop physically and improve as a blocker … combination of height, leaping ability and speed can make him a tough match-up.

There's only one "can" in there. I think I deleted a couple "flashes," but this is a prospect who seems to have piqued the interest of a laconic group of gentlemen.

A huge upside prospect with only decent rankings is generally a project and Eubanks is no exception. On film he looks like another one of the hilariously jumbo WRs that populate high school teams. Projecting those guys to college always comes with a hefty bit of guessing. Any time you have to slap 50 pounds on a dude, things can go wrong. Generally slow things.

Meanwhile he's not exactly a mauler or a route artisan. Many reports invite you to read between the lines:

He can continue to work on his consistency catching the football, but is much improved in that department from the last time I laid eyes on him. Eubanks put forth the effort and really spent time on his blocking over the offseason, but is more of a threat in the pass game at this stage in his career.

moves relatively well for his massive size (6-6, 208). He's established himself as a threat in the passing game, but will need to develop as a blocker before he arrives on a college campus.

raw but he continues to develop rapidly. He's a basketball player that is still finding his way on the football field but his upside is as high as any tight end in the class.

great frame and the ability to play on the line or to be flexed out. Has great length, he knows how to extend for the football, and he can use that to his advantage. He will fill out, add weight, and get stronger. Solid blocker, but can get better at the point of attack. More comfortable now flexed as a big wide receiver going out for passes.

While his highlights have a couple of decleaters amongst the various catches, there's nothing resembling technique in any of those blocks. He stands straight up, hits a guy half his size pretty hard, and goes Cato June on 'em. The most you can say about those blocks is that they display a want-to that Devin Funchess never really had. He does deposit a couple of defensive backs several yards downfield on screens.

Meanwhile reports on Eubanks's hands are mixed. It seems like he has good days and bad. There's the good report from ESPN above. 247 reported that he "needs to improve his catching ability and concentration" at the Opening regional he attended; Scout's eval declares his hands to be "solid" but lists "hands and concentration" as an area for improvement; Rivals said he had "consistent hands".

FWIW, his highlight film above has several incidents in which he lets the ball get into his body. Since he was a tight end without a ton of catches that film is probably 80%+ of the catches he made last year; I tend to side with the skeptics. Eubanks looks like a guy who's good at getting rebounds up high and pretty rough when the ball is in the dead center of his catching radius. I've just looked at a bunch of WR/TE Hudl video as these pieces come together gradually and it's clear Eubanks needs work in this department.

On the good side of the ledger, Eubanks just tweeted out an up-to-date weight of 235 pounds a few days ago. That puts him a year away from reasonable tight end size instead of the two a 215-pound guy (like, say, Ian Bunting) generally is. Also, Jay Harbaugh's evaluation of him mentions his ability in the classroom:

Nick is a great young man, exceptional student and outstanding athlete. He is easy-going and fun to be around but when Nick hits the field he is a very tenacious competitor….elite speed and length as a receiver that will allow him to stretch the field in a way that defenses in this conference aren’t accustomed to seeing on a regular basis.

Day-to-day intelligence isn't necessarily football intelligence but it's a good start; it's worth noting that when he took his official he toured the engineering school. There are a few indicators he's going to be able to hack a Harbaugh offense, especially after a few years.

And it will be a few years. Eubanks will take some time and could be just about anything once he comes out the other end.

 

Etc.:  At one point Alabama was his leader, at which point a 247 article said he's "a perfect fit for any team that likes to get the ball into the tight end's hands"… ie, not Alabama.

Why Devin Funchess? Eubanks is the same kind of raw athletic clay Funchess was, and is ranked in about the same area—he's maybe a little bit better regarded overall, but that's splitting hairs. Funchess, of course, was a tremendous receiver immediately but hated blocking; Michigan gave up on the tight end experiment and finally moved him out to WR as an upperclassman. Funchess had occasional struggles with his hands, something the Eubanks scouting reports do mention.

Eubanks is already reporting a weight equivalent to Funchess in the NFL and is not likely to end up a wide receiver for Harbaugh reasons. (One: he needs tight ends. Two: it's hard to imagine a Harbaugh-coached player going through the motions as transparently as Funchess did in his final season.) His end result could be the kind of tight end we saw from Funchess early in his career, except with blocking.

If you want an actual tight end, Jake Butt is the closest approximation in recent Michigan history if Eubanks's hands are actually top-notch.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Little bit of a split in the rankings and some disagreement on his hands, though that may be an artifact of his apparent improvement over the past year. Otherwise the services agree on who he is. Healthy, relatively high-profile guy.

Variance: High. Boom or bust guy. Could end up a drop-prone guy who can't block a soul.

Ceiling: Very high. Could be 250-pound Devin Funchess with a mean streak.

General Excitement Level: High. If Eubanks does bust it's a shrug-worthy event for Michigan, which will have tight ends coming out their ears either way. If he hits, look out. Does have a backup plan at WR since Michigan hasn't taken an enormous dude in a minute—at least not one that's probably sticking on offense.

Projection: Redshirt. Michigan has a bucket of tight ends already and two classmates of Eubanks are drawing buzz that they'll get on the field. Post-redshirt it's a crowded depth chart indeed.

Eubanks's career could follow the path that Ian Bunting's is: a redshirt freshman year with scattered catches followed by a more serious apprentice season as a sophomore and a bunch of catches as one of the top tight ends as an upperclassman. Or he could evaporate, or he could be Jake Butt except fast.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Stephen Spanellis

2016 Recruiting: Stephen Spanellis Comment Count

Brian June 17th, 2016 at 11:51 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Owenu.

       
Baltimore, MD – 6'5", 330
       

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#54 OT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#36 OT, #16 MD
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#60 OT, #27 MD
24/7 3*, #999 overall
#50 OG, #26 MD
Other Suitors UVA, MD, ARK, MSU, VT, Tenn
YMRMFSPA Ben Braden
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Gilman (Henry Poggi). UVA decommit.

Film

His Hudl film won't embed but is here if you're curious.

Dear reader, I have to admit that after three of the last four profiles covered two camp-friendly, massively-scouted offensive linemen and Rashan Freakin' Gary it is a considerable relief to arrive at a generic three-star. Stephen Spanellis's scouting reports are mostly "is large man, next," and this is fine. I do not have to first paste 5000 words into a template and then hew that down to ~1800. I can take 1800 and produce somewhat less than that. This is a long and solipsistic way of saying Spanellis is a bit of a project.

One thing that won't require work: his size. Spanellis is a biglarge hugedude. ESPN, which you may remember said Michael Ownenu had "nice" size as if he was not a super-dense space cyborg, is willing to confirm this:

…excellent overall size at this stage for a projected interior player. Possesses a good combination of height and bulk, but needs to watch how he adds size as frame at this point looks close to its ceiling

Tim Drevno focuses on that for his MGoBlue evaluation:

Stephen is a big, big man; he wears a size 18 shoe. … the type of guy who can really move people off the ball. He has great arm length, plays with good initial quickness, and can finish blocks.

As do his coaches:

“He’s a huge kid, 6-5, 330 right now,” Gilman assistant coach Henry Russell said. “He’s in excellent shape for that size and he’s extremely strong. Strongest player on our team. He has an unbelievable work ethic. First one in the weight room, last one to leave."

Spanellis's recruitment confirms this: these days an Arkansas offer more or less confirms you're one of the 20 biggest OL in any particular recruiting class. Check.

Assets other than his ability to provide shade are somewhat limited right now. Every once in a while you get an assertion that Spanellis could be a tackle in college, but the majority of reports say he'd get eaten up on the edge and can only play on the interior. Scout's evaluation of his game can't go a sentence without throwing in a "but":

…aggressive and finishes blocks, but he needs to improve his footwork so he can stay on a block better. He comes out of his stance quickly, but he needs to lighten his feet and drive his legs more in run blocking. He uses his strength and initial punch in pass blocking but needs to improve lateral quickness.

Aggression, power, size, and tenacity are assets—hey not bad!—and explosion, feet, and pass protection are areas to improve—uh. Clint Brewster's evaluation is a version of the above that's a bit nicer:

…excels in the straight-ahead run game as a mauler type of offensive lineman that Michigan looks for. He's physical upon contact and uses his body to overpower defensive lineman and drive them into the ground. Spanellis has some fluid movements to be able to turn his body on down blocks and cut off defenders.

ESPN's report does sound like their ranking for once, down to a serious lack of editing:

Displays good, but not quite the type of strength you may expect from size …doesn't display a powerful punch … doesn't display ideal lateral mobility to mirror. … Can use body and size to engulf and wall off defenders at times. Could struggle to adjust to moving targets, but displays good ability to locate and use angles to get a hit on second level targets. … a mid-to-lower Power-5 or Group of 5 [prospect].

Touch The Banner:

"…does a decent job of bending and maintaining leverage on run plays. He finishes plays, driving people into the ground. He does a good job of working combo blocks up to the second level. … heavy feet and a thick lower body. He’s not a player who will hold up well against edge rushers, and he needs significant work in pass protection. He will need to work on his stance and footwork.

Spanellis's run blocking comes in for praise on the regular and is almost always followed by a "but" as the analyst describes heavy feet and iffy pass protection. Right now he's a big straight-ahead guy without much versatility; he's going to need some serious Drevno time before he's ready to see the field.

Spanellis should have the mental makeup to succeed. The UVA commit when he had other, more pig-shaped options indicates a guy who's interested in academics and from time to time you'll see an analyst note his football IQ. Adam Friedman:

"…shines as a run blocker, that’s really his game. He understands blocking schemes and who needs to get to the second level, where the double team is. He holds the point of attack very well. …very smart. He understands some of the things that you need to look for as an offensive lineman. He understands protection schemes.”

Being able to hack it in a classroom is a skill at least somewhat correlated with the ability to make split second decisions, and Spanellis appears to already be translating that kind of thing to the field. Knowing what to do against a blizzard of different fronts, slants, stunts, and other stupid defense tricks is more than half the battle for a lineman.

Spanellis might have more upside than it sounds above if he ends up at 300 and can suddenly move pretty well, or it was his footwork that was the main issue; either way it's pretty obvious he's got a long way to go compared to the other two OL in the class.

Etc.: MSU was actually his first offer. If you'd like to compare him to—sigh—former commit Devery Hamilton, Rivals says he's a better run blocker but "not as smooth" and "stiffer."

Why Ben Braden? Braden was also a simply enormous OL prospect who some people thought could play tackle despite some questions about his feet and general mobility. Like Spanellis, he was a middling three star. Braden started out at tackle, actually starting there as a redshirt freshman, before his pass protection issues forced him inside. He matured into a solid Big Ten guard over the course of last season and has a senior year yet to go.

Braden is a couple inches taller than Spanellis, which is to Spanellis's advantage. Braden's had problems with lunging for much of his career; Spanellis is more compact and should have fewer issues in that department. Spanellis should be able to match Braden's football IQ; he is a high-academic kid.

Guru Reliability: High. Gilman is a heavily scouted school and Spanellis was healthy. Not much disagreement in rankings or reports.

Variance: High. Very big guy with a long way to go.

Ceiling:  Moderate. Doesn't seem like he'll ever be the kind of OL who's able to zone particularly well, which puts a cap on his upside. Does promise to be a big pile-mover, and Harbaugh Harbaugh Harbaugh.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Seems like a smart dude and Drevno's polished up a lot of guys like him until they're very shiny.

Projection: Redshirt. He'll be a long shot in 2017 for the three open spots, and then a long shot in 2018 for the one or two that will open up then. By the time he's a redshirt junior he should be rounding into whatever his finished product is going to look like. Assuming that Bredeson ends up staying outside he'll have a decent shot of being a two-year starter at guard.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Michael Onwenu

2016 Recruiting: Michael Onwenu Comment Count

Brian June 15th, 2016 at 11:59 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson.

       
Detroit, MI – 6'3", 370
       

20625900104_e820b4f464_z

Scout 4*, #140 overall
#8 OG
Rivals 4*, #147 overall
#7 OG, #4 MI
ESPN 4*, #130 overall
#8 OG, #2 MI
24/7 4*, #36 overall
#2 OG, #1 MI
Other Suitors OSU, MSU, PSU, Bama
YMRMFSPA Chance Warmack or
Gabe Watson
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace. Onwenu featured in two editions of FBO as well.
Notes Twitter. Cass Tech (many persons). Army AA.

Film

Senior:

Ace and Dave compiled a single-game reel from the Cass-Southfield game last year:

Mike Onwenu is a cyborg made of a super-dense alloy who arrived on this planet via atmospheric re-entry. I mean… probably? That seems as good an explanation as any. He had already been on the radar for a while when he arrived at one of the many, many camps he did over the course of his high school career and weighed in at 370 pounds. Around here we assumed this was in error and the enormous dude was in fact Juan Harris, the planet-sized Iowa DT commit. That's because Onwenu does not look like a 370-pound man.

Speaking of mass, Onwenu has a deceptive, compact 370 pounds that he moves extremely well. When he gets all that weight going in the right direction, the Michigan commit is a scary sight.

Nor does he move like one, but scale don't lie.

"There are not many offensive linemen I like more in this 2016 class that … Onwenu," [Steve Wiltfong] said. "Onwenu struggled a little bit with learning the new offense, but what he doesn’t struggle with is strength. No question he was the strongest offensive lineman on the field and he was also perhaps the quickest."

In addition to Onwenu's sheer improbable mass, he has tackle-sized arms. Onwenu had the biggest hands and second-longest arms of anyone at The Opening, which is a who's who of guys with big hands and long arms.

That helps his pass blocking, which was excellent in camp settings. Onwenu took a ton of one on one snaps against high-profile defensive ends. He held his own in an environment that's OL-unfriendly–especially so for man-mountains who get stuck on the edge for funzies. At the Opening he was repeatedly matched up with top-tier OSU DE commit Jonathan Cooper. Cooper eventually nosed ahead after a bunch of reps, but Onwenu got his too.

The reports coming out of these camps are unsurprisingly raves.

  • Barton Simmons, 247: "…almost immovable at 371 pounds… very few offensive linemen have had the success Onwenu has had in the pass-rush one-on-ones."
  • Greg Biggins, Scout: "…our top guard of the day and had some extremely impressive reps in the one on ones. …an absolute load but moved very well and had the best punch of any of the linemen we saw."
  • Mike Farrell, Rivals: "…showed off amazing feet for a massive interior lineman and he reset as well as anyone. He washed opponents across the middle when they tried to go inside him and he extended his arms well and got his feet right when they tried to go outside. His balance was very good and he was solid inside and even outside at tackle."
  • Steve Wiltfong, 247: "…played three different positions and was dominant at all three. … a force at the point of attack, showing he could handle different styles of defensive tackles throughout the day, whether it was a big, quick prospect like four-star Naquan Jones, or the shorter, more powerful Brice Brand. …took snaps at offensive tackle, showing his athleticism and feet, stoning Top247 defensive end Austin Robertson on one rep."
  • Also Wiltfong: "one of the surest bets to be a producer on the next level….as usual good in pass protection drills and pass blocking, but he was at his best in the zone blocking drills, obviously looking really powerful in his 6-foot-3, 365-pound body, explosive firing off the ball and attacking defensive linemen in the run game as well."
  • Dave Berk, Scout: "Keeps pad level low and uses quick feet, great hand placement and strength to fend off defenders. …moves like a player weighing 280-pounds but can he play four quarters of football at the next level at a high rate with the extra baggage."
  • Josh Helmholdt, Rivals: "…dominated throughout the spring and summer….a big body, but he is also very light on his feet. He has a devastating punch and gets immediate extension, but he can also engage and move with defensive linemen."

Camp evals are more about potential than production and the above are ample evidence that Onwenu's got rare, once-in-a-generation upside. Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher has seen his share of top flight prospects and even he's never run across another Onwenu:

“We’ve never had a kid like him before. Never had a kid like that. That’s a gift to have a kid that big that can move and run. You don’t have kids like him all the time that can do that. He’s low contact, to the ground, good pad level, quick, can run outside zone, sweeps, he can play guard, he can play tackle, it’s hard to find kids like that. We’ve never had a kid at our school with his height, weight and his size.”

Nor has anyone else, at least not in a while. As discussed towards the end of this post, finding anyone vaguely comparable to Onwenu was a struggle.

Ownenu still has a long way to go. He was a defensive tackle early in his career, only moving to the offensive line as a junior in high school. Despite this the technique evaluations he gets are at least on par with most highly-touted OL. He's not Bredeson in this regard, but he's a lot closer than you might think. Clint Brewster:

fluid body movement for a big player and can move and bend his body to combat rushers. He's able to find and hit opponents out in space. He can anchor down in pass protection and absorb contact. … work in progress with hand placement and proper steps. … generates torque through his hip-snap and has a violent upper body punch.

Scout:

Naturally strong and wins when he gets his hands on defensive linemen. Would like to see him play at a little lower weight, which would improve overall quickness and mobility, but he bends well, plays with a great base and is technically sound. Could play guard or center in college.

ESPN continues its trend of extremely reserved evaluations, noting that Onwenu has "nice size for play in the trenches" without a single superlative or exclamation point or anything. They tend to like him if you can get past the usual suite of qualifiers:

Good height, with a thickly built and wide frame. … very good playing strength and adequate lower body flexion for size. … good, powerful initial punch. … just average initial quickness in coming out of his stance and getting set and can at times get top heavy and lean and expose himself to rushers moves. … Displays adequate pull ability once in motion, but can be beat slow out his stance. … not a real consistent finisher.

There are some technique issues in there but no more than your average OL prospect, and he has some positives in that department.

It's those 370 pounds—the very thing that makes Onwenu a uniquely enticing prospect—that also bring some doubt into his evaluations. A lot of people mention a lack of finishing from him on blocks. Son of a Coach:

What I hated to see was him not being a consistent finisher. He would put himself in good body position, but not sustain his block. This happened far too often and it looked a bit lazy. The other thing is that I expected someone his size to be a lot meaner.

Touch The Banner:

Onwenu is slow out of his stance, sometimes steps with the wrong foot, does not use good hand placement, and does not finish plays on a consistent basis. Even on his highlights, it's rare to see more than a few steps with any kind of purpose. Once he reaches his assignment - a guy who's unlikely to move around the mountain - Onwenu essentially stops to watch the play.

Ace:

The only thing I'd like to see more from Onwenu is finishing his blocks. For a guy with his size and strength, he doesn't knock a ton of opponents on the turf, and there were a couple plays when he caught himself not playing through the whistle—he got through the game fine at 370 pounds, but at the next level he's going to need better conditioning.

I'm a little skeptical about how much that matters since opportunities to truly "finish" a guy are rare on the college level. The lack of effort some people perceive is probably an endurance issue—Onwenu is delivering consistent good-enough blocks because he's easily tired. Because he's enormous.

Rivals also docked him once they saw his senior season, but the reasons they offered didn't entirely make sense:

…light on his feet and controls everything in front of him, but further evaluation this fall reveals that he is limited and the top 100 is a little high. Onwenu will be an interior lineman in college, but playing left tackle for Cass Tech this season he has trouble reaching defenders who are not lined up directly in front of him and second moves catch him far too often.

Those are both edge problems that won't apply when he's not playing left tackle, as Josh Helmholdt acknowledges. That downgrade brought Rivals down to about the level Scout and ESPN have him at so it's not outlandish, but I'm not sure what they expected.

Nose tackle is also a possibility. Onwenu mentioned he'd have an opportunity to play defense just before Signing Day, and Onwenu was on D-I radars as an underclass NT and drew praise at his various camp stops when he moonlit on that side of the ball:

Off the snap defensively, Onwenu can beat interior offensive linemen, and he's nimble on his feet.

showed he is a powerful, space-eating, run-stuffing defensive tackle.

TTB was actually a bigger fan of Onwenu as a defender:

The place where Onwenu shows a sense of urgency is at nose tackle on defense. He looks like a totally different player. He's quick off the ball, uses good technique, and finishes plays. He probably won't be much of a pass rusher because it's tough to contort 365 lbs. in enough ways to wiggle around offensive linemen, but he can be a run-stuffer in the middle, especially if Michigan is going to run any 3-4 looks.

There's already been considerable chatter about Onwenu moonlighting on that side of the ball when an opposition positively cannot be afforded a single yard, and this is Jim Harbaugh we are talking about here: they'll explore his two-way possibilities. Given the state of the roster, a full-time move is not likely unless there's a roster crisis.

Etc.: MLive interviews him, asks him what his favorite food is. He says lasagna and then clarifies: Sam's Club lasagna, the kind you need a forklift to buy.

Why Warmack/Watson? There is not a successful Michigan guard in Onwenu's weight class. Michigan took a swing with borderline 3/4 star monster Chris Bryant at the tail end of the RR regime; he saw a bunch of hype and scattered playing time before injury problems ended his career. Bryant was not in Onwenu's league as a recruit and offering him as a comparison isn't useful since nobody really saw him play. So we must venture further afield.

The problem with doing that is you don't find much of anyone with Onwenu's size. Best I can do is former Alabama OG Chance Warmack, who is around Onwenu's height and gets NFL bonuses for getting under 330. Warmack was listed at 320 coming out of high school, which is a very big difference unless that number was massaged downward. Warmack really, really panned out, getting picked tenth in the the NFL draft, and while Onwenu is not likely to repeat that just because of the way Gaussian distributions work that's the best I've got.

If Onwenu ends up on defense Gabe Watson is your go-to comparison. Watson was a humongous NT-only prospect who played at around 340 pounds. He was a five-star or near it, and a lot of people were disappointed at how his career turned out… for some reason. Watson was first team All Big Ten twice and got drafted in the fourth round. People are weird sometimes.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Close to consensus but 247's heart-emoji eyes provide a bit of uncertainty.

Variance: Moderate-plus. Onwenu's potential, weight, and relative rawness make him a highly variable prospect. OL get taken out with injury frequently, and jumbo-jumbo types are at particular risk. Barring injury I can't imagine he's not at least useful as a run-stuffing nose tackle in a scenario where he doesn't work out as a guard.

Ceiling: Vast. Guy could seriously play at 330-340, which would make him a guard prospect unique in Michigan history. (Alex Mitchell does not count for purposes of this discussion.) If he hits his ceiling should be one of the rare guards who gets his name called during the first round of the NFL draft.

General Excitement Level: High. The Warmack comparison is useful in another way because it offers a feel: Onwenu is the type of guy who is a linchpin in the kind of offense that can deliver some good but not incredible tailbacks a Heisman trophy.

Projection: Is 370 pound OL, redshirt. Will have a shot at starting the year after, with three openings and not a ton of options. It's still probable that Bredeson and a couple of the veterans are ahead of Onwenu; 2018 is a more likely time frame for him to emerge as a starter, as there will be at least one opening and possibly more if the fifth-year seniors-to-be emerge. By that time Onwenu will have dropped significant weight and hopefully adds that ferocity to his game that is currently lacking.

And you know Harbaugh is going to have him play some defense. Expect him in short yardage packages in 2017 and possibly beyond.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Ben Bredeson

2016 Recruiting: Ben Bredeson Comment Count

Brian June 13th, 2016 at 12:19 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp.

       
Hartland, WI – 6'5", 307
       

JCPG ahs_Bredeson-fb_4099

Scout 4*, #36 overall
#1 OG, #1 WI
Rivals 4*, #60 overall
#2 OG, #1 WI
ESPN 4*, #50 overall
#4 OT, #1 WI
24/7 4*, #67 overall
#8 OT, #1 WI
Other Suitors ND, OSU, WI, Bama, Stanford
YMRMFSPA Mason Cole
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Brother on the baseball team. Parade AA.

Film

Senior:

Junior:

I didn't copy and paste Mason Cole's recruiting profile for this post, but I may as well have: Bredeson is a powerful and agile offensive lineman who could hypothetically play any of the five spots, but fits best as an interior lineman because he lacks the pass-rush-engulfing height and arms that top flight left tackles generally have. But don't take my word for it. Scout:

"…has shown he can play some tackle too but we still see him as a big time inside guy in Ann Arbor."

Tim Sullivan, Rivals:

Bredeson is likely bound for the interior of the offensive line in college, but looked better as a tackle than expected. He does have the thick build of a guard, but primarily in the lower body. Long arms and an upper body that can still use additional strength give him the look of a tackle.

Son of A Coach:

I think Bredeson is good enough to play offensive tackle, but I think he could develop into an All-American level guard at the next level.

Touch The Banner:

Bredeson has good but not great size for the offensive tackle position, and his body may be a better fit for offensive guard. … could slide in at all five positions. He can stay low enough to maintain leverage at the interior positions, and he has the foot quickness to block guys on the edge. I do not see him being an elite left tackle prospect like, say, Taylor Lewan because Bredeson just lacks the length and athleticism that Lewan had.

You get the idea. Michigan agrees with the above assessments: As of December Bredeson was scheduled to start out at left guard. Tim Drevno's evaluation on his MGoBlue bio mentions that he is a "guy who can hold point especially on a three technique," again implying that Michigan sees him as an interior lineman.  Lorenz also reported that he was working on his snapping in case Michigan wanted to try him out at center. Bredeson has the athletic ability to play tackle but is a guard in an ideal world.

Michigan may not be able to provide him that ideal world. Contenders for the open slot at RT next year are… uh… I mean… yeah. Juwann Bushell-Beatty has been playing a lot of guard despite being the most tackle-shaped guy available, which is a situation with Ben Braden echoes. There was rumble that Nolan Ulizio was looking pretty good, and could be a tackle. Mason Cole could flip back out if absolutely necessary. That concludes likely contenders. Michigan does not have great options in 2017.

Bredeson might be a good option even at that early stage. I know we're pretty skeptical of "he's so college-ready" reports after Kyle Kalis, but, I mean, a lot of people think Bredeson is an advanced technician. Son of a Coach:

He’s very technically sound at this point in his development as a run blocker. He plays with good pad level and drives his feet on contact. His hand placement is good the majority of the time and he works to finish. … effort to sustain blocks is something that really stands out about his game.  … violent pop at the point of attack. … He moves well to get to the second level. Really does a great job engaging and driving linebackers.

Clint Brewster named him the "most polished" kid in the class:

…has the footwork and hand technique of a college level offensive lineman. He keeps his hips down and his elbows inside to create power behind his hand-punch and really strikes people. He does a great job with leverage and using his body strength to overpower people.

There is also a slightly overheated report from Scout's Notre Dame site goes with "not a whole lot to critique" in its "room for improvement" section. While that's nice the report also ends with an assertion that going up against Bredeson is "like wrestling a bear" and that he "uses his hands like anvils." This is credibility-sapping, especially if you're a bear. Or an anvil, I guess.

On the other hand ESPN's evaluation is almost completely derailed by qualifiers about how he "flashes" things and "can" execute:

Prospect with very good height and bulk at this stage … displays very good playing strength. … Doesn't display a powerful punch and needs to continue to refine placement, but can do a nice job of with his hands of striking up and latching on and locking out on first contact. Can maintain a good base with ability to stay in front of rushers once locked on. … can be a strong multi-year starter for a Power-5 O-Line.

Until that last line there's not much to suggest they like him much at all since the entire evaluation is spackled with qualifiers about how he's not an NFL OL yet. It is what it is.

In addition to his relatively advanced technique, Bredeson brings an impressive physical package:

  • Scout summary:  "Outstanding overall prospect with good technique and ability to bend. Has good flexibility in his lower body and has no issue winning leverage battles even against shorter defensive linemen. Plays with a mean streak and finishes his blocks strong. Can still polish up his pass pro … but has all the tools and the intangibles to develop into a top flight college lineman."
  • Blast-from-the-past Tom Lemming: "this guy is a brute … an exceptionally aggressive, athletic big guy. I know the Wisconsin staff thinks he might be the best offensive lineman to come out of that state since Josh Oglesby [the No. 10 player nationally in 2007] and Joe Thomas [a four-star in the Class of 2003]. Everyone thinks he has NFL future written all over him."
  • Steve Wiltfong, 247: "…can absolutely bend, an agile lineman who is technically sound. Good agility and balance." Also: "top-of-the-board interior guy that has quick feet and frame that will add a ton of power as he continues to develop. Bredeson plays hungry on every snap, not one lazy play on film. He’s a technically sound player with long arms and a plus athleticism in the trenches."
  • Anon Scout person, at UA: "…has drawn rave reviews and has been one of the few to test and stop Rashan Gary."
  • Evan Sharpley, 247: "…showcases tremendous technique highlighted by the exceptional use of his hands. Defenders have a difficult time with him because he is able to create space with his lengthy frame. Ample athleticism to move around the line."
  • Tim Sullivan, Rivals: "outstanding quick first step off the ball … very tough finisher, burying the defensive lineman on almost every rep that he has the opportunity. … against truly talented edge rushers, he may not have the overall agility to fend off a speed move or its counters. … has the speed to get downfield, but sometimes finds himself in space hesitating instead of making a second-level block."

I should clarify that those reports about Bredeson stopping Gary were impressive because he could do it at all. His wins there were intermittent, not consistent.

The encouraging thing in there are many assertions that Bredeson can "bend" and has plus agility. Those physical attributes, especially the hard-to-teach and impossible-for-some ability to drive off the ball low, are rare. Many high school OL are big guys who can't get under their opposition and end up dumped in the backfield on the regular. Bredeson does not appear to have that problem.

The only remaining question marks are the problems that have bedeviled Kalis thus far in his career: can he be consistent mentally? How many errors does he make attempting to execute a rather complicated offense? If the answer is "a lot" then he'll end up a disappointing starter but a starter nontheless. If the answer is "very few" dude will be righteous.

Etc.: Wisconsin fans were pretty pretty mad that one guy managed to escape their clutches.

Why Mason Cole? Explained in the post. Bredeson is higher-ranked—Cole was just outside the top 100 most places—but Cole's well on his way to outperforming his ranking, in part because he must be in the 90th+ percentile mentally. Very few OL can slide into a starting lineup as a true freshman and not have that be a disaster. Thankfully, Bredeson does not have to do that.

If Bredeson does hit the All-American ceiling many project he will have he could end up playing a lot like Steve Hutchinson. Those are big expectations, but Hutchinson was also 6'5" and got up to around 313. He was the last truly great Michigan guard. Bredeson appears to have all the necessary material to hit the same level.

Guru Reliability: Exacting. UA game appearance, healthy, more or less total agreement in both scouting reports and rankings.

Variance: Low. I almost never issue a "low" for OL since even super-sure things like Patrick Kugler get buried on the regular, but Bredeson seems like an exception. Size, bend, and technique are all repeatedly praised. Versatility means he's not going to get stuck behind guys like Kugler has.

Ceiling: High. Could easily end up one of the top guards whenever he's NFL-draft eligible.

General Excitement Level: High. Big-time get for Drevno; Bredeson will probably be the first Harbaugh-era lineman to remind you of his work with the Cardinal.

Projection: Bredeson is one of the rare OL you could justify not redshirting since he's almost certainly headed for a starting job in 2017. Harbaugh took a redshirt off Grant Newsome last year when it became clear that he was a heavy favorite to start as a true sophomore, so there's precedent for such a move. You know me—I'd prefer a redshirt unless a kid is going to significantly contribute, especially at OL—but I won't complain too much if Bredeson is the sixth OL on goal line packages and the like.

It would be a major upset if Bredeson did not lock down a starting job in year two and leave Michigan a three or four year starter. His competitors in 2017 will be his classmates, who he's ahead of, and whoever of Dawson/Runyan/Kugler/Ulizio ends up panning out. (For purposes of this conversation I'm assuming a center who's amongst the best five OL kicks Cole to a guard spot or RT.) It's unlikely that three of those guys are better than him.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Carlo Kemp

2016 Recruiting: Carlo Kemp Comment Count

Brian June 9th, 2016 at 1:41 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary.

       
Boulder, CO – 6'3", 250
       

25993015121_d070a75306_z

Scout 4*, NR overall
#42 DE, #1 CO
Rivals 4*, #215 overall
#11 WDE, #1 CO
ESPN 4*, NR overall
#42 DE, #1 CO
24/7 3*, #451 overall
#19 SDE, #2 CO
Other Suitors ND, UCLA, CU, Stanford
YMRMFSPA Jibreel Black
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Early enrollee.

Film

No senior highlights on HUDL. Junior:

You can't throw a rock in Carlo Kemp's family without irritating a guy who played or coached football, often at the highest level:

The four-star prospect's grandfather is Sam Pagano, the former longtime Fairview High, Colo., head football coach and Colorado High School Activities Association Hall of Fame inductee. He also ran the prestigious Mile High Football Camp for 36 years.

In addition, Kemp's uncles are Indianapolis Colts coach Chuck Pagano and San Diego Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano.

"I pretty much have a connection to every college in America because my grandfather back at home knows everybody [in football] and everyone knows him," Kemp told HuskerOnline.com.

I mean, this is a dude Kemp lives with just hanging out on the sideline of an NFL game.

cigar.0[6]

Kemp's first words were probably an audible to a matchup zone. Pedigree doesn't quite cover it.

While having a bunch of hard-bitten football dudes around isn't a guarantee of success, it's a nice head start. Harbaugh noticed Kemp's readiness almost immediately upon his arrival this spring:

"He seems like he’s been here a couple years. I’m not talking from a football standpoint, but just a guy that being around him, he’s at ease with everything. Maybe a little bit of the Pagano background: grandfather a football coach, uncle a football coach. He’s very mature. Very smart; a 4.0 type of guy. He just looks like he’s in the groove.”

Around the same time Steve Lorenz was hearing that Kemp stood out as "someone who fits the Harbaugh culture." With his background and intelligence, Kemp is a heavy favorite to hit his ceiling.

That ceiling depends largely on finding a solid positional fit. Despite his size he played MLB last year; Michigan gave him a run at the spot in spring practice. That didn't last long. By the spring game he was back at end. If you watch his film, which is his junior year, you might wonder why Michigan bothered to try him out there—that is an end, and a relatively large one. The plan under Durkin was to play him at the "buck" spot, which is hypothetically a LB/DE hybrid but played much more like a standard weakside end even when a Kemp-sized guy was manning it. That might still be the plan. Mattison:

…fills two voids for us as he plays a linebacker position and outside rusher position in passing situations. He has great size and strength and his upside and we are excited about what he brings to the Michigan program.

Partridge:

Carlo is very versatile. He will be a guy who can line up on the edge and go, or drop into coverage, stand up and play linebacker or put his hand down and get the quarterback. Carlo is going to be able to do different things because of his size and his ability to move his feet and use his quickness. He’s a very smart, headsy football player.

On the other hand, Kemp was paired with Rueben Jones in the spring game. Jones, who also moonlit as a linebacker this spring, is a WDE all the way; Kemp was playing SDE. Kemp has reasonable size for a hybrid weakside end right now, which means that in a couple years he's probably outgrown the position. 247 projects him at SDE for this reason, and also issues him the sole three-star ranking he got. It's a concern: Kemp is a tweener who could end up too big for WDE and not big enough for SDE.

Unfortunately, much of the scouting about Kemp talks about BUCK and standing up and dropping back and etc., etc., etc. Buck doesn't exist anymore (and it never did) and your author thinks the extent of Kemp's hybrid role will be short drops on zone blitzes. Meanwhile Kemp avoided the camp scene—he had no need for exposure—and some of the other scouting is contradictory. ESPN says he does bring athleticism to go with the pedigree:

nice combination of size and bulk at this stage with some room to still develop his frame. Demonstrates very good playing strength and a good get-off. … Flashes good speed to power and can knock and drive blockers back when he keeps pads down. Can bring a hard up-field charge, but can lack a plan and needs to continue to develop his pass rush arsenal to fit his strengths. … Athletic player for size.

Clint Brewster's evaluation is in conflict with the get-off statement above; he doesn't seem to believe Kemp has a ton of pass rush upside in college:

…big, tough player that can rush the passer off the edge or drop into space. Kemp’s effort and want-to on the field really pop out at you when evaluating his film. He chases the ball downfield and doesn’t give up on plays. … When he makes contact with people they feel it. Has the leverage and strength to get under pads and bull rush tackles.

Kemp isn’t the most talented prospect as far as first-step quickness or explosiveness and from a frame standpoint he’s not a long and rangy player. … Kemp makes heady plays and is really good with his hands shedding blocks and scraping to the ball carrier. He can really anchor down the edge and control the line of scrimmage against the run.

Scout has "athleticism" as an area for improvement and "suddenness" as a positive, which… uh. Those are more or less the same thing when it comes to a DE. The evaluation itself

…physically very strong, and can overpower multiple blockers and make a play. He shows a quick first step and can beat an opposing lineman off the snap. He's a good athlete for a big man, can move laterally and covers a lot of ground. Depending on how much weight he puts on, we could see Kemp playing on the edge of even moving inside and playing as a tackle.

…says he's a good athlete. Scout doesn't have much else, but they did mention they believe he'll grow into a full time end or "even a tackle" when they put him at the tail end of their top 300 last April.

Rivals's Blair Angulo is enthusiastic—Rivals is an optimistic outlier amongst a bunch of evaluations that are right on the 3/4 star borderline—and helpfully dismisses the LB/BUCK talk to focus on a more realistic college deployment:

"I think he's really good. He's very physical at the point of attack and he's a really hard worker. He plays with a good pad level [ed: !!!] and is football sound as far as gaps are concerned. I think his work ethic is going to carry him to great places in college. … Looking at his film and his skill set I think, if he can keep the speed and keeps the aggression he has now, he doesn't have a lot of weaknesses… [he does need] to get better at getting off of blocks. … he does well to contain gaps, engage blockers, and recognize plays but if he's going to rush the passer almost exclusively, getting off of blocks is a big part of that.

Good pad level! I have been doing these forever and this may be the first time ever that a high school player has had his pad level mentioned as a positive. I mean… if this is not evidence that Carlo Kemp is from a football lineage nothing will convince you.

Anyway. Angulo's evaluation is another one that points to Kemp evolving into a good, maybe slightly boring starter. These reports contrast with Ron Johnson's. Johnson had all four services say something about his explosion and rawness. Kemp's evaluations occasionally mention something that should translate into pass rush; mostly they focus on the fact he's going to be in the right gap and play with good technique. That sounds like a high-floor, low-upside player.

There are a couple of evaluations that think Kemp could be a college star. One of them comes from the Michigan coaching staff. Lorenz:

Michigan pushed for [Kemp] very hard late in his process to beat Notre Dame for his services. Kemp had a solid offer sheet, but one that those around the Michigan program thought should have been even bigger. They believe he can become an elite pass-rusher in any (Don Brown) defense and could be one of the higher impact signees in the class.

Michigan was coming from behind in Kemp's recruitment. Kemp's grandfather played at ND and was indoctrinated young.

"With Notre Dame, it's been rooted in my family for such a long time," Kemp said. "My grandmother started me at a young age always wearing Notre Dame clothes."

The push there was a real thing. Notre Dame's involvement also spurred the other highly positive evaluation, this from former ND QB Evan Sharpley:

Kemp flashes brilliant athleticism, the versatility to play multiple positions, and potential to be developed into an elite collegiate player. Kemp shows ample speed as an edge rusher, the physicality to play inside, and coverage skills to matchup with hybrid tight ends. … Kemp is a smart pass rusher. Impeccable ability to read the quarterback’s eyes will moving upfield.

Sharpley is usually positive, as team-specific evaluations tend to be, but this evaluation is an effusive outlier. Kemp does have some moments on his highlight film where he absolutely wrecks a dude; it could happen.

Etc.: Commitment prompted Harbaugh cartwheel. Middle name is probably Devin. Not real familiar with wolverines:

image

Yo guy has picture of prestigious award.

Why Jibreel Black? Black was a 6'2" guy who came in as a WDE; he was pretty thick as a high school recruit and ended up a 280-pound defensive tackle. The DT bit was in large part because Michigan was desperate at the tail end of the Rodriguez regime; he infamously was forced to play nose tackle in an OSU game, and that went about as well as you might expect. His best fit was at SDE.

Kemp is probably going to be better than Black because of his background and the slightly better defensive coaching he'll receive. He's also a better-regarded recruit than Black, who was a late pickup and something of a flier. ND was not pounding Black's door down. 

Another couple guys who are potential comparisons: Brennen Beyer and Craig Roh. Both moved from LB to WDE to SDE over the course of their careers as they got bigger; both ended up undersized for SDE but managed to make it work with smarts and excellent technique.

Guru Reliability: Moderate-minus. Rankings mostly agree; significant conflict amongst scouting reports and some positional question marks.

Variance: Low-minus. 4.0 kid with football coaches out the wazoo who's already Harbaugh-approved. The only thing that'll disrupt his career is an injury.

Ceiling: Moderate. I think he'll end up like Beyer or Roh: a solid multi-year starter who grades out well in UFR and maybe gets an honorable mention All Big Ten.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. At the very least he's a guy who gives you a ton of quality snaps. Michigan is going to need bodies on the line in 2017 and 2018 and Kemp's high floor is important.

Projection: Unlikely to redshirt given the Pagano stuff and his early enrollment. Similarly unlikely to have a major role given the many persons on the DL this year.

Future will depend on his weight. If he sticks as a WDE he'll be in competition with Chase Winovich, Lawrence Marshall, and some other guys. If he moves over to SDE, which I think he will, he's going to spend his sophomore year backing up Gary before a two-year run as an upperclassman starter. Shelton Johnson is the only other guy currently on the roster who projects to SDE in 2018 and 2019.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Rashan Gary

2016 Recruiting: Rashan Gary Comment Count

Brian June 6th, 2016 at 11:54 AM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour.

       
Paramus, NJ – 6'4", 293
       

signingday020316h-jpg

Scout 5*, #1 overall
#1 DT, #1 NJ
Rivals 5*, #1 overall
#1 DT, #1 NJ
ESPN 5*, #1 overall
#1 DT, #1 NJ
24/7 5*, #1 overall
#1 DT, #1 NJ
Other Suitors Everyone
YMRMFSPA Ndamukong Suh
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Paramus Catholic (Jabrill Peppers, Juwann Bushell-Beatty, Chris Partridge.)

Film

Senior:

Michigan has never grabbed the consensus top prospect in the country since recruiting rankings were a thing. Maybe Drew Henson would have been that guy if the recruiting-industrial complex had gotten going slightly earlier. It did not, and thus Gary is undisputed as the highest-profile prospect ever to don a winged helmet. And it's close when it comes to any helmet, any time.

There are many reasons for this. One is the fact that as a rising junior his SPARQ test was better than the average DL at the NFL combine. Ian Boyd:

The numbers on Gary are jaw-dropping, no matter how inflated high schooler measurables can be. In a partially laser-timed SPARQ test before his junior year, he produced the following results, blowing away all other 2016 stars tested at the national event.

Height Weight 40 time Shuttle time Vertical leap
Rashan Gary as a high school junior 6'4" 287 4.74 4.38 32.1"
Average 2015 NFL Combine defensive lineman 6'3 1/2" 286 4.96 4.5 32.2"

That group includes some relatively lean defensive ends; Gary's got a big enough body to play defensive tackle. His 40 time was better than what 15 linebackers produced at last year's Combine. Three wide receivers had slower shuttle times, and five linebackers had lesser vertical leaps. Some of those NFL prospects were as many as 80 pounds lighter than Gary.

Some perspective from Scout's Scott Kennedy:

He out-jumped a wide receiver, he out-shuttled a defensive back and he out-40'd a BCS safety commit. At 287 pounds, that's insane.

Those numbers were gathered at the Opening in 2014, and his play matched or exceeded the promise therein.  Despite being one of only two 2016 players invited, he was amongst the best players—not just defensive ends—present. Scout placed him in their East top five afterwards:

He was a combination of strength, power, athleticism and freakish natural ability. He didn’t win every rep, but he darn near did. And he did it despite having limited technique. Gary used his speed, balance and competitive fire to stand out, and make plenty of other players step back and watch.

Other analysts declared him "ridiculous" with "incredible burst, balance and strength"; "ridiculous" (again); and exclaimed that "speed, power, agility, acceleration, strength… yeah, Gary has it all." All of this was as a prospect a year younger than the rest of the best dudes in the country.

By the time the 2015 version of the same event rolled around he left no question who the main dude was. Then he followed that up with an impressive high school season and more of the same at the Under Armour game, where he tied a game record with three sacks after spending a week in practice making every five-star OL in the game look foolish. (Ben Bredeson drew mention as the only guy to give him even momentary pause, but that's another profile.)

Let us now deploy the longest and most effusive bulleted scouting lightning round in the history of this series.

  • Greg Mattison, Michigan DL coach: "The thing that's so exciting about Rashan is that you can watch a highlight tape and then you can watch an entire game. And it's the same thing."
  • Adam Gorney, Rivals: "Incredibly active, he’s like a whirling dervish, he’s impossible to stop and he’s going to be the guy every single play that just keeps going after offensive tackles so in the third and forth quarter he’s going to wear a lot of people down and get a lot of his plays.”
  • Josh Newberg, 247: "In my nine years covering [the UA] game, I think Gary may be the single most dominant player I’ve seen. When he’s not sacking the quarterback, which he’s done a lot this week, he is disruptive as hell."
  • Adam Friedman, Rivals: “He’s been totally dominant, tossing guys around from the first minute of the first practice on, just totally dominant. Today, during one-on-ones, he was going over, around and through guys. … You can’t say enough good things about how he’s done out here.”
  • Bill Greene, Scout:  "Last year at Under Armour featured three tremendous defensive tackles in Christian Wilkins, Terry Beckner and Daylon Mack. All three played well this year as true freshman. What I saw out of Gary today puts him way above those three. There are very few true difference-makers coming out of high school every year. Rashan Gary is exactly that."
  • Barton Simmons, 247: "everything you want out of an elite defender. He's coachable, plays with effort and intensity, he's one of the best athletes in this class and he's versatile."
  • Same dude: "Rashan Gary is the best prospect in the country right now. The guy may not have had two bad reps the entire camp. If an OL didn't come correct with Gary lined up on in front of him, he was going to not only get beat, but also get embarrassed. How good is Gary? This was the best defensive line performance I've seen since The Opening's inception."
  • Mike Farrell, Rivals: "Just an animal, 100-percent every drill, 100-percent every rep, constant motor, physical as heck, puts offensive linemen on skates, really dominant whether he’s playing end or tackle. Everything as advertised, today.” …  "as dominant as I’ve ever seen from a defensive tackle who played mostly outside and was still too fast and athletic for everyone.”
  • 247 collectively, post-Opening:  "just dominant. In every drill, every situation, every rep, he was the best The Opening had to offer. In fact, he's one of the best we've ever seen at The Opening. … If we're making bets on what alumni from this event are going to be sitting in the green room on NFL Draft night in a 3.5 years, the smart money is on Gary."
  • Brian Dohn, Scout: "Gary is the most impressive prospect I covered at the high school level. If it was a camp setting, he dominated. If it was a game, it took two and sometimes three players to slow him down. Even when he was not making a play, he was impacting the game because he freed up others to make tackles. His speed, acceleration and power was always amazing to see."

Finally, Greg Powers resorted to the same shrug Michigan fans are currently deploying when they talk about Jourdan Lewis:

Rashan Gary did Rashan Gary type things. He is the No. 1 prospect for a reason. There are not too many more superlatives you can throw on him.

I deleted twice as much as I included here; the only thing less than rapturous is his ESPN profile, which has some of that disconnect between ranking and report that crops up. It's not bad by any means; a ton of "excellent" and "very good"… it's just more clinical:

Gary is a talented prospect that can wreak havoc at the high school level and has the size and has flashed the maturity to be able to come into a program and be able to contribute quickly. While a very good player at this stage, still has room to improve and round out his game and that current ability coupled with some continued upside makes him an excellent prospect.

I guess that guy who evaluated Isaiah Bell is no longer with the company.

He's a consensus #1 player. He's the first defensive tackle to finish #1 overall on Rivals. While Rivals doesn't think he's the quite best prospect ever, he's "somewhere in the middle" of a list of luminaries including guys like Vince Young, Adrian Peterson, and Percy Harvin. For much of the year 247 had him as one of the rare players who they'll break their ranking scale for. In the six years that 247 has been around, only 6 have gotten a ranking above 100. Five have gone on to be college superstars: Fournette, Clowney, Kouandijo, Nkemdiche, and Garrett. These are guys who don't need first names for CFB fans to identify them. (Okay, maybe Garrett since his name is kind of common: that's A&M defensive end Myles, currently projected by many to be the top pick in next year's draft.) The fifth, Trent Thompson, just finished his freshman year at Georgia. 247 broke the scale for Gary, too, and only reeled it back in late. Instead of a 101, he's now a 100. C'est la vie.

Recruiting rankings are in fact gospel when it comes to the bluest of the blue chips. Aside from a few guys (Dorial Green-Beckham, Bryce Brown, Seantrel Henderson) who didn't make it for reasons other than their talent, every Rivals or Scout #1 player in the last decade has at least been good and has usually been excellent. And even Brown and Henderson stuck on NFL rosters, with Henderson starting every game as a rookie.

Gary doesn't have any apparent character issues—in addition to Gary's insane suite of physical skills, he's consistently praised for his effort level and coachability. When Mike Farrell put together his awards from the UA game he mentioned Gary a half-dozen times; he probably would have named him winner of all those categories if he wasn't aiming for some variety. The awards he did give Gary are illuminating. One was for being the guy with the highest motor; the other was for most consistency. Meanwhile Michigan has a guy on staff who knows Gary very well. Chris Partridge:

"There are certain players who just have something," Partridge continued. "A work ethic on the field and in the classroom and a love for the game where they've got a bounce in their step when they hit the field."

He stacks up towards the upper end of these #1 prospects given the various superlatives that apply not just to his class but to anyone many of these scouting veterans have ever seen.

The recruiting folks have a strike rate near 100% on guys of this caliber, and on average this cohort of dudes trails Rashan Gary. If he stays healthy he's a lock All Big Ten player and it would be an upset if he wasn't an All-American.

But where does he go? The same place a grizzly bear goes: anywhere he wants. Clint Brewster:

He fits in any defensive scheme. Gary’s got the edge rushing ability to be a finesse defensive end in a 4-3 or a defensive tackle. He can really play any technique along the defensive line because of his blend of athleticism, quickness, size, and explosive power.

That evaluation is repeated various places. Put his hand in the dirt and you're good. The Boyd article above is all about how to deploy him, eventually settling on a combination of end and three-tech depending on Michigan's needs on any particular Saturday, on any particular snap. Brewster projects he'll settle in the 310-pound range, which is plenty big enough for DT and could make it challenging for even Gary to get a consistent edge rush.

To start Michigan plans to deploy him as a defensive end. That makes sense given the composition of the roster, which is thick with talented DTs. That composition changes radically next year, when the only veteran DTs on the roster other than the probable starters—Mone and Hurst—are Brady Pallante and Michael Dwumfour. Gary will probably stick at SDE, nominally, and start there, but he'll get an increasing number of 3-tech snaps as Michigan spots the DT starters.

Long term he fits best as the rare defensive tackle who is an impact pass rusher. His impact at 3tech is going to be greater than it will at SDE because a pass rush up the gut is doom in a way that coming around the corner isn't always; the number of players who can be a disruptive force in the backfield shrinks as you go from WDE to SDE to 3TECH to NT. Gary will end up at the place his impact is most outsized, except insofar as his position is "Being Rashan Gary." That spot is three-tech.

Etc.: South Carolina is weird, man. The most convincing explanation I've heard for the racist voicemail his school received is that it was a Gamecock fan.

Why Ndamukong Suh? Gary has the same kind of size and outlandish athleticism that Suh developed over his tenure at Nebraska. Suh was a four-star recruit who took significantly longer to develop than Gary projects to, only making an impact at Nebraska as a redshirt junior. But when he did, Nebraska's defense was just about impregnable. Suh's NFL draft profile reads almost exactly like Gary's scouting above does:

Suh is an excellent combination of size, strength and athleticism. He isn't a massive body but has enough power to play as a nose tackle in a 3-4 scheme or as a 4-3 defense tackle or end. … often unblockable for one offensive lineman and draws many double teams from opposing offenses. ….supreme blend of power and explosiveness from the defensive tackle spot. Possesses great size and strength to hold up at the point of attack in the running game or bull rush the pocket. Uses his athleticism and instincts to chase down running plays. Highly-competitive performer with a big-time motor.

Suh bore that out in the NFL, albeit with some anger management issues that Gary doesn't appear to have.

The closest Michigan comparable is probably Allen Branch, who was the kind of massively disruptive three-tech Gary projects to be down the road. I thought about Lamarr Woodley and Brandon Graham since both were five star recruits who provided buckets of pass rush from the SDE spot, but both those guys are a couple inches shorter and 40-50 pounds lighter than the finished version of Gary projects to be.

Guru Reliability: Exacting. As per usual with the top player in the country he gets scouted top to bottom.

Variance: Low. Already college-ready size, speed, and strength—make that NFL-ready. Coachable, smart, and high effort.

Ceiling: Vast. NFL first round pick potential, yes. First overall potential, yes.

General Excitement Level: /tents fingers, cackles. 

Projection: Should slot in at SDE behind either Wormley or Charlton, depending on how things shake out. Even the surest things along the defensive line usually take a season or two to wind up to full viciousness, and Michigan has really good players across the front. He will still get a ton of playing time at SDE and as a tackle on passing downs, enough to be a virtual… uh… sixth starter along with the actual starters and Bryan Mone.

As a sophomore he moves into the starting lineup, probably still at SDE. While the roster is pretty scanty at DT after Mo Hurst and Mone, there aren't any slam dunk guys at SDE either; the best line Michigan has will put all three out at the same time. In his third and probably final year at Michigan, he's highly likely to move inside to three-tech, where he has his highest upside. From there to the stars.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Michael Dwumfour

2016 Recruiting: Michael Dwumfour Comment Count

Brian May 24th, 2016 at 1:06 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson.

       
Wayne, NJ – 6'2", 286
       

dwumfour

Scout 3*, NR overall
#68 DT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
NR SDE, #24 NJ
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#48 DT, #15 NJ
24/7 3*, #1261 overall
#76 DT, #36 NJ
Other Suitors PSU, Pitt, BC, Iowa, WVU
YMRMFSPA Maurice Hurst
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. HS teammate of Kareem Walker.

Film

Senior:

Michael Dwumfour is probably destined to be known as Rashan Gary’s sidekick for the duration of his career at Michigan. The two guys grew up together, played together their first couple years in high school, and remain good friends. Around the time of the UA game Sam Webb started dropping hints about a player down in Florida who Michigan might flip; said gentleman would supposedly lock Gary’s commitment down if the flip happened.

Because Sam is crafty like that he didn’t mention that the player in question wasn’t at the UA game but rather some other, obscure All-Star outing. This set off a wild goose chase that I certainly did not participate in. I was certainly not the cause of baseless threads about flipping Ole Miss five star Greg Little popping up months after the mystery man was revealed to be Dwumfour.

Anyway: despite a Penn State commitment and PSU’s outstanding success with lightly-recruited DTs over the past few years, Dwumfour may have to put up with a “Marsha Marsha Marsha” situation over the next few years. There are worse things.

Dwumfour doesn’t have a big time recruiting profile. Nobody offered him a fourth star or really anything close to it, and unlike a few guys already covered the ESPN scouting report more or less matches the ratings. They sum him up by saying that he “can contribute” to a Power 5 team “by at least offering quality depth to a rotation,” which is very much a meh three-star kind of destiny. The rest of the report is littered with caveats:

Possesses good bulk with thick base, but could have trouble adding any additional good mass without reworking body comp. … good playing strength and first-step quickness. … Demonstrates ability to come off ball with quick first step and good pad level and when he can win with quickness and leverage can hold ground. Flashes upper body strength to shed from blockers, but needs to continue to improve hand usage. … Can do a good job of attacking half-man and while he needs to refine usage can be very active with his hands. Displays adequate bull rush ability.

ESPN ranked Dwumfour higher than any other service by some distance. So of course there are more positive reports at the other sites, because sometimes the low end of the rankings is shruggie central.

Other reports focus on his proverbial get off. (No, guy in the comments who brings this up every time the term comes up, we aren’t doing “phrasing” anymore.) His 4.4 shuttle is impressive at Dwumfour’s size. The highlight film above features a lot of plays on which he shocks an OL and drives him back much like, yep, Maurice Hurst. His ability to bring the heat in just a step or two is a consistent theme of the more positive evaluations, including one from Don Brown himself:

Michael is very explosive, can separate on the double team and has good lateral movement.

Back when Brown was trying to get Dwumfour to BC they also focused on that first step:

"The day before I went up there they said they sat down and watched my film as a staff. My position coach specifically said he likes how I'm quick and explosive off the ball," he said.

Clint Brewster’s take is the most detailed on Dwumfour’s assets and future role:

I like how sudden he is off the ball for a player that’s around 300 pounds. He’s got the ability to shoot the gap between the center and the guard and penetrate the pocket. Dwumfour has the quickness to play the outside shade of the center or the inside shade of the guard and not just a nose-tackle. He’s got a really strong and well-built lower half that you like on an interior defensive tackle. He’s able to bull-rush offensive linemen or use the swim move to go around them.

Brewster actually named Dwumfour as a potential "instant impact" player when it came time to offer up Signing Day superlatives. That seems unlikely given the state of the defensive line and other reports about Dwumfour's to-date inconsistent motor, but it is an indicator that Brewster thinks he's an undervalued player.

So. Dwumfour isn't a zero-tech nose tackle who will occupy the sun and moon. He is the kind of gentleman who will shoot through a gap and blow up a run play in the backfield… or possibly a guy who will eat a double team and moonwalk backward when he doesn’t shoot that gap. Concerns about Dwumfour’s lack of gravitational pull pop up regularly. Scout has the ever-popular “size” as an an area for improvement:

… quick with his hands. He has explosion, but has a tendency to stand up quickly before accelerating forward. Once he explodes forward at the snap, he will become even more effective. Dwumfour has good strength and he plays with a low center of gravity, and he keeps his pad level low. He changes direction well and can make plays in space. At 6-foot-1, some schools make be hesitant to offer.

Lack of height is not actually a problem for interior DL. Lack of weight stemming from a lack of height is, and Dwumfour has had to add a bunch of it over the last couple years. Per Scout's Brian Dohn he was a 240-pound kid a couple years ago; he got to 280 or so without losing his quickness. That's a good sign for the last 20 or 30.

Other aspects of his game are not scouted consistently. He has good pad level, or he plays a little high. He's raw or he has excellent technique for a high school player. His hands are active and violent, or you’d “like to see him more assaulting.” He has size concerns or he “has the build to be a 300+ pound guy.” He’s a penetrating guy with a quick first step

…easily the most impressive player at the camp from any day in my opinion. He was legitimately unblockable and Pitt offered on the spot.

…or he’s just trying to keep his linebackers clean:

“He’s not going to be an ‘every-play, go out and make a play’ guy. A successful play might be holding offensive linemen up to keep his linebackers clean. His responsibility may be to collapse the pocket so another guy can make the play. Success won’t always be making the tackle, but opening things up for another player.”

I’m not sure how much credence to lend Rivals’s Adam Friedman here since he talks about Dwumfour transitioning from DE to the interior. The Hudl film above is about 98% Dwumfour as a three-tech. Dwumfour is 6’2”, 280+. Nobody thinks he’s a candidate for any type of DE spot except apparently Rivals, which ranked him as an SDE. As a result the “Rivals analyst discusses prospect” article wastes a bunch of time engaging that positional designation, and concludes that he will have to move to DT. Which he has already moved to.

Anyway. A lot of the scouting reports seem tossed off or amateurish—Rutgers people are involved in the latter—and it's hard to get a solid read. His highlight tape is impressive, but short and tends towards filler at the end. Friedman refers to him as a "project" and I think that's accurate. When asked to scout himself a year ago, Dwumfour noted his athleticism and said he had to work on his stamina. Another year in the weight room, another year to refine his ability as a somewhat undersized interior DL, and then we'll see if the set of defensive coaches that went after him is a better indicator than the rankings.

Because the best argument in Dwumfour's favor is the set of defensive coaches who wanted him. Boston College was an early contender; Dwumfour initially decided between Pitt and Penn State. That's Don Brown, Pat Narduzzi, PSU's outstanding DL coach Sean Spencer, and Don Brown again—not bad.

Etc.: Cool hair and salty twitter header.

Why Maurice Hurst? Hurst is almost exactly the same size as Dwumfour even deep into his college career—listed at 282 on his bio still, though I assume that will go up by fall camp—and was also regarded as a quick first step in human form. Hurst was higher regarded by the recruiting sites as a 3/4-star tweener, and his scouting reports were more consistently effusive about his ability to teleport into the backfield.

Some of Hurst’s limitations were exposed late in the year when opponents could double him without worrying about Glasgow: if successfully doubled he got blown off the ball. Dwumfour could have similar issues. If he does find himself at 300 or more after a couple years in the weight room, a couple of Michigan’s recent rangy NTs are also possible comparisons. If he scrapes the ceiling of his potential he could be in the same vein as a Glasgow or a Mike Martin. Neither are bighuge NT types; both hold up to doubles just fine and get through gaps with regularity.

Guru Reliability: Low-plus. Healthy player on a team that featured Kareem Walker and was thus well-scouted. However, in the generic three star bin and there are a lot of evaluations in the shruggie zone. Very little consensus on him in the scouting reports.

Variance: High. Could top out at around his current weight given his height, and that might not be enough to be a contributor. Could end up another penetrating interior DL like Glasgow or Hurst.

Ceiling: Moderate. Doesn’t seem to have the same first step as Hurst. If so would probably end up a rotation player only.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Dwumfour seems a little underrated given his offer sheet, but not outrageously so. 

Projection: Redshirt. Michigan loses a bunch from the DL after this year: Glasgow, Wormley, Charlton, and Godin all exit, leaving just Hurst and Mone amongst the veterans. Dwumfour is likely to move into the two-deep even as a redshirt freshman. He’ll have to wait another year for a realistic shot at a starting job, at which point that fight will be between Dwumfour and a bunch of second-year players from the 2017 class. Your guess is as good as mine since those players are yet to be determined.

Comments

2016 Recruiting: Ron Johnson

2016 Recruiting: Ron Johnson Comment Count

Brian May 19th, 2016 at 2:18 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche.

       
Camden, NJ – 6'4", 230
       

635708504265798044-RJ

Scout 3*, NR overall
#52 DE
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#20 DE, #8 NJ
ESPN 4*, #109 overall
#15 DE, #4 NJ
24/7 4*, #239 overall
#18 WDE, #6 NJ
Other Suitors PSU, UO, ND, OSU, Bama
YMRMFSPA Frank Clark
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Son of former Badger Ronald Johnson. Teammate of Brad Hawkins.

Film

Senior:

Our grueling Signing Day podcast finished with a Lightning Round(!). 247's Steve Lorenz was the victim. Our last question was "recruit Michigan fans have forgotten about." Lorenz said "Ron Johnson… that's an easy one." And so it is. After an early commit and little subsequent drama—a Kentucky visit is not much drama—Johnson is just another mid-four-star Jersey guy to a lot of folks, including your author. But he's an excellent prospect—albeit a divisive one.

I am similarly divided. Many of the things that are written about him are very encouraging, but the Semper Fi game at which Khaleke Hudson became a fave-rave also featured Johnson. He mostly got hung up on blocking. Impactful he was not. While you never want to read too much into a half-game of snaps in an All-Star situation, it is data. That data wasn't great.

Oddly, the rest of the data from that game was. 247 paid it the most attention, and was consistently wowed by his performance in practices. On day two they named him the "Alpha Dog":

easily the most dominating player on the second day of practice. The four-star Michigan commitment could not be blocked at the line of scrimmage, firing off the ball and using his raw strength to explode on contact. At 6-foot-4, 230-pounds, Johnson is lean, but on Thursday he showed the upper body strength is already there to throw blockers to the wayside. …. Coaches were raving about his performance on Day two, and rightfully so.

The day before he narrowly missed the same designation because he "displayed three great qualities of a productive pass rusher"—tenacity, violent hands, and flying to the football. The day after he narrowly missed the same designation because he was "tenacious" and had "speed to get to the football that cannot be coached." The practices hold more weight than the actual game when it comes to rankings and 247 bumped him into their top X list afterwards.

Other reports are mixed. One thing everyone seems to agree on is Johnson’s athleticism, which is Grade A.

  • Rivals: “pure edge rusher with great explosiveness off the line of scrimmage.”
  • 247: “physically gifted defensive end with great explosiveness and power.”
  • ESPN: “Demonstrates excellent raw strength … brings some excellent physical tools.”
  • Scout: “Johnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism.

That’s everyone, then. Despite this there is a big spread in opinion on Johnson running from fringe top 100 guy to generic three star. Most of the disagreement appears to be about how heavily to weight his upside versus where he is right now, or at least where he’s been for much of high high school career.

Despite being the most optimistic service, ESPN offers up a lot of what skeptics are seeing. This is another report where their ranking doesn’t entirely match up with the contents. This time the scouting report is a little lukewarm for a prospect on the fringe of their top 100:

Needs to watch pad level, but displays ability to stay low and has the strength and length to set the edge when he keeps pads down. … Lateral agility is adequate and displays inconsistent recognition skills. … nice upside [as pass rusher] with length and ability to quickly get off the ball. …doesn't have great bend, but displays ability to work tight path. … Can rely on size and strength some and needs to be more consistent with technique.

That sounds more like a four star outside their top 300, but it’s possible his ranking got bumped at some point without an update to the report. Rivals originally had Johnson at the tail end of their top 100 before a big drop just preceding his senior year, one that was based on size concerns:

"…if the offensive tackle can get his hands on Johnson, the New Jersey native has a hard time recovering. Size and strength are a bit of a concern as a defensive end, but his athleticism can't be denied.”

A contemporary evaluation compared Johnson to PSU commit and composite top 50 player Shane Simmons, justifying Rivals drops for both since they are undersized players with little recourse if an opposing OL can match their outside rush.

Meanwhile, the “mixed” comes into play heavily in Scout’s assessment, which directly contradicts ESPN’s in a couple places and itself once:

Johnson has an excellent motor and also plenty of athleticism. He gets up the field in a hurry, but also uses technique, including a nice swim move. He stays low at the snap and can dip his shoulder to get around the edge… He needs to work a bit on his change of direction, which is good for a kid his size.

“Hand quickness,” an item ESPN says he needs to work on, is a strength. Change of direction, which is good, is bad. Despite saying he’s good at things ESPN thinks he’s not good at, Scout ranks him 32 slots lower at DE than the next most skeptical service. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

That is literally the only text content from Scout that, you know, scouts Johnson. There are a couple of their horrible talking-heads-standing-outside-in-the-wind recaps elsewhere because someone high up at Scout thinks videos that should absolutely not be videos are the company’s salvation… I am digressing.

Brian Dohn did offer up a highlights-plus-talking item when he committed, praising his ability to pursue—always a backhanded compliment—and saying he needs to do better at disengaging from blockers and is liable to go blow a guy up even if that guy doesn’t have the ball. The latter echoes one of the criticisms ESPN had for him, and is in direct contrast to recently-covered Josh Uche. That’s an important flaw, albeit a fixable one.

His video also has a number of those high school tackles on which the D-I prospect hurls himself wildly at a future accountant. The accountant goes backwards five yards, the recruit flexes, and coaches wince. Johnson’s not exactly refined.

If you’re noticing that a lot of reports say that he’s crazy strong and a lot of reports say he’s too small… yeah. Here’s a canonical one:

While he does not have developed technique, he is incredibly strong and uses his hands violently. At Michigan, expect Johnson to be coached up for a year or two while he adds size to his frame, which appears like it could easily hold 30 or 40 more pounds.

Those would seem to be traits in direct opposition to each other. An attempt to interpret this: “crazy strong” reports are more about Johnson impacting OL violently with that explosion and knocking them off balance. “Needs to get bigger” reports are more about what happens when the OL can cope and gets locked on. Clint Brewster has some more detail:

…gets off blocks with an aggressive swim move and has the strength to shrug them off as well. He has the core-strength and ability to beat offensive tackles inside to make plays in the running game or the quickness and speed to beat them outside. He works hard to stand his ground against the run and has power in his upper body to punch and dispatch blockers.

That eval is directly contradicted by various other reports, FWIW. I’m just trying to resolve the distinction.

A lot of WDE types will garner similar evaluations. Johnson is a common prospect: athletic LB/DE type who’s going to eat like The Rock for a couple years and end up a much different player. Sometimes that’s an eh guy who loses his quick-twitch and ends up being a backup SDE or something. Sometimes it’s the high school prospect plus 40 pounds of anger. Roll them dice. Johnson is starting with a +1 or +2 modifier to your roll.

Etc.: Dang hard to Google.

Why Frank Clark? Clark was an explosive, high-impact WDE who needed to add a bunch of weight and technique before he became effective. Early in his career Clark was horrible at diagnosing zone read and would often vacate his rush lane; late he was a strapping 270-pound athletic player whose production outstripped his stats.

Johnson isn’t as far away from playing weight as Clark—who was 210 coming out of high school—and has correspondingly higher rankings. He’s also got a couple inches on Clark, so hitting that 270 or even 280 that Clark did is within reach. The upsides are similar.

Johnson is also similar to Lawrence Marshall as a recruit, but we haven’t seen how Marshall’s game translates to college. That could also be Johnson’s fate. He’s not a slam dunk by any means.

Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy, All Star appearance, but big split. More or less agree on what kind of player Johnson is and radically disagree on how valuable that is.

Variance: High. Low technique, high athleticism  DE with a big ceiling and a long way to go.

Ceiling: High. See Clark, Frank.

General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Boom or bust guy. Semper Fi performance leans towards “boom.”

Projection: Redshirt should be coming with Michigan’s depth on the DL and Johnson’s rawness. He will probably have to cool his heels a bit longer if Winovich sticks and Marshall comes through. This is completely fine. Unless he is tracking way ahead of schedule 2018 is the first you’ll hear from him.

In 2018 and beyond he could be anything from a ghost to Clark 2.0. Your guess will suffice.

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2016 Recruiting: Josh Uche

2016 Recruiting: Josh Uche Comment Count

Brian May 17th, 2016 at 1:09 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil.

       
Miami, FL – 6'2", 212
       

uchej

Scout 3*, NR overall
#53 DE
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#22 WDE, #53 FL
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#44 OLB, #133 FL
24/7 3*, #1016 overall
#60 WDE, #130 FL
Other Suitors UF, Auburn, Miami, SoCar
YMRMFSPA Mario Ojemudia or
Jake Ryan
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Unspecified highlight reel that was updated in January so probably all senior stuff:

Josh Uche, along with previously-covered Elysee Mbem-Bosse, is one of the first Don Brown guys. He was the first player Brown offered, and he was so enthused with the dude that Uche's official visit quickly overturned the conventional wisdom he was going to Florida. Thus Uche is not just an OLB/DE but a window into what Brown prizes above all else. Steve Lorenz touched on that in the midst of an Inside Michigan Recruiting shortly after his hire:

What will Brown be looking for? I got some insight on that after talking to someone who knows what he looks for in prospects.

"Whoever can create chaos," they said. "Pass-rushers are where he builds his defense, and he'll go with a raw, explosive player over a more refined one that may have possess the athleticism to eventually become a game-changer at the end spot."

It will not be a surprise that Uche is exactly this. Brown:

The number one thing he can do is he can pass rush with anyone in the East. He has a great get off and can turn the corner. Josh uses his hands really well. We’re projecting him as a SAM linebacker. Has shown some ability to defend on the edge but can also play in space. … We really think his pass rush ability is unique.”

Rob Cassidy:

“He fits that scheme perfectly,” Cassidy said. “If that’s what Don Brown wants to run, Uche is that kind of guy. Uche’s whole game is based on agility, speed, and blowing by tackles off the line. Linemen just can’t set their feet fast enough and Uche is by them.”

High school teammates and his coach:

Nick John, teammate: “When it comes to working out, everything is just explosion, you know, he’ll usually do like heavy weight and, you know, just explode when we do our workouts.”

Pedro Marti, DL coach: " …never a kid that I really had to coach his effort, always just came in and gave me his best effort every day. Even as a young kid, a sophomore, his get-off was the best I’ve seen as a high school coach.”

Rivals:

Performance: Uche lived in the offensive backfield during his team's game against Hallandale. He was responsible for a number of quarterback hurries and was in on more than one tackle for a loss. Uche has decent length for a weakside end and is incredibly quick with his first step.

Uche is an explosive edge rusher. And mean. ESPN:

Uche is a unique prospect with a relentless mentality. … Has good height with a solid build. … Shows solid instincts as a pass rusher. Will bend and turn the corner with an explosive burst to close and chase down the ball carrier. … Comes in hot and will violently throw his hands to dislodge the ball from runner. … Uche is relentless and physical. Will need to transition to playing without his hand in the ground but could fit in a defensive scheme as a pass rushing outside linebacker.

I'm assuming that part of the reason Uche fired off a commitment right after his M visit was Brown's ability to sell him on his fit in Ann Arbor. Brown uses Uche's skillset extensively. His ability to "bend" or "dip" and get around the corner is a constant refrain. Touch The Banner:

Uche is a compact athlete who has a very good first step from a three-point stance. He has a short, powerful punch that helps him shock linemen and lead blockers. He is able to dip his inside shoulder and get around the corner as an edge rusher, and he’s able to change direction well.

What people mean by "dip" is that Uche gets low when he makes contact with an OL and can then turn around the corner because the OL has a tough time controlling Uche with his hands. Brandon Graham was really good at doing this as a much bigger player, and that's why he was an NFL first-rounder. Uche's not Graham; he seems to have that quality nonetheless.

That skillset is heavily concentrated in pass-rush areas at the moment. Uche did not play a full season of high school football until he was a junior—he actually elected not to play as as sophomore—and a lot of reports will mention his rawness as a result.

He did improve his stats and play dramatically over the final two years of his his school career, going from 34 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a junior to 66 and 14 as a senior. He was on the Florida 8A All-State team along with Michigan's three Flanagan commits. Uche told 247 last May that he'd put on 20 pounds without losing his hair-trigger first step, which 1) suggests he was 190 tops when Miami took him and 2) offers hope that he will be able to continue this process until he's 230 or 240.

Rankings sites didn't seem to notice this. I mean, they're not necessarily wrong to rank a 212 pound DE as a generic three star, but a number of big time programs saw something in Uche that they did not. Cassidy explains the situation pretty well:

"The reason he’s modestly rated is because he needs to add some size and muscle. He’s got the frame to do it but he’s pretty slight right now. … In camps and in games we’ve seen him struggle when bigger offensive linemen get their hands on him" …

"He’s as quick as they come really. Michigan will put some weight on him and he’s got a chance to be really special. I like his upside a lot.”

Uche fired off a very early commitment to hometown Miami. That commitment was always a soft one, and when Al Golden got fired he officially decommitted. Don Brown was after him hard when he was BC's defensive coordinator and his first act upon accepting the Michigan job was to offer him again.

These days there are "offers" and OFFERS. Uche's offer from Alabama, which was never followed up on by school or player, is likely the former. The offers from Florida, Auburn, and Miami are the latter—Lorenz reports that people close to the Florida program were shocked when Uche went off the board before he could even get his official visit to Gainesville in. The rankings sites seem to be going off his size and their expectation he is a DE; various power programs saw something else.

In addition to getting around the corner, Uche's tape has a number of nice plays in space. That is a reason I deployed Ojemudia as his YMRMFSPA: Ojemudia's best asset as a player was his ability to play both ends of a read option. Uche demonstrates a similar ability.

Only a few mention this in their scouting reports. Scout had a brief reference this this ability in a report from his time as a Miami commit

The athletic hybrid is one you like more each time you see him. He is quick to the ball, he chases well, and he is athletic. Another note on Uche is his age — he is not 17 years old yet.

…and Brown talks about him "playing in space" above. Tim Sullivan also mentioned it when Uche committed:

He's a terror off the edge, and gives opposing offensive linemen fits because they can't pass-set fast enough to get a hand on him. If going around the outside was his only move, he'd still be an extremely dangerous player. …athletic moving side-to-side, and more comfortable playing in space than many high school linebackers - to say nothing of defensive linemen.

Clint Brewster was the most impressed, and the guy paying the most attention to that part of the game:

…he’s got outstanding agility and the strength of a much bigger prospect. He doesn’t miss tackles. Uche really plays well out in space. His ability to close on ball carriers is special. I like how physical he is with his hands and he’s got a really good motor.

That kind of thing gets overlooked a lot, but these days it's absolutely critical to have guys on the flanks of your front seven who can form up and chase effectively when someone tries to option them off. Uche's film isn't proof he's good at it yet, but does indicate he can be good at it in the future.

Uche is a LOS-oriented spread LB or (maybe eventually) WDE with awesome pass-rush upside and the lingering possibility that he ends up too small to be an effective run defender. Upside in spades and a long way to go.

Etc.: 50/50 to be nicknamed GQ at some point in his tenure here:

He was definitely the best-dressed young man on his official visit. He has got a flair to him and he really enjoys style.

I'm probably the only one who noticed this but at the spring game he was the only recruit to wear slacks and dress shoes when they were introducing the recruits at halftime.

Why Mario Ojemudia? For one, death stare.

24513868951_481236afb6_o

I know Uche is slotted at SAM to start but Ojemudia had such a similar trajectory that I'm going with him. Ojemudia was a 215 pound high school DT(!) who had to make a position switch when he got to college. After a couple years of being radically undersized he managed to get up to around 250. Along the way he lost some of the explosion that made him a tiny Mo Hurst at Harrison. Despite that he was rounding into a solid starter on a great defense when he blew out his Achilles one dang game after he could get a redshirt.

In addition to the obvious physical similarities, Uche's highlight reel has a lot of good plays on the edge against spread concepts, which reminded me of Ojemudia. It is possible that Uche will retain more of his get off as he bulks up—it does happen—and end up with a higher ceiling.

Jake Ryan is another good comparable: a SAM/WDE type for a couple years and then a middle linebacker late, Ryan was at his best attacking off the edge. The SAM version of Ryan is a good approximation for what Uche will be if Michigan rolls double sixes with him, except hopefully he won't get chopped down on the edge as much.

Guru Reliability: Low. A lot of fire and forget here after a super-early commit to Miami; Uche didn't hit the camp scene. Meanwhile the offers here are completely out of whack with his rankings. Lorenz even says his ranking is one you should "completely ignore."

Variance: High. DL who projects to linebacker. Barely 210 pounds, may be only 6'1", but relentless dude. Could lose his explosion upon adding weight. Boom or bust type.

Ceiling: High. Could maintain his explosion at heavier weight, and then you have a dude.

General Excitement Level: High. Uche is co-sleeper of the year along with a guy we've yet to cover—I could not pick just one guy from this year's crop of athletes. Uche's explosion, ability to get around the corner, and fit in Don Brown's defense mean that he's likely to blow past his recruiting rankings en route to piling up a ton of TFLs during his career.

Projection: All but certain to redshirt. Michigan doesn't need a SAM backer right away; Uche will be transitioning from DE and needs a year or three in the weight room. After probable redshirt year Uche will have a shot at SAM if Jabrill Peppers leaves for the NFL, which I think is the expectation. Other candidates there are Noah Furbush and Jared Wangler, neither of whom has made much noise yet, so he could be in line for a job as early as next year.

I don't think he'd be very good as a redshirt freshman—too many LB nuances to pick up, not enough time to add weight—but in year three and beyond you can easily see Uche as Don Brown's blitz terror du jour. Brown's top sack man in 2015 was a 220 pound linebacker. Uche is on deck for that role.

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