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|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|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|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Sean McKeon has virtually no recruiting accolades. On the other hand…
…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.
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.
…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.
"…really good athlete, you can see that on film. … great frame and size for the next level."
…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.
…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:
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.