Future Blue Derivatives: JD Johnson

Future Blue Derivatives: JD Johnson Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 11th, 2019 at 11:15 AM

Michigan football is no stranger to landing commitments from under-the-radar recruits early and watching them rocket up the rankings (see: Charbonnet, Zach), and it appears they have another excellent candidate to do just that in 2020 AZ QB JD Johnson. Oklahoma signee Spencer Rattler, a five-star prospect ranked #23 overall in the composite, started ahead of Johnson at Pinnacle HS until Rattler was ruled ineligible for the remainder of the season in late October after violating the school district’s code of conduct policy. Johnson turned heads in his final four games under center as he led Pinnacle to Arizona’s 6A semifinals before losing to Perry. His performance garnered praise from writers such as 247’s Blair Angulo, who said that “…there's no question that Johnson was set to see his stock rise considerably this coming spring evaluation period so it was good for the Wolverines to get Johnson up to campus for a visit shortly after extending the scholarship offer and locking him down.”

Thanks to the wealth of broadcasts on Pinnacle football’s website, we can get in on the ground floor. I decided to cut up Pinnacle’s 6A quarterfinal win over Red Mountain for one exceedingly simple reason: at #12 in the state and #728 nationally, they were the highest-ranked team Johnson started against. He was a big reason Pinnacle won, too, completing 17 of 27 attempts for 354 yards (13.1 YPA) and two touchdowns. He also ran seven times for a non-sack-adjusted 28 yards, with a long of 12.

[Hit THE JUMP for film and the scouting report]

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Tuesday Recruitin' Is Like, 'Dang, I Thought I Had That'

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Like, 'Dang, I Thought I Had That' Comment Count

Adam Schnepp January 8th, 2019 at 2:44 PM

While the Michigan commits in Orlando impressed scouts and analysts in the practices that led up to last week’s Under Armour All-America Game, a group of three signees with arguably the best odds of playing early this side of Mazi Smith were doing the same in San Antonio. The Wolverine’s Brandon Brown published an interesting set of articles in which he got other players to scout GA DT Chris Hinton and OK S Dax Hill. On Hill, GA QB and South Carolina commit Ryan Hilinski articulated what Michigan fans hope is the general sentiment of Big Ten QBs for the next three years.

“I'm telling you, when I go up to the line of scrimmage I'm always looking away from him," Hilinski said. "He's just a guy that covers so much space with his speed and he's so fluid with all of his motions. He's long too. That's the hardest thing to judge. I'll try to throw and out route and he'll get a finger on it. I'll be like, 'Dang, I thought I had that.' He doesn't even look like he's trying that hard yet either and he's still balling out. When he really takes it up a level, what is he going to do? He's a beast.

Brown talked to two Ohio State signees about Hinton, and if the roster’s composition wasn’t already enough to get him a shot at early playing time, his advanced technique should do it. GA OG Harry Miller is quoted first in the article and brought up one natural skill and one technical element of Hinton’s that stood out in practice.

"He's a really hand technician. He's just really good at using his hands and being quick," Miller said. "As an offensive player I have to be very aware of my fundamentals and be very sound with that. He's not a guy that you can just go out and attack and expect to beat him. You have to be really smart with how you approach him."

WV OG Doug Nester corroborated Miller’s scouting report.

"He comes off the ball really hard and he's very good with his hand placement," Nester said. "He knows where to hit you correctly. He'll hit you right in the chest and he extends away from himself so that you can't get into his chest. He's good at that."

[After THE JUMP: more players and analysts weigh in, plus updates from the UA Future 50 camp]

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Wednesday Recruitin' Didn't Hear No Bell

Wednesday Recruitin' Didn't Hear No Bell Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 12th, 2018 at 4:12 PM

Yesterday I was driving home and a deer leapt a gosh dang guard rail and bounded across the road and I hadn’t been that surprised since, well, you know. So Saturday night got ugly in a hurry. Not only did Michigan hockey lose to Minnesota at home in a game they desperately needed to get points out of, but they lost on an even-strength goal with under two minutes to play. That same night, OK S Daxton Hill dropped the Thanos Snap of recruit tweets, flipping his seemingly rock-solid commitment from Michigan to Alabama. Judging by the texts I got and twitter and message boards and every other available piece of evidence, this went over poorly.

If you were surprised, you weren’t alone. According to 247’s Steve Lorenz, not only was Michigan’s staff caught off guard, Alabama’s staff was surprised to learn of the flip. Michigan visited Hill at home last Wednesday. Alabama visited Hill’s home the next day, but no crystal balls were flipped. Lorenz says that the Alabama staff felt better about flipping FL S and current Ohio State commit Jordan Battle and thought that, if anything, they might get an unofficial visit from Hill. The Michigan Insider’s Sam Webb reiterated that Michigan’s staff found out when the public did and, though they wanted him to sign during the early signing period and he had apparently let them know he wanted to wait until February, there were no red flags presaging a decomitment.

The main point of Webb’s post centers around a quote from Hill’s father Webb obtained when he visited the family this fall. The family said they liked that Michigan was about winning all areas of life and not just winning at any cost, and Webb points out that Alabama was Alabama when Hill committed to Michigan, which was coming off a loss to Notre Dame that had people down for weeks. Webb went on to say that he feels Hill isn’t done grappling with whatever might have shifted his hierarchy of decision factors; when a poster on their message board asked if this wasn’t over, Webb responded with a clip from Rocky V of Mickey as a Force ghost or something that ends with Rocky yelling ‘Yo, Tommy! I didn’t hear no bell.” Now Lorenz checks in with a notes post in which he says he was also able to confirm that there's some optimism on Michigan's end that this recruitment may not be over. With Hill's decision horizon apparently extended two months, that makes some sense.

[After THE JUMP: Ann Arbor in December is a hot vacation destination]

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Friday Recruitin' Gets Used To Small Talk And The Smell Of Jet Fuel

Friday Recruitin' Gets Used To Small Talk And The Smell Of Jet Fuel Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 30th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

‘Tis the season for in-home visits and the subsequent flood of photos of coaches with their arms around recruits and their families to hit twitter. The coaching staff has spent a fair amount of time checking in on already-committed prospects—Jim McElwain visited phenomenal tweeter CA slot bug Giles Jackson, Al Washington had dinner with OH SDE Gabe Newburg, Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown visited the home of FL ATH George Johnson III, Sherron Moore checked in on OH TE Erick All Jr., and so on—while also jetting around the country to see a select few prospects that would fill out a class that, at 25 current commits, is close to full.

Tight ends coach Sherrone Moore went to Texas to visit TX WR Jaylen Ellis, who took a Michigan official in early September. Ellis has been committed to Baylor since summer 2017, has a crystal ball that is currently 100% Texas, and still plans to take official visits to Baylor, Houston, and Tennessee (he officially visited Arizona in late September). Crootin’! Ellis is coveted for his speed in a class that apparently lacks that. He runs a verified 4.59 40 but has been given the “plays faster than his time” scouting note, so he’ll be worth checking out at the All-American Bowl.

Jim Harbaugh and linebackers coach Al Washington visited the home of GA LB Kalen DeLoach yesterday. You may remember an earlier recruiting roundup in which his father more or less told Sam Webb that he asked Michigan to continue recruiting his son despite being verbally committed to Florida State; Webb said on The Michigan Insider’s recruiting roundup segment that DeLoach is thinking of decommitting from Florida State not because of their record this year but because they haven’t recruited him very hard post-verbal. Contrast that with Harbaugh, who visited DeLoach’s father and mother at work yesterday. DeLoach was a composite top-300 recruit when he pledged to Florida State, got a bit of a bump with his July verbal, got a nearly 50-spot preseason bump, and has hung just inside the top 250 since.

He may not be getting an in-home visit, but one seemingly out-of-nowhere flip candidate has set an official visit date. FL LB Anthony Solomon will take an official to Miami, the school to which he verbally committed in April, on December 7th before heading to Ann Arbor for a December 14th official. That’s good news if you’re a fan of the “he who goes last wins” theory of recruiting. This is something of a shock, as the last 11 events on Solomon’s 247 timeline are all Miami-related. 247’s Andrew Ivins checked in after Miami HC Mark Richt and DC Manny Diaz visited Solomon, and the sentiment seems to be that Solomon-to-Michigan has legs and that Solomon wants to get out of South Florida.

[Things get cloudy after THE JUMP]

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Friday Recruitin' Didn't See Your Text

Friday Recruitin' Didn't See Your Text Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 16th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

This week saw the release of a new Top247 in which most of Michigan’s commits stayed near their prior ranking. There were two moves worth discussing, though, as GA OL Trente Jones (pictured above) shot up and CA RB Zach Charbonnet entered rarified, dangerous territory. Charbonnet moved up from #41 to #26 in 247’s rankings, which puts him six spots over the five-star threshold. Michigan’s recent history with five-star running backs is woeful enough that an Angry Michigan Five-Star Running Back-Hating God may have been invoked at some point, but how can you watch Charbonnet’s highlights and not give him a fifth star?

 

I also recommend watching this video for the runs at 3:05 and 3:27. There’s a very useful every-touch/block video that someone cut up from the second half of Charbonnet’s playoff game two weeks ago, and that shows that he’s a pretty good blocker as well.

247’s Greg Biggins wrote about Charbonnet in the aftermath of Oaks Christian’s playoff victory last weekend and there are so many pull quotes you should just read the whole article.

His ability to make something out of nothing, take a pounding but not flinch and look even stronger in the 4th quarter than he did in the 1st really makes him special. His game translates really well to the college level and there is no question he has the ability to see the field as soon as next year at Michigan.

Biggins goes on to say that Charbonnet should be considered one of the best backs to come out of Southern California in the last decade and will eventually play in the NFL barring injury, so that seems good. Whereas TN RB Eric Gray’s visit this weekend was probably necessary for Michigan to keep him in the class (more on that after the jump), Charbonnet’s visit be this Saturday is the opposite. Steve Lorenz notes that Charbonnet spoke with 247 a few weeks ago and said he wasn’t sure whether other schools were pursuing him because he doesn’t respond to his texts and doesn’t check his phone much these days.

Jones may not have ended up as high in the rankings as Charbonnet but he did jet up 266 spots (!), earning a fourth star in the process. He also is reportedly his high school’s highest-graded lineman this season, which is very much worth noting as he is teammates with #9 overall prospect Wanya Morris. You may remember Morris from last week’s roundup; he’s the player who was taken first overall in the UA All-America Game draft, one spot ahead of Charbonnet.

[Hit THE JUMP for the longest 2019 update in a while]

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Friday Recruitin' Leaps Tall Humans In A Single Bound

Friday Recruitin' Leaps Tall Humans In A Single Bound Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 9th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

This space has been so focused on breathlessly detailing the recent spate of visits from highly ranked recruits that there hasn’t been much digital ink spilled on some of the highly ranked players already in the class. With no visits this weekend, new intel available, and a recent return from injury, it’s a great time to look at who CA RB Zach Charbonnet has been running around or, more recently, over. And by “over” I don’t mean truck-stick style, I mean literally over, as in Ben Mason hurdling a dude. So yes, click that link. He’ll have a chance to leap over even larger and more athletic guys than usual this January, as Todd McShay tweeted yesterday that Charbonnet was selected second overall in the Under Armour All-America Game Draft. Not a small accomplishment considering 13 current five-stars are on the game roster; Wanya Morris, the player selected ahead of Charbonnet, is ranked #7 overall and is the top offensive tackle in the 2019 class.

It’s not much of a surprise, then, that Michigan has plans to use Charbonnet next season. 247’s Steve Lorenz confirmed this week not only that he fully expects Charbonnet to have a big role in 2019, but that Charbonnet will get a head start on bringing that prediction to fruition when he enrolls in January.

One more 2019 running back who’s also expected in the class: Eric Gray. Lorenz reports that Michigan’s staff still thinks that they’ll be able to sign Gray, who has taken multiple visits to Tennessee and has an Ole Miss official slated for early December. Gray has one final opportunity to visit Michigan this season, so keep your eyes open for his name on visitor lists for the Indiana game. If Gray doesn’t make the trip up, he will have gone the entire season without experiencing the gameday atmosphere in person and without having set foot in the state since camp season while visiting other southern schools multiple times. Writing will be on the wall then, it seems.

[After THE JUMP: Breathlessly detailing the recent spate of visits from highly ranked recruits ]

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Future Blue Originals: Rashawn Williams

Future Blue Originals: Rashawn Williams Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 7th, 2018 at 11:00 AM

The annual Prep Kickoff Classic was a more forward-looking scouting event than usual this season, with no 2019 Michigan targets featured in the showcase. There was still reason to film, though, thanks to Martin Luther King High School and 2020 four-star Rashawn Williams. King, currently ranked #1313 per Maxpreps, rolled past #182 East St. Louis, 52-38. Williams was a big part of the victory, utilizing his well-rounded skillset to make an impact in the run and pass game from the edge.

He recently reiterated that Michigan is and has been one of his top schools after visiting for the Penn State game despite a crystal ball that favors Ohio State, though their % lead is lessening; Allen Trieu and Brice Marich submitted Michigan crystal balls two days ago. What would Michigan be getting if they can secure Williams’ commitment? There are eight minutes and 38 seconds of film after the jump that can help us answer that.

[After THE JUMP: every-snap film and scouting]

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Friday Recruitin' Overstocks Tea Leaves

Friday Recruitin' Overstocks Tea Leaves Comment Count

Adam Schnepp November 2nd, 2018 at 12:55 PM

We got a break from obsessively checking the hour-by-hour chance of precipitation, wind strength, and “feels like” temp with the bye week but it’s time once again to open your favorite weather app: 2019 LB/RB Quavaris Crouch is coming to town. Crouch, you may remember, continues to express a great deal of interest in Michigan and a great skepticism about its weather.

Things literally and metaphorically look good for his official visit right now. According to Weather Underground, it should be partly sunny during the game, feel like 43 degrees with virtually no chance of precipitation, and have winds tapering off from nine to two mph as the night progresses. According to Sam Webb, the outlook is good with regard to Crouch’s travel party, too. It wasn’t clear whether Crouch would be bringing family members or just his former head coach/mentor on this weekend’s official visit, but Webb confirmed two days ago that Crouch’s mother and grandmother will be in Ann Arbor, and his former head coach/mentor is also likely to be in attendance. That shows how seriously Crouch is considering Michigan, which he named tied for his top school with Clemson while including a weather caveat.

Family input is expected to have some influence over Crouch’s decision, especially that of his grandmother. Webb published a lengthy interview with Sam Greiner, the aforementioned former head coach/mentor, in which he says distance isn’t as much a factor as it once was because they realized all of his top schools are a couple hours away, the difference being whether that’s by car or plane. Greiner goes on to detail the pitches some schools are using, as well as what Crouch likes about Michigan and Clemson. He notes that Crouch and his family have been to multiple Clemson games but none of them have seen a game in the Big House; it’s tough to overstate how important this visit will be. 

Crouch most recently took an official to Florida State last weekend, where the game itself couldn’t have gone much worse. Not only did they get obliterated by No. 2 Clemson at home, but they got obliterated by No.2-and-tied-for-first-for-Crouch’s-services Clemson at home. The things he told Rivals’ Adam Friedman after the game about how the history of the football program is good and they’ll be good after they repair the current culture make it sound like he isn’t headed there.

Where he’ll be headed won’t be known anytime soon, though, so don’t expect a commitment to come out of his visit to Michigan. Not publicly, at least. Crouch plans to announce his chosen school at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on January 5, but told the Charlotte Observer’s Langston Wertz Jr. that he plans to silently commit before publicly announcing so that he can start the early enrollment process.

[Two weeks worth of updates after THE JUMP]

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Future Blue Originals: East Kentwood at Grand Haven

Future Blue Originals: East Kentwood at Grand Haven Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 31st, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Previously: Hello post, FBO 2017

David stopped by Grand Haven on his way to the Northwestern game, and though I’m sure the boardwalk is worth the trip it wasn’t to do touristy things. East Kentwood was in town, which was an opportunity to get eyes on two defensive line prospects, Mazi Smith and Bryce Mostella. Smith, a senior checking in at a nose tackle-y 6’3” and 290 pounds, committed back in June and is the rare player that has been on Michigan’s radar long enough while playing close enough for us to scout him more than once. He’s also one of the headliners of the 2019 class, as his composite rating of 94.29 places him fourth among Michigan’s current commits. Mostella, a junior, looks every bit of his listed 6’6” and 240 pounds. He is currently a composite four-star with offers from most everyone in the Big Ten (including Ohio State), so he certainly merits closer examination as well. Does Smith live up to the hype over the course of a full game? David texted me before the game that he was on the field and Mostella is the size of Cam Newton, but what are his strengths and weaknesses? And does he have the same sartorial fearlessness? Hit the jump for answers to most of those questions.

[After THE JUMP: Every-snap film and scouting]

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Friday Recruitin' Is Mostly About Meteorology

Friday Recruitin' Is Mostly About Meteorology Comment Count

Adam Schnepp October 19th, 2018 at 12:00 PM

There were 17 crystal balls logged before last Saturday, each of them on Ohio State, some almost two years old. Unsurprising when the nation’s #5 prospect lives in a Columbus suburb. And yet. Michigan hosted OH DE Zach Harrison last Saturday, and the visit went well enough to get 247’s Steve Wiltfong to flip his crystal ball to cloudy and cause Steve Lorenz to almost submit his in favor of Michigan. According to Lorenz, this visit had the most impact on the largest contingent of people pulling for him to go to Ohio State this side of the Shoe.

This visit may have helped the staff with Harrison's family more than it did the prospect himself, as he's personally been high on the Wolverines for months at this point.

Wiltfong, though, reports that Harrison likes Penn State so much that he thinks he would commit there if not for the distance from Columbus, adding that one source told him Michigan has an edge over Penn State due to distance while another disagreed. Then there’s the obligatory it’s-not-over-til-it’s-over disclaimer with regard to Ohio State in almost any article authored about Harrison; we’re still subscribing to the theory that he would have picked them already if that’s where he was going.

Lorenz told the Free Press’ Orion Sang that he believes Michigan is ahead right now after a slow start to Harrison’s recruitment that had Notre Dame and Michigan State in front of Michigan but turned around thanks to the effort of linebackers coach Al Washington. Harrison’s first gameday experience in Michigan Stadium gave him a literal front-row seat to the steamrolling of Wisconsin, and it sounds like Michigan did everything possible on their end—from the seats to getting Harrison’s longtime friend Joey Velazquez and family on campus to the time his family was able to spend with the staff. A possible official visit to Ohio State looms, but one source told Lorenz that Harrison will not end up at OSU, full stop.

Another five-star who is warming up to Michigan is NC ATH Quavaris Crouch. If you remember, Crouch’s visit last weekend was mutually cancelled, and there was some speculation that moving the visit later in the season could hurt Michigan’s chances because Michigan, well, [/gestures toward frost I can see on my car windows as I write this]. According to Steve Lorenz, Crouch wanted to move the visit back in part to experience Michigan’s weather later in the year. Last week’s speculation was around a Crouch visit against Indiana so as to allow the staff to completely focus on him, but Lorenz is now reporting that both sides are working to get him on campus for the game against Penn State. Crouch said that Michigan and Clemson are currently tied for first for him in a TigerNet article that for some reason won’t let me copy-paste text, and there’s some solace to be found in Mark Dantonio being states away from his “cyclotron” (read: weather disruption device) on the day Crouch visits.

[Hit THE JUMP for more]

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