This week: We're looking to build the best possible team out of guys who grew up and played their high school ball in Michigan. Since we've covered a lot of these guys' Michigan careers already, I figured this could instead be a celebration of the programs they came from, and Michigan high school football in general. Special thanks to michigan-football.com, a highly valuable resource.
Rules: Only players recruited since 1990-on. Reasons are 1) Until the late '80s Michigan was a very regional recruiter. Quick chart of Michigan rosters (via Bentley) by state of origin, walk-ons included:
Moeller was the first coach since helmets were a thing to field a team that wasn't made up mostly of Michiganders and Ohioans. Reason 2) My database goes back to 1990. Reason 3: I was 10 that year, and kid memories aren't of much use. This gives us a pool of 171 players to choose from whose careers most of us are somewhat familiar with.
Right off the bat this is a tough one, and a decision I'm personally going to get flak for because the other good candidate reads this blog. Drew, at your best you were the better player, and I promise to buy you a beer next time you're in Ann Arbor. However I'm sticking by the guy who should never have to buy a beer in the State of Michigan again. Also: 33 starts to your eight.
In high school Gardner played for UofD as a sophomore but was forced to sit out for off-field issues for five games. He transferred to Inkster, following coach Greg Carter from recently closed Saint Martin de Porres, and exploded, leading them to two straight state finals. While Devin was at Michigan Inkster was also closed, its students dispersed to four other school districts.
Backup: Drew Henson, Brighton The rest of the field:Shane Morris, Steven Threet, Nick Sheridan, Alex Malzone, Craig Randall
[After THE JUMP: The greatest player in Michigan high school history]
Brian: Chris Wormley and Trey Burke spring to mind.
Ace: Can first-hand agree on Wormley. I don’t know how anyone could see that guy in person and not think he at least had a good shot at the NFL.
Brian: We've talked about Wormley before. Everyone saw a huge athletic man and ranked appropriately except Josh Helmholdt. He was the #22 player... IN OHIO.
Ace: That dude was built like a house as a senior and it was clear he could add another house.
Seth: Poor Helmholdt. We've probably hung that over his head more than any one ranking by anyone in history.
Brian: He's got a few more in the pipeline if he doesn't drag Mayfield and Hayes into the top 15 in state. But this is a key factor in ridiculous rankings: you miss when everyone else is on point. Sure, nobody saw a draftable CB in Jeremy Clark but I can't blame 'em for that.
Seth: So no Kevin Grady, even though Tom Lemming made him his #7 player in the country.
In. The. Country.
Brian: A key factor, not the. You can fire away on that ranking. By Grady's second year it was clear ranking him as a five star was total nonsense.
Ace: And we were all a little leery of his film when he was a recruit. But nobody flat-out said “De’Veon Smith is better” because of those dang rankings.
Seth: You're thinking of Green.
Ace: Ah crap, same thing.
Brian: A good answer to this question is "any highly touted Michigan tailback."
Seth: A-Train was way up there. #2 overall RB I think.
Brian: A-Train was so far back in the day that it has less impact. Literal mailmen were doing rankings then.
Seth: Well I may just happen to have some of those mailed Prep Football Reports and Prepstars in reach of my desk for some reason.
Brian: Grady was worse than Green because at least Green was a legitimately huge person. I have no idea what anyone was thinking about in re: Grady.
The two guys not pictured, DaQuan Pace and DeJuan Rogers, both went to MAC schools and signed as UDFAs so this is likely to be short-lived. Nonetheless that is extraordinary. Jermain Crowell, the DBs coach at Cass Tech at the time:
He planned to take all four of his NFL-bound protégés out to dinner to congratulate them Tuesday night.
"This might be the last check that I pick up," he said. "This might have to be the last one."
Bits and pieces of the schedule. Michigan's added some guarantee games in 2018 and 2019. They'll play WMU in 2018 and MTSU and Army in 2019. The Broncos are likely to be far enough removed from the PJ Fleck era to be a major threat, but they're likely to be on another level from a low-level MAC opponent.
It's even tougher to project to 2019. FWIW, MTSU has been about .500 the last four years. They were competitive with Vandy (a 17-13 loss) and Illinois (a 27-25 loss) last year; this year they were hammered by Vandy but beat (a very very bad) Mizzou. Army has been the service academy it's safe to schedule for about 20 years now but they got off the mat for an 8-5 2016 with third year coach Jeff Monken.
Hooray for not worrying about this anymore. This site used to have annual posts dedicated to the Academic Progress Rate, because a late Carr falloff and disastrous transition to Rich Rodriguez had Michigan hovering near the Mendoza line. That 880 fell off a couple of years ago, and from there it's been about consolidating a spot at the top. Mission accomplished:
Top 6 APRs (Academic Progress Rates) in FBS football:
Oddly, I don't see Notre Dame on that list. Someone check ND Nation for fainting spells.
Excellent job all around here, and if you're scoring at home Michigan just had the most NFL draft picks, the third-highest APR in college football, and took a trip to Rome. Croots should be knocking the doors down. For real:
Michigan's coaching staff was just returning from an Italian dinner -- their final meal as a team in Rome -- in a 17th century Baroque mansion with marble door frames and elaborate chandeliers when their phones started to buzz again. A few thousand miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic, the New York Jets had just selected Jeremy Clark with the 197th pick of the NFL draft. He was the 11th Wolverine to have his name called in Philadelphia, a new school record.
In one particular way it's tough being a McCaffrey. Zing:
Hurst will go high. PFF has always been about Maurice Hurst and it looks like that is approaching consensus in the draft analyst community. Todd McShay:
Hurst has started just four games at Michigan, but I love what I've seen on tape so far. He was frequently Michigan's best defensive lineman during the games I studied. And remember: That group just had three D-linemen selected in the 2017 draft.
He's projected to go 16th next year. Don't expect much else: Michigan has just eight seniors. Mason Cole is likely to be drafted and Mike McCray could play himself into the middle rounds. Khalid Hill might be a draftable fullback. Unless there are some very surprising breakouts from juniors that would be it.
Though Dave Brandon was unseated as athletic director in Oct. 2014, the revenue monster he built breathes without him. Michigan always was a conference heavyweight but it has recently become the unrivaled giant of money-making B1G football programs, the first in the league to approach the $100 million mark in gross revenue. The 2015-16 figure is a whopping 10-percent increase over 2014-15's $88.3M. Michigan's $60.6 net after expenses is easily the conference's largest.
Jones must have missed the collapse of Michigan's season ticket waiting list and ~75,000 fans at the dismal Maryland game. The part of Michigan's revenue surge that isn't TV money lifting all boats is directly attributable to one Jim Harbaugh, not the athletic director he didn't want to work for.
Jaylen Kelly-Powell gets coached up by Mike Zordich at SMSB 2016. [Bill Rapai]
Four-star Cass Tech safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell committed to Michigan this morning live on Sam Webb's WTKA radio show, fulfilling a long-awaited expectation that he'd join the 2017 class—an expectation that may have gone back to birth, as Kelly-Powell was named after Jalen Rose.
Kelly-Powell is the 19th commit in the class and the second at safety, joining three-star AL S J'Marick Woods. His commitment could help Michigan reel in his cousin, four-star Detroit King CB Ambry Thomas, and his five-star Cass Tech teammate, Donovan Peoples-Jones; Michigan is already considered the favorite for both prospects.
4*, #23 S,
3*, #31 S
4*, 81, #18 S,
4*, 93, #17 S,
4*, #21 S,
Kelly-Powell is regarded as a four-star prospect by every outlet save Rivals, which has him two spots outside of four-star status in their safety position rankings. Rivals is balanced out by 247, which is the most bullish on JKP, and his composite ranking ends up right in the area of his Scout and ESPN rankings.
There's a strong consensus on Kelly-Powell's measurables: he's listed at 6'0" and either 175 or 180 pounds by all four sites. While JKP has mostly played safety at Cass Tech, he's also moonlighted at corner, and he's got enough cover skills that he could be either a safety or nickel at the collegiate level. In Don Brown's system, he should wind up at safety, where he'll be utilized much like a fellow Technician: Delano Hill, another safety who the coaches are comfortable putting head-up on a receiver at the line of scrimmage.
As you'd imagine for a highly regarded Cass Tech prospect, there's quite a bit of scouting on JKP, including plenty from this here site.
Kelly-Powell looksvery impressive physically, boasting a build that looks chiseled with no fat. He doesn't have great size overall though, coming in under 6-0 and 190 pounds, looking more like a cornerback with up close observation than a safety. However, he showed that his skill set is well-suited to safety, with an understanding of large-concept defensive ideas. He doesn't quite have the hips to play corner (other than in a pinch), and will continue building up to be the bigtime safety that he has the potential to become.
Kelly-Powell has good size and athleticism and he plays with the type of controlled aggression you want from a strong safety. That aggression got the better of him on an early missed tackle when he overran an outside run play; otherwise, he tended to end up around the football, and the play tended to end when he got there. He had one especially impressive trackdown from the opposite hash of a ballcarrier going down the far sideline, laying a lick that knocked the ball free when he got there—unfortunately the ball flew out of bounds. When he tackles he does a good job wrapping up and he reads plays well.
Kelly-Powell was generally solid in coverage, even holding up well in man coverage against slot receivers. He got victimized on a corner route when he got caught peeking into the backfield instead of playing the receiver. Otherwise he displayed quick feet and good hips for a safety.
Detroit Cass Tech four-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell came to Chicago with a mission: to be invited to The Opening Finals after not being invited in Columbus. Mission accomplished as he was once again a physical presence in coverage and challenged himself against the best receivers at the camp. While he did not win every single rep, he won a lot of them and proved himself worthy of the challenge.
The Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech four-star safety was one of the top performers when it came to one-on-one drills. In a three-play stretch, Kelly-Powell had two pass breakups and an interception. He had a strong week in Beaverton.
In the early drill session, Mike Zordich pulled JKP and a couple other safeties aside for a separate drill that had them start off the line, go into a backpedal, and then close on the ball. That was the spot in which JKP stood out the most to me; despite being the biggest of the three prospects, he had the quickest feet and most impressive closing speed.
Kelly-Powell isn't as smooth an athlete as [Ambry] Thomas, and on the first rep I saw of him in one-on-ones he allowed a catch after getting a solid jam at the top of the route because he stopped moving his feet. He's fast and physical but doesn't look totally comfortable in man coverage; from what I've seen of him, he's better suited to full-pad settings—as a safety, he's not usually alone on an island like he is in camp one-on-ones. With some refinement in technique, however, he could become a solid cover safety, and he's already excellent playing the run.
TMI's Brice Marich got an illuminating quote from Cass Tech coach Thomas Wilcher after CT's victory over Oak Park at this fall's Prep Kickoff Classic:
The Technicians headman turned to his senior safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell for that defensive adjustment, moving him over to cornerback.
Said Wilcher, "that's something we've got to do... we've got to try to figure out how to get the best guys in the best positions so we can get control of the game,” said Wilcher.
It’s a switch he’s not afraid to make because of Kelly-Powell’s unique versatility.
"He moves around. He is the only one that knows the defense well enough to move around. He is like a person that goes from spot to spot to spot. He's just got to do that.”
Oak Park QB Dwan Mathis had two early touchdown strikes before JKP shifted to corner; he didn't have another after the switch.
His awareness extended beyond recognizing plays as they developed (which he did really well) as he seemed to be the one responsible for making checks and getting his teammates lined up on every play.
Cass likes to line Kelly-Powell all over the place. They’ll have him walk down into the box and play near the level of the linebackers in run support, play man over the top as a safety, and play press man in the slot or on the outside. He can cover almost anyone; in Cass’s first meeting with King this year, Kelly-Powell won most of the times he was covering [Ambry] Thomas (more on that in a Future Blue Derivatives post sometime down the road). That wasn’t the case in this game. Kelly-Powell flips his hips quickly and can stick with Thomas for a bit, but once Thomas gets downfield he’s usually able to gain a step or two of separation. That’s what happened at 00:49, and a closer matchup can be seen at 1:23. It didn’t make the highlight reel for the sake of avoiding repetition, but that same jam-turn-trail happened over and over again that night.
At 1:27 Kelly-Powell moves laterally for a split second before he realizes that Thomas didn’t get the ball, at which time he reverses course, loops around King’s blockers, breaks down, and misses in the open field. At 1:36 he’s still directing traffic when the ball is snapped, but he reads the handoff, bounces a gap over, and sticks the ballcarrier. When I’ve watched him play, I’ve seen much more of the latter. Kelly-Powell is agile enough to weave through traffic and fast enough to get from sideline to sideline in a hurry, and he also takes good angles to the ball. He’s generally an excellent run defender, and I don’t recall seeing any open-field struggles in the earlier Cass-King game. It’s a concern as a safety, but the (extremely) small sample size caveat definitely applies here.
Speaking of agility, Kelly-Powell’s was on full display on offense. He sticks a foot in the dirt and explodes past defenders at 1:43 and 1:52. He had his best game as a running back against King, but his collegiate future is likely at safety, where he has all the tools needed to succeed as one in a Don Brown defense.
Thomas is nearly as good a wideout as he is a cornerback; that JKP could stay competitive with him in man coverage is an excellent sign for a safety, even if he lost some of those battles. His command of the defense, meanwhile, is a consistent theme across several scouting reports. ESPN's underclassman eval called him a "savvy defender," and while their senior-year eval says he's a little undersized, they mention that he plays bigger than his listing, and they have high praise for his run support:
Not consistently smooth with footwork buttransitions quickly in and out of pedal. Shows good burst coming forward jumping routes. Sharp in his redirection skills mirroring receivers tightly out of breaks. Quick to recovery and make up ground when ball is in the air.
Aggressive box player who will set the edge. Plays with some pop and edge to him. Lacks size behind him but will stick his nose in the mix and work leverage maintain force. Runs the alley with proper angles when aligned at safety. Understands fits and retaining leverage on ball. Tackles high with some pop but slides off some tackles as well.
Kelly-Powell has some playmaker qualities to his game. He plays fast, competes hard and has great recovery quickness. Lacks some size and and at this time may project best as a Nickel corner with safety still being the position with the highest ceiling with continued physical development
Not considered 'big' for safety, but not small either as he's at right about the average for height and is well put together as far as his build. Can play man to man and has been out on an island at cornerback before. Changes directions well and has good coverage technique. Aggressive both at the line of scrimmage jamming and when in run support. Solid wrap-up tackler more than he is a striker. Very smart and disciplined and gets himself in the right places. Would like to see him make more plays on the football as far as turnovers, but he is a good, smart, productive football player.
Change of Direction
Areas to Improve
Kelly-Powell doesn't have prototype size and he's not quite fluid enough to be a full-time corner, but he makes up for that with his intelligence, instincts, and physicality. I expect him to become a very good safety, even if his size prevents him from being considered a big-time NFL prospect. He possesses the well-rounded skill-set and football IQ required to succeed as a safety playing multiple roles in Don Brown's complicated defense.
Kelly-Powell has an impressive offer sheet that includes the likes of Alabama, Auburn, Cal, Colorado, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Stanford, Tennessee, Virginia Tech, UCLA, and Wisconsin, among many others.
I don't need to tell you about Cass Tech, Michigan's most important in-state pipeline program.
Kelly-Powell should get an opportunity for immediate playing time with Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas both graduating after this season. Tyree Kinnel looks to have one safety spot locked down; Josh Metellus has the inside track at the other, but there will be snaps to go around between him, Khaleke Hudson, and the incoming freshmen. JKP is likely to find his way into the rotation, either as a slot corner or backup safety, and he should be an integral part of the secondary by his junior year.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Kelly-Powell fills a big need at safety, and Michigan may be done recruiting that spot—while they have other offers out to safety prospects, none stand out as likely to join the class, and Michigan can also take an extra corner and move somebody back. (Darnay Holmes, for instance, is a corner who's also a promising free safety prospect.)
Michigan now has 19 commits in a 2017 class that should reach the low 30s. Biggest needs going forward include wide receiver, a few more offensive linemen, defensive tackle, and linebacker.
Michael Onwenu: large, strong [Dave Nasternak/MGoBlog]
Yes, I'm still catching up on film from the Prep Kickoff Classic. This time around the focus is on Cass Tech and Southfield; more specifically, four-star Cass Tech left tackle Michael Onwenu, who's committed to Michigan as a guard.
The Technicians won this game with ease, 27-0, due to their domination on the ground. Onwenu and left guard Ostell Martin were too big and strong for Southfield's line to handle; running back Tim Cheatham had plenty of huge holes to run through on his way to 99 rushing yards and a pair of scores. Southfield couldn't get moving on offense, going nowhere in the running game and finding only inconsistent success through the air.
Michael Onwenu Highlights
The final play comes highly recommended.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting reports on Onwenu, a couple Cass Tech juniors, and Southfield's promising freshman quarterback.]
Yes, FBO is back after being mostly absent last year; if you're unfamiliar, this is the series in which I go to high school games involving Michigan commits/targets, get some video, and provide my best attempt at a scouting report. Helping me this year is MGoRightHandMan Dave Nasternak, who took all the photos and video for us at Friday's Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State.
The two featured games this week are Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's and Cass Tech vs. Oak Park; despite our two spare batteries, the camera started running out of juice during the late game, so I've only included highlights from Cass Tech's offense for that one. Show? On with it.
Southfield vs. Orchard Lake St. Mary's
Overview: OLSM pulled out a 21-19 victory thanks to a big-time performance from soph. QB Kanye Harris (21-36, 303 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT) and long touchdowns by senior MSU commit Tyson Smith (60-yard receiving TD) and sophomore WR Kahlee "KJ" Hamler (47-yard punt return TD). Despite being at a major size disadvantage up front, OLSM dominated Southfield in the trenches, leaving no room to run for four-star 2016 RB Matt Falcon (5 carries, 5 yards), who missed a decent portion of the game with an apparent ankle injury.
[Hit THE JUMP for video highlights and scouting reports on Mike Weber, Josh Ross, Lavert Hill, Matt Falcon, and several others.]
If you missed the news last night, four-star Cass Tech running back Mike Weber committed to Michigan, and the way it went down instantly found its rightful place in Hilarious Recruiting Victories Over Michigan State lore. Weber was slated to visit East Lansing on Wednesday afternoon; instead, this happened:
“The environment and the way I felt about it when I was down there, and the way they see me in the backfield, and having a degree from Michigan would set me up, and having my whole family be able to come watch me, I just made the move,” Weber reeled off.
Weber instead visited Michigan after "oversleeping," and missing his trip to East Lansing.
The quotation marks make that last statement 1000 times better.
The commitment capped a huge effort on Michigan's part to get back into Weber's good graces—spearheadedby Doug Nussmeier, Chris Singletary, and Alex Malzone—over the last several months. The Spartans led the way for much of that span, but in the end the U-M coaches made Weber feel like he was their top priority at running back, which Weber justifiably felt he wasn't when Damien Harris was the main focus at the position.
In the last couple weeks, Michigan's secured the top two 2015 in-state recruits—receiver Brian Cole being the other—both of whom were considered Spartan leans for quite some time. Let's check in with the RCMB...
Don't be so hard on yourself, JARGON. I'm sure you'll get that fifth star before long.
4*, #13 RB,
4*, #10 RB,
4*, 82, #14 RB,
4*, 94, #13 RB,
4*, #14 RB,
There's a pretty solid consensus on Weber's talent, as all four sites have him in the 10-14 range on their running back position rankings and well within the top 200 overall prospects.
They're also in relative agreement about his size, listing him at either 5'9" or 5'10" and 205-210 pounds. He measured in at 5'10", 205 at a recent Rivals camp; he's very much got the compact, sturdy frame of a running back.
Weber came to Cass Tech with high expectations after an outstanding youth football career, but had to wait to make an impact after losing his freshman season to injury. That impact would come as a sophomore in 2012, when he passed older, more experienced backs Deon Drake and Gary Hosey to earn the bulk of the carries for the Technicians. Despite being limited by a hamstring injury early in the season, he'd rush for 1700 yards and 21 TDs, then led the way in Cass Tech's second straight state title game victory over Catholic Central:
Running back [Mike] Weber came into his own for Cass Tech, amassing 186 yards on 20 carries and helping the Technicians to keep the ball and clock moving throughout the second half. Weber averaged 9.3 yards per rush and Catholic Central never seemed to find a solution for him.
The highlights from that game, which feature several current or future Wolverines, show off Weber's ability to turn the corner:
Weber's scouting reports are remarkably in line with each other, calling him a well-rounded back who can play on every down, and while he lacks track star speed or Hyde-ian power he possesses a lot of the same skills as Mike Hart. Here's ESPN's underclassman eval ($):
STRENGTHS: A solid runner with a low center of gravity. Displays the ability to push the pile and gain the tough yards. A powerful back with great playing strength. Runs with good lean and a high knee action allowing him to break arm tackles. Flashes a nice burst and adequate top-end speed. ... AREAS OF IMPROVEMENT: Will benefit from improving elusiveness in the open field and enhancing his playmaking ability. Not a burner that will consistently win footraces against elite opponents. Can be a short stepper with slight hip tension. ... BOTTOM LINE: Weber is an decisive runner with every down potential . A true load carrier type of back who projects well in physical running attack. His short stature and lower body strength are assets.
Scout's profile lists cutback ability, hands, and vision as strengths, with power his lone area to improve, and echoes the "complete back" sentiment:
Weber is a compact back who runs with good patience. He is a slasher with a good burst and good acceleration. He catches the ball well out of the backfield and also does a nice job in pass protection. He has run largely out of the shotgun in high school and would have to adjust if he goes to more of a traditional I-form team in college. He's shown the ability to run between the tackles but is not a true power back. - Allen Trieu
As far as long speed, he may not be a 4.3 type track star, but is capable of running away from defenders and getting the corner. However, he's at his best between the tackles. ... While he may not be known as a power back, he runs hard, runs with attitude and finishes his runs. In the open field, he's more of a straight ahead guy than a make you miss type elusive runner.
247's Clint Brewster also says that Weber doesn't quite possess that extra gear in the open field, saying instead that he has "more deceptive speed," and he agrees with Trieu that Weber's power is overlooked ($):
Weber has a sense of urgency, as he presses the line of scrimmage but also has the vision to find the cut back lane. He has very good short-area-quickness and can burst through a small crease if space is available. He has great overall strength and can really push the pile. Weber has a good stiff-arm and breaks a lot of tackles. He is always falling forward after a run. Weber has a low center of gravity and does a good job of lowering his pad level to take on blockers and keeps his legs moving to gain extra yards.
Weber's all-around ability surfaced wherever he went, whether playing for Cass Tech or performing against top national competition on the camp circuit. Rivals' Josh Helmholdt named Weber the top offensive performer at last year's Prep Kickoff Classic after he scored twice against a Southfield squad featuring Lawrence Marshall and Malik McDowell ($):
The 5-foot-10, 205-pound Weber picked up where he left off as a sophomore when he was an offensive catalyst for Cass Tech's Division I state title. Weber scored touchdowns on a 30-yard screen pass in the first half and a 16-yard run in the second half. If possible, helooked even more explosive than he did a year ago. Weber has always shown great start-and-stop ability, and he gets to top speed instantly. His size and speed make him a threat between the tackles and on the edge.
After an excellent junior campaign, Weber has really impressed this spring and summer. He was the clear choice for top performer at the RCS Detroit, according to Adam Friedman ($):
Weber was virtually unguardable during the one-on-one period. The Rivals250 member is extremely agile and can change directions on a dime. Weber ran extremely crisp routes and had very good hands. He wasn't afraid to take on the bigger linebackers that tried to knock him off his routes. Weber's ability to turn a short catch into a long reception is outstanding.
On day one his ability to make moves in the open field was showcased. On day two he showed himself to be a dangerous receiving threat out of the backfield. Early in 7-on-7 action his QBs looked to him only as an outlet. He rewarded them with some chain-moving grabs on swing passes and crossing routes. They ignored him on the wheel-route though, and that was a mistake. Weber ran by safeties all day long on the route but the QB just wouldn’t look his way. He grew increasingly frustrated but never loafed on route. Then finally on one of the late games he broke open down the sideline and Josh Rosen looked in his direction. Rosen laid the ball up perfectly for Mikey to run under and it was hauled in for six.
“Weber I thought was tremendous,” said Scout national recruiting analyst Jamie Newburg. “I loved him on film. After I got our here, he is more of a compact running back with great explosiveness. Put together a little better than Damien Harris, our number one running back in the country. He catches the ball exceptionally well. He is terrific in space. He is not committed yet, but someone up in the Midwest in Big Ten country is going to get themselves a one heck of a running back. He is ultra quick, very good speed and very versatile, cause obviously he can run and he showed out here he can catch the football.”
Weber is an outstanding fit for the zone running scheme, a one-cut back who has the acceleration to plant his foot in the turf when he sees a hole and run to daylight. He is a very nice physical specimen - a testament to his natural talent and also his work ethic - who has power and speed. He is still developing a killer's mentality when it comes to running over defenders, but he has enough quickness in the hole and pure speed to make that a less important factor.
To sum it up, Weber is an every-down back who can run outside or between the tackles, possesses the acceleration to get the corner and enough speed to make his share of big plays, isn' t the easiest back to bring down, catches the ball well out of the backfield, and he's a willing blocker to boot. His vision and style should play very well in Michigan's zone running scheme, as well.
Weber held offers from Illinois, Kentucky, Miami (YTM), Michigan State, NC State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue, Syracuse, Tennessee, USC, and Wisconsin when he pledged to Michigan. Alabama and Notre Dame, among others, reportedly showed interest.
Please don't make me list all the Cass Tech people.
According to 247, Weber rushed for 1700 yards and 21 touchdowns as a sophomore, then followed that up with 1659 yards and 24 scores in 2013.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals hand-timed (I believe) Weber at 4.47 seconds in the 40 at one of their camps, which gets three FAKEs out of five; since it's a hand time, add a tenth of a second or two and you're probably in the right range.
Sophomore reel that leans too heavily on slow-mo but I'm a sucker for a highlight tape soundtracked by M83:
Single-game cut-ups of Weber's performance last season against Southfield, courtesy of Maize & Blue News:
His between-the-tackles burst is really impressive.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Weber should be afforded a redshirt year with Justice Hayes, Derrick Green, De'Veon Smith, Ty Isaac, Drake Johnson, and Ross Douglas all possessing at least a year of eligibility left when he gets on campus; that is, if he doesn't earn a spot in the running back rotation right away, which wouldn't be unusual for a freshman with his talent level.
By his second year on campus, he should be competing for carries, and by 2017—when Green and Smith will have exhausted their eligibility, as well as Hayes the year prior—he'll be in the mix for a starting role; he'll be the presumed starter if Ty Isaac gets a waiver to play this fall, though that seems unlikely. Even if Isaac sits out this year, Weber is a different type of back and should garner plenty of playing time before taking over the starting roll full-time as an upperclassman.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Weber is Michigan's 10th commit in the 2015 class and the lone running back in the group. We're projecting three open spots right now, with defensive end, outside linebacker, and perhaps another offensive linemen presenting the biggest areas of need. CA WDE Keisean Lucier-South, NC SDE Darian Roseboro, and IN OLB Asmar Bilal are probably the top prospects on Michigan's board at the moment.
Michigan's latest 2014 offer, Warren De La Salle linebacker and current Penn State commit Jared Wangler, will visit campus today along with his father, former Michigan quarterback John Wangler, per Jared's Twitter. Wangler plans to decide between sticking with PSU and flipping to Michigan before the start of football season, and while many expect him to choose the Wolverines today, that's not coming from Wangler — he told Scout's Allen Trieu($) that he's "not planning on committing today," and you can read into that however you like.
I think Wangler will end up at Michigan, but it's certainly not guaranteed; don't count out the fact that Penn State was the first major program to offer him. He even passed up an offer from LSU that came in a couple weeks after his initial commitment. That said, his father and brother didn't play for the Tigers, and the Wanglers being something of a Michigan institution should factor heavily into his final decision.
A 150+ Comment Thread Suggests I Should Talk About This
Michigan State's hiring of Curtis Blackwell as their de facto recruiting coordinator paid immediate dividends yesterday when 2015 Cass Tech quarterback Jayru Campbellcommitted to the Spartans. Campbell was one of several top in-state juniors in East Lansing yesterday — Technician teammates Mike Weber and Josh Alabi, Saginaw athlete Brian Cole, Oak Park athlete John Kelly, and Saint Clair Shores lineman Kyonta Stallworth (who may or may not have committed, and almost certainly will eventually) were also present. Getting that many key local targets on campus — and pulling in commitments from two of them, most likely — is a big step for State, and the credit should rightfully go to Blackwell, who has a relationship with all of these players from his time running Sound Mind Sound Body and coaching the Maximum Exposure 7-on-7 squad.
HOWEVA, the consternation among Michigan fans in the wake of Campbell's commitment is unnecessary for a couple of reasons:
Campbell, in all likelihood, was never going to get a Michigan offer. CA five-star Josh Rosen is the only 2015 QB with an offer, and I don't believe Campbell was even in the next group of signal-callers being considered by the Wolverines. Having watched Campbell play many times over the course of the last two years, I don't think he has the pure arm strength — especially on short-to-intermediate routes — that this coaching staff wants in a quarterback. You can watch the tape and judge for yourself.
Michigan's projected to take a very small class in 2015, and so far they're pursuing elite national prospects to fill those coveted spots. Weber's potential place in the class was taken by Damien Harris, a higher-ranked running back; Kelly wasn't under serious consideration for an early offer; and the Wolverines may only take two offensive linemen — with Jon Runyan Jr. already in the fold and Michigan looking good for PA four-star tackle Sterling Jenkins, I don't think Stallworth was going to get one, either. Cole and Alabi are the only two guys among yesterday's MSU visitors who could be counted as real head-to-head losses for Michigan, and neither is guaranteed to end up at State by any means.
Is Campbell a solid pickup for State? Certainly. He's made great strides as a passer in the last two years while quarterbacking CT to back-to-back state titles and he gives MSU a commitment from the state's best talent factory.
Is this a major blow to Michigan? Nope. The Wolverines could strike out on every top in-state junior and still put together one of the best classes in the country; in case anyone has forgotten, they're already off to a very good start in that regard.
[Hit THE JUMP for perhaps the worst recruiting pitch ever, the latest on Malik McDowell's transfer to Southfield, and more.]
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]