How badly did you want to get out there with them?
“I wanted to but I pulled a muscle. Hip flexor that I acquired playing softball at Camp MIchigania a couple weeks ago. Still with me. Played softball with—it was the dads versus the camp staff members.”
Double the pain? Hurt then and hurts not to get out there?
[Inaudible because of the construction at Oosterbaan, which looks like it’s coming along nicely.] “Had a nice meeting with the AS Roma staff: their CEO, their general manager, their coach. Had a good talk. There’s some similarities for sure. It was good to see them.”
Are you guys going to the game?
“I don’t know. I’m going but I don’t know if the whole team is going. I think they’d consider that an impermissible benefit, so…they can watch it on TV.”
One of your players suggested the Oklahoma drill. How do you think the soccer players would have done?
“Uh, they would have done good. They were very competitive. You could see it. Especially Kevin [Strootman]. Really enjoyed watching him go through the drills. He’s a guy that’s overcome some real adversity: two ACL injuries. To make it back to the level that he’s playing at right now is very impressive.”
Are there any skills that soccer players possess that you’d like to see your football team pick up?
“I don’t think there’s a better game for running. In terms of running and eye-foot coordination, there’s really no other game like it. I always encourage youngsters in America to play soccer. I think every American boy should play soccer until the eighth grade and then they should play football.”
You learn any preparation tips when you were out there in Italy watching AS Roma, from the team?
“Just the conversations. We never did actually get to watch Roma practice, and then they played their game the day after we left. Very interesting, some of the tips I have gotten from them, is in the way they practice. High intensity, hour-and-a-half to two-hour practices. No breaks. There’s just something about their preparation style. Fergus Connelly, who’s been doing a great job here, came from the football leagues in England and Scotland, so I know for a fact there’s a couple of crossovers and things that we are learning, have learned, and will continue to learn.”
[After THE JUMP: “All deep breaths have been taken now. It’s time to train and get ready for the season.”]
Malone-Hatcher enrolled early and went through spring practice; as a freshman he obviously had no opportunity to see playing time. Michigan will go forward with Luiji Vilain, Kwity Paye, Deron Irving-Bey, and Donovan Jeter as freshman WDE/SDE, though the latter two might end up moving inside.
Corey Malone-Hatcher is the vanguard of a trio of Michigan DL recruits who just slipped inside the four-star cordon. Each has promise; each has problems. Gents just on the right side of the four star borderline are often impressive physical packages paired with a "but…", and the next three guys all fit that description.
“Still, my senior year I wasn’t even close to 100 percent strength-wise. It was just one of those things where you have to do everything you can to get the job done.
“Essentially, I was playing on a leg and a half. I still played, but wasn’t nearly as effective as I needed to be. I didn’t miss a game, just two practices. I didn’t have confidence in my body, though. I was a step slower mentally because I didn’t test my limits like I should have … at least until that last game.”
This is our concern, dude. This series usually dismisses the idea any particular recruit is injury-prone. It cannot do so here. Malone-Hatcher gives off a Drake vibe—Harris or Johnson, take your pick. The infirmary visits are an ominous sign.
The good news is that when Malone-Hatcher was healthy, or even sort of healthy, he performed well enough to get that consensus four star ranking. He was full go between his sophomore and junior years and he pounded the camp scene until everyone took notice. He shot into 247's top 150 that August and had similarly more optimistic-than-the-final takes from other services.
…showcased a great first step and built speed to the quarterback despite adding 15-20 pounds since his sophomore season ended. He's still mastering the finer points of the position, but the raw physical tools that have attracted coaches were certainly on display.
…standout outside linebacker during drills and was a blur coming off the edge despite being banged up. With his size and quickness, offensive tackles had a tough time getting a hand on the Midwest standout.
…quick off the ball, and not just in obvious pass-rush situations;… displayed a good sense of where the play was going and where he needed to be. … didn’t have to use many pass-rush moves because, frankly, his speed was enough to get him near the quarterback on most plays. …plays with consistently good pad level, has an on-field intelligence and spatial IQ that will benefit him at the next level, and displayed a quick burst and strength off the line.
Unfortunately, these takes are mostly based on a few camp reps or one game instead of a larger body of work. There is some disagreement on how much speed rush Malone-Hatcher can pull off, especially at the college level. Clint Brewster:
He’s more of a powerful player that takes on blocks and uses force rather than one that goes around blocks to make a play. He has the strength to control at the point of attack and get underneath the pads of opponents.
ESPN's evaluation is fairly positive overall but does not paint a picture of an edge-rush maven:
… frame that can continue to be developed and support additional size. Has excellent strength though it doesn't quite seem to translate to his play completely … good get-off quickness. … needs to continue to improve hand usage and work to more consistently keep blockers off his frame. Displays adequate lateral mobility to elude blockers and be active along the line. …adequate dip and balance and fights to work a tight path…. not a speed rusher and needs to continue to build arsenal.
That's based off at least a few games of tape, separating it from the other evaluations. Which games I don't know, but given his injury and ESPN's fire and forget tendencies that might be his sophomore year and therefore outdated.
Great pass rusher who can dip his shoulders, bend the corner and get around offensive tackle. Agile kid who does a good job with his hands as well. Closes on quarterbacks quickly and has improved on his ability in coverage but can continue to work in that department.
A lot of guessing going on here, but understandably so.
Everyone more or less agrees that CMH is a defensive end; nonetheless his versatility is frequently mentioned. He played some middle linebacker in high school and did a lot of standup end/3-4 OLB stuff. 24/7:
…versatility to put his hand down in the dirt and come off the edge as a pass rusher or hold down the outside as a 3-4 backer. He’s played inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and defensive end for his high school team. …physical player that really has a presence against the run. His physicality and size … Very smart.
…plays multiple positions for his team. He needs to settle in and find his best fit and develop in that area, which we feel is on the defensive line. Plays linebacker and while he has more limitations in that role, can still certainly offer some versatility in how utilized within the front-seven.
Michigan's plan is mostly defensive end, with occasional linebacker forays that sound more like Don Brown being evil with blitzes than anything involving read and react. Malone-Hatcher's dad Orlando:
"[Brown] was pretty blunt about how he wanted to utilize him. 'We'll put him on his own at end sometimes. We'll line him up next to another defensive end in certain sets. We'll shift him to middle linebacker. We want to do a lot of things with him, but we'll get him to the quarterback'."
That sounds like the plan for just about anyone DE/OLB sized in a Don Brown defense.
Moving to the strongside is a possibility. CMH will face stiff competition at WDE from not one but two classmates who appear 100% locked into the spot, and a few evals sound more like anchor types. Malone-Hatcher was self reporting a weight of 255 pounds at the beginning of last season. It's possible he's already 270; he doesn't have far to go to be a size fit at SDE. Hell, a spin at three-tech to see if he can be Mo Hurst 2.0 isn't totally out of the question. That hypothetical is down the road and would probably be a bad sign; SDE is where it's at for Malone-Hatcher.
Etc.: Got a little aggressive on twitter about "Brian KeLLLLy," which was an unfortunately early point in the season to pull the trigger on that tweet. Because Brian KeLLLLLLLLy went 4-8.
Also the subject of by far the dumbest recruiting subplot of the last cycle when various Hawaiian relatives of his gave him an elaborately arranged series of one dollar bills. Michigan State fans naturally freaked out, because anyone who picks Michigan over a 3-9 malfeasance factory must have a reason other than "duh".
At one point, I firmly believed the four-star defensive end would end up with Michigan. However, I’m not all that confident anymore. … When looking at everything, it’s hard to see Malone-Hatcher ending up anywhere else.
Why Craig Roh? Roh came in as a hotshot pass rusher WDE sort, got moved to LB during the darkest days of the Rodriguez 3-3-5, went back to DE after a minor rebellion on his part, and finally found a home by bulking up and sliding over to SDE as an upperclassman. There he was second-team All Big Ten, more or less deservedly. Roh came in with higher recruiting accolades but probably should have been ranked around where CMH is. Roh is a couple inches taller than CM but never even flirted with 300 pounds, or even 290—if CMH does end up on the strongside he's going to be the 280 pound version of the SDE.
This space thinks that CMH at LB would have the same result—passing down exotics excepted—and that he's likely to slide over to the strongside sooner or later. Thus, Roh. Other comparables include Rondell Biggs, who was kind of in the same WDE/SDE tweener boat, and I guess Alain Kashama? I want to say Carlo Kemp but he hasn't played yet.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. More or less unanimous agreement but they're working with not much data.
Variance: Very high. CMH is one of the more boom or bust guys in the class. When healthy he's flashed a high ceiling; he's very far away from that because of his injury history, competition level, and potential tweener status.
Ceiling: High. Physical package got him noticed is still there.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Big questions—can he stay healthy? Is he a WDE or not?—rather damper enthusiasm here. He's a great lottery ticket to grab when you're bringing in 8 DL, at least.
Projection: A third WDE is going to play this year—this space assumes that Luiji Vilain is #2. I'd prefer that to be anyone other than a high ceiling freshman who needs some time to acclimate and will thus project a redshirt here and complain to an increasingly bored audience if it is burned.
After the (probable) redshirt, I dunno. If you make me guess I'd say that CMH moves over to SDE in anticipation of Gary's departure, has a second dress rehearsal year, and is then in the rotation at that spot for the duration of his career. Whether that's as 1, 2, or 3 on the depth chart I couldn't tell you. Probably not 1 given what we're hearing about Kemp and Kemp's head start.
David and I didn’t have to travel far to scout our first game of 2016, as Corey Malone-Hatcher’s St. Joseph squad traveled to Michigan Stadium to face off against Kalamazoo Central as part of the three-day-long Battle at the Big House. St. Joseph started out slow, holding a 3-0 lead at halftime of a plodding back-and-forth contest. The second half, however, was a different story entirely, as Malone-Hatcher played a big part in St. Joseph’s 23 unanswered points; he got to the quarterback in the end zone on the second play of the half, forced intentional grounding that resulted in a safety, and the flood gates opened from there.
Malone-Hatcher finished with the kind of stat line you’d expect from a top-300 prospect: 10 tackles, four sacks, five TFLs, and one forced fumble. If you threw in QB pressures his stats would be even more impressive, as he was able to get into the backfield almost at will. It’s worth noting that he was able to accumulate those numbers while often deployed out of position at MLB; he certainly won’t be playing there in college, but he was able to tear through the middle of the line when asked to blitz.
[After THE JUMP: the highlight video and scouting report]
The spring/summer camp season culminated with The Opening finals, and as prospects turn their attention to the upcoming season, the recruiting sites are updating their rankings. Scout and 247 both released new rankings over the last week, and while Michigan lost their only composite five-star, there were quite a few positive developments.
QB Dylan McCaffrey was good, but not great, at The Opening, and that was enough to drop him from #39 to #101 overall on Scout and from #30 to #54 on 247. He's now the #39 overall player on the 247 Composite, 12 spots away from regaining five-star status.
DE Luiji Vilain moved up nine spots to #85 on 247 and held steady at #138 on Scout. Making incremental gains—and avoiding small drops—is tougher the higher a player is ranked, especially when there's significant movement like there is in the post-camp re-ranks; Vilain inching up the composite (to #96) is impressive in that context.
The same principle applies to DT Aubrey Solomon, who dropped nine spots to #216 on 247 and two spots to #129 on Scout. LB Josh Ross had a more significant fall, moving down 16 spots to #193 on 247 and an even hundred spots to #228 on Scout.
The most significant split is over CB Benjamin St-Juste, whose star turn at The Opening earned him a massive jump from three stars all the way to #92 overall on 247; Scout, meanwhile, kept him as a three-star, only giving him a four-spot bump to #32 in their cornerback position rankings. The point of contention doesn't seem to be the quality of his camp performances—those were praised by both sites—but the dearth of other information on the Canadian prospect; if he played his high school ball in, say, Florida, I don't think there's much doubt he'd be a solid four-star.
There's a similar difference of opinion on RB AJ Dillon, who vaulted 112 spots to #99 overall on 247 while remaining a three-star on Scout. Again, weighing camp performances against quality of high school competition could be an issue here—Dillon doesn't face high-level foes in Massachusetts.
DE Corey Malone-Hatcher and OT JaRaymond Hall both dropped out of the Top247; Malone-Hatcher is still a four-star at #260 overall, while Hall lost a star in dropping down to #370. Both took less drastic tumbles on Scout, landing at #248 (Hall) and #296 (CMH).
OT Kai-Leon Herbert stayed at #180 on Scout and didn't crack the Top247. 247 still hasn't updated Herbert's ranking, but Barton Simmons indicated on their board that Herbert is in line to move up from his outdated, middling three-star ranking:
Good player. Size/Strength keeps him out of the Top247 for now. He's athletic. Will be a guy to monitor.
He should get a bump once 247 updates rankings of guys beyond the Top247.
Steve Lorenz's VIP Notes from Corey Malone-Hatcher's commitment feature a few notable tibdits about his recruitment. Jim Harbaugh remembering to ask about Malone-Hatcher's younger sister each time they talked apparently struck a chord with the family, while Greg Mattison—and his wife—may have been the most important factor in getting CMH's commitment. Lorenz also got details on how Malone-Hatcher expects to be utilized in Don Brown's defense:
"He was really clear with us," Orlando Malone mentioned after Corey committed. "Corey's worked really hard to put himself in a position to be a guy that will get to the quarterback consistently, and we wanted to make sure that's how he was going to use us. He was pretty blunt about how he wanted to utilize him. 'We'll put him on his own at end sometimes. We'll line him up next to another defensive end in certain sets. We'll shift him to middle linebacker. We want to do a lot of things with him, but we'll get him to the quarterback'. He has a complicated scheme, but was clear about how he'd use Corey. That was important to us."
Malone-Hatcher has some versatility; while he'll mostly be a defensive end, he played middle linebacker extensively during his junior season before it was cut short by an ankle injury. Speaking of which:
"Never better, man," Malone-Hatcher said when asked how he was feeling coming off his ankle injury. "My confidence is at an all-time high."
Michigan moved one step closer to a monopoly on the top-ranked in-state 2017 recruits when four-star St. Joseph DE Corey Malone-Hatcher announced his commitment to the Wolverines this afternoon. He chose Michigan over a group of finalists that included such luminaries as Alabama, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and UCLA.
Michigan's recruitment of Malone-Hatcher dates back to his freshman year, and he's held an offer since his sophomore season. He is Michigan's 13th commit in the 2017 class and the first at defensive end; he's expected to be joined by top-100 WDE Luiji Vilain when Vilain makes his announcement on June 12th.
4*, #24 DE,
4*, #13 SDE
4*, 80, #20 DE,
4*, 92, #12 WDE,
4*, #16 WDE,
Malone-Hatcher's rankings are in a close grouping, with 247 more bullish than the field and Rivals as a relative skeptic—CMH is the final four-star in their SDE rankings. His rankings are all the more impressive when accounting for the fact that Malone-Hatcher has missed large portions of the last two seasons due to injury.
All four sites list Malone-Hatcher at 6'3" with weights ranging from 225 (Scout) to 246 (Rivals and 247); he's on the higher end of that range at this point. He's destined to play with his hand in the dirt, most likely as a weakside end who might eventually grow to play on the strongside, though he has spent some of his high school career at linebacker.
Scout's free evaluation provides a solid overview. Other than Malone-Hatcher's injury issues—most recently, an ankle issue that required surgery last fall—there's little not to like:
Great pass rusher who can dip his shoulders, bend the corner and get around offensive tackle. Agile kid who does a good job with his hands as well. Closes on quarterbacks quickly and has improved on his ability in coverage but can continue to work in that department. Main concern are a couple of injuries the last few years, but when he's been on the field, he's made an impact.
Pass Rushing Skills
Techniques and Moves
Areas to Improve
Malone-Hatcher first earned notice from the recruiting sites in the spring of 2014, when he named an underclassman to watch at the RCS Detroit, NFTC Chicago, and Sound Mind Sound Body camps. His performance at Michigan's technique camp that June went a long way towards him earning an offer, and Tim Sullivan could already see improvement in his game over the span of a couple months:
St. Joseph's (Mich.) 2017 Corey Malone-Hatcher is one of the state's top rising sophomores. He's already improved since his April appearance at the Rivals Camp Series in Detroit, and the 6-3, 210-pounder is adding a variety of techniques to his natural abilities.
Video from that camp includes multiple one-on-one wins for CMH against 2016 five-star Notre Dame signee Liam Eichenberg:
Measuring in at 6-foot-3 and 246 pounds, Malone-Hatcher ended up getting reps at both defensive end and linebacker on Sunday. He did remarkably well running with tight ends and running backs in the one-on-one session and recorded a couple pass breakups. Defensive end still looks like the likely position for him in college, though. Malone-Hatcher showcased a great first step and built speed to the quarterback despite adding 15-20 pounds since his sophomore season ended. He's still mastering the finer points of the position, but the raw physical tools that have attracted coaches were certainly on display.
That May, he posted SPARQ combine numbers that were among the better marks for 2017 defensive linemen:
Will be fun to watch 2017 DL Corey Malone-Hatcher develop into a big-time player.
101.88 Nike Football Rating
Despite battling through injury—a recurring theme—he was the only 2017 prospect among the six defensive standouts at Notre Dame's Irish Invasion camp according to the Irish247 staff:
Saint Joseph (Mich.) High Top247 2017 defensive end Corey Malone-Hatcher played standout outside linebacker during drills and was a blur coming off the edge despite being banged up. With his size and quickness, offensive tackles had a tough time getting a hand on the Midwest standout.
"He took a few weeks off to recover [after the initially injury]," his father Orlando Malone said, "but the injury resurfaced at Rivals camp. He was able to play through it, but it impacted his explosiveness. The injury came back even stronger at the NIKE camp in Chicago. The issue kept surfacing whenever he would try to explode off his leg and accelerate. Even though Corey had good camp showings at Michigan and Notre Dame, he still had to shut down early due to pain. After that, we cancelled camp visits to MSU, Alabama, and Ohio State to get him healthy.
"Once we got into the season, Corey was playing five positions (WR, TE, FB/H-Back, DE, and LB) including special teams. He was having a great year on both sides of the ball as his athleticism still showed through. In his last game, Corey exited and didn't return. This time we decided to consult a specialist about the injury."
That foot specialist told Orlando that his son had been essentially playing on one leg since March.
ESPN's evaluation, which appears to have been updated for his junior year—there's also a prior underclassman eval—praises his "good-to-excellent size," strength that hasn't fully translated to his play yet, and overall physical attributes while noting the need for technique improvement; they're waiting on him to settle on a position:
Malone-Hatcher moves around and plays multiple positions for his team. He needs to settle in and find his best fit and develop in that area, which we feel is on the defensive line. Plays linebacker and while he has more limitations in that role, can still certainly offer some versatility in how utilized within the front-seven. There is room to improve and that should come as he narrows down his positional focus, but good versatile, active defender with some upside.
There's a lot of hedging throughout that report, but the underclassman eval had a more positive bent ("Regardless of where he lines up is a very good defensive prospect") and they rank him within their top 300.
Malone-Hatcher holds offers from Alabama, Cincinnati, Columbia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Minnesota, Mississippi State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia Tech, and Wisconsin. A very impressive list, especially considering his injury history.
According to the Rivals database, which dates back to 2002, Malone-Hatcher will be the first Power 5 signee to come out of St. Joseph High School. The only other prospect from the school to even be ranked by Rivals is three-star 2015 Western Michigan signee Wesley French.
I couldn't find complete stats for him.
FAKE 40 TIME
Malone-Hatcher has a combine-verified 40 time of 5.10 seconds, which gets zero FAKEs out of five.
With both starting defensive ends (Wormley and Charlton) set to depart after the 2016 season, Malone-Hatcher could get the opportunity to play as a freshman—as of now, none of the other DEs on the roster have proven themselves on the field. It's more likely CMH will take a redshirt year before competing with Lawrence Marshall, Chase Winovich, Reuben Jones, Ron Johnson, Carlo Kemp, and Shelton Johnson for a place on the two-deep.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Malone-Hatcher is the first of what should be four defensive ends to join the class, and we have a very good idea who the second will be: Michigan is far and away the favorite for Luiji Vilain, and they're also in great position for three-star OH SDE James Hudson.
As for how in-state recruiting is shaking out, I'll leave this here:
Not bad, I guess.
Michigan is up to 13 commits in a class that should reach the upper 20s. Positions of need going forward include wide receiver, offensive line, defensive tackle, cornerback, and safety. Here's the class as it currently stands:
Corey Malone-Hatcher (left) announces his decision Thursday. [Fuller]
The next couple weeks should be quite eventful for Michigan on the recruiting trail after a couple top defensive end targets set their decision dates.
Top-100 VA WDE Luiji Vilain has been considered a heavy Michigan lean since his visit a couple weeks ago, and he told 247's Steve Wiltfong his mind is "made up" heading into his announcement on June 12th. Vilain will choose between Michigan, USC, and Virginia Tech; all signs indicate he'll choose the Wolverines.
The prospect of Michigan starting to fill its open spots at defensive end is probably what prompted four-star St. Joseph WDE Corey Malone-Hatcher to set his decision for Thursday afternoon.
Top schools: I will be announcing my commitment on Thursday @ 3:30pm at SJHS. Thanks to all that recruited me pic.twitter.com/E6SA0k59Du
While Malone-Hatcher still has ten schools in play, his Crystal Ball reads 100% for Michigan; like with Vilain, it'd be a huge surprise if he went elsewhere.
Michigan has also made a move for three-star OH SDE James Hudson, who decommitted from Kentucky just before visiting campus two weekends ago, and he picked up an offer on the trip. After speaking with multiple sources familiar with Hudson's recruitment, 247's Steve Lorenz put in a Crystal Ball pick for Michigan, and in doing so he clarified M's outlook at DE:
The Wolverines appear to be in great shape with four-stars Corey Malone-Hatcher and Luiji Vilain, both of whom are expected to make a college decision in the very near future. An eventual addition from Hudson would give Don Brown a trio of defensive ends to work with in the 2017 cycle. We would expect Michigan to take at least one more at the position in 2017 after that.
None of these potential commitments would preclude the others from joining the class. The trio of Vilain, Malone-Hatcher, and Hudson would be a great haul at defensive end, and Michigan would still have space to pursue the likes of DJ Johnson and Deron Irving-Bey to round out the group.
Five-star FL OT Tedarrell Slaton has, at previous points in his recruitment, named Michigan his leader before walking back that stance. 247's Ryan Bartow has been going around Florida getting updates on seemingly every recruit in the state; when he hit American Heritage, Slaton once again said the Wolverines are out in front:
Slaton tells Bartow that Michigan "still has the edge" for his services. This is the third time Slaton has publicly placed Michigan ahead of the competition in his recruitment. Per Bartow:
The nation’s No. 7 offensive tackle, Tedarrell Slaton, said Michigan has the edge. Slaton also said Tennessee and Miami are programs he feels are recruiting him consistently.
In an interesting twist, Slaton added that he prefers to play defensive tackle. Oddly, there aren't full-season highlights of Slaton anywhere on his Hudl page or YouTube, and the single-game reels only feature scattered snaps at DT. His positional preference may not matter much anyway; Michigan would certainly take him and worry about the rest later.
Bartow also caught up with Flanagan five-star CB Stanford Samuels, who went further in depth on the top four—consisting of Alabama, Florida State, Georgia, and Michigan—he released over the weekend:
Michigan: “I like all the NFL guys they have on staff. All the guys on that coaching staff have been there and done that. When you have that experience it makes it hard for you not to get the right coaching.”
While Samuels has Michigan connections through his former coach, Devin Bush, and the three Flanagan teammates who will be freshmen this year, it's hard to see him ending up in Ann Arbor. He plans to make a summer decision and enroll early; unless he makes it to campus before then, FSU looks like the choice.