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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Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Defense

Jimmystats: 2019 Recruiting Comps: Defense Comment Count

Seth December 26th, 2018 at 9:41 AM

We did the offense already. Before we get into the defensive side of contextualizing the 2019 recruits against every Michigan guy since Bo, I want to give a shout-out to some other Tableizers. Jacedeuce gave me several suggestions I incorporated into the money graph, and Bo McReady (son of Bennie, godson of Oosterbaan) created this magnificent visual that you can spend the rest of vacation clicking over. For example if you select all the New England states you can see this view…

image

…that shows just seven players from the region from 1990-2013, and nine players in four classes since Don Brown arrived. Mouse over the 2016 and 2017 towers and you'll find Sean McKeon, Tarik Black, Andrew Stueber, Kwity Paye, and Ben Mason from the first two classes, all of whom are working out better than their rankings suggested they would. On the other hand recruiting rankings do strongly correlate with the likelihood of playing in the NFL. I've recreated his NFL chart so you can mouse over the individuals:

Our fun had, let's dive into the defense:

[Player-by-player discussion, after The Jump]

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Hello Again: Daxton Hill

Hello Again: Daxton Hill Comment Count

Brian December 19th, 2018 at 8:55 AM

[This article was originally posted in September. Only the first paragraph has been updated]

Daxton Hill has a knack for pulling Michigan out of the BPONE. His original commitment on September 18 marked the official end of the Moribund Recruiting Period that started about a year before it. Then Hill helped put Michigan back it the pit a few weeks ago when he suddenly announced a flip to Alabama. That decision, according to Sam Webb, truly only lasted a few days, and Hill made his recommitment to Michigan both public and permanent by signing his letter of intent this morning.

While Michigan had been digging out since February by putting together a top 15 class, a lot of that was based on smart scouting and getting in on early on guys who would end up rising up the ranks. Hill is another beast entirely: the consensus top safety in the country and top target for everyone including Alabama. Hill is a capital-G Get and a payoff for Michigan getting a couple of young up-and-comers on the staff. Sherrone Moore is Hill's primary recruiter.

Let's see what Michigan's won.

GURU RANKINGS

Rivals ESPN 24/7 Composite
5*, #24 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
4*, #13 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
5*, #7 overall
#1 S, #1 OK
5*, #8 overall
#1 S, #1 OK, #212 all-time

As noted, Hill is the consensus top safety prospect in the country. The only wobbles are ESPN's exceedingly stingy five-star distribution (just 11) and Rivals being slightly less enthralled than the other two services.

SCOUTING

Usually when you're talking about a safety in such rarified air it's because he is an absurd athlete. Check:

Per ESPN his 40, vert, and overall SPARQ score are the best for anyone they rank as an ATH and his overall score is second in the nation behind only GA LB Owen Pappoe.

That comes through on his film, which shows him playing as a deep safety, outside corner, and nickelback. It is generally violent and features a number of impossible-seeming run-downs. More immediately relevant for Michigan fans are a number of episodes of slot coverage on which Hill looks extremely comfortable.

I'd recommend you actually watch that tape because Hill's athleticism is obvious to anyone. It is the primary thing anyone brings up in scouting reports. 24/7 after the Opening:

"...safety size but is one of the fastest players in the country ... with his ability to run and cover, he looks like a college player right now. He has a freakish combination of size and athleticism" Also: "looked like more than just an athlete though, he showed a ton of range in coverage and was smooth in his backpedal."

Steve Wiltfong:

Between the off-the-charts athleticism, high IQ and playmaking ability between the chalk, the 6-foot 1/2, 187-pound Hill is exactly how you draw it up as the last line of defense in the secondary. When he’s around the ball, you can bet the Tulsa (Okla.) Booker T. Washington standout is going to make a play on it.

Also:

...he's clearly moving at a different speed than his peers. He excels in coverage, breaking quickly when the ball is in his region and turns into a receiver when he can make a play. The change of direction quickness is off the charts.

Rivals, for its part, praises him for being a "complete prospect" because he "has elite speed, covers like a cornerback, and hits like a safety" and says he "combines excellent speed with tremendous ball skills and tackling ability." ESPN has a brief underclass evaluation:

Explosive athlete ... pursues fast without much wasted motion and is very active around the ball in both run and pass support. Shows good pop on contact as a tackler...very gifted.

Texas's 24/7 site did a film rundown of their main safety targets that gets into a bit more detail about Hill's multi-purpose abilities:

...tremendous build with good bulk and room to add weight ... elite burst and speed. He shows the ability to play deep at safety and cover receivers in the slot. Hill shows good movement ability with strong explosion in and out of his breaks. Hill plays with good coverage technique and smooth transitional ability. He comes downhill and hits like a sledgehammer and shows strong change of direction skills. ... has the overall package to play deep, in the nickel or in the box at the next level.

...can play with an over-aggressive tempo which can cause him to overrun plays at times. He should also work on being more consistent with his tackling technique ...inconsistent hands.

They also provided the lone note of caution after something called "PRIME 21":

Hill definitely had his moments as he displayed phenomenal closing speed and a great football IQ. But he was a little inconsistent in 1-on-1's, which is probably due to the fact that he's a pure safety.

I talked to Sam Webb about him a bit after the WTKA show one week; the main takeaway was that the Bama program believed he was the best safety Saban had pursued in his time there. Webb cautioned that one seemingly major advantage for Michigan, the possibility of early playing time, wasn't actually much of a factor because Hill was Just That Good. "Rats," I thought at the time. Now: giggity.

The comparables mentioned by sites and coaching staffs are what you'd expect for this level of prospect. Hill told the 24/7 site that their staff was comparing him to multi-purpose DB Minkah Fitzpatrick, another 6-foot-ish safety capable of playing CB if necessary. Fitzpatrick was the 11th pick of the most recent draft. Rivals's Mike Farrell brought up FSU safety Jalen Ramsey:

"He’s a freak athlete. ...could play corner at the next level with his ability or be that Jalen Ramsey type who starts at safety and moves to corner and works at nickel. ... He has so much speed and so much talent, a super-explosive kid. He has make-up speed, closes on the football really well, plays against the run and runs things down as well."

The obvious Michigan comparable is Jabrill Peppers, but Brandon Brown notes that they're different players:

Peppers was listed at 6-1 and was the No. 1 cornerback in the country but it became clear during his Michigan career that he was much shorter than that and far better suited to play near the line of scrimmage. Hill is definitely more of a safety because of his length and ranginess and is actually north of 6-feet. Even when you watch them on tape you can see that Peppers is more suited for contact and run support, where Hill is much more of a lengthy ballhawk in the deep secondary.

Hill is a true safety with a height that is slightly over 6-foot, and not a 5'10" explosion machine on the edge.

[After THE JUMP: highlights you should actually watch]

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Wednesday Recruitin' Readies Commitment Graphics, Watches Inbox

Wednesday Recruitin' Readies Commitment Graphics, Watches Inbox Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 19th, 2018 at 8:00 AM

Welcome to the second annual early signing day, which is basically early Christmas for recruitniks and the day most likely to be celebrated by both those overflowing with optimism about the promise of the future and those who view the commitment of anything less than a five-star as a treatise on the state of the program. If you’re the kind of person who follows recruiting tangentially you can expect some suspense today, but it’s clustered around very few players. In case you’re looking for a primer, Michigan’s 2019 class is currently #9 nationally and #1 in the Big Ten with an average player rating of 0.90 per the 247 composite. Michigan expects 24 of its 25 verbal commits to sign and email in their letters of intent today according to 247’s Steve Lorenz, with the lone February signee slated to be KS ATH Amauri Pesek-Hickson. That leaves two suspense-generating commitments to wait on, and one that seemed to be going Michigan’s way until early yesterday morning.

On that note, things don’t look great for Michigan with regard to the nation's #4 overall player, OH DE Zach Harrison. The deluge of crystal ball flips started yesterday morning around 7:30 with Sam Webb and continued throughout the day. Webb said on the radio last week that he wasn’t going to flip until he had solid intel and to keep an eye on his crystal ball; five crystal balls flipped in an hour, and with those Michigan’s chances clearly flat-lined. It’s been well publicized that the outcome of The Game had an adverse impact on his recruitment, and it seems that Michigan’s multiple visits to try and assuage any fears weren’t enough to yank him out of Ohio State’s orbit. And it’s that part, that proximity and pull toward Ohio State, that appears to be too much for Michigan to overcome. 247’s Steve Lorenz posted his final thoughts heading into today and said that the rumblings about Michigan falling to third and this turning into a decision between Ohio State and Penn State illustrates how serious the people around Harrison were about him not going to Michigan. Lorenz went on to say that the biggest factors in Harrison not committing to Michigan are the people close to him who have his ear and Urban Meyer resigning. Harrison was reportedly not Meyer’s biggest fan, and Ryan Day getting the head job bolstered the Buckeyes’ chances. Lorenz said Michigan fans have a right to feel a little snakebitten at that particular development, which, yeah.

Moving to a recruitment that should jumpstart a second volume of Road to Ann Arbor for Tom VH should he flip (again), Michigan seems to be back in the battle for five-star OK S Daxton Hill. Multiple reports cite Alabama planting a seed of doubt in Hill’s mind that the current coaching staff would remain in Ann Arbor for long, with the poorly-timed Don Brown interview at Temple and the ever present Harbaugh-to-the-NFL rumors giving their staff the leverage they were looking for to flip Hill unexpectedly. It’s no surprise in light of this that Harbaugh went to ESPN’s Adam Schefter the next day to let people know that he was not leaving Michigan, calling the rumors a “choreographed message” that emerges every year before signing day. With Don Brown also staying, Michigan’s staff worked hard to erase any personnel doubts Hill had, and there was a surge of optimism that Hill would flip back to Michigan. That still appears to be a possibility, but a complication has emerged and somehow Ohio State’s involved in this one, too.

According to WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole, the commitment to watch today in relation to Hill's recruitment is that of FL S Jordan Battle. Though technically a Buckeye commit until this morning, it’s been expected for some time that he would flip his commitment to Alabama. Hole on the situation:

The word is, Hill is not looking to be a part of a class that has three safeties. So, in short, watch what happens with Battle and Alabama on Wednesday. Should he sign a letter of intent before Hill to end up in Tuscaloosa, there’s a strong indication that Hill could be back in the fold in Ann Arbor.

Hole goes on to write that the staff feels optimistic about flipping Hill back regardless of what happens with Battle, but it certainly seems that Battle signing before Hill would significantly bolster Michigan’s odds. The Wolverine’s Chris Balas reports that Alabama’s staff didn’t expect Hill to sign today as recently as this weekend, though they’re pushing hard to get him to do so. Balas says those close to Hill’s recruitment expect it to continue into January, so for today, keep an eye on Jordan Battle.

[The good news is after THE JUMP]

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WTKA Roundtable 12/13/2018: Change Alone Endures

WTKA Roundtable 12/13/2018: Change Alone Endures Comment Count

Seth December 14th, 2018 at 7:33 AM

Things discussed

  • Florida's same things are exactly the opposite: mitigated the pass pro problem, up and down season
  • McElwain leaves and Michigan's receiver recruiting ticks up
  • Who's playing? Gary's out. Bush might not but he's the heart of the defense. The corners don't have enough tape. Other guys weighing their options: Metellus, Hudson.
  • Stueber was alright vs OSU, the TEs were not
  • More Florida: they will blitz and get after you up front
  • Caller: Does Saban just enjoy tormenting Harbaugh? Addressing crootin cynicism
    -Malik McDowell's mom was right about Michigan State
    -Craig's theory: Tyrell Pryor strung Michigan along to make it harder for Rodriguez to sign a 2008 QB
    -Aubrey Solomon: Committed to Michigan the day after the "FU" video
    -Daxton Hill committed at the trough of the season. When the dust settles, Sam will lay out the timeline but he isn't going to make things more difficult for Michigan in an ongoing recruitment
  • Don Brown: $2 million. Pay the players. Big XII has interest in him of course. We're paying Pep Hamilton $1.45 million (highest-paid OC?)
  • Sam goes through Michigan's real time playcalling, which is weird and leads to fighting the clock
  • Developing the short game, and the Evans game
  • Promise next time will be basketball

You can catch the entire episode on Michigan Insider's podcast stream on Podbean.

Segment two is here. Segment three is here.

THE USUAL LINKS

I wrote it down while writing about the Lions

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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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Exit Daxton Hill

Exit Daxton Hill Comment Count

Seth December 8th, 2018 at 9:34 PM

Michigan's 2019 class just took a heartbreaking blow, as five-star/top commit Daxton Hill flipped tonight to Alabama.

Hill is the consensus top safety in the country and likely would have helped Michigan immediately in its quest to suffocate all possible offensive options with more talented players. It especially hurts because of how well Hill would have filled the one hole in Don Brown's system. It triply sucks because #3 overall safety Lewis Cine, a former teammate of Michigan commit Mike Sainristil, appeared to lose interest in Michigan shortly after Hill committed. It quadruply sucks because it's further evidence that our entire reality is some awful child's NCAA 2014 Alabama dynasty.

Hill is the fifth decommit of this class but the first that was truly surprising, and the most impossible to replace. Michigan still has four-star safety Quinten Johnson in the class, as well as viper prospects Joey Velazquez and Amauri Pesek-Hickson, and a slew of lanky prospects from last year. In the past Don Brown has found NFL safeties (John Johnson, Justin Simmons, Obi Melifanwu) in under-scouted athletes but there's no Melifanwus on the board at the moment, unless you count Pesek-Hickson.

With the loss of its only current five-star Michigan's class has dropped out of the top ten in the 247 composite. Michigan is expected to reel in one of its top receiver prospects and one or two giant offensive linemen, and remains the crystal ball leader for five-star DE Zach Harrison.

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Friday Recruitin' Orders A New Box Of Lanyards For All These Name Tags

Friday Recruitin' Orders A New Box Of Lanyards For All These Name Tags Comment Count

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

Perhaps you’ve heard that there is a football game that will be played at Michigan Stadium this weekend. Teenagers from around the nation are flocking to Ann Arbor to observe the dairy-engorged behemoths from Wisconsin clash with the Herbert-engineered athletic specimens from Michigan under the  glow of very long banks of electric lights.

One teenager who won’t be in Ann Arbor headlined last week’s post as a would-be visitor, and his absence is not necessarily a bad sign for Michigan. Word got around on Monday that five-star NC ATH Quavaris Crouch would no longer be on campus this weekend. 247’s Steve Lorenz reported yesterday that the decision was mutual, and that Michigan’s staff would rather have Crouch, whom he noted is one of the staff’s top two or three remaining targets, on campus some weekend where there aren’t so many other visitors, thus allowing them to focus more attention on Crouch.

This makes some sense in light of Rivals and 247 reporting that five-star OH DE Zach Harrison will be taking an unofficial visit this weekend. 247’s Steve Lorenz reports that Harrison took an unofficial to Ohio State on Wednesday to learn more about their academic offerings. Lorenz notes that Harrison and fellow unofficial visitor 2019 OH S (but really Viper) Joey Velazquez, one of the commits recently featured in FBO, are good friends who grew up together, so maybe being on campus together makes a difference for what will be Harrison's fourth Michigan visit.

It makes even more sense when considering that there are only three official visitors this weekend, two of which are already committed to Michigan with the other happening to be their likely top priority on the offensive line. IL OT Trevor Keegan took an official to Ohio State last weekend and still has officials to Penn State, Georgia, and Clemson planned; 247’s Steve Wiltfong CB’d him to Georgia last week. That’s a lot for Michigan to have to counter, so rescheduling Crouch for a different weekend, risky though it may be, is understandable.

[Hit the JUMP for more visitors and interesting in-state 2020 interviews]

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Friday Recruitin' Has Skills Like Eric Berry

Friday Recruitin' Has Skills Like Eric Berry Comment Count

Adam Schnepp September 21st, 2018 at 2:00 PM

[Isaiah Hole]

That escalated quickly. The above-the-break portion of last week’s roundup was dedicated to coverage of Daxton Hill’s upcoming visit because obvious things are obvious. I did not expect to be writing about him in the same portion of the round up again a week later. Sure, the articles linked in that post were packed with restrained optimism, but this was a Michigan v. Alabama recruiting battle. And yet.

Things started to pick up with a Sam Webb board post that detailed Hill’s visit as close to minute-by-minute as possible and detailed everything from who Hill sat with to his body language. He closed that post by saying “My read on the confidence level in Ann Arbor coming off the visit is it's as high as ever.” Then WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole interviewed Hill on his podcast and Hill responded with a hesitant “Uh, I really don’t know” when asked about whether he was going to take any other officials and how long it would be before he made a final decision about committing. That’s no surprised in hindsight, as Steve Lorenz reports that the Michigan staff knew Hill was going to commit to them after his official visit. Hill even shared with Hole in an off-the-record conversation that, though he wouldn’t say where, he knew what school he would commit to but wasn’t sure when he would do it.

Then Hill dropped the news publicly on Tuesday night, and the recruiting sites are still surveying and reporting on the aftermath. Any recruit rated as highly as Hill by all of the services naturally induces some by-the-numbers content after he commits of the “highest-rated since…” variety like this post from The Wolverine, this post from Nate Wiggins of The Wolverine Lounge, and this list of 15 quick-hitters from The Athletic’s Cody Stavenhagen; Hill’s verifiably insane verified testing results from The Opening also lend themselves to these articles.

Analysis posts of various sorts have also popped up, such as this Josh Helmholdt piece and accompanying video (which features film of Hill from field level) on Hill’s skillset and what adding him to the class means to Michigan fans. WolverinesWire’s Isaiah Hole sat down with Devin Gardner for their weekly segment and Gardner gave a detailed scouting report based off of Hill’s ludicrous highlight reel. 247 has a few bits about who helped with the recruitment behind the scenes, including this Steve Lorenz piece that mentions lead recruiter Sherrone Moore, about whom Brice Marich has more.

Another round of articles were published after reporters had a chance to reach out to others for comment. Sam Webb put up a piece with some choice quotes based on an interview he did with Stan Edwards (yes that Stan Edwards) on the radio.

“Daxton Hill the player…I think you described him perfectly,” said Edwards. “I would agree with you because I was around when Tripp Welborne came through here. That is a pretty good comparison. I sat next to Daxton (at the SMU game). Berkeley (i.e. Stan’s son) is on the team now, so our tickets are always in the same area. So I got a chance to sit next to Dax during the game. We talked about safety play. I said, ‘listen, you’ve got skills like Eric Berry. You’ve got skills like Ed Reed.’ I said, ‘don’t ever forget about your man to man cover skills.’ He stopped me in the middle of conversation, put his hands on me and said, ‘nah, I work on that every day. That’s something I always work on.’”

[After THE JUMP: More on Hill. Also, remember that other five-star, the one who was supposed to commit and still hasn’t?]

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Daxton Hill Commits To Michigan

Daxton Hill Commits To Michigan Comment Count

Brian September 18th, 2018 at 8:04 PM

Hot damn:

Hill is a five star ranked #12 overall on the composite; Michigan beat out Alabama, Alabama, and Alabama for his commitment. Also Oklahoma State and Oklahoma amongst a wide array of other schools who didn't make Hill's top five. Hill's a safety who has a 4.3 40 listed as a "verified result" on his 24/7 page and promises to be the kind of multi-purpose tool who really makes Don Brown's defense sing, the kind gentleman who can cover James Proche in the slot and come down to bust up run games.

Full Hello post tomorrow.

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