KJ Hamler dominated the one-on-one portion. [Bill Rapai]
This year's Sound Mind Sound Body camp at Wayne State featured several of the state's best high school players, as well as some top out-of-state talent. Adam and I spent most of Friday afternoon watching the receivers and defensive backs—Seth covered the linemen on another field—and we saw impressive performances from a couple Michigan targets. Before running down the players who stood out to us, a few general notes/caveats:
- At a camp this large, even the top prospects only get a handful of reps in one-on-ones, so a couple good or bad reps can really skew the perception of a player. Drills were taking place on both sides of the field, too, so I didn't see every rep each WR/DB took. I'll note which players got more reps in than others that I saw.
- I mostly focused on the established prospects since there were usually two one-on-one matchups occurring simultaneously and I was trying to take notes between reps. If a prospect who stood out to another site isn't mentioned here, that's more a reflection of my focus than anything else.
- Donovan Peoples-Jones was listed on the initial roster but chose to attend the Rivals Five-Star camp in Atlanta instead. 2018 commit Leonard Taylor, who was supposed to work out at tight end, was also a no-show. 2018 commit Antwuan Johnson attended but dinged up his ankle and sat out most of the day.
With that out of the way, some evaluations:
2017 MI WR/DB KJ Hamler (M Offer)
Camp settings are ideal for Hamler, whose quickness and precision make him nearly impossible to contain in unpadded one-on-ones. He was easily the quickest wideout going through the three-cone drill, and that agility and foot speed was apparent in his route-running. Defensive backs had trouble getting their hands on Hamler, who got separation on nearly every rep he took and caught everything he could get his hands on. His route-running is advanced for a high school prospect; combined with his athleticism, he's hard to slow down.
Hamler is undersized, to be sure. He makes up for much of that deficiency with his ball skills—he's got great timing and can go up and get it. That showed up as much on defense as it did on offense. Hamler took some reps at cornerback, and while he's not at technically sound there as he is at receiver, he stayed step-for-step with his marks and came away with a couple interceptions, including a spectacular leaping pick on his final rep. Hamler also showed a high level of competitiveness; he took more reps than anyone else as best I could tell, and on a couple occasions I noticed him drop to the turf to knock out a quick set of push-ups when he was waiting for his next rep.
There were a couple moments when Hamler's size hampered him. Still, from what I saw he was the best performer among the WR/DB group, and only Ambry Thomas came close to matching him. Even though Michigan took a number of quality slot-types in the 2016 class, I'll admit I'm disappointed they aren't pushing harder for Hamler. While he'd be an ideal fit in a spread, I think he could be successful in any offense.
[Hit THE JUMP for reports on Ambry Thomas, Jaylen Kelly-Powell, and more.]