Preview 2017: Offensive Line

Preview 2017: Offensive Line

Submitted by Brian on August 29th, 2017 at 4:07 PM

Previously: Podcast 9.0A. Podcast 9.0B. Podcast 9.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends.

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traaaaaaaaain [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart


LT Yr. LG Yr. C Yr. RG Yr. RT Yr.
Mason Cole Sr. Ben Bredeson So. Patrick Kugler Sr.* Mike Onwenu So. Jon Runyan Jr So.*
Andrew Stueber Fr. Stephen Spanellis Fr.* Cesar Ruiz Fr. Chuck Filiaga Fr. Juwann Bushell-Beatty Jr.*
Grant Newsome So.* Andrew Vastardis Fr.* Phil Paea Fr. Joel Honigford Fr. Nolan Ulizio So.*

[Ed. note: Newsome is actually a true junior but we are assuming he redshirts this season so the listed year is more accurate spiritually. Also Paea is probably a DT this year but I ran out of OL anyone's heard of.]

Michigan lost three starters to graduation and will be without left tackle Grant Newsome after his scary injury midway through last season. And… eh. By the time the graduated had played out their eligibility it was clear that there wasn't much anyone could do to turn them into a crew of firebreathers. Ben Braden (-9.4 to PFF) was willing but the very definition of stiff. Kyle Kalis(-6.3) was a missed assignment machine to the last. Erik Magnuson(+9.1) was a solid player but never an impactful one. None were drafted, and they collectively plateaued three years ago:

Year Adj Line Yards Opportunity Rate Power Success Stuff Rate Adj Sack Rate
2013 118th 11th 120th 126th 112th
2014 50th 55th 32nd 67th 72nd
2015 53rd 107th 50th 33rd 13th
2016 64th 82nd 50th 81st 28th

Advanced line stats are a bit wonky because they also depend on the running back and style of offense, but the whole set tells a story. That story: mediocre players hitting their ceiling.

At some point it was clear they were playing mostly because Michigan didn't have any alternatives. When Newsome went out there was a brief dalliance with Juwann Bushell-Beatty at left tackle that went so poorly that Michigan flipped Braden out and brought in a true freshman in his stead. Everyone else other than Patrick Kugler, who was stuck behind Mason Cole, was some flavor of freshman as well.

So, they're gone and the replacements are incapable of voting. It's the end of the Hoke as we know it, and I feel fine. Except about the Newsome thing. That sucks.

TACKLE: COLE AND THE RANDOS

RATING: 2.5.

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there and back again [Eric Upchurch]

Last year MASON COLE moved to center because it was clear he was not a tackle. This year he returns to tackle because it's clear nobody else is.

Despite the somewhat awkward fit with Cole's body type, this foray should be mostly successful. At tackle, Cole was a near-elite run blocker, capable of overpowering and outmaneuvering defensive ends and linebackers. At center Cole's lack of oomph left him vulnerable to planet-sized nose tackles he couldn't move and gents like Malik McDowell who just wanted to bulldoze him.

Cole was better at the mental aspects of being a center. At the same time he was getting plowed by McDowell he was instrumental when MSU turned to their double A gap twist blitz. That blitz bedeviled Michigan for years under less competent coaches; Cole (and Harbaugh) throttled it:

The trademark MSU defensive playcall was comprehensively beaten. Finally. All of these plays feature the extreme aggression of the MSU linebackers being used against them, something that Michigan hasn't been able to do in forever. Can't block 'em? Run right by 'em.

The line just about maintained its very good adjusted sack rate with Cole at center despite suffering an injury to Newsome they simply could not afford. A large part of that goes back to Cole's ability to make the line calls. Bredeson's freshman biffs aren't on Cole's ability to organize, and Michigan was pretty dang organized in pass pro:

Zone running not so much, but more about that in Five Question and Five Answers. Michigan's frustrating inability to identify first level blocks on stretch plays all but removed those from the offense, so we never got to see if Cole could get his David Molk on. Getting a reach block is really hard and really good if you manage it and Cole had some promising upside in that department that never came to fruition.

[After THE JUMP: LARGE ADULT SONS, except not quite adult.]

2017 Recruiting: Joel Honigford

2017 Recruiting: Joel Honigford

Submitted by Brian on July 26th, 2017 at 2:57 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain, DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall.

       
Sugarcreek, OH – 6'6", 285
       

image
[Isaiah Hole]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#54 OT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#49 OT, #19 OH
ESPN 4*, #200 overall
#22 OT, #7 OH
24/7 3*, #782 overall
#73 OT, #30 OH
Other Suitors Oregon, MSU, PSU, Auburn, OU, WVU
YMRMFSPA Mike Schofield
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior:

Senior:

Joel Honigford is this year's edition of Devin Bush, in that Michigan hired a new coach who must have gone "yowza!" when he checked out the recruits he was inheriting. Bush is the perfect dreadlocked missile for Don Brown's linebacker corps; Honigford is the kind of athletic jumbo tight end who Greg Frey has consistently turned into NFL linemen. (JaRaymond Hall is also in this category.) Lorenz asserted that he "fits Greg Frey's body type to a tee."

Honigford popped up as a frame to hang muscle on. Scout noticed him at a big man camp, praising his "great frame" and "bright looking future." He then proceeded to hang muscle on his frame. After his commitment to Michigan last summer he talked about where he was, and where he's going:

"A little over a year ago, I only weighed 240 lbs. and had one scholarship offer. … I have a great frame that I can continue to build weight off of and I work hard every day already, so putting in the time isn't going to be a thing for me."

A year after checking in at 240 he was up to the mid-270s. Now a year removed from Honigford's commitment he reports a weight of 285 and looks like a before-and-after photo from an infomercial:

Scout (1)honigford

He says he's been in the weight room a lot. He appears to have taken the Swenson lesson to heart:

Colleges talk about how on your film they don't want to see you good one year and just a little bit better the next and just kind of plateauing," Honigford said. "That was a pretty big deal to me, so I made sure that didn't happen."

One dollar says Michigan was the coaching staff hammering this information home most fervently.

This is the kind of kid Frey turns into Taylor Lewan or Mike Schofield or Jason Spriggs, and Honigford has the upside of any of those NFL gentlemen. His coach was still talking up his future potential even after he'd shot up 40 pounds:

"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is."

He'd repeat that more or less verbatim to anyone who asked.

National scouts didn't have a take too far off from that—at least the ones who said anything. ESPN's evaluation touches on a lot of things you want to hear about an OL still on the way up:

Very good height … lean build … should be able to add the needed size … adequate initial quickness and shows good patience and balance in set, though at times can lunge and get top heavy. … good knee bend with enough lateral mobility to mirror rushers when gets hands on. … needs to add more mass to help him anchor against power. …good quickness and can come off with pad level, roll hips at contact …good balance and body control when asked to pull and work to second level and can locate and get a piece of targets. …promising upside. … don't see an early contributor.

Other evaluations are in a similar vein, down to the fact that they were almost certainly not revisited after Honigford's senior season. MSR Ohio:

…very athletic for his size. … Long and can, eventually, add  30 or more pounds to his frame and not miss a beat. Good bender. Excellent feet in pass pro from his left tackle position. Although mostly in a two point stance, Joel drive blocks well for his size. [ed: 240 at this juncture] Needs to get better, but he has a good “get-off.”

 Scout:

…height and frame are legitimate. He's a good athlete with good overall coordination, balance and flexibility. …on the raw side as far as pass protection. … room to fill out and get stronger … probably a right tackle, possibly even an interior guy at the next level.

Touch The Banner:

Overall, Honigford’s maybe not as nasty or athletic as Taylor Lewan, but I would put him a notch or two below. I think he’s someone who could play either tackle position, or he could be a pulling guard with some work. I like him as a blind-side pass protector, and he has good run-blocking skills.

Rivals did actually catch him as a senior and got a little overheated about him:

…solid top to bottom and has long, powerful arms …far bigger and stronger than any defender on the field but he also moved better than most as well. When he got out in front on screen plays or when he was asked to pull it was a sight to see. He runs very well, can change direction like a slot receiver, and absolutely punished people when he got his hands on them. Honigford's head coach said he could probably be a Division I tight end because of his natural athleticism and hands.

I'd still put my money on Eddie McDoom in a shuttle competition.

The main catch, other than weight-related uncertainty about what the finished product looks like, is Honigford's competition level. Dude is from Amish country and played in one of the lowest divisions of Ohio high school football:

"It's pretty surreal.  … I guess a kid coming from where I do, such a small town, population of a little over 2,000 people, no one was expected to do what I am doing. My school, personally, has never had a Division I football player come out."

That's less of a big deal with OL, who are almost always absurdly overpowering in high school and await a severe reality check upon arriving in the realm of Rashan Gary and friends. It does make an already high amplitude guessing game a little less reliable.

On the other side of the ledger, Honigford racked up an impressive suite of offers for a relatively camp-averse kid out of Amish country. Most of those seem legit: he was thought to be favoring Oregon, Oklahoma had him out for a visit, Auburn made his top four. It's always tough to discern "offer" from OFFER but the list here belies his modest rankings even when surveyed with a jaundiced eye. Lorenz noted that…

One great indicator that Honigford is a top-level prospect is the fact that he plays in a tiny town and still got the nearly 30 offers that he did. That's not common.

…and Ohio State sites had several articles mentioning Honigford as a guy who usually would have been in their class:

…intriguing prospect and in most other years, he would have probably landed an offer already. It seems the staff is highest on him out of all of the other names on the board, as he is a guy who is really just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to his potential. … If I were a betting man, and had to pick a player to sign with OSU today, I would go with Honigford.

This is obviously a good news/bad news kind of thing since Honigford was pre-empted by an out of nowhere commit from big-timer Wyatt Davis. (FWIW, OSU did pick up an OL late when a spot opened up; Honigford had already signaled that the ship had sailed.)

Also in Honigford's corner are the ol' intangibles. He's a 3.9 student who took a lot of AP stuff and now plans to be a mechanical engineer. He was a three sport athlete in high school, which should mean yet unexplored upside when he focuses on one. He's a farm kid with Opinions About Barns.

Despite this post's general optimism about Honigford's future he is still the least likely member of Michigan's recruiting class to see the field early. Runyan's description of the three tackles who didn't enroll early is telling:

“The first thing that really jumps out (about) them is their size. Chuck – huge dude. Andrew – huge dude. And Joel's pretty big, too.”

Meanwhile Hall had a spring practice that Honigford did not. Don't expect Honigford to hit the field running. In a couple years he could easily be the top tackle in this class.

Etc.: They call him Big Nasty. He was also his high school's kicker(!), going 30/40 on extra points. So… not a good kicker.

Why Mike Schofield? Schofield was an athletic tight end to slap weight on when Rich Rod and Greg Frey scooped him up. He entered at 6'6", 270-ish. That's more or less where Honigford finds himself. He also had a bit of a scouting gap between the end of serious evaluations at the end of his rising senior summer and the closer-to-finished product he'll enter college as. Schofield wasn't quite the talent Taylor Lewan was and mostly played RT as a result, but he was a third round pick and is still a starter with the Broncos.

Lewan is the other obvious comparison since he's the other "tall man needs weight" OT success story under Frey.

Guru Reliability: Low. Barely any camps, poor competition level, radically different weight through the evaluation period, OL.

Variance: High-minus. Could easily get overwhelmed but he's on the right track physically and should have the mental aspects down. OL.

Ceiling: High. Could easily develop into an NFL level tackle despite the rankings. Evaluations are a bit cautious about his lateral mobility. 

General Excitement Level: High-minus. Hey, it's our (almost by default) Sleeper of the Year. Honigford gets the nod over his competitors by virtue of his ideal fit with Greg Frey and engineering inclinations at a spot where intelligence is very important.

Projection: Redshirt. Will compete for a starting tackle job next year as Cole departs; like Hall he's going to be fighting against his classmates, Runyan, and maybe Bredeson for two spots. I'd say he's got as good a chance as either of the yet-to-be profiled gents despite the rankings gap.

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Trying To Get Finished Before The Next Guy Drops

Tuesday Recruitin' Is Trying To Get Finished Before The Next Guy Drops

Submitted by Brian on December 20th, 2016 at 12:24 PM

DUCK

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Next up

With the commitments of FL C Cesar Ruiz and MI DE Deron Irving-Bey Michigan has picked up four touted recruits in the past week. Do not be deceived. Just when you think you can poke your head out of the foxhole without getting conked by a four-star recruit, here come some linebackers. FL LB Jordan Anthony announces Thursday and there are rumors that NJ LB Drew Singleton may announce in the near future. In both recruitments it is unclear who is currently running second.

Commit aftermath

As per usual there were a bunch of scouting articles posted for Ruiz and Irving-Bey that did not make it into Ace's Hello posts. Here's a gross story about Ruiz!

Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Academy coach Kevin Wright saw Cesar Ruiz’s finger as he ran to the sideline and it was bent sideways.

For the first time in two years, Wright thought the nation’s No. 1 center recruit per 247Sports would have to sit for a snap or two.

Ruiz had other plans.

A trainer popped Ruiz's finger back into place in the 2016 season finale, and the blue-chip recruit hustled back on the field to finish out IMG’s 16-6 victory over Bishop Sullivan Catholic.

Ruiz is naturally described as a "warrior". Scout's more in-depth take on Ruiz:

...true center prospect with a lot of experience and the ability to play early on the next level.  He checks a lot of boxes when going down the list on prospects at his position.  He has a great frame.  He is very strong.  His punch is a real asset.  He has shown the ability to get to the second level.  He is very smart.  He has great awareness.  He likes to compete and finish.  Michigan is getting one of the top offensive linemen in the country and Ruiz will give the Wolverines an anchor in the middle in the years to come.

TTB gave Ruiz a 99(!), which I don't think I've seen before from Magnus:

Ruiz also does a very good job of staying low out of his stance, and he moves his feet well to down block or reach block defenders to either side of him. IMG Academy plays a rather difficult schedule, so he’s playing some of the best competition in the country, and he’s having success. As a pass blocker, he anchors well without getting driven into the backfield, and his low center of gravity makes him a good match for any really technical nose tackles who try to use leverage.

Ruiz is unique amongst Michigan center prospects in recent memory in that he actually plays the position in high school. Most college-level OL end up at left tackle for obvious reasons; Ruiz was afforded the ability to play center since he's surrounded by fellow college-level OL at IMG.

That gives Ruiz a shot at playing early—even very early—at a spot that usually sees a veteran deployed to make the call. ESPN says he can "at least" make the two deep as a freshman, and Sam broached the idea he could play in year one if Speight was able to make the line calls a la Andrew Luck. In a normal year there's no way he starts, but with the rather looming hole at tackle and Cole's ability to play there you might see some odd things.

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per @NaptownJazz12, we have a successor to the Ludicrously Oversized Ben Braden photo

Meanwhile, Irving-Bey is an interesting prospect who came from nowhere to be a near-unanimous four star (Rivals is the outlier). The MSU spin that Irving-Bey isn't much of a loss because of an indifferent senior season has nothing backing it. 247 just moved him up about 100 spots—I did not see an explanation as to why, but it happened just a couple weeks ago, so "senior film evaluated" is the most likely explanation. Meanwhile Trieu specifically debunks the spin:

...has turned in two dominant seasons at Flint Southwestern. That is not always against the best competition, but it evens out as he has not always been on the best team either. Even in situations where his team has been down in games, he gives consistent effort and shows motor.

Trieu thinks he's a bit raw but that some folks are exaggerating just how much, FWIW.  In the same article, Sam Webb says he's "quick twitch" and uses Maurice Hurst as a comparison. Isaiah Hole caught up with his coach and you can see a bit of Hurst in his description as well:

"He's a kid that plays well with his hands. He's good on either side of the ball -- offense or defense. He's a kid that's very explosive. He comes off the ball pretty fast. He had to be a two-way player for us this year, so he's got good stamina. Able to go the distance. Those are the things I like most about him. He's able to shed offensive guys pretty quick. He plays a lot on the other side of the ball, meaning he has a lot of tackles for loss."

Ditto ESPN:

possesses very good first-step quickness and can be disruptive presence. With a quick first-step he can develop into a handful as a pass rusher, though needs to better use his hands and refine his arsenal.

Interestingly, Irving-Bey has the longest arms of anyone in the class, which would help him either at DE if he sticks there or OT if that's the way it works out. (Given the OL class, it probably won't.)

Touch The Banner is not so much about Irving-Bey:

Irving-Bey isn’t particularly athletic or physical, and he does not play with a non-stop motor that might overcome other deficiencies. He reminds me of Columbus (OH) St. Francis DeSales defensive lineman Chris Rock from the class of 2011.

That is pretty harsh.

Also commit aftermath

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this is a very silly picture

I also have some tabs about 5* MI WR Donovan Peoples-Jones open that I'm sure you'll enjoy. Steve Lorenz:

Michigan is getting about as sure a star prospect as you will see at the high school level. Immense athleticism, but he's somebody who worked hard in the weight room and bulked up too to match his physical stature with that athleticism. A true instant impact prospect who not just could, but should be a guy who will see the field and make plays from day one in Ann Arbor.

Allen Trieu:

He has great ball skills. He can make acrobatic catches and has good overall athleticism and body control. As a route-runner, he can still be polished. At Cass, he ran a lot of go-routes and screens which allowed him to use his run after the catch ability, but he still has room to grow and get better which should be exciting for Michigan fans given his talent.

ESPN:

Peoples-Jones has tremendous length and range to be an acrobatic playmaker when the ball is in the air. He brings the height and arm length that coaches covet, but he moves like a smaller receiver with the ball in his hands. He can accelerate, tempo his routes, and take the top off the defense with a combination of size and speed.

FWIW, I went over the last three years of WR recruits. Amongst the top five guys in the country there were 4 players I would describe as immediate stars: Christian Kirk (A&M), KD Cannon (Baylor), Demetris Robinson (Cal), and Cameron Ridley (Alabama). There were a couple other guys who got 20 or so catches and Speedy Noil, who got 43 on what I assume were a bunch of screens. It's not easy for a WR to be an instant star.

DPJ probably needs a year to polish up his routes. As Ace mentioned in the Hello post, Cass mostly sends him deep and cackles at the results.

Obligatory Najee section

There is no announcement scheduled for 5* CA RB Najee Harris and there may not be one. Scout's John Garcia Jr:

A separate source near him says he's not expecting a formal announcement or anything in terms of his final decision, whether it's been made or not. It goes along with Najee's personality, as he may not sign any FAAs and simply enroll somewhere in three weeks. That would be the most Najee thing ever in terms of ending the process.

I wouldn't believe anything you hear about a date unless it comes from an established reporter. Also in this vein: I have seen some Najee threads around the internet that talk about his latest follows being Michigan players. Najee Harris does not have a twitter account, so nope.

In terms of actual news, there is none. The closest to it are rumblings that Cal or Florida might hire Tosh Lupoi, Harris's primary recruiter, as their defensive coordinator. This would obviously be very good for Michigan. When Harris talks about his recruitment, he mostly talks about Jim Harbaugh and Tosh Lupoi.

Getting to 32: maybe, maybe not

We've been projecting a 32-man class since the season started, but that might be difficult to pull off without some weird guys showing up. Michigan has 24 commits. We have 12 guys listed in "top group" or "leader" on the recruiting board, and we're not sure if IA WR Oliver Martin and FL OG Tedarrell Slaton are takes right now. Let's assume Michigan holds out for AL WR Nico Collins, leading Martin to commit elsewhere, and Slaton's testing doesn't go sufficiently well to get Michigan back in the game; let us further assume that both of those upcoming LB announcements go well.

To hit 32 without going off the board Michigan would have to get six of the following eight recruits: Harris, Collins, TX OT Chuck Filiaga, VA OT Mekhi Becton, UT DT Jay Tufele, AL DT Aubrey Solomon, MS LB Willie Gay, and CA CB Elijah Hicks. And that's without any decommits.

Possible. Maybe not probable, and with Michigan's board so restricted right now it's hard to see where a potential hole gets filled. There's nobody outside of the aforementioned 12 who seems at all likely at this instant. Now, you may recall Michigan's recruitment of Nick Eubanks last year, which went like this:

  1. Nick Eubanks is on campus
  2. who is Nick Eu—
  3. he committed
  4. <furious googling>

But those are uncommon. Weird guys who pop up late have usually been on the radar at least somewhat.

A listing of potential weird guys

I do have a few names in this category:

  • 4* AZ S Isaiah Pola-Mao. Currently ticketed to Washington by the Crystal Ball, Pola-Mao is a ninja type who could follow the Eubanks script. Hyphenated last name so it's a surprise he's not already committed.
  • 4* UT RB Sione Lund. Lund recently told Brice Marich he still plans an official to Michigan in January.
  • 3.5* CA OT Jalen McKenzie. McKenzie's popped up from time to time in articles where he's pining for offers from USC and Michigan, and he just did so again on Scout. Two, in fact. If Michigan offers he will at least take a visit.
  • 3.5* MI CB Donovan Johnson. He's small but he's not that small, right? One of the enduring oddities of this recruiting cycle is the lack of M and MSU interest for Johnson—especially the latter given how things are going for MSU right now. If Michigan does not get Hicks they might throw an offer Johnson's way, and since he's at Cass you never know.
  • 3* CT CB Brandon Sebastian. Michigan kicked the tires on the BC commit earlier this year but withdrew.

In addition there will be random guys Michigan offers if they think they have spots to fill.

Honigford details

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3.5* OH OL Joel Honigford is a bit of a forgotten man in the class what with all the five star types Michigan's been chasing. Matt Wenzel profiles him and gets some more detail. His coach:

"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is. He has put a lot of extra time and effort into becoming the best football player he can become."

Fairly generic coach quote but the bit about "that much bend" is interesting. Compare that to this evaluation of Aaron Banks's "areas for improvement":

Needs to polish some areas in his game like first step explosiveness, reactionary quickness, and a more consistent pad level. A focus on range of motion exercises will improve new bend, and allow him to better his setup prior to the snap.

I was led to believe that "bend"—the ability to play in a somewhat crouched position so that you can explode on contact—is largely a you-have-it-or-you-don't kind of thing. Michigan has prioritized that with their tackle recruits, and that's the most likely reason they didn't put a full court press on Banks

Etc.

If you'd like to read Lorenz extensively quoted about Michigan locking down the state, this Matt Wenzel article is for you.

Nico Collins got recruited by a bunch of Bama guys at that All Star game they have against Mississippi; while our bet is on Michigan here, Collins is more in the DPJ boat than the Ruiz one—it wouldn't be a total shock if he decided on somewhere else. It would be a surprise, gotta dodge some visits, etc.

Harbaugh acolyte on Harbaugh violence as Oregon offers 2018 NV QB Dorian Thompson-Robinson. Robinson plans to decide over the summer after a suite of unofficials including M, Oregon, UCLA, and a couple Florida schools.

Hello: Joel Honigford

Hello: Joel Honigford

Submitted by Ace on June 29th, 2016 at 4:02 PM


[Photo: 247]

Sugarcreek (OH) Garaway three-star Joel Honigford became Michigan's second offensive tackle commit in the span of a week when he pledged to the Wolverines this afternoon. Honigford is just two days removed from narrowing his recruitment to a top four of Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, and Oregon; his Crystal Ball was 100% for MSU when he made his decision.

Honigford is Michigan's 17th commit in the 2017 class and the third at OT, joining JaRaymond Hall and Andrew Stueber. His commitment bumped Michigan back up to fourth in the 247 Composite team rankings.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #47 OT 3*, #46 OT 4*, 82, #26 OT,
#199 Ovr
3*, 86, #73 OT,
#692 Ovr
3*, #48 OT,
#431 Ovr

Scouting reports on Honigford almost universally mention that he's a big upside prospect with plenty of work to do to reach his potential, so it's not a surprise to see that his rankings contain a couple outliers. Scout and Rivals both have him about ten spots in the position rankings away from four-star status; ESPN is easily the most bullish, putting him in their top 200 overall; 247 swings pretty far in the other direction.

Honigford's size is a major part of his appeal. Every site but Rivals (6'5") lists him at 6'6" and in the 275-pound range, and he carries that weight well—he looks (relatively) skinny and has the frame to add plenty of weight.

SCOUTING

About that size: Honigford has added quite a bit of weight just in the last year or so. This blurb from Scout's Dave Berk after the Elite Big Man Camp in February 2015 sets the tone for most of Honigford's evaluations:

Only a sophomore, Joel Honigford has a great frame at 6-foot-6, 241-pounds. During drills we came away impressed with his agility and quickness. Must get physically stronger and add bulk going forward but has a bright looking future.

Honigford has packed on about 35 pounds since then and still looks like he can add a lot more. Berk's evaluation also falls in line with everyone else's take on Honigford: good size and athleticism, big upside, needs to bulk up and refine his technique. Scout's free evaluation:

Evaluation

Has the desired frame for offensive tackle at the next level. Long, lean, and has continued to fill out through his high school career. Solid athlete. Moves with coordination and balance. Can still improve technique, particularly in pass protection while adding strength and more size to his frame but he has good upside.

Strengths

  • Body Control and Balance
  • Flexibility
  • Frame

Areas to Improve

  • Pass Protection
  • Power And Strength
  • Technique

Rivals doesn't have much on Honigford despite hosting him at one of their RCS camps. Josh Helmholdt helped explain why in a board post after Honigford's commitment today when asked why the ratings and offers didn't quite line up:

Upside. His offers are about who he can be, not who he is right now as a player. At the Rivals Camp in Columbus he had a so-so performance, and he's had some so-so performances at other camps I've heard. Needs to improve at the point of attack, needs to improve his fundamentals at the position, but does not lack for any physical tools. We measured him 6-5, 277 at that RCS, and he has the frame to add more weight. He plays light on his feet and certainly has the quicks to catch the outside speed rush. Again, this is a development project, but the tools are there.

While we've documented ESPN's habit of posting scouting reports that don't match their rankings, in this case the split makes sense—while there's a lot of technical nitpicks to make, they like his ceiling:

Displays adequate initial quickness and shows good patience and balance in set, though at times can lunge and get top heavy. Needs to continue to refine, but flashes good punch. Needs to watch pad level, but displays good knee bend with enough lateral mobility to mirror rushers when gets hands on. "Bigger fish in smaller pond" to handle himself [ed-Ace: no idea], but needs to add more mass to help him anchor against power.

Demonstrates ability to get into defenders with good quickness and can come off with pad level, roll hips at contact and gain physical leverage. When gains positioning displays good knee drive to generate push, but still needs to improve size and strength as he faces bigger competition. Displays good balance and body control when asked to pull and work to second level and can locate and get a piece of targets.

It's encouraging to read that he's already able to play with good pad level, even if not consistently, and he possesses the balance and flexibility to develop into an excellent lineman. ESPN concludes that he has "promising upside" and could be either a tackle or a guard, and while he's unlikely to contribute early he can be a "good starter at the Power-5 level."

The running story of Honigford's recruitment was his pursuit of an Ohio State offer. The Buckeyes landed two blue-chip linemen early in the class, and with a small group projected for this cycle they may take as little as one more. As recently as February, Scout's main Ohio guy, Bill Greene, expected Honigford to land that coveted offer:

Joel Honigford. Offensive tackle. Garaway. This just might be a guy with so much potential that forces Ohio State to offer. Has great size and athletic ability. Plays against weak competition, but he could be the next Taylor Decker on the college level. The national offers are starting to roll in. I think he is close to landing the Buckeye offer.  

247's Alex Gleitman also expected Honigford to get the call if OSU missed out on a couple top-50 targets. Honigford no longer needed to wait after the Buckeyes picked up a five-star last week:

It was a little bit of surprising news when Ohio State decided to completely move on from recruiting in-state talent Joel Honigford on Monday, rather than just telling the in-state product with 29 offers to wait a little longer for them to figure out their numbers situation.

Well, today, it became very clear as to why the Buckeyes did what they did, as the program landed a commitment from Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco 2017 OL Wyatt Davis, seemingly out of nowhere.

While Honigford isn't far enough along in his development to fit into OSU's small, five-star-laden class, that's not much of a knock—it's impressive that he was even considered given the circumstances. Michigan has a lot more room to take on a high-ceiling developmental prospect.

OFFERS

Honigford holds offers from Auburn, Boston College, Colorado State, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami (NTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Western Michigan. While not quite an elite offer sheet, there are some very good programs on there—that list indicates he could move up from his current three-star ranking.

HIGH SCHOOL

Rivals is now useless, and a quick Bentley database search doesn't show any former Wolverines hailing from Garaway High. Greene's eval above indicates Honigford doesn't play against high-level competition.

STATS

Is OL, no stats.

FAKE 40 TIME

Honigford tested at one of the Opening regionals and posted solid combine numbers:

In the meantime, the slender tackle put up pretty solid numbers at The Opening, including a 5.35 40-yard dash, 4.71 shuttle, 38-foot power ball, and 25.8-inch vertical leap.

While one doesn't normally associate jumping with O-line play, Honigford's vertical is one of the better marks for a lineman, and that kind of explosion plays well at the position.

VIDEO

Junior highlights:

Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Honigford is a dead lock to redshirt given both his position and scouting profile, as well as the fact that Hall and Stueber (and the top-level targets on OL that haven't committed yet) will be more ready to play early. He should have at least a couple years of apprenticeship ahead of him before competing for a starting job, and he has some positional versatility—there are some indications he's athletic enough to be a left tackle, and he could also be a Braden-style guard, especially if he's closer to 6'5" than the 6'6" at which he's listed. Honigford is an upside guy: Michigan will be patient with him in the hopes that he'll break out in his final two or three years of eligibility.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan is now at 17 commits in a class that should read the mid-to-upper 20s. The addition of Honigford means they can probably only take three of their four main targets on the O-line, which are Kai-Leon Herbert, TJ Slaton, Cesar Ruiz, and Isaiah Wilson. That's a sacrifice, but one that isn't unreasonable; going 4-for-4 on blue-chip targets isn't an easy proposition, and you never know when a spot may open up anyway.

Other major needs in the class include WR, TE, OLB, CB, and S. Here's the class as it currently stands:

Thursday Recruitin' Celebrates Accordingly

Thursday Recruitin' Celebrates Accordingly

Submitted by Ace on April 21st, 2016 at 3:48 PM

Five-Star Out Of Nowhere?

Five-star IMG Academy DE Joshua Kaindoh released his top four yesterday, and the biggest news didn't involve which programs made it, but one that didn't: Maryland, which had been the presumed leader for the DMV native. The Terps were left off the list in favor of Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, and Penn State.

While the Wolverines haven't been mentioned as much of a factor for Kaindoh, it's clear his recruitment is capable of taking some unexpected twists and turns. 247's Steve Lorenz initially posted after the news broke that he'd "be very surprised" if Kaindoh ended up at Michigan; he updated that post with intel that Michigan believes they have a shot.

Speaking of five-stars, TMI's Josh Newkirk caught up with Cass Tech WR Donovan Peoples-Jones, who's been in touch with quarterback commit Dylan McCaffrey:

“He has reached out to me,” Peoples-Jones said of McCaffrey. “I took notice of the commitment (to U-M). It was surprising to me that they got a really good quarterback that really sets the bar for all recruitment. You have a strong quarterback; you (can) build around him. That definitely made a statement for Michigan.”

Adding: “I think it’s really good for them to have a guy like him come in. He’s a really good guy. I’ve been talking to him on Twitter. We’re developing a relationship.”

While that's certainly promising, Peoples-Jones maintains no leaders in his recruitment. In fact, his list of schools under consideration has expanded slightly:

In January, at the time, Peoples-Jones released his top-10 schools in alphabetical order, which included: Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Stanford, Tennessee, Texas A&M and USC. And after a recent trip to Florida State, Peoples-Jones has since added the ‘Noles to his now top-11.

Peoples-Jones wants to visit every school on his list before making a decision. His recruitment, as expected, should extend until late in the process.

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]