Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends

Preview 2018: Tight End And Friends Comment Count

Brian August 28th, 2018 at 1:59 PM

Previously: Podcast 10.0A. Podcast 10.0B. Podcast 10.0C. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver.

Depth Chart

Fullback Yr. H-back Yr. Tight End Yr. Flex Yr.
Ben Mason So. Ben VanSumeren Fr. Sean McKeon So.* Zach Gentry Jr.*
Jared Wangler Sr.* ---- Fr. Zach Gentry Jr.* Nick Eubanks So.*
Ben VanSumeren Fr. ---- Fr. Luke Schoonmaker Fr. Mustapha Muhammad Fr.

Given the situation at quarterback Michigan is unlikely to reprise their approach for most of the second half of the schedule, which surely pleased Bo and every other three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-guts devotee watching:

FORMATION NOTES. Hello, manball. Michigan's approach in this game was downright neolithic, featuring 32 snaps with one or zero WRs. Feel the Harbaugh goodness as Michigan goes with a goal line set on first and ten on their own 34 (the "WR" is Gentry and he will motion to a TE spot presnap):

image

Michigan did suffer to allow two wide receivers on the field 22 times; three WRs managed to get out there on 14 snaps.

But you know Harbaugh wants to. Probably not enough to do it... much. But if you're telling me he's got two returning starters at TE with NFL upside and a third guy who ran past the Florida secondary last year and he's not going to do it at all, well, sir. I disagree.

And now it's time for...

ANNUAL EXPLANATION OF THE FINE GRADATIONS OF BLOCKY/CATCHY

A few years ago we split tight ends from the WR post and fullbacks from the RB post, figuring that under Brady Hoke there would be enough of them to warrant it. We even split guys into various categories because a tight end is not just a tight end. Then Jim Harbaugh came in. After an internal struggle this site has decided not to split each one of these columns into its own post, but it was a near thing. Those columns are:

  • FULLBACK: a man with a steel plated head who runs into linebackers, gets two 50 carries in his career, and has six catches. See: Kevin Dudley, Sione Houma.
  • H-BACK: A "move" tight end who motions all about, rarely lines up on the actual line of scrimmage, often goes from fullback to a flared spot or vice versa, and operates as more of a receiver than the fullback. Must be a credible threat to LBs; ends career with 40 catches. See: Aaron Shea, Khalid Hill.
  • TIGHT END: Larger than the H-back, the tight end is a tight end who is actually tight to the end of the line. He comes out, lines up next to a tackle, helps him win blocks, and clobberates linebackers at the second level. He goes out into patterns as well, and may end his career with 40 catches himself. See: AJ Williams, Jerame Tuman.
  • FLEX: Big enough to play on the end of the line credibly. Agile enough to play H-back credibly. Not great at either. Capable of splitting out wide and threatening the secondary. Sacrifices some blocking for explosiveness. Can be a prime receiving threat. See: Jake Butt.

And of course many of these people bleed into other categories. Think of these position designations as Gaussian distributions in close proximity to each other.

TIGHT END AND FLEX: HOW FAST DOES THIS BATTLESHIP GO ANYWAY

RATING: 5

Last year's preview threw all available guys in more or less the same bin and then selected Ian Bunting and Tyrone Wheatley Jr out of that bin as the nominal starters. Nope and nope: both guys got scattered snaps as the younger generation pushed through. Now both Bunting and Wheatley have read the writing on the wall and lit out for greener pastures, leaving Michigan's tight end corps somewhat thinly populated.

But hoo boy the remaining villagers could really be something. ZACH GENTRY is the headliner despite a bit less playing time than his compatriot. This is because Gentry is a 6'8" guy who was Michigan's fastest and most agile tight end in last year's team combine. As Jay Harbaugh put it when they moved him late in his freshman year:

"He's got what we call a 'dominant trait.' He's super fast and super tall and has very good hands. He has something naturally that gives him a chance to beat everybody as a route-runner.

He only got to show his dominance sporadically due to the environment around him, finishing with 17 catches. But his per-target numbers are flatly unbelievable in context even if they are a small sample size: 17.8 yards a reception. 11.7 yards per target(!!!), a 65% catch rate and zero catches that did not move the chains or improve Michigan's chance of doing so on a subsequent down. Michigan's next-best YPT receiver who got the whole QB smorgasbord was Kekoa Crawford at 7.2. And that sample size would have been larger in--all together now--better circumstances:

Gentry is a giant man and delivers on his height. He's capable of plucking balls out of the air that are well outside his frame and when Purdue went cover zero he demonstrated excellent body control to punish that decision:

As safety blankets go, the dude nearly a foot taller than most defensive backs and much faster than most linebackers is a quality option. And he is on another level athletically from most of the front seven guys who could deign to cover him.

That tall guy seems like a good person to throw to since he's the closest thing to an imaginary eleven-foot tall person we have.

Yeah, Zach Gentry started going from potential to production in this game. His big catch and run was a great route that suckered a linebacker outside and opened up that YAC:

83, TE to top of line

That is exactly what Michigan was hoping for when the moved him there. That throw's a bit high, except Gentry is 6'7". Also he dusted a guy and ate up 20 yards after the catch.

And if Michigan wants to get weird, Gentry has flashed the ability to hack it on the outside.

WR #83 top of screen

What he hasn't done so far is high-point the ball over two-to-seven helpless defensive backs, a la former Penn State tight end Mike Gesicki. This has been entirely due to a lack of opportunity. I charted Gentry with one drop on 13 routine opportunities last year; more telling was a lack of non-routine shots. He had just one opportunity at a moderately difficult catch (which he made); I put those in a bin labeled "2" and they encompass almost all of the things that a pogo-stick giant should be doing downfield. There were only two circus opportunities, and sometimes pogo-stick shots downfield should land there, as well.

Gentry was not Gesicki by any stretch of the imagination, but largely because Michigan didn't give him the opportunity to be Gesicki. Again, offense bad sad emoji etc etc. In a functional offense with a fade machine quarterback, Gentry could blow up. Should blow up.

Gentry's blocking was meh but not a disaster. PFF had him about 200th of ~300 qualifying tight ends but I'm pretty sure they grade like me and those numbers aren't necessarily adjusted for individual "strength of schedule." So he's probably not worse than whatever MAC tight ends he's behind, he's just playing tougher opposition. And Gentry's issues were at least half mental issues that generally come with being a guy getting his first playing time. When he was on the right page he did well:

#83 TE to bottom

He was fairly regularly able to get under not-so-good players and drive them:

TE #83 to bottom of line

His athleticism allowed him to stay coiled and not expose his height unduly; sometimes he flat-out drove his (again, pretty bad) opposition:

#83 TE to bottom

Gentry was generally able to control Big Ten LBs and weakside ends; it was only when circumstances forced him into trying to control a Big Boy that his lankiness worked against him. Here he catches an MSU DT and suddenly looks like a 6'8" TE trying to survive:

#83 TE to bottom of line

When he set up in-line and took a thunk from a DL who knew what was coming he'd give some ground but he'd usually stay attached and fight his way through it. When able to take on someone in his weight class things went well, for the most part. And even when he took on a Big Boy if he was able to surprise him he delivered a blow.

#83 TE motioning to top of formation

He pancaked a DE once! A Rutgers DE. But still! Seriously, by Wisconsin he was capable of legitimately impressive moments:

#83 TE to bottom of line

That is palpable movement on a DE and then a TJ Edwards pancake. Was that consistent? No. Was it there? Yes. What's more important for Michigan going forward are not the 2017 results, which did indeed top out at "eh"--he was 55% in UFR charting--but the approach. Gentry was a very willing blocker, one who got results when he got the call right and wasn't placed in an adverse situations. PFF had him one of Michigan's best offensive players against the Badgers and 24/7 noted that three of his four highest grades had come in the run-up to The Game. He improved greatly over the course of the season.

A year of experience and 15 extra pounds should improve his output further, and this will give Michigan a dual threat that someone like Mike Gesicki did not provide. Now just go be Gesicki when the ball is in the air and we're cooking. Survey says: maybe!

[After THE JUMP: tbh probably Michigan's best tight end]

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2018 Recruiting: Luke Schoonmaker

2018 Recruiting: Luke Schoonmaker Comment Count

Brian July 24th, 2018 at 12:55 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles. S Sammy Faustin, S German Green, CB Gemon Green, CB Vincent Gray, CB Myles "Spider" Sims, LB Cameron McGrone, DE Taylor Upshaw, DE Julius Welschof, DE Aidan Hutchinson, OL Jalen Mayfield, OL Ryan Hayes.

 
Hamden, CT — 6'6", 229
 

schoonmaker-tall

24/7 3*, #920 overall
#42 TE, #3 CT
Rivals 3*, 5.6 rating
#39 TE, #3 CT
ESPN 3*, 77 rating
#21 TE-Y, #3 CT
Composite 3*, #798 overall
#39 TE, #3 CT
Other Suitors Indiana, BC, Pitt
YMRMFSPA Zach Gentry
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Midseason junior:

 

Luke Schoonmaker is the kind of recruit whose first appearance on this site is a Hello post about seven months from Signing Day in which two sites (of the four at the time) don't even have a page for him and one that does rank him has him at #1748—EMU range. That post unsurprisingly starts with "since we don't have scouting."

So why would Michigan take a swing at him?

image

Just seems like a Harbaugh kind of guy. Even if that's not quite a direct quote from the quote board. It's okay. I get references wrong all the time. Seth thinks I do nothing else. "Ol' Can't Get A Reference Right," he calls me. Very Michigan Man trait, confidently making an incorrect reference.

Anyway: if there's anyone on the planet who can pluck a tight-end-shaped dude no one's heard of from deepest New England without complaint it's Jim Harbaugh. Sean McKeon, the most recent example, is on track to be a four-year starter. And in Schoonmaker's case, his obscurity was... by design?

"There is no recruiting ranking for him because we never broadcast him to anybody,” [Hamden Hall HC Joe] Linta explained. “When he first started getting offers, I didn’t call Rivals or ESPN. It was kind of funny, because college coaches would call and ask who’d all offered him, and I’d tell them not to worry about it – if you like him, that’s all that matters."

Per Rivals's Adam Friedman, Linta and Don Brown are bros and it was no coincidence that Michigan stumbled over the guy because they had a local satellite camp that he attended; they offered after the 6'6" 230-pound guy banged out multiple 4.6 40s, and nobody told anyone about it for a month. There is a croots scale. On one end there is a dude releasing a top 27 on instagram who will commit to three different schools. On the other is Luke Schoonmaker.

[After THE JUMP: man stalks scholarship like jaguar, evades scouting]

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Early Signing Day Presser: Jim Harbaugh

Early Signing Day Presser: Jim Harbaugh Comment Count

Adam Schnepp December 21st, 2017 at 10:39 AM

26755815779_9b009fa5e7_z

[Barron]

“Am I late?”

[light laughter]

“Should have come and got me. I was busy doing something. Sorry if I’m late.”

Tell us what you like best about the guys you got on the dotted line.

“Um…the thing I like best…I like a lot of things, but the thing I like best…football players, good students. I think the thing I like best is there’s guys that really wanted to be at Michigan and appreciate what Michigan has to offer. They can understand it both as a football powerhouse and an academic powerhouse. That it provides both of those things.

“Nobody in there that really thinks they’re doing us the favor. It’s equal. So I think that’s what I like the most.

“I like the production in football games. Guys that are record-setters. There’s state champions. Very productive, and they’re productive in the classroom. They’re coming here to get a degree. The parents expect that they will get a very good degree. They’re not going to college to major in eligibility. They understand that they’re going to major in a legitimate discipline. There’s going to be rigor here, and they welcome that. Multiple things I like about this class so far.”

You guys announced yesterday Shea Patterson. What are your thoughts about him coming in and what his role could be?

“To compete. To…like everybody in the program, he has the license and the ability to be a starter. As I told all three of the quarterbacks at the same time, the only thing that’s guaranteed here is an opportunity. If I was the mindset of Brandon Peters, I would say, ‘Brandon, this is how you should think.’ He’s the starting quarterback, he should take this job and run with it and nobody’s going to take that away from him.

“If I was Dylan McCaffrey I would have the mindset of being on the scout team, being the scout team player of the year, now he’s going to get stronger. Doesn’t matter how many quarterbacks are on the roster, nobody’s going to beat him out.

“And if I was Shea Patterson, I would have the mindset of ‘Wait till they get a load of me.’ So all three have the license and ability to be great.”

[After THE JUMP: an MGoFriend stonewalls a minor violation, Hurst’s bowl-game decision, and a bit on some of the incoming freshmen]

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Monday Recruitin' Alpacas A Guy

Monday Recruitin' Alpacas A Guy Comment Count

Ace August 21st, 2017 at 12:11 PM

Cameron McGrone Welcomes You To Football Season

I THINK I'M READY FOR FOOTBALL SEASON.

High school ball is underway for a few of Michigan's commits, including four-star IN LB Cameron McGrone, who killed a guy. McGrone spearheaded a dominant defensive performance in Lawrence Central's 40-6 season-opening victory over a ranked McCutcheon squad that may now be in search for a quarterback whose ribs haven't been smashed into a fine powder.

A pair of Peach State products were also in action. Three-star RB Christian Turner needed only 11 carries to rush for 128 yards and two scores in a blowout win for Buford, while four-star OLB Otis Reese put together a performance that raised his stock in the eyes of Rivals's Chad Simmons:

What is known is that he is a heck of a football player. In game one against Forsyth (Ga.) Mary Persons, he had numerous big hits including one which led to a fumble and turnover. He was around the ball a lot, he was very aggressive, and he is going to be a Rivals100 prospect when all is said and done.

Simmons also notes that Reese has gone completely quiet about his recruitment, which is a little unnerving given his recent visit to Georgia. Michigan, as expected, is going to have to keep recruiting him until the final bell. While Georgia has home-state advantage, Michigan has a couple factors in their favor: freshman DT Aubrey Solomon is Reese's former high school teammate and Reese's older brother plays at Central Michigan.

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

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Thursday Recruitin' Reheats Star Debate

Thursday Recruitin' Reheats Star Debate Comment Count

Ace August 3rd, 2017 at 2:08 PM

There's enough to cover from the BBQ that I'm splitting this edition of the roundup into two parts. Today I'll cover the five recent commits; tomorrow I'll go over the rest.

If you missed them, the five recent Hello posts: Luke Schoonmaker, Nolan Rumler, Stephen Herron, Cameron McGrone, Sammy Faustin.

Sammy Faustin and When Stars Really Matter

Let's start this roundup with the most recent of Michigan's slew of commits, three-star FL S/CB Sammy Faustin. It was quite clear from the comments that many around here didn't see much past this...

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #75 CB,
#876 Ovr
3* CB NR CB 3*, 86, #74 CB,
#730 Ovr
3*, #78 CB,
#870 Ovr

...before passing judgment on Faustin and questioning why the coaches would take such a low-rated player this long before signing day. One of the main arguments against Faustin is one we've made many times here: star rankings really do matter.

They do. There's a mountain of evidence to back up that assertion. Context is key, however. The recruiting rankings that matter are the final rankings, once the recruiting services have as much data as they can gather. Nobody is going back to look at rankings at the time of a player's commitment. 

Faustin hasn't even played his senior season. We already have a couple recent examples of who-dat defensive back commits taken by this staff developing into (or being recognized as) solid prospects by the time signing day rolled around. Josh Metellus was either a two-star or unranked on all four services when he committed in the 2016 class; three sites subsequently gave him the Michigan bump to three stars, while ESPN got fresh eyes on him and rated him a four-star prospect with an evaluation to match. Metellus saw the field as a true freshman, impressed, and should start this year. More recently, Benjamin St-Juste was a literal unknown when he committed—initial camp reports got his name wrong—then starred at The Opening and cracked the 247 top 100.


Faustin is skeptical of your armchair scouting.

"Trust the coaches" can be a lazy deflection. Between Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown, though, it's hard to question these guys when they identify a player they want early. At the very least, we should let the process play out a little further. Sometimes it only takes a day; read Scout's post-commitment writeup on Faustin and tell me where you think he should be ranked:

Faustin, who passes the eye test with prototypical size in the secondary, is a versatile defender who does a great job of reading and reacting from his cornerback position. Once dissecting the play, Faustin turns heads with the ability to burst out of his back pedal by pushing off his back foot, flashing impressive acceleration in the process. This is a kid who also shows decent technique for a cornerback of his stature.

Faustin is one who does not shy away from physicality either. Once finding his lane to the ball carrier, Faustin closes on the ball in a hurry while also playing under control. There are times when he loses track of his tackling technique, but for the most part, Faustin is a sound tackler in space who strikes with good pad level. He is not the most explosive kid and can work on his flexibility, but does not have much of a problem flipping his hips and readjusting. Faustin is a defender who provides that pop at the point of attack.

For a safety who'll cover the slot, that's a pretty ideal evaluation. It jives with the junior film, which doesn't look like that of the #78 corner in the country. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with Tom Lemming for a scouting report, and this one also sounds like it's meant for someone better than a middling three-star:

"Faustin is one of my 'Other Players to Watch' in Florida," Lemming said. "He's 6-2, 175 pounds and has legit 4.5 speed. He has good range, quick hands and loose hips and does a very good job of playing the ball. He needs to add weight and strength but is an exceptional athlete."

In related news, recent tight end commit Luke Schoonmaker got a 14-spot bump in Scout's tight end position rankings, added a three-star ranking from Rivals, and got evaluated by ESPN, which now has him as the #19 in-line TE in the country. There's plenty more in last week's roundup.

If you're going to star-gaze without watching the film, I recommend at least waiting until February.

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

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Friday Recruitin' Coaches Up The Youths

Friday Recruitin' Coaches Up The Youths Comment Count

Ace July 28th, 2017 at 2:41 PM

BBQ Visitors: McGrone Ready To Commit

The annual BBQ at the Big House takes place this weekend; in fact, some visitors are already on campus. As usual, it's one of the biggest visit weekends of the year, and it should produce at least one commitment. Four-star IN LB Cameron McGrone, who recently shot into the top 50 in 247's rankings, is visiting and will then announce his decision on Monday at noon between Michigan, Notre Dame, and Indiana, per TMI's Evan Petzold.

The Irish were seen as Michigan's biggest competition but the Wolverines have all the momentum; they have the last 19 picks on McGrone's Crystal Ball, including those from Steve Wiltfong, Allen Trieu, and (most tellingly) Irish247's Tom Loy. It'd be a shock if McGrone went elsewhere, so expect a lot more on him in this space come Monday.

Along with many current commits, some top 2018 prospects will also be on campus this weekend. The notables, culled from 247's Steve LorenzTMI's Brice Marich, and The Wolverine's Brandon Brown:

  • Top-100 MO DT Michael Thompson, who has Michigan in his top five but looks to be leaning towards in-state Mizzou at the moment.
  • Four-star CA S Bryan Addison, who Lorenz believes is M's top safety target in the cycle. USC is the favorite but this is his first visit to campus.
  • Four-star TX OT Rafiti Ghirmai, a longtime target despite being somewhat off the radar who may be a tough pull from Texas.
  • Three-star FL CB Sammy Faustin, who Lorenz says M "quietly lead" his recruitment with Don Brown spearheading the effort.
  • I usually don't take much note of visits by current commits, but in the case of Emil Ekiyor, who's coming off a visit to Alabama, his is worth mentioning.
  • Four-star MO DE Ronnie Perkins, an Oklahoma lean and perhaps M's top defensive end target, is a maybe as he's looking for transportation to Ann Arbor, per Lorenz.
  • Lorenz reports that Michigan is also expecting top-100 MD DE Eyabi Anoma, who plays for Biff Poggi at St. Frances, to be on campus this weekend. TomVH subsequently reported, however, that Anoma plans to visit Maryland. Crootin!

Michigan may not add to the 2018 class this weekend beyond McGrone, but if they can make progress towards solidifying Ekiyor's pledge it'd be a successful BBQ. A big visit for Thompson is high on the wish list, too.

Meanwhile, there's a star-studded group visiting from the 2019 class, which I'll cover after the...

[JUMP]

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Hello: Luke Schoonmaker

Hello: Luke Schoonmaker Comment Count

Ace July 25th, 2017 at 10:16 PM

Michigan picked up a commitment out of left field—or, more accurately, the right coast—this evening when Hamden (CT) Hamden Hall tight end Luke Schoonmaker announced he'll be a Wolverine.

He's flown almost entirely under the radar; two of the four recruiting sites don't have profiles for him, and the other two have one article and zero scouting reports between them. He's apparently held his Michigan offer since participating in last month's Sacred Heart satellite camp.

Schoonmaker is the 11th commit in the 2018 class and the first at tight end, a position of significant need.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #78 TE,
#1748 Ovr
NR TE NR TE 3*, 86, #32 TE,
#762 Ovr
NR TE

At the time of this writing, Schoonmaker doesn't even have a Rivals or ESPN profile. I'm assuming 247 and Scout have given his film a once-over since there are no in-person game or camp reports; the former has him as a middle-of-the-pack three-star, the latter essentially left him unranked.

Schoonmaker apparently doesn't lack for size. Both 247 and Scout list him at 6'6", 225.

[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]

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