Preview 2016: Defensive End

Preview 2016: Defensive End

Submitted by Brian on August 31st, 2016 at 11:38 AM

Previously: Podcast 8.0. The Story. Quarterback. Running Back. Wide Receiver. Tight End And Friends. Offensive Line.

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QB having a bad time [Bryan Fuller]

Depth Chart

STRONG DE Yr. NOSE TACKLE Yr. 3-TECH Yr. WEAK DE Yr.
Rashan Gary Fr. Ryan Glasgow Sr.* Chris Wormley Sr.* Taco Charlton Sr.
Lawrence Marshall So.* Bryan Mone So.* Maurice Hurst So.* Chase Winovich So.*
Carlo Kemp Fr. Michael Dwumfour Fr. Matt Godin Sr.* Reuben Jones Fr.*

Amongst other far more important things, DJ Durkin's departure means the end of the irritating "buck" terminology. Michigan spent all off-season talking about this crazy DE/LB hybrid who would do all sorts of things at the WDE spot. They tried that against Utah, discovered that Mario Ojemudia was as good a linebacker hybrid as Craig Roh, and settled into a completely standard 4-3 for the rest of the season. (Yes, Michigan was "multiple" as all defenses are; all non 4-3 sets were exotic changeups.)

Michigan will continue with a bog-standard 4-3 this year, especially after Taco Charlton officially moved to weakside end in fall camp. There's zero reason to drop any of Michigan's defensive ends into coverage except as a very rare curveball.

Because when they are in coverage they are not feasting on souls, as one does.

WEAKSIDE DEFENSIVE END: IN SOVIET RUSSIA, TACO EATS YOU

Ah, screw it.

Rating: 5

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a bad time [Eric Upchurch]

TACO CHARLTON doesn't have the kind of returning production that generally warrants a FIVE out of FIVE ranking in this here preview, but counting stats, man. Counting stats. Because of the "buck" dream, Charlton got locked behind Chris Wormley until late in the year despite performing excellently in limited opportunities. This persisted so deep into the season that James Ross was called on to play WDE against Minnesota. It went badly; Charlton finally got a run out at his destination this season in the aftermath.

So while Charlton acquired a modest 5.5 sacks and 8.5 TFLs, that was on just 43% of Michigan's snaps. A version of Charlton who gets 75% of Michigan's snaps instead of 43% has a 10 sack, 15 TFL season(!). And extrapolating those numbers linearly may actually understate his production: PFF has him the #1 returning end in pass-rush productivity. Number one. As in there are no better numbers to be:

After compiling only 11 pressures on 120 rushes in 2014, Charlton notched six sacks, nine QB hits, and 26 hurries (41 total pressures) on 229 rushes last season.

The #1 pass rush DE in the nation is almost certainly optimistic, but Charlton isn't an average player trying to get better. He's a very good player who is about to inherit a bunch more snaps.

In addition to already being pretty good, Charlton retains considerable upside. He didn't redshirt because reasons. He came to Michigan with a reputation as a sushi-raw moldable athlete, and despite making massive progress over the last three years the NFL still looks at him in the same way. Brugler:

Charlton certainly passes the eye test with a tall, long frame with a moldable body type to bulk up or slim down. … With his combination of strength, length and long-striding acceleration, there aren't many college offensive tackles who can control him, but scouts are looking for improved hand use at the top of his rush. Regardless, the traits make him a very attractive lump of clay that NFL teams will want to develop.

NFL.com listed Charlton amongst the top NFL prospects to watch going into this season because of his "freaky athletic traits and functional power to go with them".

Charlton can be capital-E Elite because his package of speed around the edge…

…and pocket-crushing strength…

…adds up to a tough handle for most OTs. Charlton's mostly a power rusher; the speed is more about getting to OL quickly and then using that power. He doesn't go around guys, but he's able to get upfield fast enough that a rip back inside is extremely viable.

He was also agile enough to deploy the occasional spin move in this situation. His combo of speed and power also made him a valuable bit of Michigan's stunt game a year ago. He was able to get to the point the drive man cleared out and power through an out of position OL with frequency.  Charlton brings raw power not far off Hurst and Wormley; many of his rushes last year featured him pushing the pocket closed.

ESPN has a good summary:

Power-based bass rusher that does a good job of using his long arms and explosive power to get into offensive linemen's pads, and then grinds through contact. Shows above average torso flexibility and strength to work through blockers while engaged. Keeps his feet and hands moving throughout. Flashes a quick inside move to cross the OT's face. Developing an effective push-pull move late in 2015. Lacks elite speed off the edge but shows above average closing burst. … Has some shock in hands. Should continue to improve array of pass rush moves because he has the required violent hands.

Brugler says he can "convert his edge speed to power before blockers are able to sink and anchor" and praises his overall strength and power before critiquing his hand usage. You can't teach the former. You can teach the latter.

The flip side of Charlton's remaining potential is the fact that he's not quite there yet. When we get to Ryan Glasgow in a bit I'll note that I didn't clip anything resembling a mental error from him over the course of the season. The same cannot be said for Charlton. Here he's to the top of the Michigan DL and seems to forget that he's part of a stunt and needs to contain Hackenberg:

He would occasionally hesitate, unsure of what to do, and get blocked as a result. He wasn't great at keeping smaller guys away from his knees. He was more prone to pick up a minus than Wormley or Glasgow. ESPN's profile notes that Charlton "needs to be more disciplined with gap assignments" and is "occasionally late locating the ball," and both of those critiques are on point. When NFL guys note his rawness they're not wrong.

Or at least they were not wrong when talking about Charlton's junior year. After a spring where he was close to unblockable and a fall camp that generated torrents of hype, it's clear everyone around the program expects him to blow up. That includes Charlton himself:

When you’re rushing against [Bredeson], not to say that he gives you problems, but is there anything that he does that maybe is a challenge for you, specifically?

[smiles wide]

I don’t want you to dog a guy, but what is it he does that’s good?

“He’s a guy who has good hands, strong hands. Once he latches on to you he does cause problems getting off. But for me…”

[smiles again]

Meanwhile the insiders are like dang. Lorenz says Charlton is "in line to blow up"; Webb has repeatedly referenced Charlton, not Wormley or Glasgow or Hurst or Mone, as Michigan's most impressive defensive lineman in fall camp. It's to the point where Webb is talking about Chris Wormley like this:

The newly crowned captain has taken his game up a notch, and after Charlton he has arguably been the top performing defensive lineman.

If Taco Charlton is better than Chris Wormley this year, quarterbacks might as well show up wearing a jersey that reads "MEAT PASTE."

It's tough to project Charlton's numbers since there are only so many counting stats to go around and Michigan's entire front seven will clamor for them. Really good DEs can get shut out through vagaries of circumstance—Bosa had just five sacks a year ago. Charlton should get a ton of pressures, many of which turn into numbers. Double digit sacks are a strong possibility, and those TFL numbers should easily crest double digits and approach 20. He won't last long in the draft.

[After THE JUMP: Some guy. Rashad? Something like that. ]

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2016!

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2016!

Submitted by Seth on August 8th, 2016 at 5:45 PM

You can jump now Steve:

Michigan has finally posted their rosters with new weights and freshman numbers and such. I haven't included spring weights this year since they didn't update those on the roster; listed weights as recruits or early enrollees are in the 2015 column, with the recruits in parentheses. The exits of Canteen and Pallante have been covered.

Remember the rules:

  • All weight gain is burly muscle that won't slow them down AT ALL
  • All weight loss is a guy in the best shape of his life who's going to do crazy fast things as his new svelte self.

NEW RULE FROM NOW UNTIL THE END OF HARBAUGH:

  • Believe any of it at your own risk. Harbaugh wouldn't hesitate to list Nate Johnson 6'11"/375 pounds if he thought the confusion might gain a yard this year.

TO THE SPREADSHEETS:

Quarterbacks
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Shane Morris 201 204 209 208 213 +3 +4 +5
Wilton Speight 234 235 239 243   +5 +4
Alex Malzone 218 222 224     +2
John O'Korn 209 215     +6
Brandon Peters       205 216     +11
Running Backs
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Drake Johnson 213 211 207 210 201 -2 -1 -9
De'Veon Smith 224 220 228 228 228 -4 +8 -
Ty Isaac 225 240 228 230   +3 +2
Karan Higdon 190 189 189     -
Kareem Walker       210 207     -3
Chris Evans       (181) 200     (+19)
Kingston Davis       225 245     +20
Fullbacks
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Bobby Henderson 227 236 240 245 242 +9 +9 -3
Khalid Hill 258 252 252 263 263 -6 +11 -
Henry Poggi 260 270 273 266 257 +10 -4 -9
Receivers
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Amara Darboh 212 211 216 215 215 -1 +4 -
Jehu Chesson 196 197 207 200 203 +1 +3 +3
Drake Harris 176 174 181 188   +5 +7
Maurice Ways 195 205 210 217   +15 +7
Grant Perry 185 184 196     +12
Kekoa Crawford       (175) 195     (+20)
Ahmir Mitchell       205 205    
Nate Johnson       (174) 185     (+11)
Eddie McDoom       (170) 180     (+10)
Tight Ends
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Jake Butt 237 249 248 250 250 +12 +1 -
Ian Bunting 227 243 252 252   +25 -
Tyrone Wheatley 260 291 276     -15
Zach Gentry 230 244 244     -
Nick Eubanks       (208) 236     (+28)
Devin Asiasi       (253) 287     (+34)
Sean McKeon       230 240     +10
Offensive Line
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Kyle Kalis 302 298 292 305 305 -4 +7 -
Erik Magnuson 285 294 296 305 305 +9 +11 -
Ben Braden 318 322 331 322 335 +4 - +13
Patrick Kugler 287 299 297 302 303 +12 +3 +1
David Dawson 297 296 309 316 325 -1 +20 +9
Mason Cole 292 287 305 305   +13 -
J. Bushell-Beatty 319 319 325 311   +6 -14
Grant Newsome 280 300 318     +18
Jon Runyan Jr. 275 304 304     -
Nolan Ulizio 293 291 291     -
Michael Onwenu       (367) 350     (-17)
Stephen Spanellis       (330) 335     (+5)
Ben Bredeson       (280) 310     (+30)
Defensive Line
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Ryan Glasgow 300 296 297 300 299 -4 +4 -1
Chris Wormley 289 295 300 303 302 +6 +8 -1
Matthew Godin 280 286 287 288 294 +6 +2 +6
Taco Charlton 270 275 273 285 272 +5 +10 -13
Maurice Hurst 270 282 281 282 282 +12 - -
Chase Winovich 220 227 235 245   +15 +10
Lawrence Marshall 241 238 250 268   +9 +18
Bryan Mone 312 325 320 310   +8 -10
Shelton Johnson 225 212 212     -
Reuben Jones 225 222 222     -
M. Dwumfour       (282) 300     (+18)
Rashan Gary       (290) 287     (-3)
Ron Johnson       (221) 245     (+24)
Linebackers
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Mike McCray 237 241 242 240 248 +4 -1 +8
Ben Gedeon 236 240 241 248 247 +4 +8 -1
Wyatt Shallman 237 239 244 245 242 +2 +6 -3
Jabrill Peppers 202 205 208 205   +6 -3
Noah Furbush 210 217 242 238   +32 -4
Jared Wangler 219 230 231 229   +12 -2
E. Mbem-Bosse       (228) 215     -13
Carlo Kemp       250 255     +5
Devin Gil       (204) 230     (+26)
Devin Bush Jr.       220 232     +12
Josh Uche       (217) 217     ( – )
Safeties
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Delano Hill 205 205 204 212 215   - +7 +3
Dymonte Thomas 190 193 191 195 199 +3 +2 +4
Tyree Kinnel 200 201 206     +5
Khaleke Hudson       (204) 205     (+1)
Josh Metellus       (187) 204     (+17)
Cornerbacks
Player 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 Fall 2016 13 to 14 14 to 15 15 to 16
Jourdan Lewis 170 175 176 175 186 +5 - +11
Channing Stribling 171 178 178 181 175 +7 +3 -6
Jeremy Clark 205 205 205 210 206   - +5 -4
Brandon Watson 188 189 191 203   +3 +12
Keith Washington 175 170 170     -
David Long       (170) 187     (+17)
Lavert Hill       (173) 168     (-5)

[Things of GREAT IMPORTANT after the JUMP OF GREAT IMPORTANCE thing.]

Neck Sharpies: Pressure City

Neck Sharpies: Pressure City

Submitted by Seth on May 10th, 2016 at 10:07 AM

Backed up near their end zone after a 4th down stop, with Brandon Peters under center, the white team is looking to catch the defense with some play-action. What they catch is a pretty simple blitz, an iffy matchup in pass pro that goes badly, and a true freshman running for his life in the endzone. Let's dig into it.

THE PLAY: A pretty normal Mike blitz that gets interesting in the details.

image

The MLB came up trying to time his blitz, then blitzed the frontside A gap. The SAM has the tight end (Y) in man to man, as do the CBs with their respective wide receivers, and the free safety is playing the deep cover. The WLB has a run gap, and the short middle zone (which ends up being the RB). On the other side the Rover (strong safety) is responsible for the fullback.

So this is a variant on the base cover 1 ("City" in Brown's 2013 Boston College playbook).

image

I think "TILT" means the SAM has the edge if the TE stays in to block, and the TE if he goes out in a pattern. But there was some weirdness here, because the T and A are going to end up in the same lane.

[After the JUMP: freshman going off script, two-gapping, or a DE option?]

This Week's Obsession: Reading Way Too Much Into Spring

This Week's Obsession: Reading Way Too Much Into Spring

Submitted by Seth on March 2nd, 2016 at 2:38 PM

by Smoothitron

The Question:

X spring tidbit so far that has you unreasonably excited about Y?

Brian: Well obviously I'm going to go with ​Ian Bunting​ making waves as an enormous skillet-handed dude. This is true to the spirit of this question because all we have is one tweet. But I like the tweet.

Rivals recently had some team tidbits that oddly and explicitly trashed Bunting's ability. If that's accurate that makes me almost as much of a sad panda as Michigan ditching the spread punt, but it's unclear what that is even based on given the timing. Last year's offseason chatter—Morris is a real contender, watch out for Lawrence Marshall, this time Joe Bolden has put it together—had very little relationship with reality, so I'm hoping that gets put in the Big Bin Of Some Anonymous Guy Is Wrong.

I'm not even expecting Bunting to have a huge impact this year since he's a flex guy and one Jake Butt is still around, but I am hoping that we see him emerge into a clear heir apparent in preparation for a two-year run as an upperclassman. There isn't a tight end on the roster with quite the receiving upside of Bunting. I mean, maybe Gentry. But you know me and Ol' Skillet Hands.

[After the JUMP: more tweets that we treat as confirmation bias of good things]

One-on-One: Jake Butt

One-on-One: Jake Butt

Submitted by Adam Schnepp on November 25th, 2015 at 10:25 AM

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[Fuller/MGoBlog]

I know you’ve been talking about Ohio State a lot today, so I wanted to do something different and go in-depth on one play. So, let’s talk about your touchdown catch in the first quarter against Penn State. First of all, you guys line up and it’s a double tight end set. What do you then see from the defense?

“So, I saw a safety. They’d been rolling a safety down in the box. I saw some linebackers clouded over me. I knew I was going to have to get open on the corner route, but to be honest it was so loud early on in that stadium I was just staring at the ball because I couldn’t hear Jake. I was staring at the ball but thinking in my mind mind what I would have to do. That’s kind of what I was doing early on in that game, and once the ball was snapped I just kind of fired out and diagnosed what I had. I think I had a safety squaring me up maybe 10 yards off. I tried to push up on his grass, sell the post, threw my eyes inside and he really bit on it and popped open on the corner route.”

As far as the routes were designed there, as you said you were running the corner route. It looked like Amara was running to the inside to pull a safety away from you. Is that what happened?

“Yeah. I think- I don’t know what exactly- yeah, it was a post on the outside and corner combination. I don’t know if he was trying to pull a safety out or what but he ended up pulling the corner out of there, which left a big hole in there that Jake kind of just dropped it into.”

How much of that kind of defense did you see from them throughout the game, where they had, as you said, a safety shaded over you who you knew you’d have to work your way around?

“A lot of the times I did notice there’d be a safety or I’d be kind of boxed in by linebackers in a lot of my routes, so it’s kind of tough getting open like that but if they’re putting two or three guys on you that means someone else is left one-on-one or left open, so I don’t mind it when they’re double teaming me. But yeah, it’s a good respect thing when they’re throwing a safety down on you or they’re throwing a couple guys on you. I think that shows they respect your ability to run routes and catch the ball.”

What was the most common coverage you saw from them?

“We saw they ran like a Cover 6 on one side of the field and Cover 4. That was a big coverage for them. A lot of middle field open. That’s what I noticed.”

[Hit THE JUMP for the rest]

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2015!

Fall Roster Overanalysis 2015!

Submitted by Seth on August 28th, 2015 at 12:06 PM

They handed out the new phonebooks at yesterday's presser, and the internet managed to captured a shot of them before Steve Martin made off with the lot:

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You'll have to click for big. But I've already updated the master spreadsheet with all of it. Remember the rules: all weight gain is burley muscle that won't slow them down AT ALL, and all weight loss is a guy in the best shape of his life who's going to do crazy fast things as his new svelte self.

TO THE SPREADSHEETS!

Quarterbacks
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Jake Rudock         203      
Shane Morris   201 204 209 208   +3 +4
Wilton Speight     234 235 239     +5
Zach Gentry       230 244      
Alex Malzone       218 222      
John O'Korn         209      
Running Backs
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Drake Johnson 203 213 211 207 210 +10 -2 -1
De'Veon Smith   224 220 228 228   -4 +8
Derrick Green   240 220 234 225   -20 +5
Ty Isaac     225 240 228     +3
R.Taylor-Douglas     189 186 193     +4
Karan Higdon       190 189      
Joe Kerridge 244 238 244 249 248 -6 +6 +4
Sione Houma 221 231 242 243 242 +10 +11 -
Wyatt Shallman   237 239 244 245   +2 +6
Bobby Henderson   227 236 240 245   +9 +9
Receivers
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Amara Darboh 218 212 211 216 215 -6 -1 +4
Jehu Chesson 183 196 197 207 200 +13 +1 +3
Jaron Dukes   190 197 204 204   +7 +7
Da'Mario Jones   192 196 199 195   +4 -1
Drake Harris     176 174 181     +5
Freddy Canteen     176 185 182     +6
Maurice Ways     195 205 210     +15
Brian Cole       200 207      
Grant Perry       185 184      
Tight Ends
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
A.J. Williams 282 265 260 285 275 -17 -5 +15
Jake Butt   237 249 248 250   +12 +1
Khalid Hill   258 252 252 263   -6 +11
Henry Poggi   260 270 273 266   +10 -4
Ian Bunting     227 243 252     +25
Chase Winovich     220 227 235     +15
Tyrone Wheatley Jr.       260 291      
Offensive Line
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Graham Glasgow 305 303 311 303 301 -2 +8 -10
Kyle Kalis 292 302 298 292 305 +10 -4 +7
Erik Magnuson 290 285 294 296 305 -5 +9 +11
Ben Braden 319 318 322 331 322 -1 +4 -
Blake Bars 282 291 294 281 290 +9 +3 -4
Patrick Kugler   287 299 297 302   +12 +3
David Dawson   297 296 309 316   -1 +20
L. Tuley-Tillman   300 290 309 302   -10 +12
Mason Cole     292 287 305     +13
J. Bushell-Beatty     319 319 325     +6
Grant Newsome       280 300      
Jon Runyan Jr.       275 304      
Nolan Ulizio       293 291      
Defensive Line
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Ryan Glasgow 285 300 296 297 300 +15 -4 +4
Willie Henry 302 306 293 311 307 +4 -13 +14
Mario Ojemudia 223 250 251 252 252 +27 +1 +1
Chris Wormley 268 289 295 300 303 +21 +6 +8
Matthew Godin 270 280 286 287 288 +10 +6 +2
Tom Strobel 250 265 268 270 282 +15 +3 +14
Taco Charlton   270 275 273 285   +5 +10
Maurice Hurst Jr.   270 282 281 282   +12 -
Lawrence Marshall     241 238 250     +9
Bryan Mone     312 325 320     +8
Brady Pallante     263 276 280     +17
Shelton Johnson       225 212      
Reuben Jones       225 222      
Linebackers
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
R. Jenkins-Stone 206 225 234 240 245 +19 +9 +11
Allen Gant 196 212 223 225 227 +16 +11 +4
Desmond Morgan 230 228 232 236 244 -2 +4 +12
James Ross III 225 220 227 232 241 -5 +7 +14
Joe Bolden 224 225 231 232 237 +1 +6 +6
Mike McCray   237 241 242 240   +4 -1
Ben Gedeon   236 240 241 248   +4 +8
Dan Liesman   215 229 233 228   +14 -1
Noah Furbush     210 217 242     +32
Jared Wangler     219 230 231     +12
Safeties
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Jarrod Wilson 195 200 205 210 210 +5 +5 +5
Jeremy Clark 191 205 205 205 210 +14 - +5
Delano Hill   205 205 204 212   - +7
Dymonte Thomas   190 193 191 195   +3 +2
Jabrill Peppers     202 205 208     +6
Tyree Kinnel       200 201      
Cornerbacks
Player 2012 2013 Fall 2014 Spring 2015 Fall 2015 12 to 13 13 to 14 14 to 15
Terry Richardson 154 167 170 174 175 +13 +3 +5
Wayne Lyons         197      
Jourdan Lewis   170 175 176 175   +5 -
C. Stribling   171 178 178 181   +7 +3
Reon Dawson   170 178 175 181   +8 +3
Brandon Watson     188 189 191     +3
Keith Washington       175 170      

[jump for items of interest and interest]

2015 Recruiting: Reuben Jones

2015 Recruiting: Reuben Jones

Submitted by Brian on July 17th, 2015 at 12:11 PM

Previously: Last year's profiles, S Tyree Kinnel, CB Keith Washington, DE Shelton Johnson.

       
Lakeland, FL – 6'3", 225
       

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Scout 3*, NR overall
#145 DE
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#27 SDE, #69 FL
ESPN 3*, NR overall
#58 DE, #106 FL
24/7 3*, NR overall
#66 SDE, #187 FL
Other Suitors Nebraska, MSU, UL, Iowa
YMRMFSPA Mario Ojemudia
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter. Invented a sandwich. Thinks you should call Tyree Kinnel CHOPMAN.

Film

The other Florida defensive end in this recruiting class is a trivia answer now and endeavors to become something more than that: Reuben Jones was the First Harbaugh Commit.

It's rash to project program qualities from one coach's take on one recruit, but let's do it anyway. Jones is the kind of guy Harbaugh's going after, because this Rivals article with his coach reveals that…

"Sometimes his desire to be challenged drove me crazy as a football coach. There were some classes that he was taking and he was so locked into his honors classes and AP courses that he'd stay up to 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning to take care of homework and deal with everything in his life. Some of the AP classes were really kicking his butt but he would never get out of them.

"We talked to his mom and he was adamant that he was going to stay in those classes. Once his senior year rolled around he got out of the AP classes and hung in there with the honors classes to make it a little easier on him. His big thing is that he just loves a challenge. He wants to be challenged in everything he does. You can't tell Reuben that he can't do something. He will work hard enough to make sure to show you that he can do it."

…Jones is crazy like Harbaugh. Like Keith Washington, this is a recruit who does not have fancy stars. He does have the approval of Bo Pelini, Mark Dantonio, and Jim Harbaugh—all guys who know a defensive end when they see one. The scouting below is not going to be enthralling, but keep that in mind before you get too down.

Jones burst on to the scene through sheer chance. He grabbed a Rivals camp invite because it was going on at his high school and made the most of his opportunity, blowing through every offensive lineman put opposite him. Rivals ranked him just below five star Byron Cowart on the day and he nailed down his first offers. Analyst Woody Womack on his performance:

"We really liked him, especially in a camp setting because he's so fast off the ball. He's long and lean, and really gives bigger slower guys a hard time with explosion off the edge. In a camp setting, he doesn't lose many reps at all."

That made him into a high major recruit, albeit not a highly touted one. He did lock down two offers from teams you may be familiar with, eventually committing to Nebraska over Michigan State in November. That was just two weeks before Bo Pelini was controversially axed. He was not shy when asked to react:

"I've called players on the team, I've called recruits and we're all talking about what we're going to do," he said. "A lot of guys are saying they want to open up their recruitment. Nebraska is probably going to lose this class because they don't know what they're doing."

He put himself back on the market shortly thereafter, coming up with the most reasonable "committed but looking" explanation in the history of the genre:

Jones was asked if he still wants to be listed as a commitment to Nebraska and he replied: "Yeah, as of right now. Because I don't want to de-commit and be looking crazy if I end up going to Nebraska."

Michigan got in touch through DJ Durkin, he visited, he flipped, and Harbaugh had his first commit.

In Jones, Michigan has acquired another defensive end they'll have to put a bunch of weight on and then see what they've got. Usually such prospects come with universal praise about their explosiveness because that's what gets an undersized guy major college looks. In Jones's case the scouting is more mixed. On the one hand, here's a scouting report from a Nebraska site after his commit:

Jones off of the edge can just get up the field faster than the offensive tackle can kickstep and just runs around the lineman. You see the speed when he shoots the C gap and again when he lines up at the three and basically comes free (running back tries to pick him up).

And ESPN's evaluation is one of those that strenuously disagrees with its ranking of "generic three star":

We see a prospect with tight space and change of direction mobility; does an outstanding job of pursuing the football. … can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. … dominant pass rusher with the explosive first step needed to get even and blow pass offensive tackles; plays with a low center of gravity which allows him to squeeze the top of the pocket. Displays the straight on power needed to knock blockers back on their heels; combines active feet and hand quickness to change up and work back to the inside when seemingly stymied.

On the other, 247's Clint Brewster:

Not the most fleet-footed but Jones has solid straight-line speed down the field. …not much finesse in his game or pure athleticism or lateral agility. More of a heavy-footed guy. … Very solid burst off the ball and can explode through the quarterback or ball carriers. Excellent tenacity. … plays with outstanding toughness and finds a way to win against the offensive tackle.

I am not a scout but I watched the Hudl film in an effort to have an opinion on this divide. I come down on the more reserved end of the spectrum. Jones does have some burst, but even in the highlights it seems like the tackle has coped with it and will push Jones wide of the pocket. His hits and sacks off the edge rush usually come in situations where his pursuit and motor become relevant.

Jones does have a surprising ability to hold up in the run game, something that an opposing coach highlighted in a Tim Sullivan article:

"He was very, very physical at defensive end. He plays the run very well but he has the great speed off the edge. A lot of times we'd double-team him with a tight end or an h-back.

"He doesn't get blown off the ball. He's very explosive and very strong even when getting double teamed. He's going to hold his ground on the line of scrimmage and you are going to have to try and get around him but that's where his quickness comes in. He's tough to handle."

It was odd watching a 220 pound DE prospect and being considerably more impressed by his work as a DT, but here we are.

Jones is going to be an excellent early indicator of Harbaugh's ability to find and develop talent. This is a thing he is excellent at doing, and other than the AP classes the most impressive thing on his resume is the attention he drew from guys who have made three-star DEs into killers.

There's work to do here, as Jones told Sam Webb that he's currently 225 and that:

"I’m not looking to try to get a lot bigger, just trying to get a lot faster while I’m here, get a lot quicker.  I’m probably going to be at 230 or 232 something like that.  Right now, they say I have a great possibility of playing early. ”

That is what they tell all the girls who want to play DL at 230. It's going to be some time before we see what the finished product here is; Jones and Harbaugh and Mattison should combine to make it whatever the best finished product can be.

Etc.: His commitment announcement is now slightly awkward. Ricky Barnum (yes that Ricky Barnum):

"He kind of reminds me of Mike Martin. Not like his body-type or anything, but he reminds me so much of him in terms of his motor and work ethic. He's the kind of kid that every coach should have."

Stats:

Jones recorded 71 tackles and 10 sacks last season as a senior at Lake Gibson, and finished with 27 1/2 sacks during his varsity career.

Why Mario Ojemudia? Explosive but undersized defensive end who needs to add a lot of weight to be plausible and may top out around 250. Jones, like Ojemudia, spent a significant amount of time in high school playing a DT spot. Both were ranked as three stars because of questions about their size. Ojemudia's high school film was a lot more impressive, but Jones is probably playing against better players.

Craig Roh is another potential comparable. Roh was a much bigger recruit but did not live up to that hype. After he stopped bouncing around to linebacker—which was depressing for him and us—and found a place on the defensive line he rounded into a solid run-stopping end. Heady and high motor are two attributes you could apply to both players.

Guru Reliability: High-minus. Healthy guy playing approximately his spot. Didn't go to camps much and will have to put on some weight.

Variance: Moderate. He'll probably work out in some form; he probably won't be an electric star.

Ceiling: Moderate. Size will be an issue and doesn't seem to have the kind of explosiveness that would help mitigate that.

General Excitement Level: Moderate. Jones seems like a good bet to be a contributor and maybe a starter. Hard to see a star, but Harbaugh's made hay with these kinds of dudes before.

Projection: I keep saying redshirt redshirt redshirt and Jones is another guy you'd figure is in line for one at 225 or 230. After either a redshirt or sparing time this year, Jones will be in the mixer at WDE (or "buck") and maybe SAM if he ends up Jake Ryan-ish. With Lawrence Marshall and probably Taco Charlton in front of him it'll be year three before Michigan will be banking of Jones to deliver.

Monday Recruitin' Is A Believer

Monday Recruitin' Is A Believer

Submitted by Ace on January 26th, 2015 at 2:24 PM

Recruiting +3


I don't think #60 is gonna catch him. [Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal]

Michigan landed three new commitments over the weekend; if you missed the action, click the names for the full Hello posts on DE Reuben Jones, QB Zach Gentry, and OL Nolan Ulizio.

Gentry's commitment post focused a lot on his athleticism and mechanics, so this quote Scout's Greg Biggins gave to MLive's Nick Baumgardner about his arm strength proves useful:

"He's got an NFL arm, I've seen him flick the wrist and it's effortless, he doesn't have to wind up, the release is tight and he can throw it," Scout.com national recruiting analyst Greg Biggins said Sunday. "A lot of times you see young quarterbacks try to get more velocity by winding up, and they lose accuracy. With him, it's effortless. He just flicks the wrist and the accuracy and mechanics stay the same.

"Mechanically he's strong, and I love his arm strength."

Three of the four recruiting services rated Gentry as a four-star—Rivals and ESPN have him just outside the top 100—with the only holdout being 247. That doesn't mean 247 doesn't see his potential; when running down the best of the 2015 class, Barton Simmons pegged Gentry as a boom-or-bust candidate with serious upside:

3-star that could play like a 5 – Zach Gentry

A recent Texas decommit and Michigan commit, Gentry is the single most unique talent in this class. He’s huge at 6-7, he has a big arm, he doesn’t have good footwork but he is also extremely athletic, he’s extremely raw, plays shoddy competition in New Mexico but he’s got a world of potential. Still following? Bottom line: Don’t be surprised if Jim Harbaugh turns Gentry into a first-round draft pick as a quarterback, but also don’t be surprised if Gentry goes the Blake Bell route and ends up at tight end either.

Nolan Ulizio's commitment post was a little light on scouting reports; since that published, ESPN gave Ulizio a three-star rating and posted an evaluation ($):

Ulizio is an OL prospect with good size and a physical, lunch pail type style. Little better football player then he is overall athlete and ceiling may not be real high, but with some continued development good prospect that has flown under the radar some and can be a productive contributor to an FBS OL potentially as a RT or could very well see a move inside to OG.

Ulizio's high school coach also discussed his game with The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan ($):

"The great part about Nolan is he's a very physical, aggressive player," said Cox. "He plays with a nasty attitude and enjoys being an offensive lineman. He takes his job of protecting the quarterback and running backs really seriously. He's 6-5, 285. For a high school senior, that's pretty special. He plays with a chip on his shoulder, he plays to the whistle, and he finishes really really well. Secondly, I think Nolan does a great job of conceptualizing what you're trying to do offensively. He can think on his feet, with the defense a moving object that he reacts to quickly. 

That last bit is important—a big part of a lineman's job in Harbaugh's offense is identifying the right man to hit when pulling, which isn't always easy to do on the fly.

The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up a position coach at Reuben Jones' school—former M OL Ricky Barnum ($):

"He's one of the players that I love to coach against and coach with," Barnum said. "He's an extremely hard worker and he's very strong. I'm not just saying that either. In games, he gets double and tripled-teamed and he manages to fight through it. You can watch his highlight where he runs plays down from the backside. I'm talking 40 or 50 yards down the field. On the field he really has a motor. That's the one thing I'd say about him, he has a motor."

With the three additions, Michigan's 2015 class jumped 22 spots in the 247 Composite team rankings to #69 overall. That's still well off the pace M would like to be at, obviously, but they're poised to push into the top 30 if they round out the class as expected, which would be quite acceptable given the small group of commits compared to other schools.

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

Hello: Reuben Jones

Hello: Reuben Jones

Submitted by Ace on January 24th, 2015 at 11:33 PM

Jim Harbaugh has pulled in his first commitment at Michigan's head coach tonight, as 247's Steve Lorenz is reporting three-star FL DE Reuben Jones decided to pledge while on his official visit. Jones had been committed to Nebraska until this week, when he received a visit from Harbaugh, scheduled his official, and promptly decommited from the Huskers. He's now the seventh commit in Michigan's class of 2015, and the only DE in the class.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
3*, #145 DE 3*, #27 SDE 3*, 78, #58 DE 3*, 83, #64 SDE 3*, #44 SDE,
#786 Ovr

Post now informatively updated.

The services are consistent in ranking Jones as a three-star well off the four-star radar. All but Rivals (6'4", 225) list him at 6'3", 223 pounds. While that's undersized for a traditional defensive end, Jones is likely ticketed for the hybrid WDE/OLB spot in DJ Durkin's defense, which will feature both three- and four-lineman alignments.

SCOUTING

Jones didn't garner much attention as a recruit until his high school hosted a Rivals camp in the spring after his sophomore season. He impressed in a crowded field, finishing as the #2 2015 defensive performer behind only five-star Byron Cowart ($):

Playing on his home field, Jones was one of the surprise performers of the day. With terrific speed and a slender but surprisingly strong frame, the 6-foot-3 Jones was nearly unstoppable in one-on-ones. Not only did he win his first three reps, but he continued to step up and challenge all comers from the offensive line position. 

At the very same event last May, Jones again played on a level comparable to much higher-ranked prospects ($):

Jones is a slim, wiry defensive end, but his slight frame didn't stop him from being one of the best defensive linemen in attendance. He has long arms and he's surprisingly strong. His long reach, combined with his quick feet, helps him knock bigger, slower offensive linemen off balance. If it weren't for the pair of five-stars in attendance, Jones may have walked way with MVP honors for his efforts.

ESPN's evaluation could easily be confused for that of a five-star. They praise his size/athleticism combo, call him "a dominant pass-rusher" and a "no quit defensive end," and had this to say about his run defense ($):

Is quick to read and react when defending against the inside and outside run; can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. Displays the initial quickness needed to beat blockers across the line and make plays opposite his alignment. Can neutralize the edge block, play through traffic and flatten to the sideline.

They even praise his pad level! Then they ranked him as the #58 defensive end in the country. I'm confused, too.

After Jones committed to Nebraska in November, Big Red Report had a very positive evaluation of his film ($):

Jones plays in an attacking style defensive line and is best suited for one at the next level. He lines up at a couple of different spots and has an impact at both spots. He has an impact running at him, he has an impact running away from him. He also has an impact in the passing game getting to the quarterback, batting down passes when he can’t get to the quarterback and even chases down the receiver 60 yards downfield.

247's Clint Brewster broke down Jones' film and pointed out why he isn't considered a blue chip recruit:

Jones’ effort and toughness on the field are special, which makes him a big time recruit. He doesn’t give up on plays and shows he can make tackles well down the field. Jones’ isn’t a very highly ranked player because of his lack of ideal size at the position and he’s still raw from a technical standpoint. Solid speed once he gets going but by no means does he have great speed.

Finally, Jones' coach weighed in on how he improved over the course of his high school career after he committed to Nebraska ($):

"Probably just in being patient," Coach DeMyer responded when asked where Jones has made the most progress over the past four years. "He's always played 100 miles per hour, but this year he has learned to be a little more patient where he used to run by stuff too fast and people would change direction on him.

"This year he is still playing with a lot of speed, but he's doing a lot better job in redirecting and knowing more about the offenses he is facing. He's been watching a lot more film and knowing which guys can do what."

Jones seems to have a lower ceiling than some other DE prospects because of his size—he'll probably top out around 6'3", 260—but he looks like a player who'll could make an impact as a situational pass-rusher who could develop into something more down the road.

OFFERS

Jones held offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Purdue, UCF, USF, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest, and West Virginia, among others.

HIGH SCHOOL

Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson produced a recent Michigan starter in lineman Ricky Barnum. They've produced their fair share of FBS prospects over the years, most notable among them Bilal Powell, the former Louisville standout and current New York Jets running back.

STATS

Per Rivals, Jones recorded 71 tackles, 14 TFLs, and ten sacks as a senior.

FAKE 40 TIME

ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.89, which gets a mere two FAKEs out of five.

VIDEO

Senior highlights:

Single-game reels from his junior and senior seasons can be found on his Hudl page.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Jones could be in line for early playing time due to Michigan's scant depth chart at defensive end; at the moment, there are just four DEs—senior Mario Ojemudia, junior Taco Charlton, redshirt sophomore Henry Poggi, and redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall—on the roster.

Ideally, Jones would get a redshirt year to bulk up, though we'll see if he's afforded that luxury given the lack of bodies at the position. While he may not develop into an NFL prospect due to his size, he's got the chance to be a quality player thanks to his quick first step, strength, and high motor.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Jones is the seventh commit in the 2015 class (since this first posted, Zach Gentry became the eighth), and he's unlikely to be the last defensive end commit—Wisconsin commit Jake Pickard is currently on campus and there are rumblings he's likely to join the class, and Michigan hosted Shelton Johnson last weekend. Given the depth chart, they could definitely use another DE.

It's reasonable to expect this class to finish with 16-17 prospects, leaving 8-9 spots left with Gentry also in the fold. Michigan is pursuing several cornerbacks; they could also use help at running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, linebacker, and safety.

Thursday Recruitin' Stocks Up On Snake Oil

Thursday Recruitin' Stocks Up On Snake Oil

Submitted by Ace on January 22nd, 2015 at 3:00 PM

Zach Gentry: Eyes Off Texas?

In recent days, Texas has turned up the heat on their pursuit of 2015 five-star QB Kyler Murray, a Texas A&M commit, even getting him to take an unofficial visit to Austin.

What does this have to do with Michigan? Well, Texas already has a 2015 QB commit: 6'7", 230-pound NM four-star Zach Gentry, who pledged to the Longhorns last May and has turned down overtures from the likes of Alabama and Tennessee since. With Texas eyeing Murray, Jim Harbaugh visited Gentry in Albuquerque on Monday, and things are moving quickly. Gentry removed "committed to Texas" from his Twitter bio, and multiple outlets, including Wolverine247, report that he'll take an official visit to Ann Arbor this weekend.

Just like that, Michigan may very well be the favorite to end up with him:

What would the Wolverines be getting? Scout's free evaluation makes him sound like an ideal fit for a Harbaugh offense:

Gentry is an intriguing quarterback with NFL size but surprising mobility for a big man. He has a downfield arm and can make every throw but also shows the ability, when flushed out of the pocket, to run for positive yards. He looks to have a good feel in the pocket and doesn't panic when the rush comes at him. He can keep his eyes down the field and throws an accurate ball whether in or outside of the pocket-Biggins

The film backs that up; other than some mechanical issues with his delivery, there's little not to like there.

Jay Harbaugh checked out another under-the-radar QB, California prospect Anthony Gordon. Gordon, like McLane Carter, was very productive in high school on a title-winning team but hasn't generated much in the way of college interest or attention from the recruiting services.

[Hit THE JUMP for a couple impending announcements, a rundown of weekend official visitors, and much more.]