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


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.


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?


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]

Unfortunately this air of mystery does make it hard to get a read on him. Schoonmaker was mostly a tight end as a senior after being mostly a quarterback as a junior, but the last thing on his Hudl page is a midseason reel from 2016 that Ace already went to the trouble of having an opinion about in that Hello post:

...good straight-line speed, and while he doesn't have a lot of wiggle, he's got yards-after-catch potential in that rumbling Jake Butt-like fashion—he can juke just enough to keep from getting hit square, at which point he can run through tackles from smaller defenders. I was impressed with his feel for the game; he makes good reads as both a thrower and runner, and while he won't make those same reads as a tight end, that football IQ will help him out. He also shows good vision as a runner.

He's certainly got the requisite size for the position. There's far too small a sample to get a feel for his hands, but on most of his catches he does a solid job of high-pointing and plucking the ball away from his body. He'll have a lot of work to do from a technical aspect, both as a receiver and blocker. He rounds off his routes; those cuts need to be a lot sharper to gain separation against better defenses. When blocking he shows a habit of stopping his feet upon initial contact, which causes him to lose a couple blocks that doom edge runs.

Since nobody got out to Hamden Hall, most of the reports that filtered in after Schoonmaker's commitment appear to be based off that tape. ESPN(!) provided a brief eval that boils down to "hey, this guy's big and fairly promising":

Excellent height ... good initial burst and enough speed to make plays down the seam. Displays good hands and can extend for the ball.. .. Needs to continue to develop frame and add mass. Shows some upside, but can further develop as route runner. While can be effective still room to improve as a blocker ... good ability and some upside as a TE.

Ditto Rivals:

"...all potential right now ...  I really like his upside. He has a big body and a big frame and runs really well at his size. I’m excited to see how versatile he can be. He’s clearly a guy who can flex out and be a big time receiving threat. I’m curious to see him as an in-line blocker to see if he can handle the job on the line of scrimmage."

That post ends with Friedman saying he'll be really interested to see how he develops as a senior; there was no follow-up. This one doesn't bother me since Connecticut, but it is worth pointing out that I don't think anyone followed through with a senior evaluation. And since there was no Hudl tape from that year, this really is a shot in the dark for the sites.

Then-Scout analyst Brian Dohn went into more detail:

...starts with his acceleration. There are times he covers a lot of ground quickly when he sees an open area and bursts to it ... able to get clean releases off the line of scrimmage, but he rounds his breaks. He needs to tighten them up, and show he can get into and out of a break with fluidity ... large catch radius. ... flexible and gets under the defensive player.

TTB was similarly impressed with his ability to move:

speed is impressive for such a big guy. He moves very well in a straight line, and he changes direction well, too. At the quarterback position, he’s able to make some nice cuts on zone read keepers, and he runs away from a lot of the competition in Connecticut. He shows good natural athleticism when catching the ball, and he uses his hands well to catch the ball away from his body. As a blocker he bends well, moves his feet, and shows good hand placement.

Both of the above do reference the need to add strength and polish up his routes.

His coach of course has the most hyped-up take of all:

“...certainly in the top five at his position in the country though. We played against the No. 2 tight end last year in our playoff game – [North Andover (Mass.) Brooks School four-star Patrick Freiermuth] – who has offers all over the place and is going to Penn State, and I’d take Luke over him any day of the week. You just can’t find Luke’s kind of speed – he ran a 4.54 and doesn’t even train or anything.  ...

“He has tremendous explosiveness. He has long-jumped as much as 10 feet, two inches at various camps, so his ceiling is extremely high. ... just raw, and still learning the positions ... you just can’t teach that kind of size and hand-eye coordination – he made some real circus catches for us. The sky is the limit."

Word from inside the program is similarly optimistic. Per Lorenz his testing numbers "blew Michigan away" and folks were making comparisons to McKeon, who doesn't have Schoonmaker's frame but did have a national-best TE SPARQ score. In other posts Lorenz re-iterates, asserting that Schoonmaker was a take even before Jeremy Ruckert committed elsewhere, that Michigan was "completely enamored" after the satellite camp, he's "a potential year-one player" and that he has the "highest upside of any TE Michigan has recruited under Harbaugh." And so forth and so on.

While inside the program takes can be optimistic—cough cough Fred Jackson—there's a different tenor of chatter around Schoonmaker than there is for some of the other high-upside wildcards in the class. There's a hope that Welschof or Upshaw can become something. With Schoonmaker there seems to be an outright expectation. And it's hard to disagree. If he can block a bit he's headed for the NFL.

Why Zach Gentry? I mean, most of his highlight tape is him running away from safeties in a state not known for producing a ton of football prospects. Schoonmaker is more flex than inline, probably, and appears to have all of his claimed height. That's not quite Gentry height; even so. Harbaugh compared the two guys on his podcast:

"Really fast and another 6-foot-6, 4.6 type of guy that can really run, catch and develop into his blocking. I've watched him play basketball, he's a football and basketball player. You look at him on the basketball court, a phenomenal everything."

"Zach was a quarterback in high school and I think he will be similar," Harbaugh said. "[Schoonmaker] is more developed physically than Zach was when Zach was coming out of high school. Two inches shorter but 6-foot-6 is plenty tall to play tight end, I'm very excited about him."

Good enough for me.

Guru Reliability: Nil. No (recruiting service) camps, no scouting, no knowledge of the kid's existence many places.

Variance: High-minus. Sort of a position switch, must add weight, low level of competition, but physical package is rare.

Ceiling: Very high. If the 40 times are at all realistic, serious NFL upside.

General Excitement Level: High. This one was probably a slam dunk from the moment he dropped: Sleeper of the Year. Yeah, I'll roll with the giant TE out of nowheresville.

Projection: Is 230 pound TE out of Connecticut, redshirt. Good news and bad news for him after that: there's probably more TE playing time available at Michigan than anywhere else, but unless Gentry blows up and leaves early he's going to be behind at least four guys unless he's a preternatural talent. Year two should be scattered snaps and a few catches.

Gentry definitely leaves in 2019 and with Nick Eubanks trending towards inline and Ty Wheatley emphatically so, Schoonmaker will have a good shot at the starting job. His main competition will be Mustapha Muhammad, his more heavily hyped classmate.



July 24th, 2018 at 2:26 PM ^

That's awesome to hear.  Wonder if that means Gentry will split out more often as a "giant slot" receiver and either catch unguardable fades/slants over safeties and LB's, or level dudes on crack blocks.  Does it feel like it's getting late for Wheatley? Never hear much about him other than people asking if he's healthy. 

Ron Utah

July 24th, 2018 at 1:15 PM ^

Obvious SoTY candidate.  If he has the "want to," he'll be another great Michigan TE.  He has all the tools to be as good as or better than McKeon and Gentry.  Here's to a healthy and hard-working career for Luke!


July 24th, 2018 at 1:29 PM ^

Brian, don't I remember you calling this class a disappointment, or is that the dementia talking?  If so, your profiles thus far have gotten me pretty jazzed for a not-so-great group.

Ron Utah

July 24th, 2018 at 2:47 PM ^

The thing about the 2018 class is that when you look at it as a whole, it's unimpressive.  When you look at each piece individually, you can really see what the staff was thinking.  Are/were they right?  We'll see.

That said...he hasn't gotten to several of the lower-rated guys in the class yet.  Hassan Haskins, Ronnie Bell, Michael Barrett, and even Christian Turner all had underwhelming rankings.  Was Michigan right, or were the stars right?

2018 is going to be a very interesting class to look back on.  It was the first class with the new recruiting system, and it appears to be looking for a lot of diamonds in the rough.


July 24th, 2018 at 3:27 PM ^

Thanks for taking time to explain it!  The good news is that the 2019 class is chock full o' interior linemen and the one LB they got in '18 looks to be a dude in the Don Brown sense.  There's some guys at DT who I hope will be fine for a bit, plus someone might grow into it.  I have a feeling Harbaugh still thinks he's going to pull a decent WR or two in '19.  The caveat here is that I'm obnoxiously upbeat when it comes to sports fandom.  Plus the dementia.


July 24th, 2018 at 4:52 PM ^

The thing that’s been frustrating with recruiting lately (and is similar to the frustrations with Beilein’s recruiting post 2013 up until recently) isn’t so much about the guys we’re getting in and of themselves, but the fact that we’re getting almost none of our top targets. Just like with Beilein, I have no doubt that Harbaugh can identify talent, but it says something that most of the recent commits aren’t plan-A or plan-B guys, but rather plan-C, plan-D, or worse. They might turn out to be fine players, and many show a lot of upside, but the coaches preferred other recruits, and the incredibly high strike out rate with our top targets gets old, especially when we have rivals recruiting like gangbusters, and also when we have decent reasons to expect better results (Harbaugh’s reputation as a good recruiter, expecting a post 2013 national title game recruiting bump, etc.).

Obviously with the basketball scandal we got some insight into why we kept finishing second, and this might just be a one-off blip for Harbaugh, but it doesn’t make it any less frustrating. 


July 25th, 2018 at 5:44 AM ^

That Basketball scandal...exposes some of the dirty underbelly of CBB...but I don't for a minute think that its limited to BB. If an AD is turning his head with BB and that is the culture then I have a hard time believing the FB program w/in these ADs are not aware and are not also willing to cross the line.

The pressure to win in CFB is just as extreme as that in CBB. Thats one of the reasons I think the dirty south freaked out when Harbaugh started setting up sat camps down there...it had to potential to draw attention to some of that dirty. 


July 24th, 2018 at 1:50 PM ^

I keep wishing some TE related post would say that Tyrone Wheatley Jr is practicing at tackle and looking impressive. His TE future seems limited but he seems to have the body and athleticism to make a great tackle. Of course, that would be a learning process and might be to late to help with UM’s tackle issues... 


July 24th, 2018 at 3:15 PM ^

I, personally, would be ecstatic to see a plain old run-of-the-mill "QB takes snap, 3 step drop, step up into clean pocket and completes a pass to a guy who is relatively open, then does NOT get his ribs caved in afterwards "

Show me a few of those, then we can talk gadgets 

Ali G Bomaye

July 24th, 2018 at 4:27 PM ^

Complete speculation here, but that could be the way to go in the new grad-transfer-friendly world of college football.

Look at it this way: even without redshirts, four classes of 25-27 players each (on average) is 100-108 players, and we all know the roster limit is 85. Recruiting is a crapshoot. So the way to ensure you have a good player at a position is to recruit a bunch of guys and let them compete. The best will be multi-year starters; the worst will redshirt, get a degree in 3.5 years, and spend their final two years of eligibility at Central Michigan or equivalent so they can see the field.

If you recruit one TE each year, then there's a natural path to playing time when the guy in the class ahead of you graduates. But if you recruit multiple TEs in a year, then your chances of getting a "winner" increase, and the guy who doesn't make the field is more likely to transfer off your roster.

Kind of a cynical take, maybe, but this is ethically a far cry from Alabama "processing" people.

4th phase

July 25th, 2018 at 2:03 PM ^

Yeah I think if I had one criticism of Harbaugh's recruiting it would be this. Look at this year we are taking at least 6 OL after taking 2 and then 5 the year before. We are also looking at like 10 DE. We took a 5 WR class and that really hurt our 2018 WR recruiting (Jack Harbaugh said negative recruiting about this was very real). The strategy seems to just be take as many athletes as you can and balance out the roster later. 

Ali G Bomaye

July 26th, 2018 at 1:10 PM ^

The 5-WR class was born out of necessity. The class before that had Crawford and McDoom, both of whom are limited. Grant Perry and Drake Harris were the only other scholarship WRs on the roster. We needed multiple players to come in and contribute immediately, and if you're looking for that, you don't want to recruit two guys and depend on them both being studs.


July 24th, 2018 at 5:31 PM ^

Maybe this is just Brian's optimism in these write ups, but I'm starting to notice that Michigan seems to be right more often than not about their 3 star commitments/signees that they consider underrated. It's guys who the staff sees early and recruiting services' rankings eventually catch up or see the upside in at the very end. In 2018, you've got guys like McGrone, Hutchinson, Mayfield, Hayes, and even Schoonmaker. And in 2019, we're getting guys who were 3 stars and are already getting ratings bumps and could end up even higher when all is said and done. We obviously haven't seen these kids play yet, but trusting the staff doesn't seem too bad rn


July 24th, 2018 at 5:49 PM ^

Talent evaluation does not seem to be an issue for this staff at all. Michigan  should have their fair share of 4-5 Stars to choose from and this staff should have a higher hit ratio on those kids as well.   We could be one epic season away from taking the next step. 


July 24th, 2018 at 6:48 PM ^

Except Michigan’s rival and gatekeeper to the B1G Championship game has been a 5* destination and talent developer for years already.

I really hope the staff can coach ‘em up quick. They absolutely will get there, but it’s a few years out still.

That being said I’m confident they can win the B1G this year regardless of the recruiting gap at the moment.


July 24th, 2018 at 7:48 PM ^

This definitely reassures me more about him. The only things is I really like what I see in Mustapha Muhammed, who I think will be our feature TE once the McKeon/Gentry era is over. With that being said, he could still contribute nicely for the Wolverines.