The relative quiet of the recruiting calendar’s dead period gave way to two all-star games last week, and with that a ton of new material on the players about to age out of appearing in these recruiting roundups. Thursday’s Under Armour All-America Game featured five Michigan signees: FL LB Anthony Solomon, OH OL Nolan Rumler, GA OT Trente Jones on Team Flash, and DC LB Quinten Johnson and MI DT Mazi Smith on Team Ballaholics. CA RB Zach Charbonnet elected to sit out the week of practice and game with an injury, which should please the superstitious lot; Greg Biggins wrote after the first day of practice that 247 came into the week with Charbonnet on five-star watch.
Though Smith and Jones won’t earn fifth stars either, they did plenty in practice last week to raise their stock in the eyes of analysts. 247’s John Garcia called Smith “the best interior guy” while ESPN.com’s Craig Haubert named Smith to his list of the week’s best. 247’s Allen Trieu, who has probably seen Smith more than anyone in the country, added some detail to Garcia’s line. He noted that Smith hasn’t done any camps, but it seems he adapted to 1-on-1 drills against competition on par with his talent level rather quickly. Trieu mentioned Smith being told something about how to use his hands by the coaching staff, then using that to win reps later in the day. For a player who has been able to pin his ears back and run through his opponent at will until this past week, it was an encouraging sign of adaptability. (And a positive sign for next year, when he’ll be needed to be ready to rotate in at DT.)
[Other guys adapt after THE JUMP]
Jones also had to find ways to adapt. 247’s John Garcia:
He had to be good (handling counter moves) because (defensive linemen) know three days in that (Jones) is probably the most athletic offensive lineman out there. So, he was well prepared their counters.
Garcia also raved about Jones’ physical stature, saying that he looks like a stand-up edge rusher with the potential to play any of the five OL positions. He also said that Jones had the best kick step of any offensive lineman in the game, though he noted that Jones could stand to improve some elements of his technique. Rivals’ Mike Farrell thinks that Jones will develop into a very good tackle in a couple years (FWIW I’d be shocked if he isn’t a tackle, and that’s not just based on what everyone’s saying but also the FBD I wrote on Jones). He awarded Jones the Bull Market award for the player who raised his stock the most this week, with an honorable mention going to Smith.
Rumler drew praise from Garcia for being a “nasty cat,” which would also likely draw praise from future OL coach Ed Warinner given the premium he places on physicality. Garcia illustrated his statement with a story: Rumler stunned a defender off the snap, the defender fell, and Rumler flopped on him to make sure he won the rep. Lateral movement has been discussed as a point of improvement for Rumler, though it’s not likely to be a huge snag in his development; he’s going to play on the interior, where he will be able to put his ability to anchor and maintain leverage to good use.
Johnson had perhaps the most interesting camp of any Michigan attendee. He spent the first part of camp playing corner against #1 receivers and apparently looked like a safety playing corner against #1 receivers. By Tuesday’s practice, Johnson was drawing praise from analysts and finding his work among the top 10 plays of the day. 247’s Brian Dohn saw enough from Johnson on Tuesday to issue a quick scouting report:
He showed his ability to open his hips and turn, and also to drive on the ball. He used his strength to jam at the line and he read plays well. He reacted quickly to passes thrown his way.
247’s John Garcia also heaped praise on Johnson’s Tuesday practice, saying that “you really couldn’t find a weakness” in his game that day while also cautioning that Johnson was practicing against the other team’s less dynamic receivers that day. Even so, Johnson maintained his level of intensity as others’ waned, which caused Garcia to praise his conditioning and competitiveness.
Taken together, Rivals’ Rob Cassidy ranked Michigan #1 on his list of winners, citing Jones out-performing his ranking, Smith’s consistently good performance in practice, and Johnson’s improvement as the week wore on as his reasons Michigan should walk away feeling the best about the players they had on the roster.
- The Wolverine’s Adam Ghabour talked to GA OT Trente Jones about Ed Warinner and his clear vision for what he wants from incoming freshmen, and in that conversation Jones mentioned that Warinner wants him at right tackle.
- FL LB Anthony Solomon was told by LBs coach Al Washington and DC Don Brown that he’ll be a VIPER, and he plans to put on five pounds to do so.
- DC LB Quinten Johnson was told by safeties coach Chris Partridge that he’ll start off at Rover, but Don Brown would eventually like to move him to VIPER.
- OH OL Nolan Rumler told MLive’s Aaron McMann that he projects himself to center.
[Ed. A- Look for another recruiting roundup pulling together coverage of the All-American Bowl tomorrow]