2010 Recruiting: Josh Furman Comment Count

Brian June 17th, 2010 at 1:32 PM

Previously: S Carvin Johnson, S Ray Vinopal, S Marvin Robinson, CB Courtney Avery, CB Terrence Talbott, CB Cullen Christian, CB Demar Dorsey, LB Jake Ryan, and LB Davion Rogers.

Note: with Antonio Kinard's qualification status in doubt I'm going to hold off on him until we get an answer either way.

Millersville, MD - 6'2" 195

This one goes out to the ladies    

Scout 4*, #7 S, #1 MD, #96 overall
Rivals 3*, #38 ATH, #10 MD
ESPN 3*, 78, #38 OLB
Others NR
Other Suitors Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, West Virginia, Maryland
YMRMFSPA Stevie Brown
Previously On MGoBlog Commitment post

Furman on defense as a junior:

And this is from one game, Furman's ridiculous 414 yards against state #1 Arundel in the quarterfinals:

Thanks to youtube user fslade1267, you can check Furman highlights—mostly long runs—from virtually all games during his senior season.

The first thing on the Furman resume is ridiculous speed. Literally: the first Scout article written on him mentions "gaudy athleticism" in the headline. He clocked an electronic 4.36 at a Pittsburgh combine, causing Scout to declare his athleticism "off the charts"($) and ESPN to claim that his "elite testing marks … should help his recruiting stock continue to soar." The Washington Post cited another 4.36 from 2008, when Furman was just entering his junior year. He has the fakest 40 of anyone in this recruiting class by a mile.

More from ESPN on his ridiculous combine showing:

From a pure measurement standpoint, Josh Furman may have had the single best outing out of any prospect on this year's Under Armour combine tour. He posted a wind-aided 4.39 40-yard dash, a 42 inch vertical jump, a 4.12 short shuttle and a modest broad jump of 9 feet, 8 inches. His 16 reps of 185 pounds were also very impressive and a bit surprising given his longer, rangier frame (6-foot-2, 192 pounds). While he did look a bit lean, his great wingspan and overall body length suggest continued physical development. We believe he will eventually have a well-developed frame that will tip the scales in the 225-pound range while he'll maintain the great quick-twitch burst and speed we saw Friday night.

Hello, nurse. Quick-twitch 225 on a rangy frame is upside piled upon upside. Given the context, this quote from his coach seems more justified than most in its rapturous tone:

“The explosion and power this kid has, it’s phenomenal. I’ve seen kids with almost the same amount of speed like 5-10, 5-11. But being 6-2, 6-3, being able to run … I’ve never seen anything like him. He’s definitely a freak. Definitely a freak.”

Elsewhere his coach describes him as "lights out fast," as does the coach he victimized in the state semifinal, about which more later. For its part, Rivals echoed that assessment after he attended their Five Star Showdown, where he played offense:

His speed and burst jump out at you. He's fast and looks effortless when running. He's also very athletic and versatile, able to play many positions at the next level. … His effortless, galloping running style that simply outdistanced everyone who tried to cover him. You can't teach his combination of size and speed and he runs low despite being a bit tall for a tailback -- a good habit.

That athleticism bore itself out on the field, most spectacularly in a state quarterfinal game against #1 Arundel in which he ran for 414—not a typo—yards in a 58-55 double overtime win. The video is embedded above. He was as stunned as anyone about his stats at the end of that game:

“The only time you can run for that many yards is when you are playing the easy level on Madden,” he said referring to the popular video game. “Can you repeat my stats again? Did you say 414 yards and six touchdowns? I can’t even imagine doing that.”

In the aftermath his coach said Old Mill would "just keep feeding the beast" and the next week he ran for 201 yards, punching in the winning score with under a minute left in the state semifinal. He suffered a minor knee injury after just six carries in the state final but his team managed its first-ever state championship in a 17-16 thriller (highlights). By year's end he'd racked up 2,283 yards and 36 touchdowns, narrowly missing a state yardage record because of the knee injury. He was the local paper's blindingly obvious selection as the local athlete of the year.

With that combine pop and production it's a little surprising to see that two of the three services give him just three stars. ESPN rates him lower than Davion Rogers at OLB (though they end up with the same 78 grade). Their scouting($):

Furman is a big, rangy and physical football player with good vertical speed for such a lengthy athlete. Tall and physically intimidating as an outside linebacker. This guy is a real threat rushing from the outside. Has enough quickness to accelerate by an offensive tackle setting back to pass protect. Most running backs do no not want to take him on due to his size and strength. A very disruptive perimeter defender. Shows the speed and closing burst to run a ball carrier or quarterback down from the backside when rushing off the edge. … Furman is a very good football player that has size and quickness. The only area of physical concern may be flexibility in the lower body. A guy with a ton of upside and physical development left.

It's the "upside" bit that sees him rank lower than you might expect. In the same combine evaluation above, ESPN diplomatically says his performance was "a  bit less extraordinary" when it came to football skills and that he was "a bit straight-lined" at times, displaying "some stiffness and inflexibility." Their prescription was for more bulk and improved technique. Touch The Banner has some specifics on those technique issues:

Tends to be undisciplined regarding his gap responsibility . . . Does a poor job of using his hands to disengage from blockers . . . Not a big hitter, more of a grabber . . . Does not bring his feet with him when he tackles

Rivals is basically in the same boat, naming him the #38 athlete—three spots off four stars.

On the other hand, Scout sneaks him in at the tail end of their  top 100, and when Tom interviewed MaxPreps's Stephen Spiewak he cited Furman as possibly the second-best recruit in the class:

TOM: Besides Gardner, is there anyone in this class that you look at and say, Michigan really needed to get him, or they're going to be excited about him?

STEPHEN: I really, really like Josh Furman. I think he'd be able to contribute on offense, but I think he'll be a big boost to the linebacking unit. I have heard about Furman for a few years, and this year he really put it together and was flat out dominant. I know some people think he has NFL potential.

Opinion is decidedly split.

As far as offers go, West Virginia and Maryland were the first entrants. As early as signing day, Furman was being pursued by Clemson, Florida, FSU, Michigan, OSU, Tennessee and Virginia Tech and had a Pitt offer. By March, Virginia Tech had offered; they were followed shortly by Oklahoma and Michigan. The latter two made the unusual move of offering on nothing more than a highlight tape. Other prominent offers came from North Carolina, Rutgers, Illinois, Purdue, and Miami (That Miami). Florida was interested enough to have him visit but never offered($), and frankly that Oklahoma offer is a little dubious given the fact he never visited and Oklahoma fans never really heard of him. It's in the Post, though:

Furman's first major offer from a school outside of the region set off a frenzy. Oklahoma requested Furman's highlight tape. The school received it on a Saturday, and Furman had an offer from the Sooners three days later.

Furman's offers are encouraging but not quite the sort that demand four stars. I'll take any linebacker sort that Virginia Tech is after, though.

Early in Furman's recruiting Michigan was behind his father's alma mater, but after visits to all of his suitors, Michigan was far and away the choice. Prepare for a double-helping of the most common cliché in recruiting from Papa Furman:

"My mind was made up that he was going to Maryland and follow in my footsteps," Tyler Furman said. "When we went to Michigan, I was blown away by the coaching staff and the facilities. I was blown away by everything they had to offer."

Furman delayed his announcement so he could do it at the Maryland Crab Bowl, but as soon as he left Michigan's campus his recruitment was over. His reasons why:

“Going through the recruiting process I came to realize that this is a business and I think out of all 13 scholarships I had, Michigan, the coaching staff and the recruiters were the most honest and realistic with me,” Furman said. “I went up there for the Michigan-Notre Dame game, I just loved the atmosphere. It just had so many positives toward the college. I know they had two bad season, but if you really look at it they’re not a bad team at all, and I think they’re going to be a good team for the next four or five years.”

Here's hoping that's true.

In Ann Arbor, Furman is ticketed for the spur/spinner slot occupied by Stevie Brown last year and tentatively assigned to redshirt freshman Thomas Gordon for 2010. This is, apropos of nothing but a West Virginia offer Furman didn't seem that interested in, the exact position Scout analyst Matt Alkire suggested would be his home:

Having watched his film personally, one position he could fit very well in is the “spur” safety position Rich Rodriguez used in his 3-3-5 at West Virginia. Mike Lorello was an excellent player for the Mountaineers in it and Furman has the range to cover the field and the power to hammer people as well.

ESPN concurs, saying he "projects best in a heavy-pressure defense in which he can attack vertically" similar to his high school defense… which is (surprise!) a 3-3-5:

"We play a 3-5 defense just like West Virginia and Coach Casteel could see me fitting into it. That's where they offered me," said Furman.

Interestingly enough, West Virginia's early interest was for outside linebacker, and Touch the Banner suggests that Furman's natural position is weakside linebacker, comparing him to Shawn Crable.

Why Stevie Brown? I already used Crable, who seems like a pretty good comparison, and Furman has the combination of athleticism and linebacker-tweener size that Brown did. Brown also took to the spur spot like John L. Smith to Michigan's recent repeal of an anti-dueling law. Brown, unfortunately, also had major tackling and coverage issues that were only mitigated by his senior-year move.

Etc.: Scout interview before his official. Early Scout article. Forcing a fumble. A Washington Post video feature that describes his six-sack half(!!!) as a freshman defensive end and features Ecstasy of Gold. Worth watching if only to see him make up 15 yards on some kid on a kickoff return tacle.

Guru Reliability: High despite the difference in opinion. Furman went to combines, suffered no injuries, and embarked on a crushing campaign that resulted in a state championship, and you can't poke an analyst about him without getting the "crazy athletic and raw" refrain. Look at the ranking difference as a reflection of his variability: he could be an All-American, or he could be a frustrating loose cannon who never develops.
General Excitement Level: Daddy needs a new pair of shoes. Roll them dice and hope Greg Robinson and Adam Braithwaite are the savants they're reputed to be. I will say that some of the skepticism at ESPN and Rivals appears to be based on questions about his fit in a 4-3 system and I lean towards the positive side since he'll be walking into (but not on to) a defense that plays to his strengths.
Projection: Man… I don't know. With Michigan currently running out a walk-on on the two deep at his position it's hard to imagine him redshirting, but it's also hard to project him contributing much as a true freshman given his offensive focus in high school, need to add weight, and technique deficiencies.

It's a good thing we have an almost direct comparable, down to the dreads: Furman is Denard Robinson on defense. Expect a mostly wince-worthy but occasionally tantalizing freshman year followed by a mountain of hype going into 2011. From there? Ask again later.



June 17th, 2010 at 1:57 PM ^

I'd like to try him as a Brandon Minor back.  Glad to have him as I trust the coaches, but that defensive video (bad angles and far away) made it hard to see how good he is.


June 17th, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

I'm with Magnus on this one, I think he's a true linebacker (WILL) not a spur/bandit type.  I have 2 reasons for this. 

First is his size, he'll be noticeably bigger than any of our other spur/bandit guys, at least after a year or two.  Most of those guys are right around 2 bills, Flash is the biggest at 208, I think.  If Furman is 225 soon (and I think he could be 230 with his height and frame), he'd be too big for the spot.

Secondly, is the depth chart.  The spur/bandit has a lot of young guys, many of whom are guys we want to see on the field.  Kovacs and T.Gordon both looked good there this spring, and guys like Turner and MRob will be added to that mix this fall as well, both will have freshman eligibility.  I think Carvin will be there, too.  At WLB, who do we have?  Maybe no one from the 2010 class (Rogers to the Roh position, Ryan and Kinard at MIKE), probably only Mike Jones from the class before, and a senior playing it this fall. 

If we want to get our best 11 players on the field, I think we put Furman at the WILL spot.


June 17th, 2010 at 3:25 PM ^

Yeah, I think he'll get too big to play the spur.  I'm not sure I want him running around chasing slot receivers after playing like a rush linebacker as a high schooler.

However, one counter to both our points - Kinard said on Signing Day that the coaches want him to play weakside linebacker (if he qualifies, that is).


June 17th, 2010 at 4:33 PM ^

OK, I didn't know that about Kinard, I thought he was slotted at the MIKE, but I'm also not sure what I'm basing that on.  Even so, I'm not comfortable with having 2 guys total on the WILL depth chart in 2011, and having those guys being Mike Jones and Antonio Kinard.


June 17th, 2010 at 5:18 PM ^

Early in his recruitment, he said that he was destined for MIKE.  I believe I read that in a Rivals article.  But then he said on Signing Day that he's headed for WILL.  So...really...who knows?  But the WILL thing is the latest.

I agree, though - there's not much depth at inside linebacker.


June 17th, 2010 at 2:00 PM ^

Hopefully he sees some substantial PT in weeks 3 and 4.  It would be great to be able to bring him in on some blitz packages once conference play begins.  "Hey, Furman!  See the quarterback?  Kill the quarterback!  Got it?  Good.  Get in there!" 


June 17th, 2010 at 2:01 PM ^

...was a huge get.  Upside and freakish athleticism aside, he's also an important part of keeping the pipeline going for the DC/Baltimore area.  With Michigan in pursuit of several area kids (Brandon Phelps, Darius Jennings, Vincent Croce,  Darian Cooper) for 2011, Furman's early success in GERG's defense could be very helpful.

Six Zero

June 17th, 2010 at 2:19 PM ^

I was big on this guy all last year, so long ago that I kind of forgot how exciting he was until reading this spot.

Freak, yo, freak.  All about that in the linebacking corps.


June 18th, 2010 at 10:56 AM ^

Taylor Mays was 6'3" 230 and played there and was regarded as one of top players in the nation at that spot. Heck yeah I want a guy that runs a 4.4 forty as the last guy on defense. If he can improve his ball hawking skills and hit harder I'll put him there any day! What else do we have to lose after losing Demar Dorsey? Scout has him ranked as the #7 safety in the nation ahead of Dorsey. Plus if he is Denard on Defense I want him having a chance at the ball not rushing the quarterback. Look at some of his weaknesses poor tackling form, doesn't shed blocks well, poor in gap responsibility that's not the guy I want up front rushing the qb!


June 18th, 2010 at 11:56 AM ^

Thanks for explaining Taylor Mays' measurements.  I had no idea he was big and fast.

What else do we have to lose after losing Demar Dorsey?  How about a good linebacker prospect?  And even if Scout does have him ranked as the #7 safety, they're projecting him at strong safety, not free safety like you're suggesting.


June 19th, 2010 at 9:37 AM ^

I'm excited about him no matter where the coaches decide to put him. I'm sure they will pick the best spot and I don't think either of us will be getting a phone call asking for our opinion LOL! I think Taylor ran a 4.38 at the NFL combine, that's pretty impressive for a guy his size

Feat of Clay

June 17th, 2010 at 4:32 PM ^

I'm sorry, Brian, could you type that entry out again, like real slow with big font? 

My eyes kinda went all blurry after looking at that shirtless photo, and I didn't comprehend a single word you wrote.


June 17th, 2010 at 7:43 PM ^

I can't wait to see what this kid can do in the maize and blue. He's the recruit I'm most excited about in the 2010 class. Didn't think about coining him, Denard of the Defense, but thinking about it, that's a great comparison.
Anyway, here's to hoping the best for him at Michigan.



June 17th, 2010 at 8:59 PM ^

God, that guy was entertaining, and then they went and replaced him with a guy who always looks like he's got the world's biggest and most horribly inflamed hemorrhoid.