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, LB Davion Rogers, LB Josh Furman, and DE Jordan Paskorz.
|Wyoming, OH - 6'2" 255|
|Scout||4*, #15 DT, #174 overall|
|Rivals||3*, #25 SDE, #26 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #45 DE|
|Others||#10 OH to JJHuddle.|
|Other Suitors||Michigan State, Cincinnati, Wisconsin, Indiana|
|YMRMFSPA||Brandon Graham if Michigan is super lucky|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post|
Ever since Lou Holtz retired, it's been something of a Michigan tradition to get a small boost to the recruiting class whenever Notre Dame's coach gets the axe. When Bob Davie got the axe, Michigan picked up Jeremy Van Alstyne. When Willingham followed three years later, Michigan grabbed Brandon Harrison.
But when Charlie Weis went to the great Dunkin' Donuts in the sky, it looked like a battered Michigan program would not have the opportunity to cash in with a four-star-ish prospect. Then Notre Dame hired Cincinnati coach Brian Kelly and Jibreel Black finally took the visit Michigan coaches had been trying to get him to take for a solid year. A weekend later, he flipped his commitment from hometown Cincinnati to the Wolverines, keeping Michigan's opportunistic streak alive. (If only Notre Dame had hired a coach as clueless as their last three, but that's another show.)
The flip was actually Black's second of his recruitment. He originally committed to Indiana—where his brother Larry is a starter—last June before decommitting to sign up with the BCS-bound Bearcats in November. Along the twisting path of his recruitment he also grabbed offers from South Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Wisconsin, Purdue, Minnesota, NC State, Illinois, and South Florida, amongst others—a solid selection of programs outside the top tier.
What he lacks in decision he makes up for with quickness and on-field production. Black led his Wyoming Cowboys—yes, like the college—to a 13-1 record and an appearance in the state semifinals, winning a Cincinnati-area player of the year award, first-team All-State recognition, and co-Ohio defensive player of the year after racking up ten sacks on the year.
Black was named to the South team in the Ohio North-South All Star game, whereupon he unleashed his inner beast upon the poor Northerners. He had three sacks, a number of additional QB hurries, and was named his team's defensive MVP after killing the North's last threat with a fourth-and-goal sack. OSU site The O-Zone on his performance:
The star of the night, however, was Jibreel Black. He was constantly in the backfield and pretty much controlled the entire second half. He’s not the biggest guy (6’2” 255) in the world, but then neither was Brandon Graham. And when pressed for what was going to happen the next time he plays in the Horseshoe as a Wolverine, Black didn’t hesitate to answer.
“I’ll be doing the same thing,” he laughed. “Pryor better watch out.”
And though this Dispatch article doesn't specifically mention Black, it might as well:
Every bit as deserving of the honor were the South's quick and nasty defensive linemen, who worked over the North's huge counterparts in dictating the tone of the game. North quarterbacks were on the run all night, resulting in turnovers and impossible third-and-long situations.
"From watching practices I wasn't sure whether we'd be able to handle them up front," South coach Mark Crabtree of Dublin Coffman said. "Our guys on the D-line are not gigantic, but they're powerful and explosive and play with a mean streak. We were really hard to block, and we gave our offense some pretty good opportunities."
In the aftermath, a few Ohio State fans were regretting the Buckeyes lack of interest. The kicker: Black did all this playing as a three-technique defensive tackle after spending his high school career at defensive end. To get that kind of pass rush from an interior spot is doubly impressive.
Given that performance it's not a surprise that Black is often described as a DE/3-tech tweener who could play either spot in college. Scout's Dave Berk:
"Black is a player who could line up as a defensive end or at the tackle position," said Scout.com Midwest analyst Dave Berk. "He's got great burst and will give all out effort on each play. He does a good job going lateral and shows great strength and toughness. With good size and speed, Black is still learning techniques and moves that will take his game to another level."
ESPN's evaluation also touches on the positional uncertainty:
On film, he has kind of a thick and squatty build with less-than-ideal height. He almost looks like a defensive tackle, but plays the end position well. He has a good get-off and though we would like to see a little more consistency he can get moving quickly.
This makes him doubly interesting given Michigan's increasing desire to be multiple on the defensive front. Michigan has a guy in Van Bergen with the flexibility to line up inside and out and that versatility, combined with the versatility of Mike Martin, should give Michigan the ability to flip through three or four fronts without missing much of a beat this fall. If that works out well, Black will be part of a second generation of DE/DT tweener folk whose flexibility is part of their attractiveness to the staff.
And now here's a bunch of stuff that makes you think Brandon Graham. The direct comparison from Touch The Banner:
When watching his film, he looks almost like a clone of Graham. He's short-ish and thickly built. Perhaps the best thing I see on film is the way he keeps his shoulders square to the line. Too many talented athletes in high school fire off the ball and shoot straight for the ball carrier, but college opponents will take advantage of that lack of discipline. His fundamentally sound positioning shows that not only is he coachable, but the biggest obstacle for him might be his strength and conditioning. He does play a little upright, but at only 6'2" and going up against tackles who are three to five inches taller than him, leverage shouldn't be a major issue. I'm sure Michigan's coaches will work with him on staying lower, being explosive, and using that leverage to the best of his ability, but that's not a big concern.
The indirect comparison via a guy who was basically Brandon Graham on a good defense from Black himself:
“I have good quickness and speed off the ball. I have good athletic ability too. I play kind of like (former Michigan linebacker and current Pittsburgh Steeler) Lamar Woodley - fast, strong and powerful.”
“I want to work on my moves off the ball,” he said. “And I want to get faster overall. I’m also working on my hips and flexibility.”
The things that aren't actually comparisons but just sound a hell of a lot like Brandon Graham, first from his coach:
“He was great for us, I’ll tell you that,” Barre said. “He’s extremely quick, cat-like quickness I feel like, and he’ll get after the passer. He’s physical, strong, relentless, has got one of those motors that’s always going. I think they got a great player.”
Then from JJ Huddle:
He plays with natural leverage and balance and can shed blocks. Strong enough to anchor against verses the run and explosive enough to rush the passer. Does a good job a feeling blocks and fighting pressure.
And some more bits of the ESPN evaluation:
Displays the ability to stay low and is very active with his hands. He can punch, separate and shed from blocks. He is able to work laterally and stretch the play. He is tough at the point of attack. Does a good job of playing from the backside, though we would like to see him squeeze down more. He is very aware and is able to take on and strong-arm pulling linemen. As a pass-rusher, he is ready to face and defeat backs once he gets into the backfield. He has good speed and a solid closing burst. … He works to attack that outside shoulder and use his weapons to knock the blockers hands down and turn the corner.
If there was one move Brandon Graham trademarked it was blasting the OT's hands down as he and his squat frame got underneath the pads of the opposition and blew into the backfield.
And, finally, a Brandon Graham comparison would not be complete without a mention of positive off-the-field qualities from his coach
"It's extremely important to have kids like that who work hard and set a good example," he said. "Some of the kids we have now who are getting looks from college programs have benefited greatly from the role model that Jibreel has been."
"I ran into the coach of that team [the South All-Star Team], Mark Crabtree, and he let me know how much he enjoyed Jibreel and what a great kid he was and what a great leader he was for their all-star team," Barre said. "As soon as he got there for practice, he took over a leadership role and was named one of the captains." …
"It's tough to compare his position to a quarterback or a cornerback like Ahmed Plummer, but he was certainly the best defensive lineman I've ever coached," Barre said.
We're about to get into this section, but: it would be preposterous to declare anyone to be the second coming of Brandon Graham after he became the bar-none best defensive lineman I've ever seen at Michigan, especially given Graham's monster recruiting profile, Black's middling-to-good version of the same, and a lack of interest from other Midwest powers. That said, Black sounds an awful lot like Graham, stem to stern, and that's something to get excited about. If he's 80% as good as Graham and goes in the second round, everyone will be delighted with the kid's career, and that seems like a distinct possibility.
Etc.: Just don't put this on your eyeblack, kid:
Indiana assistant coach Mike Yeager, Black’s lead recruiter, told Black earlier Monday that he will make a difference at Indiana.
“I can be the Michael Vick of Indiana University,” Black said.
Why Brandon Graham? Slightly undersized strongside defensive end with outstanding character and a tendency to make quarterbacks run screaming from his frequent appearances in the backfield. Now… obviously Black is considerably short of Graham's recruiting hype and Black is not likely to be a first round pick in four years. A poor man's Brandon Graham, then, which would be fine by me.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Healthy kid but one who played at a small school, and one facing a significant split in opinion between ESPN and Rivals on one hand and Scout and the local evaluators on the other.
General Excitement Level: High-ish. Here's betting the negative evaluations would be more positive if they'd been made in the aftermath of Black's all-star game performance. He battled questions about level of competition through his recruitment and while he wasn't going up against BCS kids in the N/S game he was going up against the college bound, and he answered spectacularly.
Projection: Could play some this fall as Michigan will need someone to step into the rotation next year with the imminent departure of Greg Banks; could also redshirt given the two-deep at DE seems decent enough. If I had to bet I would say he plays as a backup to Van Bergen an occasional pass-rush threat in long yardage situations.