|Columbus, OH - 6'5" 250|
|Scout||3*, #70 DE|
|Rivals||3*, #50 SDE, #38 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 78, #34 DE|
|Other Suitors||Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Nebraska, MSU, Illinois, Pitt, Cincinnati|
|YMRMFSPA||A poor man's Ryan Van Bergen|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Commitment post from Tim. He caught Rock's game against OLSM.|
|Notes||Columbus DeSales (Patrick Omameh).|
When Chris Rock's parents named their baby boy they could not anticipate the electric success of another guy named Chris Rock or the tortured googling that bloggers would be forced into as a result. Blogs didn't exist and the other Chris Rock was probably ten. But here we are.
The other Chris Rock, the one who committed to Michigan last May, is a DE/DT whose impressive size and strength saw him named the #4 player in Ohio in January of 2010 by Bucknuts, likely off a huge game in the state semi where he had three sacks. Before that Duane Long ranked him #4 as well, in front of uber-LB Trey DePriest. One of the "most heavily recruited players in the state," he picked up a Notre Dame offer and ended up on ESPN's top 150 watchlist; when he committed to Michigan he was consensus four-star.
Unfortunately, since then his star has been on the wane. Notre Dame's offer went yoink after they pulled in their epic DE class and each rankings revision seemed to knock Rock down a few more pegs until he ended up the consensus meh three star you see above. People started knocking the strength that was an early asset. In his senior year he "struggled to make an impact" as teams went away from him. While that's understandable, a high level D-I prospect should be a terror against D-III high school kids.
The drop came because he just didn't play very well. When Tim caught a DeSales game he came back with a blunt assessment:
I was not impressed with Rock's play. It's possible he was just having a bad night, but there have been reports from this entire season that suggest Rock is "just a guy" out there. Though St. Mary's gameplanned a bit to keep him out of the game (running away from him, double-teaming him, etc.), that's not the only reason he wasn't a factor.
He was routinely stoned by St. Mary's tackle #72, and it's not like that guy's going to go on to play Division-1 football. For being the biggest (not fattest) guy out there, Rock's strength seemed to be seriously lacking, and his movement skills left something to be desired.
Touch The Banner was similarly unenthused:
To be honest, I'm not enamored with Rock. A large part of that is due to the fact that his highlight film is full of offensive linemen completely forgetting to block him. I find it difficult to get excited about a player who accrues a bunch of sacks while barreling unimpeded into the offensive backfield.
… My biggest issue with Rock is that he stands straight up on the snap. He's able to push around weaker players when playing so high, but if he tried to push around a 310 lb. Big Ten tackle like that, Rock would get tossed around like a rag doll. He doesn't use his hands well to shed blocks, and he also finds himself losing contain a little too frequently. He has decent speed for a 250-pounder, so he can make up for his poor fundamentals at times. But some of his habits are less than ideal.
… He could be a decent college starter, but he doesn't have the instincts or athleticism to be an elite player for Michigan.
TTB suggests a move to three-tech is in the offing, something that's echoed by Scout's strengths and weaknesses:
Body Control and Balance
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Rock had another fine season at DeSales. He plays defensive end and tight end currently, but could possibly be a defensive tackle at the next level. Needs to continue to add strength, but has good size and plays with intensity.
While ESPN is a little more enthusiastic than the other two scouting services, they echo many of TTB's criticisms($). They're a bit less straightforward about it: Rock "can be active with his hands," "needs to watch his pad level," "needs to develop his pass rush arsenal," and "can seem a little rigid in his overall movement." His main asset is "very good" size and a frame that will allow him to pack on the pounds; they also mention the possibility he will end up at defensive tackle.
So there's that. On the good side of the ledger we have frame and size and size and frame, plus intelligence—he might actually execute his plan to major in business and Northwestern and Stanford were also after him—and coachability. One of the guys who worked the OSU Nike camp last year interacted with him and posted about it on Buckeye Planet:
Just worked with the kid this weekend at the Nike Camp, wonderful kid, very coachable, had good dialect with him, had a good concept of how to set up the offensive linemen, and had good hands.
And when Rivals talked to his coach they got a lot of frame stuff($):
"First of all, he's big - he's got a big frame and a long body … He's very athletic for his size. He's a tough kid. He's made a lot of plays. He's led our team in sacks for two years, so he does a nice job of rushing the passer. I think when you get a kid with that size that has that kind of athletic ability and quickness, with even more potential to grow, they become pretty attractive."
"He's pretty athletic, and you're talking about a kid that wears a size 17 shoe, so there's a lot of potential for even more growth," said the DeSales head coach. "I've only seen him at D-end, but I've heard others speculate he could play elsewhere. Depending on how much weight they can put on him, I think he could play on the interior as well."
The consensus: Rock is a smart but weak guy who's an iffy athlete… with giant meaty bones you can hang a lot of muscle on. Sometimes these things work out:
left: high school Will Johnson.
right: terrifying bald fifth-year-senior and good starter Will Johnson
That frame and his early potential netted him a total of 25 BCS offers, including Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Wisconsin. His senior year was a step back but the frame had lots of people thinking they could build Rock into something. Michigan's got three DL coaches, by the way.
If they can slap a redshirt on Rock that would be great, and if they've really moved Kenny Wilkins inside he'll probably be better than Rock as a freshman—he's a guy you'd like to see take a fifth year.
Etc.: 15 sacks and 10 PBUs as a sophomore. First job was at Abercrombie & Fitch. Also he bites his nails. This week in groan-worthy recruiting site headlines($): "Bearcats hope to roll with Chris Rock." Shot of him getting told to get that weak stuff out of here. If you can get this to work, here's a video of Rock tipping and intercepting a pass to clinch a tight game.
Rock on the other Rock:
"Ever since I was little kid, ever since Chris Rock became famous as a comedian," Rock said. "My mom always says I was named before he was famous."
But the question remains: Is Rock humorous?
"Sometimes I can be," he said. "I like to lighten the mood."
Rock on his decision:
“When I think about it and just think about what Michigan has to offer, really they were the only school that offered me that had the total package,” Rock explained. “It has the academic side, the athletic side, and the biggest stadium in the country. I liked the campus a lot when I visited there. I liked the teammates. I know Patrick Omameh. He went to my high school and he is a good kid. If he likes it there I knew I would like it there too. It was really everything.”
Why a poor man's Ryan Van Bergen? For one, that's what the coaching staff told him:
U-M is expected to use Rock in much the same way they use defensive end Ryan VanBergen. During his visit to U-M in March, the coaching staff told Rock they felt he brought similar strengths to the defense as VanBergen.
Van Bergen, like Rock, is a 6'5" SDE/three-tech tweener with decent pass rush skills who doesn't appear to excel at any one thing. Van Bergen was a consensus four star a lot closer to his ceiling upon entering college, though. Rock's contributions seem considerably farther off—or at least they would if Michigan had anything other than panic behind the starters at DT.
Guru Reliability: High. DeSales pumps out D-I players every year and Rock played every game of his career. If the flu excuse is legit he could be more like the player he was hyped up to be in the immediate aftermath of his junior season, but he's probably well pegged.
General Excitement Level: Okay. Seems like a good program kid who will scrape the ceiling of his potential in three or even four years. His potential isn't off the charts, but if Wisconsin and Nebraska were interested I'll take my chances.
Projection: The apparent lack of explosion probably takes DE off the table, so expect Rock to start off at three-tech DT. Without Terry Talbott he may be forced into action early, which he probably won't do well with. He could develop into one of those slightly-above-average pluggers that littered Michigan lines in the mid-aughts; there is a possibility his giant meaty bones eventually allow him to be a bit more.