Previously: S Jeremy Clark.
|Sylvania, OH - 6'2" 210|
|Scout||3*, #30 S|
|Rivals||3*, #45 S, #57 OH|
|ESPN||3*, 75, #150 WR(!), #72 OH|
|24/7||3*, #66 ATH, #42 OH|
|Other Suitors||Cincinnati, BC, Illinois, Stanford|
|Previously On MGoBlog||The wayback machine. Hello post from Tim.|
|Notes||Son of former Michigan DB Tony, cousin (by marriage) of Charles Woodson. Twitter.|
Note a crap ton of great catches and a lot of Gant lining up as an off-the-line TE. This will be relevant later.
Allen Gant was supposed to be the subject of a fierce Michigan-Ohio State recruiting battle that had the potential to go national as teams across the country threw their hat in the ring for a highly-touted athlete. There's a post about him on this very site dating back to 2008(!) posted by a guy with the username "InRodWeTrust33" hyping him up as a major prospect after his freshman year. The Buckeye Planet thread on Gant fired up a week before that. Even after an injury-plagued 2009 season, Scout was still asking "Is Gant Ohio's top sophomore?($)"
As you can see by the rankings above, it didn't quite work out like that. Gant was a BCS recruit but not a national one, and Ohio State's persistent lack of interest quickly flipped Gant from a kid who only wanted to hear from the Buckeyes to one committing to Michigan in March. Gant's best offer other than Michigan was Stanford—none too shabby—but it dropped off rapidly after that, with Illinois, BC, and Cincinnati his other BCS offers.
What happened? Injury was part of it. Gant racked 'em up like Junior Hemingway; even when he was on the field he was usually nursing two or three different athletcism-sapping highlights.
The rest is probably what you get when a kid is far ahead of the work ethic curve (and therefore closer to his ceiling) early in his high school career. A long time Ohio scout erratically updates his blog MSR OHIO—which I perpetually misread as "Mrs. Ohio"—and has some thoughts on the relative lack of hype after Gant's touted debut:
Gant was so good as a freshman that it may have hurt him. He has continued to improve, but recruiters seem to expect a faster climb. A possible four letter winner in three sports. Sometimes athletes get close to being maxed out too early, but this is not the case with Allen.
Last fall I was impressed with his toughness on the football field. Stood out as a free safety. Excellent open field tackler. Good ball skills. Anticipated well. Most of all, when he had a chance to "strike" he did. Covered sideline to sideline. …
Just something that I like about Allen Gant. The challenge to keep improving every year must be tough. Expectations for three years have been high. Being mentioned in recruiting news as one of the top Ohio guys in 2012 class could get into a kid's head. My answer - Too good too early, but he has worked hard to keep getting better, but improvement is not as evident as with other athletes. Regardless, he just does his thing - play hard and compete.
Some coach tell Allen that he is not a free safety on the next level. Maybe a strong safety who plays in the box. Some coach tell Allen that he will grow into a Will linebacker. And be very good. Simple as that!
Well, let's hope so.
We have an uncommonly large pile of Gant video that isn't highlights. If you hit up this Rivals video of a scrimmage between Sylvania Southview and Chris Wormley's Whitmer team, Gant doesn't really do much except fall down once in man coverage on a slot receiver and get burnt to the outside by a tailback. In the best-case scenario (the tailback was the starter), that is a two-star headed to Toledo. ESPN put up a clip reel that appears to be from one game that features Gant looking pretty much like the rest of the kids on the field.
He has trouble tackling, doesn't seem at another level athletically from the rest of the guys, and… shows some crazy good hands on a TE corner route he runs on offense, getting leveled but hanging on. Then he scores a touchdown on a post route. This may be why ESPN didn't even bother considering his potential on defense($), instead concentrating on his ability at wideout:
Gant is a reliable and productive short-to-intermediate range receiver that appears to be at his best when working from the slot against zone coverage. He is lean and wiry with adequate height and he shows very quick feet. He is decisive in his cuts as a route runner with good quickness off the line. He is one of those guys that knows how to work the seams, settle into open areas and make himself open. … He has very good, soft hands and has no problem extending away from his frame in traffic over the middle. Catches the ball in a crowd, hauls in passes quickly and secures the catch. Has enough quickness and burst to be an effective underneath route runner and create separation.
The big downside is speed. They doubt he can be a BCS-level vertical threat and say they don't "see him explosively run by people or separate in the open field."
There is a little disagreement about that. See Allen Trieu…
Allen Gant | S | Sylvania-Southview
Gant has been on the radar since his freshman season. He has great size (6'1, 210-lbs) and runs well for a kid with that stature. Some feel he can grow into an outside linebacker. We think he can be a strong safety or a rover in certain systems, but either way, he's a great football player.
…and Duane Long…
Allen Gant, 6-2, 200, Sylvania
Gant is such a smart football player and I see a better athlete than I first thought he was. Versatility is the name of the game with Gant. He is best at free safety but he could play strong safety, and he could play receiver if things get ugly at that position for whatever school he chooses. Looked really good at the Buckeye camp last year.
…but looking at those non-highlights I'm with ESPN. Guy is not a burner. For what it's worth, the initial plan($) is safety but contains a hint of a potential move:
"They see me as kind of a hybrid-type," he said. "They said I have an advantage because I'm versatile and I can play both free and strong [safety], or I can even line up as an outside linebacker in a nickel package. That's what I have going for me which will allow me to get on the field quickly."
I think I might get the heebie jeebies if Gant lined up as a one-high free safety, certainly moreso than if he found a role as a nickel OLB*.
[TIRESOMELY REPETITIVE SIDE NOTE: this quote provides some evidence that Michigan is considering such a role in their defense. Insert usual Just Sayin' Brandin Hawthorne Should Be A Nickel LB here.]
He does seem like an excellent program guy. His coach:
"The best thing about him is how good a kid he is," Southview football coach Jim Mayzes said. "Since he came in here as a freshman he's always had the right attitude. He doesn't let anybody outwork him. Even during basketball season he's full go in the weight room."
His dad and a guy named Chet:
"The drive really comes from Allen," Tony Gant said. "I had a certain type of drive, but what he does -- lifting weights and eating healthy and drinking a gallon of water a day -- I never did that.
"I was a 6-foot, 185-pound kid who never lifted a weight in my life until I got to Michigan. He's in the weight room six days a week on his own. He motivates himself."
"Allen's always had a good work ethic, even as a youngster," Chet Trail said. "You never had to do too much to get him to practice. I wish I could take some credit for [his motivation], but Allen is a self-starter."
His dad again, from Tom:
They're going to get a student athlete who's full of character and leadership. You have to look at those qualities, he has to be smart, be a student athlete, and be a leader. From the football aspect he reminds me of [former Wolverine] Keith Bostic, as far as his aggressiveness. He loves to hit, he's a big safety. An analyst asked me why he's not nationally known, and it's because we knew it would probably come down to Michigan and Ohio State. We never went to any combines or camps, so his name wasn't really out there that much.
His dad one more time:
"I was talking to (Michigan equipment manager) Jonny Falk and Coach Rodriguez and I told them that if Bo had one scholarship to give, he would choose Allen over me," the elder Gant said. "He is almost 6-2, and weighs in the 205- to 210-pound range. He runs a 4.6, he's got a nose for the ball, he's physical, and he is smart.
"Having that type of football intelligence, it just makes his job that much easier because you want to react instead of think out on the football field. Plus he's coachable. His football intelligence and coachability are his two greatest assets along with his physical capabilities."
In the above you can see a path to the field for Gant in defiance of some skepticism I'll drop below: be Jordan Kovacs. It sounds like that's not entirely out of the question. I won't believe anyone can consistently chop down opponents like Kovacs until I see it, though. That'll have to be it for Gant, though: always being in the right place because his brain is ahead of the pack.
TVH +5/6, looks like. 6'2" probably accurate. Another coach quote:
“Allen’s been a legend in our town since elementary school,” Sylvania Southview coach Jim Mayzes said. “He could leap tall buildings, all that stuff. He had records in track all over in everything, all the way through school.
“I first heard about him when a P.E. teacher at one of the elementary schools would tell me about him.”
Gant played receiver and safety for the Cougars and finished with 21 receptions for 404 yards and a score. He rushed the ball three times for 35 yards and threw a 42-yard touchdown pass in the playoff loss. Defensively, he finished with 56 tackles, three interceptions and a fumble recovery.
“Most schools are looking at me more on the defensive side of the ball,” said Gant. “I do love hitting and I love playing on the defensive side of the ball, but after this year, I’m willing to play anything.”
Gant carries a 3.1 and should be fine academically. Caused user Chuck Norris to hurt himself. Brief Q&A with "Big House Report." Remember Howard Chen? Old Friend Howard Chen. Magnus is sad. Cheer up, Magnus!
Why Cam Gordon? Gordon's listed at 6'3", 222 on the current roster after a few years on campus, which is where Gant will end up, give or take an inch and five pounds. Gordon came in as a WR, ended up moving to free safety in an ill-fated 3-3-5, and then slid all the way down to spur halfway through the 2010 season; he now mans an analogous position for Greg Mattison at SAM.
As a 3/4-star tweener Gordon was a little bit better regarded than Gant, and he's a little bigger. Both are thick guys who don't seem to have the speed to play WR or S despite being ticketed for those slots and might eventually find themselves somewhere else after a period of positional vagabondage.
Guru Reliability: Moderate plus. Heavily scouted, but injuries complicate things a bit. Also no camps make it hard to get a clear picture of his athleticism. Still, four different scouting services were like "eh." Maybe Scout is a half-grade more chipper on him, but that's a lot of consensus.
Variance: Low. Seeming lack of explosive explosion(!) will limit him, but legacy status and self-driven high work ethic make it unlikely he'll explosively explode his way off the roster. Will contribute in some way shape or form by the time he's done.
Ceiling: Low. Seems to lack the speed to be a high-level WR or S.
General Excitement Level: I hate these. Low. Yeah, I know, it's mean. I don't mean it to be mean, but someone's got to be low or I shouldn't even bother with this bit. Caveat: it is possible that the nagging injuries have given us an excessively dim view of his athleticism. When those are shed there's some chance he reminds everyone of what he was supposed to be as an underclassman.
Projection: There are three safeties in this class and at least Dymonte Thomas coming in the next one. Someone has to lose out. With Jarrod Wilson on campus and performing well and this blog's sunny outlook on Jeremy Clark's future, that vaguely points to Gant as the odd man out.
A redshirt is certain. From there I assume he does get a shot at Kovacs's vacated strong safety spot. I expect he'll lose that battle to someone whether it's Wilson or Marvin Robinson. From there safety depth will dictate whether he's a two-deep guy there or if it makes more sense for him to move positions.
With his frame I think the place that might make the most sense for him long term is the U-back or "move" tight end that Khalid Hill is destined for. Michigan doesn't have many other U/H-back sorts on the roster and a Gant with 20 pounds of extra mass will be in that 6'2"-6'3", 230-250 pound range that it seems Michigan wants there. Weakside LB is another possibility but given Michigan's linebacker recruiting that move is the equivalent of putting Gant on a slow boat to China.