Previously: S Jeremy Clark, S Allen Gant, S Jarrod Wilson, CB Terry Richardson, LB James Ross, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, LB Kaleb Ringer, LB Joe Bolden, DE Chris Wormley, DE Tom Strobel, DE Mario Ojemudia, DT Matt Godin, DT Willie Henry, DT Ondre Pipkins, OL Ben Braden, OL Erik Magnuson, OL Blake Bars, OL Kyle Kalis, TE AJ Williams, TE Devin Funchess, WR Jehu Chesson, and WR Amara Darboh.
|Salt Lake City, UT – 6'0", 227|
|Scout||3*, #5 FB|
|Rivals||3*, #5 FB|
|ESPN||2*, #4 FB|
|24/7||3*, #6 FB|
|Other Suitors||Utah, Washington|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Tim. JeepinBen writes on the new role of fullbacks, comparing Houma's future role to that of Jacob "Not Devin" Hester.|
|Notes||Tongan, not Samoan. Plays the ukelele(!)|
Sione Houma was pigeonholed as a fullback and came out of lightly-recruited Utah, so there isn't much out there about him aside from the occasional basic scouting report and one pretty fanciful comparison($) to Stanley Havili, the former USC fullback who specialized in turning basic wheel routes into touchdowns in the era when Trojan opponents were going 11-on-1 versus Reggie Bush. That:
…reminds me of former USC fullback Stanley Havili, who also is from the Salt Lake City, Utah, area. Houma has great hands catching passes out of the backfield and enough speed to get the corner. He has a great frame to add weight to as well.
Havili had offers from USC, Oregon, Nebraska, and others, a four-star ranking from most places, and was universally the top guy in Utah that year. Houma's down the list, and didn't have any other offers from power-type programs. So probably not Havili.
That's not to say Houma is just another roughneck who moves like a dump truck when he gets the ball. His high school team ran a flexbone triple option in which Houma was the A-back—the guy who plunges up the middle over and over again. He got the plurality of carries in that offense, and he has the potential to be a ball carrier if things break that way. Hey, let's hear from Fred Jackson!
"He is the real deal. He can run the football. He is powerful. He is going to be a very good football player. he is very physical for a guy his size," Jackson said. "And you know he is around 220 (pounds). He is a very physical and has great skill. He is really a half-back on film, but he will play fullback."
"…and he can transform into a Dairy Queen."
ESPN does think he's got the ability to pick up those little chunks of yards($) as long as he's not asked to dodge someone:
Houma is a tweener fullback/tailback prospect …durable and tough but will need to add bulk to adjust if recruited to play fullback. Has better burst than top-end speed but is just fast enough at the high school level to not get caught from behind on long runs. … lacks great cutback vision and patience. … Quickly gains north-south momentum through the hole; little hesitation. … Physical downhill runner with good lower-body power and balance. Breaks through consistent first contact. …Minimal elusiveness in the openfield. … Will not be a perimeter threat at the major college level. …brings valued versatility to a two-back offense.
His coach is more positive, as is the way of things. He also makes Houma out to be a potentially useful ballcarrier:
"Just from what I have seen from last year to this year, he's got some speed, quickness and niftiness to him that it would not surprise me to see him in a bigger tailback spot where maybe they need to pound a little bit. I think he could fit that role as well."
"I think he could be 235 in a heartbeat and still retain a lot of that speed and quickness," Benson said. "I've seen him increase [his speed] just over the past year and he's gained 10-12 pounds in that time."
Elsewhere his coach notes "great hands" and the fact that he's a "good blocker" before mentioning this:
"Like when he runs, he keeps his feet moving, and that's always key; he lowers his pad level and will really hit you."
His coach told Sam Webb something similar:
"…a real nifty runner as far as being as big as he is, but he can also just lower his shoulder and run right over the top of you. He has got some power, some agility, definitely got some quickness and speed to him.
…what makes him so tough in our offense is that he does hit north and south and once he gets his shoulders turned, people have a hard time stopping him.”
Offer: explained. Rawls may have that sort of pile-pushing, leg churning short-yardage power but no one else on the roster is that kind of burrower and Michigan would like a guy that can do that and block and catch besides.
I'm serious about this Whipsaw Offense stuff. Houma is another piece, and one that Borges has proven he'll use in the past if it seems like a good idea($):
The fullback in Borges' previous offense at San Diego State accounted for the most fourth rushing yards and third most receiving yards on the team in 2010.
And that was the good SDSU year under Hoke, so that wasn't an "oh crap toss it short" thing. A guy like Houma is a viable target when you're flippin' your jibbers. TTB strikes on his real appeal to the coaches:
He's not huge and he's not particularly fast, but he's got a little bit of this and a little bit of that. He shows an ability to adjust to the ball in the air on short passes, he has a little bit of vision, he breaks away for an occasional long run, and he breaks some tackles in the process. …runs with a great forward lean when going through traffic. Since he's not particularly tall, that means anybody who hits him in the shoulder pads is bound to go backwards. …probably doesn't have the speed to break 50-yard runs or receptions, but he does have the ability to outrun linebackers and turn a 4-yard swing pass into a 10- or 15-yard swing passes.
Each of these guys covered in the big athlete category is a slightly different big athlete doing slightly different things, and we're about to hit Dennis Norfleet, who is by no means a "big athlete" but also promises to be a guy who does slightly different things than anyone else on the roster. Then next year you've got Butt and Hill coming in to add to the fun. Whipsaw, yo.
Etc.: Trades spring break time for service. Random quote:
"I just said thank you for your service. I think that is the ultimate sacrifice," said senior Izzy Washburn. "I also drew a giraffe. Everybody likes giraffes."
Houma, resembles a muscle car: It gains momentum as it accelerates, but with handling capable of diverting contact and racing to the end zone.
Why Matt Asiata? I don't keep a close eye on fullbacks around the world and there is no real comparable I can think of at Michigan. He's not at all BJ Askew-sized, he should be more than a Dudley-esque thumper, he's more likely to beat a linebacker on a wheel than Hopkins, and Aaron Shea is all wrong, too. (Also I'm saving Shea for Khalid Hill.) I thought about Brandon Minor, who's about the same size, but "great forward lean" and Brandon Minor are diametrically opposed concepts.
I do remember a squat, thick dude who went up the middle over and over again at Michigan Stadium a few years back… it's just that he was playing for Utah. Matt Asiata was a crunching FB/RB for the Utes and gashed Michigan for almost six yards a carry in that 2008 game just by running through tackles. I thought it was a little dubious to pull him up since I remember him being enormous, but apparently he was 5'11", 220. If Houma ends up contributing at a max level for M it'll be as a short-yardage, grinding change of pace back and thumping blocker, like Asiata.
If we really want to get crazy with the whole Whipsaw Offense thing, Asiata saw a ton of his carries as a wildcat QB.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. Agreement, but fullback from Utah.
Variance: Moderate. Realistically will be a role player, but has pretty-important-role-player upside.
Ceiling: Low-plus. Role player of some variety, possibly important
General Excitement Level: Low-plus. Fullback, but a guy who they recruited to do more than dump truck people. While I generally hate fullback offers I can understand this one as part of Michigan assembling a Swiss Army Knife roster for Borges to do diabolical things with.
Projection: With Hopkins and redshirt freshman Joe Kerridge around, a redshirt beckons. After that it's another year behind Hopkins before sort of battling for the job as a redshirt sophomore. I say "sort of" because there's probably two slightly different roles for fullbacks in the new Michigan offense, one a traditional walk-on cruncher who leaves "two inches shorter than they came in" as Brady Hoke requested on Signing Day, the other more of a Shea/Havili/Asiata versatile H-back type who can take on a linebacker in the hole or flare out, etc. He's likely to play 15-30% of Michigan's snaps for his final three years, may end up a short yardage back, and will be a redzone option on play action.