|Avon, OH – 5'10", 180|
|Scout||3*, #55 CB|
4*, #241 overall
#22 CB, #14 OH
|ESPN||4*, #33 CB, #22 OH|
|24/7||4*, #23 CB, #16 OH|
|Other Suitors||PSU, Nebraska, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Northwestern|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from yrs truly|
|Notes||PSU decommit. Early enrollee. Semper Fidelis game.|
Hey, look, it's a corner-sized corner. Ross Douglas is about the same size as Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor, ie not huge, but not tiny. Along with Jourdan Lewis, Douglas comprises the (relatively) low upside, low downside section of the corner class. Unlike Reon Dawson and Channing Stribling, who could be anything from awesome to perpetual special teamers, Douglas is likely to be a contributor but not an out-and-out star.
That's not to sell the kid short. He has physical skills. Douglas first popped up on radars when he showed out as a 5'8" rising freshman(!)—ie, basically an eighth grader—and put up a 4.54 40 at a Rivals camp geared towards underclass kids. A few months later he replicated the 40($) en route to being named "combine king" at a similar event. A year later he'd picked up that Tennessee offer($) and was running 40s a tenth faster. He picked Penn State($) almost a year before signing day, decommitting when the NCAA broke out the flamethrower. 24 hours later he'd picked Michigan.
Michigan has acquired a slightly bigger and more advanced version of Courtney Avery. (Both were mostly offensive players. Douglas got two years as a defensive back while Avery barely played defense in high school.) Almost everyone describes him as a quick, hip-flipping fiend, with a couple guys making explicit comparisons to Avery. Scout's Bill Greene does as part of an extensive scouting report($):
WHAT TO LIKE: …pure speed athlete … He can run and jump with the best of Ohio's top defensive backs… skill set is more than adequate, and all he lacks is game experience at the position
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS: At 5-foot-10, or 5-foot-11, Douglas is what he is. He is not a long-armed, tall cornerback. …
WHAT ARE THE INTANGIBLES? … I feel safe in saying there are zero character concerns with Ross Douglas. He comes from a great family, with his father being a retired air traffic controller, while his mother is an associate dean of students at Case Western. An older brother is currently enrolled in medical school. … I don't know what the ceiling is for Ross Douglas a player, but I suspect it is pretty high. I do feel comfortable saying he is going to do everything he can to reach that ceiling, and he should be a player Michigan fans can be very proud of.
He showed out at a lot of camps, drawing praise for his "ability to cover in the slot", and "effortless" hip-flip. At something called "HSPD" he was a "pass breakup machine"; at a Nike camp Mark Givler said it is "fun to watch" Douglas do drills because "his backpedal is outstanding and he flips his hips as well as any DB in the state."
At that Nike camp he drew strong praise($) from Josh Helmholdt:
8. CB ROSS DOUGLAS, AVON, OHIO
Douglas is so consistently clean in coverage that you almost forget he is out there. … The 5-10, 175-pound prospect is not a flashy player. He stays in great position in relation to the wide receiver throughout routes and makes throwing the ball in his direction very unappealing. Douglas has all the speed he needs to stay with receivers and his technique is near flawless.
With that take it's no surprise Rivals is the most bullish on him. 247 was also impressed that day:
On this day, Penn State commit Ross Douglas was our pick for the top player of the talented group. He doesn’t have the height and length that is ideal in a corner prospect but he was the most fluid and natural defender in coverage at the event.
Douglas has great feet, flips his hips with ease and he also has some make-up speed to recover in tight spaces. The only thing he seems to be missing is that prototype height.
ESPN is a dissenter here:
He plays and pursues fast, but lacks ideal top-end speed and does not project to be a lockdown cover corner in college you want to leave on an island. He shows a good nose for the ball and is at his best playing the pass in front of him. He displays good footwork and balance as well as a good closing burst. He lacks a tight, fluid waist and doesn't always look smooth in transition when locked down in man, but he can recover with burst and proper inside positioning to make a play on the ball. He does a good job using his hands and leverage in tight coverage. He's aggressive and effective in press. He will reroute and take away the inside release. He competes for the jump ball when challenged deep in one-on-one coverage but can struggle versus taller receivers. We didn't see great leaping or ball skills.
Scout is kind of in the same boat. There's a lot of "good" in their profile:
Change of Direction
AREAS FOR IMPROVEMENT
Good athlete with good feet and quickness. Good speed and ability to run downfield with receivers. At his size, bigger receivers may give him trouble. He will have to get stronger in college. Played more offense than defense in high school, so he will have a learning curve for corner, but is a smart, coachable kid with the athletic tools you need in coverage. - Allen Trieu
Ah, the always-funny "size" area for improvement. No one should ever give me access to Scout's database, because I'll immediately add things like "number of arms" to everyone's "areas for improvement."
It was more of the same at the Semper Fi game. Semper Fi is Yet Another High School All Star game. While no one's really sure if the Army game or UA game is #1, Semper Fi is definitively #3. It does represent a higher level of competition for everyone who shows up, though, and is the most recent scouting we've got for Douglas. That scouting is MOTS, for the most part:
Scout: "…made it hard for any ball thrown his way to make it to the receiver. He never lost sight of the ball or his man. … physical at the line of scrimmage and also [able to] flip his hips and run in coverage. …showed speed to make up ground late on a deep ball.
247: "Douglas does not have outstanding size, but he’s got good hips and feet, can change direction well and has excellent recovery speed."
Rivals: "…downright giddy over the chance to compete with top-level competition. When he was forced to rotate out of drills, he immediately begged to get back to the action. He was fundamentally sound and had his moments of greatest [sic, no idea], but his spirit and competitiveness helped him stand out.
The idea. You have it.
But wait, there's more: in addition to Douglas's physical skills, you have that "is an awesome dude" statement from Greene above. His coach strongly backs that POV:
"… I promised [Hoke] one thing that Ross Douglas will never do: he'll never embarrass Michigan's football program, ever. He's a top-notch athlete and he's got great character and he comes from a tremendous family. … In addition to that, he's worked extremely hard on his technique. He works on his craft harder than anybody probably I've ever coached."
Helmholdt chimes in($) by calling him "very smart" and "very instinctual," so the above the neck stuff all seems to be there. The Rodriguez-mentioning moratorium is temporarily lifted so we can compare the 2010 class—down to ten guys of 27—to these Hoke classes in which everyone shows up and stays around unless they get injured.
Etc.: Like dang near every other DB in the class, he's been told that nickelback is where he'll get his first swing($)—in this case where he got his first swing since Douglas enrolled early. He has apparently lost that battle to the six-foot-plus thumper Dymonte Thomas.
Coach Hoke told me all the defensive staff raves about me," Douglas said. "They are bringing in four corners this class and they brought in four [defensive backs] last class, so they just want me to compete. They said there is a lot of opportunity at Michigan."
Why Courtney Avery? Smallish cover-oriented nickelback from Ohio who mostly played offense in high school.
Douglas has several things on Avery, though: an inch or two, two years of experience, three quarters of a star (Avery was a consensus three-star), and a number of good-but-not-elite offers. While Avery has struggled whenever he's been asked to move outside, Douglas has enough upside to project him as a potential field corner.
You could go Blake Countess here if you're being optimistic, but the scouting reports on Countess were rapture. Douglas's are a couple notches down from that. Maybe split the difference between Countess and Avery?
Guru Reliability: Exacting. Camps, healthy, played the position for a couple years, All Star appearance, basic agreement save ESPN's fire-and-forget take.
Variance: Low-plus. A slight amount of uncertainty about his experience at corner, but two years as a starter there is barely less than a full-timer would have at this point. Has whatever the opposite of character issues is.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. Is never going to be tall or Charles Woodson. Has enough skill to be a solid contributor.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Should be a contributor and will at least be solid depth. Could be a fine starting option; seems unlikely to be a war daddy.
Projection: Despite the early enrollment a redshirt could beckon. Douglas seemed behind not only the starters but a couple vets in spring at both field corner (boundary seems out of the question for him as a freshman) and nickel. More likely, Douglas gets special teams time and the occasional snap on defense this year.
Next year it's probably more of the same. Michigan loses only Courtney Avery. Competition for playing time will be fierce. The best bet for PT in year two is for Douglas to become a preferred option to Dymonte Thomas on third and long. Tough road, that. It is totally great that a guy like Douglas is the option off the bench in case someone goes down. That's a luxury right there.
Given the emergence of Thomas and Countess having the field corner spot on lockdown for the next year or two, that redshirt looks pretty tempting.