Previously: Last year's profiles. S Josh Metellus, S Khaleke Hudson, CB David Long, CB Lavert Hill, LB Elysee Mbem-Bosse, LB Devin Bush Jr., LB Devin Gil, LB Josh Uche, DE Ron Johnson, DT Michael Dwumfour, DT Rashan Gary, DE Carlo Kemp, OL Ben Bredeson, OL Michael Onwenu, OL Stephen Spanellis, TE Nick Eubanks, TE Sean McKeon.
|Concord, CA – 6'4", 270|
|Scout||4*, #67 overall
|Rivals||4*, #46 overall
#2 TE, #10 CA
|ESPN||4*, #44 overall
#3 TE-Y, #5 CA
|24/7||4*, #220 overall
#8 TE, #31 CA
|Other Suitors||USC, UCLA, UW, Bama, ND|
|YMRMFSPA||AJ Williams, Harbaugh Edition|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Junior film, notable because he plays a reasonable amount of QB in it:
This is a useful Sports Stars of Tomorrow profile:
Devin Asiasi is an archetypical "jumbo athlete." He is a huge person who moves uncommonly fast and could fit at either tight end or somewhere along the defensive line. For most of the cycle there was disagreement amongst the services where he would end up, and many articles reported that school X was recruiting Asiasi for defense.
This was to Michigan's advantage. A big reason he's in Ann Arbor is because he wants to play tight end:
“A lot of people are saying defense, but I’m trying to focus on tight end right now,” Asiasi said. “That’s really where my heart is right now. That’s really where I’m trying to focus my game on.”
There are zero programs in the country more convincing when they tell a kid like Asiasi he'll play offense. If there's a program that values this take from his high school coach…
"…if there’s a better blocking tight end in the country I’d be really surprised. What he did for us blocking was incredible. He’s the best blocking tight end we’ve ever had. … Then when you throw the ball out to him and you see how big, long, and athletic he is, it’s unmistakable."
…it is Jim Harbaugh's Michigan.
Asiasi is a rare guy these days. In an era when top tight end prospects are 6'6" converted power forwards liable to snap in half if you breathe on 'em, Asiasi delivers a thump. Jay Harbaugh says Asiasi is "tenacious, violent and physically bludgeons his opponents," and this is not mere puffery. Rivals caught him during his junior year, when he was around 250. He had "some fierce blocks" and there was "no doubt he's super powerful now"; he weighed in at a college-ready and even more powerful 270 at the Army game. Scout notes that he's "more than just a big receiver" because he can "block and engage in the physical side of the game" and that he's "as complete a tight end to come from the West in some time." ESPN:
…excellent bulk. Has a powerful base with room for further development through his upper body. … a big, physical short-to-intermediate underneath target. … good hands with ability to extend for the ball and catch away from his frame…very good body control to be able to adjust to passes off target….very strong [as a blocker], with size, strength, toughness and experience. … good ability to come off with pad level, deliver a pop, roll hips and push defenders off the ball. Physical player that can play with some nastiness.
huge lower half and actually could potentially be in danger of growing out of being a tight end. …very agile for his size, but isn’t an explosive athlete. …. dominant in-line blocker that shows great pop on contact and does well getting to linebackers at the second level. My only small complaint is that he sometimes will only get the pop and not fit his block as well as he should, but he will latch on and drive an opponent into the ground … brings violence when he hits a defender.
Scout named him an "instant impact" freshman:
… special talent with a college body right now. … advanced technique as a blocker, has the size to be physical in the run game but the hands and the athleticism to be a factor in the passing game as well. …looks like a future NFL player.
Asiasi is the kind of guy that will allow Harbaugh to line up in a goal line formation on his own 30. He's not just rare because he's a mean TE, he's rare for the same reason Tyrone Wheatley Jr. is: that man should not get to move like that. Tim Drevno knows a tight end when he sees one and told MGoBlue that "we have had a great string of tight ends at Stanford and now here at Michigan and he’s right that at the top"; Touch The Banner compares his athleticism favorably to Jake Butt.
Data on Asiasi's hands is necessarily thin given the nature of his high school's offense—his coach says De La Salle is "90-95% run"—but what exists is mostly encouraging. For one, in the highlight films above he makes a number of tough catches; even on the simple ones he flashes his hands out and secures the ball without bobbles. I just watched Nick Eubanks's tape, and the contrast jumped out. For two, in various camp situations he excelled. Both Rivals and 247 praised him after a massive 7-on-7 tournament in Las Vegas; both placed him on the All-Tournament team because he showed "good mobility and athleticism," "very strong hands," and was "just too strong for defenders and too nimble."
The most extensive reports come from his appearance at the Army game. Scout:
…can absolutely run and catch like a lighter tight end. He's a smooth pass-catcher with a big catch radius, has soft hands, runs tremendous routes and looks natural playing the position. … already a good blocker but this game, and today in particular, showed what he can do when used as an offensive weapon.
…did a nice job of getting open and gaining separation against some linebackers and safeties. He also showed soft hands and was a nice weapon in the redzone.
… one of the biggest players on the roster yet he moves remarkably well down field and through his routes. Asiasi has been a favorite for the West quarterbacks throughout the week and that continued Thursday, especially in the red zone.
…impressed all week during Army practices … Weighing in at almost 275 pounds, Asiasi wowed onlookers with how well he moved for such a big target. He has soft hands, is a tremendous blocker and is that rare every down tight end who can be both strong in the run game as well as a threat in the passing game.
…showed the skills necessary to be a consistent receiving threat at the next level. He is a natural, and just glides for a guy his size. He didn’t drop a pass and just oozes big time potential.
There was one guy who was like nah: 247's Barton Simmons. This evaluation is more or less the only negative one I came across in a pile of scouting and likely explains why 247 is the least enthused about Asiasi by some distance:
Devin Asiasi needs to play defensive line. He's a capable tight end but with one drop on what would have been a touchdown reception in the game and a pedestrian week of practice, we think Asiasi would be a dominant defensive lineman but is just a guy at tight end.
Yeah, he biffed a touchdown in the game itself, but per Scout Asiasi dropped just one of a ton of reps during the practice week, and various clipped bits of the scouting reports above reveal that TEs don't block much, if at all, during the Army practices. It's an outlier evaluation. What concerns exist about Asiasi's receiving ability are not about his hands but his size. He's probably fine right now—only the one dude had any concern about his mobility at the Army game—but people don't often stay the same weight once they hit a college S&C program.
So defensive end remains a possibility. Asiasi strongly prefers tight end and will start out there, but you know Harbaugh: he's going to flip guys to the other side of the ball just to check. It's possible Asiasi ends up with a higher ceiling there, especially if his weight goes up instead of down. That is not out of the question. Asiasi tried to cut down before his senior year, which he played at 275:
“It didn’t happen, it didn’t happen,” Asiasi said. “Hopefully I can get back to 260, 265. (But) I don’t think I should focus on getting my weight down I think I should just focus on getting stronger.”
Adam Gorney pointed out that if he ends up adding weight—which almost all recruits under 300 pounds do—tight end might cease to be tenable:
“He’s huge so that’s going to be a concern if he’s going to stay at tight end, he really can’t gain any more weight, he’s maxed out physically, a lot of people are thinking defensive end, I wouldn’t be shocked if that was maybe his future position.”
ESPN evaluated him as a tight end but did mention his two way ability and provide an intriguing comparison: former Minnesota DL Ra'Shede Hageman, who went from high school TE to explosive 300 pound three-tech over the course of his career.
Various folks think his best potential is as a DL; Son of a Coach believes he'll be best as a Wormley type DL who bounces between SDE and three-tech:
He’s got some ability to bend around the edge and can convert speed to power. His first step is very good and he uses his hands well to disengage. His ability to recognize and react to blocks also appears to be advanced for someone his age.
On most teams—cough cough UCLA—DE would be a likely destination no matter what Asiasi was told during his recruitment; at Michigan it's is definitely the backup plan.
Etc.: Was long thought to be a package deal with Boss Tagaloa but that didn't happen. While packages are often overhyped, in this instance I'm still surprised they ended up different places. First in his family to go to college.
Why AJ Williams, Harbaugh Version? I can't remember the last truly jumbo tight end before Williams. Carr's guys were Tuman/Ecker types, mostly, RR was a spread guy looking for flex sorts, and Hoke's jumbo TE was… AJ Williams. That version of AJ Williams was a consistent disappointment, a poor blocker and nonentity in the passing game; Harbaugh made him a legit good two-way player in just a year. Asiasi has more upside than Williams, who was a 3/4 star borderline guy a lot of people thought would end up playing OT. Asiasi is a better athlete and more natural pass-catcher who will start out almost as good as Williams was as a senior.
The other obvious comparison is Tyrone Wheatley Jr, who we haven't seen play yet but is the same kind of freaky athlete and mauler dude at 270-280 pounds. Having two of these guys on one roster is going to be fun as hell.
Guru Reliability: High. Asiasi was one of the highest profile prospects on the West Coast, he did a bunch of camps, he showed at the Army game, and while there are scattered disagreements and one outlying ranking this is one of those posts I had to chop down from 5k words. Lack of utilization in the passing game is the only major caveat.
Variance: Low. I mean, yeah, some concern that he didn't get the ball a ton but he looks very natural on film and did every camp imaginable to prove to folks he was a TE. If he is not a TE for some reason he was just as touted as a DL. If he doesn't end up a starter at some point I'll eat a lemon. (Barring injury.)
Ceiling: Very high. Asiasi's combination of face-smashing blocking, excellent hands, and plus athleticism is hard to find.
General Excitement Level: Vast. I remember on signing day when Michigan got Asiasi it was kind of like "cool, bonus, but let's talk more about Rashan Gary." I thought that myself, and then I don't think we talked about Asiasi much in the aftermath. In general it feels like the Michigan fan base is overlooking this dude, his fit with the Harbauffense, and the evil things Michigan will be able to do with him.
Projection: A lot of reports out there that he won't redshirt. That makes sense given the player; it might not make quite as much sense given the depth chart. Oh well: he's playing. He should get a reasonable number of inline TE snaps behind Wheatley and I bet one dollar both of them are in short yardage and goal line packages.
Going forward it's hard to project he'll be a starter for a while with Wheatley and Bunting around, but what's a starter, really, when we're talking about a Harbauffense? TE will be like this year's defensive line: a ton of rotation, fresh legs, and talent coming out the winged helmet's earholes. Asiasi will be a major part of that from year two on.