|Cedar Grove, GA – 6'3", 232|
|Scout||3*, NR overall
|Rivals||4*, NR overall
#15 LB, #33 GA
|ESPN||4*, NR overall
#13 LB, #37 GA
|24/7||3*, #839 overall
#30 LB, #70 GA
|Other Suitors||Auburn, OU, NC State, UF, ND, Ole Miss|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace featuring his many trophies.|
|Notes||Native of Cameroon. Twitter. Heir apparent to the Ojemudia Death Stare.|
Elysee Mbem-Bosse and soon-to-come Josh Uche are the first Don Brown dudes. Brown wasted little time getting on the phone with a guy he had no shot at while at Boston College:
“When he first got the defensive coordinator job at Michigan, I was one of the people he called on the first day in the office. He was like I just watched your tape and loved every second of it.”
Both EMB and Uche came to campus shortly after his hire, hit it off with the program and each other, and committed soon after they returned home despite offers from SEC powerhouses thought to lead. In Mbem-Bosse's case that was Auburn; in Uche's it was Florida. That's reason for optimism both in EMB's specific case and for this recruiting class in general—there are three stars who could have gone to Minnesota and there are three stars who could have gone to Auburn, and this class's three stars are generally the latter.
When not demonstrating Don Brown's ability to recruit, Mbem-Bosse is Middle Linebacker Classic. He's really only got one way onto the the field, and that's by wrecking lead blockers and unleashing furious anger on ball carriers. At 6'3" he's tall for a linebacker and will probably top out at 250 or even bigger. As per usual with guys that big who aren't highly touted, that size comes with some compromises.
Let's start with the good: dude is a mean-ass dude.
- ESPN: "powerful inside linebacker with great measurables for the position. Uses his hands to shock blockers and disengage to wrap up ball carrier. …. Has short area power to deliver a heavy hit.… thumper ready to make the jump physically … lot of tools desired in an upper-tier middle linebacker."
Woody Womack, Rivals: “really passes the eye test … athletic enough that he could move around and play a couple different positions. I think he could play all three linebacker positions.”
Touch The Banner: "…solid straight-line speed that’s maybe not in the 4.58 range, but not far off, either. Using that length and speed – plus a good understanding of pursuit angles – he can cover a lot of ground and wrap up ball carriers in space. When he arrives, he brings a punch and does a good job of wrapping up.
Rob Cassidy, Rivals, from a Rivals Camp: "long arms allow him to play bigger than his 6-foot-3 frame … extremely quick with his first step. He also ran well for a middle linebacker, as he shined in coverage even on the rare occasion that saw a running back test him deep." … "One of the most physically impressive linebackers in the country."
- Son Of A Coach: There aren’t going to be many players who can stuff the inside run quite like Mbem-Bosse. He does a great job of scraping through the trash and arrives at the ball violently when he gets to it … very good tackler that runs through people. ... will absolutely blow up the iso. … true inside linebacker that would thrive as a downhill run defender that is asked to blitz a lot versus the pass.
In the aftermath of that RCS camp, Rivals moved Mbem-Bosse into their top 250 at #157; he would eventually fall out but maintain a four-star ranking. They did explain why at the time, but that article was lost to their redesign. Yes, I am a little skeptical of that bump and subsequent fall, but their ranking is reasonable all the same.
That last scouting report segues into the downside: a guy who is "asked to blitz a lot" probably isn't too good in coverage. There are conflicting reports about how athletic Mbem-Bosse is, but virtually every report will mention "stiffness" and the like. A typical example from ESPN:
May be interchangeable between ILB and OLB given his athletic ability and potential to make plays outside of the numbers with his range. … shows some tightness opening and turning in pursuit. … We do not see the hips or fluid transitional skills to project high as a man coverage LB at the next level.
TTB says he's "not a great space player" and has a hard time bending or changing direction; Son Of A Coach says he "doesn't jump out as a great athlete", "looks a little stiff", and may not have sideline to sideline speed.
The upshot here is one you've already seen in the gentlemen listed as Mbem-Bosse's YMRMFSPA: Desmond Morgan. When Morgan got isolated on wheel routes against faster backs that didn't go very well. Michigan ran its coverages to minimize such occurrences, but when the rock-paper-scissors went badly there were moments he got exposed. EMB will have to be similarly protected. The good news is that Brown runs a lot of pattern-matching zone concepts and that's a good fit for a tall, rangy, smart linebacker. I know the takes on MGoBlue bios are always going to be the most positive ones available; even so, Brown seems legitimately high on his potential as a cover guy:
Coach Don Brown on Elysee Mbem-Bosse
Elysee “Boss Man” is a true sideline-to-sideline guy. He plays downhill and can explode on contact and has really good coverage skills for a middle linebacker. He’s a no-brainer for us and fits exactly what we are trying to do within our system.
For Don Brown that may be true in a way it is not more generally.
Michigan can also mitigate whatever issues he might have in coverage by blitzing maniacally, which Brown also likes to do. This uncommonly useful segment from 247's Auburn site makes an excellent point…
…with his size and explosion trying to pick him up with a running back is a losing proposition for an offense. When the Nebraska Rivals site caught up with EMB's coach, it was just after a 4 TFL, 2 sack performance. He "definitely can pass rush." That is an element Morgan didn't bring during his time at Michigan.
A second concern is Mbem-Bosse's rawness. He only has two years of football under his belt and that does show up on film. Son Of A Coach and TTB mention "false steps" and occasional failure to recognize keys; Womack says he can be "a little hot and cold" because he "doesn't realize the impact he can have on every down."
That concern is mitigated by Mbem-Bosse's background. Like Amara Darboh and Jehu Chesson, Mbem-Bosse was born in Africa—Cameroon, specifically. Immigrants are often really driven people, as Darboh and Chesson have demonstrated, and Mbem-Bosse seems to be from a similar mold. Per his coach he speaks "about four different languages." His twitter feed alternates between Bible verses and various workouts, and dude has serious academic plans:
"Knowledge is something that can never be taken away from you,"Mbem-Bosse said. "The average time playing in the league [NFL] is about three-and-a-half years. That means I'll have 50 or 60 more years in my life. I want to be able to grow up, have a beautiful wife and kids and say I was able to get a good education.
"There are way too many kids who go to college and don't have a plan B, and they end up bankrupt and struggling through life. Even if I don't make the league, I want to say I was successful."
That's a quote a lot like the ones Chesson issued when he was a recruit, and that was a major factor when I named him (co-)sleeper of the year. (Mbem-Bosse isn't eligible to be SotY since he's got two four-star rankings, FWIW.) Per his coach he's in "all AP classes" and "excels in math"—my man. I think he's more likely to hit because of his background.
If EMB does hit his ceiling the stiffness won't be a huge concern. As I've said virtually any time someone criticized Morgan, MLB is about 80% knowing what to do and 20% being able to go do it. Mbem-Bosse is a long way away from knowing what to do but seems like the kind of guy who's likely to figure it out as time goes along here.
Etc.: Prefers comically oversized weights.
Why Desmond Morgan? Morgan was a lightly-regarded guy coming out of high school. He was mostly a quarterback, so he had some of the same projection issues that Mbem-Bosse does. At Michigan he quickly established himself a thumping hitter and solid zone coverage linebacker. Morgan's athletic limitations occasionally got him in trouble on wheel routes and the like, but his smarts and ability to rock free-releasing OL backwards made him a quality player.
Mbem-Bosse is higher rated, with a couple of four-star rankings, and considerably taller. He has more upside and eventually could be a guy of interest to the NFL.
Guru Reliability: High. Relatively large spread in the rankings but scouting reports are consistent. EMB was healthy and at a high-profile high school; I can see both sides of the coin with his rankings.
Variance: Moderate. Lack of experience means there's a lot of projection in his rankings and offers. In addition, most scouting reports indicate that he's an interior thumper only, so he doesn't have a plan B if MLB isn't working out. On the other hand, high-academic guy and driven immigrant.
Ceiling: Moderate-plus. EMB is probably never going to be an all-action three-down linebacker. He does project as a major run-stuffer in the middle.
General Excitement Level: Moderate-plus. Michigan needs a hard-nosed MLB for the Wisconsins and MSU and OSUs of the world. This is that dude. Mbem-Bosse would be out of place in the Big 12. In the Big Ten he's a major asset.
Projection: MLB is another spot where some young guys might play since there's little clarity what will happen next year. EMB is probably 50/50 to redshirt—he's physically ready; he could use a year of mental prep. Either way he's not likely to see much time.
In 2017 there will be at least one LB slot open, possibly two if Peppers goes to the draft and actually is more or less a linebacker. That is unlikely to affect EMB, who will be in the mix at MLB and MLB only. With Bush already on campus and that SAM spot looking like it'll go to hybrid space player types it'll be up to Mike McCray whether that's a serious battle or not. Right now the assumption is he'll have to wait for McCray to graduate before getting a shot as a thumper in the middle as an upperclassman. The decks are clear for him to start for two or three years after McCray departs.