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 Owenu, OL Stephen Spanellis.
|Plantation, FL – 6'5", 215|
3*, NR overall
4*, NR overall
#9 TE, #34 FL
4*, #258 overall
#2 TE-H, #46 FL
4*, #270 overall
#11 TE, #36 FL
|Other Suitors||UF, Bama, LSU, UO, USC, Texas, SoCar|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace.|
Nick Eubanks had the most alpaca-out-of-nowhere commitment since Carlos Brown. The first word that most Michigan fans heard about him was the fact that he'd scheduled a mid-week official visit mere days before it was supposed to take place; the day after that trip he committed over offers from a bevy of SEC powers and USC.
Whenever you're talking about a guy who's not a super blue chip you have to evaluate how committable those offers are. In Eubanks's case those offers were almost certainly OFFERS; Eubanks took an official to Alabama and had scheduled trips to Florida and USC before Harbaugh short-circuited things. Florida sites were calling him the Gators' top target at the position and more or less assuming he was in their class, a la Josh Uche. (In their defense, he said UF led in late November.) Bama may not have taken him; the rest of his list almost certainly would have.
That's because Eubanks has huge upside as a receiving tight end. Michigan 247 named him the guy with the highest upside in the class—although I assume that comes with an "other than Gary" disclaimer—because he has "NFL size and length" matched with "natural movements and athleticism." Others are on board:
…everything that colleges are looking for in a modern-day tight end. He's a big, smooth athlete who can really run and rack up yardage after the catch. Eubanks is a legit 6-foot-6 and should really fill out nicely over his college years.
…instant mismatch for Plantation (Fla.) American Heritage. His catch radius is incredible and he's a nightmare to cover in space.
One of the freakiest tight ends in the 2016 class … has been timed as fast as 4.6 seconds in the 40-yard dash
…nearly unlimited upside at the tight end position. He's 6'6"/230 and can leap like a basketball player. He has a frame that can build healthy weight.
“The kid’s a freak,” said Cape Coral Island Coast coach Wayne Blair …. "was just jumping over people” against Daytona Beach “He’s what everybody’s looking for in that flex, hybrid tight end,” Blair said. “And he’s still relatively new to football.”
He can leap like a basketball player because he was focused on that sport for most of his life. (Perhaps not a coincidence: his brother is named Kobe.) And everyone knows that short and fast power forwards make pretty good flex tight ends, eventually.
His upside is such that even too-cool-for-school ESPN offers up a report that's detectably positive:
… nice combination of height, length and athleticism. … excellent straight-line speed for size. … top-end speed to threaten the intermediate to deep part of the field and present a vertical threat. … needs to continue to develop as route runner. … Good hands with ability to extend for the ball. Displays very good body control to adjust to passes thrown off target. With height and leaping ability can be threat downfield in jump-ball situations. … still needs to develop physically and improve as a blocker … combination of height, leaping ability and speed can make him a tough match-up.
There's only one "can" in there. I think I deleted a couple "flashes," but this is a prospect who seems to have piqued the interest of a laconic group of gentlemen.
A huge upside prospect with only decent rankings is generally a project and Eubanks is no exception. On film he looks like another one of the hilariously jumbo WRs that populate high school teams. Projecting those guys to college always comes with a hefty bit of guessing. Any time you have to slap 50 pounds on a dude, things can go wrong. Generally slow things.
Meanwhile he's not exactly a mauler or a route artisan. Many reports invite you to read between the lines:
He can continue to work on his consistency catching the football, but is much improved in that department from the last time I laid eyes on him. Eubanks put forth the effort and really spent time on his blocking over the offseason, but is more of a threat in the pass game at this stage in his career.
…moves relatively well for his massive size (6-6, 208). He's established himself as a threat in the passing game, but will need to develop as a blocker before he arrives on a college campus.
…raw but he continues to develop rapidly. He's a basketball player that is still finding his way on the football field but his upside is as high as any tight end in the class.
…great frame and the ability to play on the line or to be flexed out. Has great length, he knows how to extend for the football, and he can use that to his advantage. He will fill out, add weight, and get stronger. Solid blocker, but can get better at the point of attack. More comfortable now flexed as a big wide receiver going out for passes.
While his highlights have a couple of decleaters amongst the various catches, there's nothing resembling technique in any of those blocks. He stands straight up, hits a guy half his size pretty hard, and goes Cato June on 'em. The most you can say about those blocks is that they display a want-to that Devin Funchess never really had. He does deposit a couple of defensive backs several yards downfield on screens.
Meanwhile reports on Eubanks's hands are mixed. It seems like he has good days and bad. There's the good report from ESPN above. 247 reported that he "needs to improve his catching ability and concentration" at the Opening regional he attended; Scout's eval declares his hands to be "solid" but lists "hands and concentration" as an area for improvement; Rivals said he had "consistent hands".
FWIW, his highlight film above has several incidents in which he lets the ball get into his body. Since he was a tight end without a ton of catches that film is probably 80%+ of the catches he made last year; I tend to side with the skeptics. Eubanks looks like a guy who's good at getting rebounds up high and pretty rough when the ball is in the dead center of his catching radius. I've just looked at a bunch of WR/TE Hudl video as these pieces come together gradually and it's clear Eubanks needs work in this department.
On the good side of the ledger, Eubanks just tweeted out an up-to-date weight of 235 pounds a few days ago. That puts him a year away from reasonable tight end size instead of the two a 215-pound guy (like, say, Ian Bunting) generally is. Also, Jay Harbaugh's evaluation of him mentions his ability in the classroom:
Nick is a great young man, exceptional student and outstanding athlete. He is easy-going and fun to be around but when Nick hits the field he is a very tenacious competitor….elite speed and length as a receiver that will allow him to stretch the field in a way that defenses in this conference aren’t accustomed to seeing on a regular basis.
Day-to-day intelligence isn't necessarily football intelligence but it's a good start; it's worth noting that when he took his official he toured the engineering school. There are a few indicators he's going to be able to hack a Harbaugh offense, especially after a few years.
And it will be a few years. Eubanks will take some time and could be just about anything once he comes out the other end.
Etc.: At one point Alabama was his leader, at which point a 247 article said he's "a perfect fit for any team that likes to get the ball into the tight end's hands"… ie, not Alabama.
Why Devin Funchess? Eubanks is the same kind of raw athletic clay Funchess was, and is ranked in about the same area—he's maybe a little bit better regarded overall, but that's splitting hairs. Funchess, of course, was a tremendous receiver immediately but hated blocking; Michigan gave up on the tight end experiment and finally moved him out to WR as an upperclassman. Funchess had occasional struggles with his hands, something the Eubanks scouting reports do mention.
Eubanks is already reporting a weight equivalent to Funchess in the NFL and is not likely to end up a wide receiver for Harbaugh reasons. (One: he needs tight ends. Two: it's hard to imagine a Harbaugh-coached player going through the motions as transparently as Funchess did in his final season.) His end result could be the kind of tight end we saw from Funchess early in his career, except with blocking.
If you want an actual tight end, Jake Butt is the closest approximation in recent Michigan history if Eubanks's hands are actually top-notch.
Guru Reliability: High-minus. Little bit of a split in the rankings and some disagreement on his hands, though that may be an artifact of his apparent improvement over the past year. Otherwise the services agree on who he is. Healthy, relatively high-profile guy.
Variance: High. Boom or bust guy. Could end up a drop-prone guy who can't block a soul.
Ceiling: Very high. Could be 250-pound Devin Funchess with a mean streak.
General Excitement Level: High. If Eubanks does bust it's a shrug-worthy event for Michigan, which will have tight ends coming out their ears either way. If he hits, look out. Does have a backup plan at WR since Michigan hasn't taken an enormous dude in a minute—at least not one that's probably sticking on offense.
Projection: Redshirt. Michigan has a bucket of tight ends already and two classmates of Eubanks are drawing buzz that they'll get on the field. Post-redshirt it's a crowded depth chart indeed.
Eubanks's career could follow the path that Ian Bunting's is: a redshirt freshman year with scattered catches followed by a more serious apprentice season as a sophomore and a bunch of catches as one of the top tight ends as an upperclassman. Or he could evaporate, or he could be Jake Butt except fast.