2016 Recruiting: Nick Eubanks Comment Count

Brian June 20th, 2016 at 10:52 AM

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



Scout 3*, NR overall
#30 TE
Rivals 4*, NR overall
#9 TE, #34 FL
ESPN 4*, #258 overall
#2 TE-H, #46 FL
24/7 4*, #270 overall
#11 TE, #36 FL
Other Suitors UF, Bama, LSU, UO, USC, Texas, SoCar
YMRMFSPA Devin Funchess
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.



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.



June 20th, 2016 at 10:57 AM ^

I think this phrase is overused, but I think Eubanks is the biggest boom-or-bust prospect in the 2016 class. He could be a star or he could spend his whole Michigan career watching other, more well rounded guys leap ahead of him.

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June 20th, 2016 at 1:34 PM ^

I think that where good teams become great is in assessing boom or bust guys. You have to roll the dice, and take a chance on someone who could be a lights-out star. Sometimes you miss, but when you strike gold, it can make the difference between a good team, and a team that beats Ohio State and wins the national championship.


June 20th, 2016 at 3:47 PM ^

I think McKeon has a good chance to be a solid, traditional tight end. I don't think he'll be a gamebreaker, and he's not a guy you can split out wide like Devin Funchess. He's more like the Jerame Tuman type from the past.


June 20th, 2016 at 10:58 AM ^

Would love to keep him and see him develop. Did we definitively resolve any of those rumors going around a few days ago about a true freshman being dismissed? Some names were tossed around and his was one of them. Hope none of it is true because he looks like he could be a beast once he develops.

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June 20th, 2016 at 11:42 AM ^

I keep thinking about that Swiss Army Knife analogy that Brian had once used in regards to the Al Borges offense.  I feel like this offense is going to look like what we all had HOPED that offense would be.  Can't wait to see the profiles of all the upcoming skill position players.


June 20th, 2016 at 12:59 PM ^

What I think will make this work that much better is that in this offense, Harbaugh can come out with a 4TE one back look. Without subbing, that group could line up in goalline or 4 wide adn cause problems for the defense either way. With Borges (and Nuss) AJ Williams meant a run. With Harbaugh he was a force. Now that's TJ Wheatley.

Borges's knife had all these specialized parts - Harbaugh can open the bottle of wine with the blade, not just the corkscrew


June 20th, 2016 at 1:22 PM ^

Exactly, although a big part of that is also simply Harbaugh's ability to coach guys and teach them various skills, so that there could still be a surprise element with every package.  I still remember being 12 years old and hardly understanding much about football in the late '90s, and figuring out that when the backup WR's came in, they would always cut block and Michigan would ALWAYS run it. I mean come on. Thankfully never again.


June 20th, 2016 at 3:31 PM ^

When I was reading this post, I posed myself the question: which TEs of years past do I wish we had back for Harbaugh??

Kevin Koger, Carson Butler. Those guys never reached their full potential, but in a Harbaugh system could shine...


June 20th, 2016 at 2:35 PM ^

Oh man, bringing up more painful memories.  Carr's teams were riddled with tells like that.

I remember a lot of people back then talking in the mid 00's about whether they wanted the next coach to continue the smashmouth tradition or switch to a spread or some kind of more aggressive style.  All I wanted was an offense that could adapt to the opponent and game situation, and not be so damn predictable all the time.


June 20th, 2016 at 2:56 PM ^

Many times in regard to Michigan offensive football, it is difficult to find another poster that agrees with me in regard to what I firmly believe we'll see, possibly as early as this season. I was provided both a surprise and a small measure of satisfaction to find a fellow fan who shares some of my views in the very first post I see. What I see as inevitable and perhaps more difficult to defend offense than the spread, others see an unaffordable overload at one position and a few going so far to suggest "a ridiculous number at the most limited and useless position on the field." Yes, I couldn't prevent myself from reading these types of remarks over and over just to confirm what I thought I had read was, indeed, true. It became easier to understand the opinions of this small group after reading their entire thoughts on the position and a misunderstanding of the position that forced me to wonder why they even took the time to log into a blog with such heavy content on football. 

The understanding of the position ranged from "used primarily as additional blocker in short yardage situations to limited to having one on the field at a time and thrown to occasionally in an attempt to catch the defense off guard.  

The one thing we all agreed on was Harbaugh was stockpiling an unusually high number at that position, and I was able to reassure a number of the not convinced to reread their profiles so they would understand that because they were recruited with a TE beside their name in no way limited them to one position and if they understood coach at all, they should be aware Jim Harbaugh, with Brian Kelly the closest I can think of as to sharing the same philosophy and the very rare ability of adhering to the 85 scholarship limit, yet through superior evaluation skills, and in Harbaugh's case a thoroughly well thought out developmental system, coupled with an ability to select the best teachers available, rivaled by no one and from that group of 85 field a roster easily surpassing 100 well coached positions. And like almost all things that Harbaugh does, he accomplished this at an almost unbelievable pace. Hell, Jabrill alone takes that 85 number to 91. But back to the good stuff. 

It was almost impossible to not realize, especially in last year's haul of one particular incoming group, all of whom were high school TEs, and likewise they all exceeded the norm as to speed(a few unusually fast tor the position), size, strength.....you get the  picture but most importantly, imo, they were all Harbaugh qualified. Building on an already significant and skilled number of TEs on the roster, and in total agreement with your thoughts, that I like to refer to as simply the Heavy package, he can, and imo, I think this is why they are on the roster, using the TEs alone, all at or exceeding 6'6", large bodies, fast, in one word, WEAPONS, and at any given spot of the field he is able to, simply by sending them onto the field, cause an immediate T.O. by the opposing DC, who won't take long to realize in no way can he defend what he is seeing on the field. Don't forget the RB either, surprise, a former TE. He can go three to wide side, all four, even on both sides, just an endless array of formations.

It would be my guess the DC of a deep experienced D would probably send out his tallest, strongest, basically what he considers his best group of safetys due to the superior height compared to the usually shorter cbs. And in this situation, I can only imagine Harbaugh smiling on the sidelines as he watches what comes out from their sideline, already prepared regardless of the decision on the opposite side of the field, because that's what Harbaugh does. He has the mismatches he wants so he can get really cute now. Remember a T.O. has already been used. He could leave the Heavy formation on the field or he could just as easily cause another anxiety attack on the part of the opposing DC when he sends in his normal receiving corp and suddenly has an incredible speed advantage in the form of the wideouts, complemented by Jake and, at this point whoever he wants at RB. 

The possibilities are endless, but the initial presnap advantage is always there and Mr. Harbaugh is the man in control. I was so intrigued by what I saw coming in I was compelled to do some research on this to see if it had ever been employed as a significant offensive attack. The answer is no but the consensus by NFL coaches is the predominantly TE offense will be the next innovation in offensive football. And again, they were all in agreement that the reasoning behind this is the very real change in the position and the evolution from what was once a sure handed, devestating blocker into the elite athletes now manning the position and trying to defend three or four on the field together amounts to an almost impossible propostion. To me, it's of very little surprise that Harbaugh just happens to have the best collection of TEs in the conference, possibly in the nation. 


June 20th, 2016 at 11:52 AM ^

Man - that link to "Florida's 10 most wanted" three weeks before signing day is a sad sight for Florida fans. Florida signed 1 - only 1 - of the 10 guys on the list!  Florida State signed 3 of them.


June 20th, 2016 at 12:35 PM ^

Florida fans are already starting to get a bit uncomfortable with their new coaching staff's success on the recruiting trail.  They didn't close out last year strong the way Michigan did, they see Florida leans(or players they think they should lead for) commit to FSU or leave the state for places like OSU, ND, and Michigan.

After such a good year, and in a state like Florida, they should have finished with a class of 25 being ranked 13th.  And so far this year, they are sitting at #42 even behind Michigan State.  If McElwain can't bring in better classes, his tenure at Florida may not be very long even if he wins 10 games a year.  And whoever replaces him will have an uphill climb due to a low talent roster.


June 20th, 2016 at 2:43 PM ^

I was just going to say this. If he wins 10 games a year he's fine, but he won't do that unless his recruiting really picks up. Tennessee is looking strong again, UGA is ahead of UF and they have to play FSU every year. Just with that it's tough to get to 10 wins and that's without playing anyone good in the SEC West. Going 8-4 in a weak division won't keep McElwain's job.

Everyone Murders

June 20th, 2016 at 12:02 PM ^

I love the offer list, and it's good to see at least one of our recruits wasn't overy-wowed by Alabama's engineering program!

Too soon?

Also, while I have comfort in Harbaugh evaluating players in general, I have even more comfort in his ability to evaluate TEs.  I am very excited about this prospect, and expect that he will pretty quickly outperform star ratings and whatnot.


June 20th, 2016 at 12:18 PM ^

Hooray for blocky, catchy guys. My fave. Although, it sounds like he needs to work on the blocky-catchy part. I have confidence in the guys responsible for improving the blocky and the catchy aspects.


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