Previously: Last year's profiles. S J'Marick Woods, S Jaylen Kelly-Powell, S Brad Hawkins, CB Ambry Thomas, CB Benjamin St-Juste, LB Drew Singleton, LB Jordan Anthony, LB Josh Ross, DE Kwity Paye, DE Luiji Vilain,
DE Corey Malone-Hatcher, DE Deron Irving-Bey, DT Donovan Jeter, DT Phil Paea, DT James Hudson.
|Leesburg, GA – 6'3", 300|
|Scout||5*, #11 overall
#2 DT, #2 GA
|Rivals||5*, #31 overall
#2 DT, #4 GA
|ESPN||4*, #63 overall
#5 DT, #7 GA
|24/7||5*, #30 overall
#3 DT, #3 GA
|Other Suitors||Bama, UGA, USC, UF, Auburn|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Hello post from Ace. Do not adjust your television sets.|
|Notes||Twitter. A rare decommit-recommit.|
Aubrey Solomon's recruiting saga was easily the weirdest of this cycle and has to be amongst the most stupefying of all time. Step by step:
- Solomon is all but unknown to Michigan fans before an unofficial visit on which he was so enamored that he ducked into a bathroom to get his mom's permission to commit. He commits; that fact is the first thing about him ever posted on this here site.
- Months later Solomon decommits, citing a thank you letter that 1) misspelled his name and 2) enthusiastically thanked him for attending an event he was not, in fact, at.
- Everyone, including this here site, writes Michigan off because recommits are exceedingly rare (7%) and five-star out-of-region recommits who pulled the trigger prematurely and have very obviously committable offers from a bunch of SEC teams including Alabama are even rarer. Michigan continues pursuing and does secure an official visit.
- Solomon's mom releases a questionnaire she wants Michigan to answer comprehensively in the run-up to his official visit. This is widely seen as an effect of mom's skepticism about her son moving so far away.
- Michigan, King Of All Spreadsheets, crushes the questionnaire and the official visit, resulting in renewed optimism.
- Solomon names Alabama a "huge" leader at the Army game. Womp womp.
- The next day another dude at the game tapes him dropping a "F--- Michigan" and posts it on snapchat. Solomon apologizes, but, you know, I mean… game over man. Game over.
- 24/7's Ryan Bartow moves his crystal ball on Solomon to Michigan. This is followed by the most improbable shift in opinion your author's ever seen, with everyone and their aunt putting their chips on Michigan despite, you know, that stuff above.
- Harbaugh races go-karts with small child, who naturally seems delighted.
- Solomon does indeed commit to Michigan on signing day… even if he did say "Miami."
This is how the five star sausage was made.
Michigan's ability to navigate the absurdity of crootin has won them a tube meat of great talent and significance. Over the course of his senior season Solomon went from a generally well-regarded four star just outside the top 100 to a composite five-star and the #2 DT in the nation.
He did this by shredding double teams and inserting himself in backfields across Georgia. His rise started with his 2016 opener, which multiple sites scouted. 24/7:
…totally dominant. …outstanding motor, physicality and quickness. During a cycle in which the defensive tackle position doesn't have a lot of depth, Solomon is one of the rare interior defenders that would be among the best in the country in any recruiting class.
…consistently pushing offensive linemen backwards, pushing the pocket back, forcing the running backs to change their lanes, and forcing the quarterback … [in] great shape 295 pounds, and he played fast. He flashed great quickness off the ball and a motor that did not stop. … has to refine his technique, and play with better pad level, but he has great size, quickness and strength.
Per Chad Simmons, Solomon's leap was fueled by some early injury problems. A knee scope before his junior season prevented him from going all-out in his conditioning, so he played that year at 310. He was "still effective and a real presence in the trenches," but the extra weight obscured the fact that he's "quick as a cat" for a battleship-sized human and has "a motor that does not stop."
"Motor" is 3/3 in the above links and that assertion didn't stop there. Virtually every scouting report out there goes out of its way to talk about Solomon's unusual ability to go all out on every play. When 24/7 made him a five star they mentioned that he "plays really hard on Friday nights," which is "rare among the big boys in high school"; Scout notes that "he plays hard and fast for a guy his size." One caveat: he did not play both ways as a senior, which is at least somewhat unusual for big time linemen. But he's demonstrated an ability to eat up all of his team's defensive snaps, which won't be required at Michigan. He should enter as an unusually fit and durable DT.
…really knows how to use his quickness and suddenness …He has good anticipation and he reacts quickly in the trenches. He flashes the use of his hands, but he needs to improve that, and his moves to counter offensive linemen. …most effective with his quickness. Really gets up the field. Can make plays in the backfield. Gets consistent penetration.
Watkins is your prototypical 6-foot-3, 305-pound 3-technique who plays with elite quickness and motor up front. This week that's been exactly what Aubrey Solomon's identity has been. …has just been unblockable, showing a knack both for getting big and being stout up front but also for getting skinny and being a penetrator in the backfield.
His coach had a line down pat when asked about his protege:
"there are not many guys like him who have his size but also the flexibility, explosiveness, and most importantly, the ability to play with leverage."
A version of that line hit three different sites, and was not contradicted by any of the scouts. 24/7 praised his "twitchy first step and natural strength"; Mike Farrell described him as a "gap-shooting athletic DT"; Sam Webb saw him in person and reported back that he was "a load" for anyone to take on one-on-one and that he "could excel as both a one-gap pas rusher or a two-gap nose"; Rivals called him a "big body that can move and create problems as a pass rusher as well as stop the run."
The only note of slight dissent is from ESPN, and this is a situation where they get out of whack because they fire and forget on players. Solomon's evaluation and ranking essentially did not change from Solomon's first commitment to his second. The evaluation is littered with ESPN caveat words:
…very good playing strength and can be inconsistent, but flashes a quick first-step. …Can fire off and capable at times of disrupting with quick penetration. Can be stout as well when he wins with quickness and leverage, flashing ability to explode out and uncoil at contact. … can quickly get off the ball and get up-field and disrupt. … Has tools to be disruptive interior rusher, but needs to continue to refine and be more consistent. … tough player with good motor and range. … impressive flashes but inconsistent. … Has tools and motor to be a real disruptive DT.
Almost literally every sentence in the eval is "good thing but consistency." That's not necessarily a bad take, but it frustrates that ESPN won't check back in on him with some senior film when the rest of the world is talking about him being a new man and his coach tells Rivals that "he was dominant as a senior" and "definitely played his best football." As always, you have to take the good with the bad with ESPN. Anyway.
Solomon solidified his newfound status at the Army game, where he did the same kinds of things against the best OL the country has to offer. 24/7 repeatedly mentioned him in their daily practice recap articles, first asserting that he "didn’t disappoint, splitting double teams with ease in the team portion, showing elite quickness and high energy throughout the day" and then doubling down: "continues to have a stellar week … extremely explosive off the ball and relentless from the 3-technique position."
…in the backfield all week. His quickness off the ball has made him tough to contend with. The West linemen did a solid job on him in one on ones, but for the most part, he has been behind the line of scrimmage making plays.
…a bit lighter than he had been and it was evident with his quickness, especially through the first handful of practices, where he lived in the backfield …wasn't as effective in the power game, though he showed some signs of lower-body strength, and he was open about needing to round out his game as the week wore on.
He rose on the composite afterward.
Solomon did not enroll early but did join the team early in the summer for conditioning and has been around for camps and the like. He caught Steve Lorenz's eye as a gent who "looks ready" and "should be ready to contribute sooner rather than later." He told Nick Baumgardner that he's in the same mode he was before his senior year:
He'll begin fall camp working at nose tackle, but says he'll probably get some work in at the three-technique as well.
And right now, with a little more than a month left before the start of fall camp, conditioning is his biggest focal point.
"I need to shed about 10 or 15 pounds and then I'll feel more comfortable," Solomon says. "I'm 300 now, I want to play at about 285 or 290. I know I feel smoother down there at 285 or 290."
He's likely to hit that goal and then Michigan will build him back up into a 300 or 310 pound interior obliterator over the next couple years.
Etc.: Soccer was not in his future:
"Before football came into the picture, I was the head coach of his soccer team," Caldwell, Solomon's mother, said Tuesday. "We were pretty good actually."
Solomon sees that differently.
"We were horrible," Solomon said. "We were not good. She was my first coach and we had our ups-and-downs as a team. But as a whole, it got me better as a person. It showed me about teamwork. But I am not going to lie to you - we were horrible."
Why Ryan Glasgow? Solomon is a super-athletic, quick-twitch penetrator of a nose tackle, and Glasgow was exactly that. Glasgow also had the most relentless motor and biggest range of any NT in recent Michigan history, both traits that are repeatedly mentioned above. The two are also basically identical in height and weight.
Glasgow was a walk-on, of course, and not a five-star. Small details. Solomon does have more upside, I guess? Glasgow was a technician and a jet but lacked the ability to simply overpower people at will like a Malik McDowell. Solomon could be a man who does both, per a couple of those reports above.
The other obvious comparable is Mike Martin, who was Glasgow before Glasgow. Other than those two it's difficult to find a modern-era (ie: not 250 pound) Michigan nose tackle who promises to be a backfield flash. FWIW, 24/7 compared him to Florida DT Caleb Brantley, who you may remember from the most recent Citrus Bowl.
Guru Reliability: Very high. All Star game, zero projection, spread is minor and mostly due to ESPN fire and forget.
Variance: Low-plus. Solomon is physically ready to go now. Sophomore and junior injuries are a minor concern but seem to be in the rear view.
Ceiling: Very high. It's Ryan Glasgow, but more so.
General Excitement Level: Very high. If you could have told me I could have any player vaguely connected to Michigan in the last recruiting cycle I would have picked Solomon because of his plug-and-play ability at Michigan's position of dire need. (Runner up: Isaiah Wilson. : / )
Projection: Your backup NT for the next two years, knock on wood about Mone's limbs. Likely to be a true backup this year and then a co-starter in year two; in year three he should be the starter and very very good. 50/50 he's an early entry. Could field some NT competition from Hudson this year, with Paea and Jeter potential NTs in a couple years. Hard to imagine anyone slides past him unless he's perpetually injured.
On a different roster could be a three-tech, but he's on this one.