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.
|St Joseph, MI – 6'3" 255|
|Scout||4*, #297 overall
#31 DE, #9 MI
|Rivals||4*, NR overall
#12 SDE, #7 MI
|ESPN||4*, #270 overall
#19 DE, #7 MI
|24/7||4*, #290 overall
#22 WDE, #6 MI
|Other Suitors||ND, Wisc, MSU, PSU, Bama-ish|
|Previously On MGoBlog||Hello post from Ace. Adam scouted him at the Big House.|
Single game reel from his opener as a senior (he's #4):
There's also some single game footage on Vimeo.
Corey Malone-Hatcher is the vanguard of a trio of Michigan DL recruits who just slipped inside the four-star cordon. Each has promise; each has problems. Gents just on the right side of the four star borderline are often impressive physical packages paired with a "but…", and the next three guys all fit that description.
In Malone-Hatcher's case, the problem is staying on the field. He missed more than half his sophomore year with an injury. He missed all but two games of his junior year with an injury. He showed admirable toughness to stay on the field for a productive senior season (90 tackles and 28 TFLs)… because he was injured:
“Still, my senior year I wasn’t even close to 100 percent strength-wise. It was just one of those things where you have to do everything you can to get the job done.
“Essentially, I was playing on a leg and a half. I still played, but wasn’t nearly as effective as I needed to be. I didn’t miss a game, just two practices. I didn’t have confidence in my body, though. I was a step slower mentally because I didn’t test my limits like I should have … at least until that last game.”
And this was the only thing Don Brown had to say about Malone-Hatcher after the spring game:
"Corey Malone-Hatcher’s been banged up."
This is our concern, dude. This series usually dismisses the idea any particular recruit is injury-prone. It cannot do so here. Malone-Hatcher gives off a Drake vibe—Harris or Johnson, take your pick. The infirmary visits are an ominous sign.
The good news is that when Malone-Hatcher was healthy, or even sort of healthy, he performed well enough to get that consensus four star ranking. He was full go between his sophomore and junior years and he pounded the camp scene until everyone took notice. He shot into 247's top 150 that August and had similarly more optimistic-than-the-final takes from other services.
Mostly this is because Malone-Hatcher promises to be the kind of guy whose edge rush chops rack up stats. He had a triple-digit SPARQ score as a rising junior, which always perks ears up. That goes double when it's the top DL score in the country. Helmholdt's take after a 2015 camp:
…showcased a great first step and built speed to the quarterback despite adding 15-20 pounds since his sophomore season ended. He's still mastering the finer points of the position, but the raw physical tools that have attracted coaches were certainly on display.
He impressed at ND's camp a few weeks later:
…standout outside linebacker during drills and was a blur coming off the edge despite being banged up. With his size and quickness, offensive tackles had a tough time getting a hand on the Midwest standout.
And he had a dynamite, three-sack opener last season that Adam caught:
…quick off the ball, and not just in obvious pass-rush situations;… displayed a good sense of where the play was going and where he needed to be. … didn’t have to use many pass-rush moves because, frankly, his speed was enough to get him near the quarterback on most plays. …plays with consistently good pad level, has an on-field intelligence and spatial IQ that will benefit him at the next level, and displayed a quick burst and strength off the line.
Unfortunately, these takes are mostly based on a few camp reps or one game instead of a larger body of work. There is some disagreement on how much speed rush Malone-Hatcher can pull off, especially at the college level. Clint Brewster:
He’s more of a powerful player that takes on blocks and uses force rather than one that goes around blocks to make a play. He has the strength to control at the point of attack and get underneath the pads of opponents.
ESPN's evaluation is fairly positive overall but does not paint a picture of an edge-rush maven:
… frame that can continue to be developed and support additional size. Has excellent strength though it doesn't quite seem to translate to his play completely … good get-off quickness. … needs to continue to improve hand usage and work to more consistently keep blockers off his frame. Displays adequate lateral mobility to elude blockers and be active along the line. …adequate dip and balance and fights to work a tight path…. not a speed rusher and needs to continue to build arsenal.
That's based off at least a few games of tape, separating it from the other evaluations. Which games I don't know, but given his injury and ESPN's fire and forget tendencies that might be his sophomore year and therefore outdated.
Great pass rusher who can dip his shoulders, bend the corner and get around offensive tackle. Agile kid who does a good job with his hands as well. Closes on quarterbacks quickly and has improved on his ability in coverage but can continue to work in that department.
A lot of guessing going on here, but understandably so.
Everyone more or less agrees that CMH is a defensive end; nonetheless his versatility is frequently mentioned. He played some middle linebacker in high school and did a lot of standup end/3-4 OLB stuff. 24/7:
…versatility to put his hand down in the dirt and come off the edge as a pass rusher or hold down the outside as a 3-4 backer. He’s played inside linebacker, outside linebacker, and defensive end for his high school team. …physical player that really has a presence against the run. His physicality and size … Very smart.
…plays multiple positions for his team. He needs to settle in and find his best fit and develop in that area, which we feel is on the defensive line. Plays linebacker and while he has more limitations in that role, can still certainly offer some versatility in how utilized within the front-seven.
Michigan's plan is mostly defensive end, with occasional linebacker forays that sound more like Don Brown being evil with blitzes than anything involving read and react. Malone-Hatcher's dad Orlando:
"[Brown] was pretty blunt about how he wanted to utilize him. 'We'll put him on his own at end sometimes. We'll line him up next to another defensive end in certain sets. We'll shift him to middle linebacker. We want to do a lot of things with him, but we'll get him to the quarterback'."
That sounds like the plan for just about anyone DE/OLB sized in a Don Brown defense.
Moving to the strongside is a possibility. CMH will face stiff competition at WDE from not one but two classmates who appear 100% locked into the spot, and a few evals sound more like anchor types. Malone-Hatcher was self reporting a weight of 255 pounds at the beginning of last season. It's possible he's already 270; he doesn't have far to go to be a size fit at SDE. Hell, a spin at three-tech to see if he can be Mo Hurst 2.0 isn't totally out of the question. That hypothetical is down the road and would probably be a bad sign; SDE is where it's at for Malone-Hatcher.
Etc.: Got a little aggressive on twitter about "Brian KeLLLLy," which was an unfortunately early point in the season to pull the trigger on that tweet. Because Brian KeLLLLLLLLy went 4-8.
Also the subject of by far the dumbest recruiting subplot of the last cycle when various Hawaiian relatives of his gave him an elaborately arranged series of one dollar bills. Michigan State fans naturally freaked out, because anyone who picks Michigan over a 3-9 malfeasance factory must have a reason other than "duh".
A perspective from Malone-Hatcher's head coach Gandalf Church shows why Malone-Hatcher chose U-M.
At one point, I firmly believed the four-star defensive end would end up with Michigan. However, I’m not all that confident anymore. … When looking at everything, it’s hard to see Malone-Hatcher ending up anywhere else.
Why Craig Roh? Roh came in as a hotshot pass rusher WDE sort, got moved to LB during the darkest days of the Rodriguez 3-3-5, went back to DE after a minor rebellion on his part, and finally found a home by bulking up and sliding over to SDE as an upperclassman. There he was second-team All Big Ten, more or less deservedly. Roh came in with higher recruiting accolades but probably should have been ranked around where CMH is. Roh is a couple inches taller than CM but never even flirted with 300 pounds, or even 290—if CMH does end up on the strongside he's going to be the 280 pound version of the SDE.
This space thinks that CMH at LB would have the same result—passing down exotics excepted—and that he's likely to slide over to the strongside sooner or later. Thus, Roh. Other comparables include Rondell Biggs, who was kind of in the same WDE/SDE tweener boat, and I guess Alain Kashama? I want to say Carlo Kemp but he hasn't played yet.
Guru Reliability: Moderate. More or less unanimous agreement but they're working with not much data.
Variance: Very high. CMH is one of the more boom or bust guys in the class. When healthy he's flashed a high ceiling; he's very far away from that because of his injury history, competition level, and potential tweener status.
Ceiling: High. Physical package got him noticed is still there.
General Excitement Level: Moderate. Big questions—can he stay healthy? Is he a WDE or not?—rather damper enthusiasm here. He's a great lottery ticket to grab when you're bringing in 8 DL, at least.
Projection: A third WDE is going to play this year—this space assumes that Luiji Vilain is #2. I'd prefer that to be anyone other than a high ceiling freshman who needs some time to acclimate and will thus project a redshirt here and complain to an increasingly bored audience if it is burned.
After the (probable) redshirt, I dunno. If you make me guess I'd say that CMH moves over to SDE in anticipation of Gary's departure, has a second dress rehearsal year, and is then in the rotation at that spot for the duration of his career. Whether that's as 1, 2, or 3 on the depth chart I couldn't tell you. Probably not 1 given what we're hearing about Kemp and Kemp's head start.