2017 Recruiting: Joel Honigford Comment Count

Brian July 26th, 2017 at 2:57 PM

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, DT Aubrey Solomon, C Cesar Ruiz, OT JaRaymond Hall.

       
Sugarcreek, OH – 6'6", 285
       

image
[Isaiah Hole]

Scout 3*, NR overall
#54 OT
Rivals 3*, NR overall
#49 OT, #19 OH
ESPN 4*, #200 overall
#22 OT, #7 OH
24/7 3*, #782 overall
#73 OT, #30 OH
Other Suitors Oregon, MSU, PSU, Auburn, OU, WVU
YMRMFSPA Mike Schofield
Previously On MGoBlog Hello post from Ace.
Notes Twitter.

Film

Junior:

Senior:

Joel Honigford is this year's edition of Devin Bush, in that Michigan hired a new coach who must have gone "yowza!" when he checked out the recruits he was inheriting. Bush is the perfect dreadlocked missile for Don Brown's linebacker corps; Honigford is the kind of athletic jumbo tight end who Greg Frey has consistently turned into NFL linemen. (JaRaymond Hall is also in this category.) Lorenz asserted that he "fits Greg Frey's body type to a tee."

Honigford popped up as a frame to hang muscle on. Scout noticed him at a big man camp, praising his "great frame" and "bright looking future." He then proceeded to hang muscle on his frame. After his commitment to Michigan last summer he talked about where he was, and where he's going:

"A little over a year ago, I only weighed 240 lbs. and had one scholarship offer. … I have a great frame that I can continue to build weight off of and I work hard every day already, so putting in the time isn't going to be a thing for me."

A year after checking in at 240 he was up to the mid-270s. Now a year removed from Honigford's commitment he reports a weight of 285 and looks like a before-and-after photo from an infomercial:

Scout (1)honigford

He says he's been in the weight room a lot. He appears to have taken the Swenson lesson to heart:

Colleges talk about how on your film they don't want to see you good one year and just a little bit better the next and just kind of plateauing," Honigford said. "That was a pretty big deal to me, so I made sure that didn't happen."

One dollar says Michigan was the coaching staff hammering this information home most fervently.

This is the kind of kid Frey turns into Taylor Lewan or Mike Schofield or Jason Spriggs, and Honigford has the upside of any of those NFL gentlemen. His coach was still talking up his future potential even after he'd shot up 40 pounds:

"I think they're getting a hell of a ballplayer," Wallick said. "Obviously, with that length - 6-6, 280 - that much bend and athleticism. He's got a lot of room to grow, a great frame to build on. They're not going to get anyone that's going to work harder in the weight room and on his footwork than he is."

He'd repeat that more or less verbatim to anyone who asked.

National scouts didn't have a take too far off from that—at least the ones who said anything. ESPN's evaluation touches on a lot of things you want to hear about an OL still on the way up:

Very good height … lean build … should be able to add the needed size … adequate initial quickness and shows good patience and balance in set, though at times can lunge and get top heavy. … good knee bend with enough lateral mobility to mirror rushers when gets hands on. … needs to add more mass to help him anchor against power. …good quickness and can come off with pad level, roll hips at contact …good balance and body control when asked to pull and work to second level and can locate and get a piece of targets. …promising upside. … don't see an early contributor.

Other evaluations are in a similar vein, down to the fact that they were almost certainly not revisited after Honigford's senior season. MSR Ohio:

…very athletic for his size. … Long and can, eventually, add  30 or more pounds to his frame and not miss a beat. Good bender. Excellent feet in pass pro from his left tackle position. Although mostly in a two point stance, Joel drive blocks well for his size. [ed: 240 at this juncture] Needs to get better, but he has a good “get-off.”

 Scout:

…height and frame are legitimate. He's a good athlete with good overall coordination, balance and flexibility. …on the raw side as far as pass protection. … room to fill out and get stronger … probably a right tackle, possibly even an interior guy at the next level.

Touch The Banner:

Overall, Honigford’s maybe not as nasty or athletic as Taylor Lewan, but I would put him a notch or two below. I think he’s someone who could play either tackle position, or he could be a pulling guard with some work. I like him as a blind-side pass protector, and he has good run-blocking skills.

Rivals did actually catch him as a senior and got a little overheated about him:

…solid top to bottom and has long, powerful arms …far bigger and stronger than any defender on the field but he also moved better than most as well. When he got out in front on screen plays or when he was asked to pull it was a sight to see. He runs very well, can change direction like a slot receiver, and absolutely punished people when he got his hands on them. Honigford's head coach said he could probably be a Division I tight end because of his natural athleticism and hands.

I'd still put my money on Eddie McDoom in a shuttle competition.

The main catch, other than weight-related uncertainty about what the finished product looks like, is Honigford's competition level. Dude is from Amish country and played in one of the lowest divisions of Ohio high school football:

"It's pretty surreal.  … I guess a kid coming from where I do, such a small town, population of a little over 2,000 people, no one was expected to do what I am doing. My school, personally, has never had a Division I football player come out."

That's less of a big deal with OL, who are almost always absurdly overpowering in high school and await a severe reality check upon arriving in the realm of Rashan Gary and friends. It does make an already high amplitude guessing game a little less reliable.

On the other side of the ledger, Honigford racked up an impressive suite of offers for a relatively camp-averse kid out of Amish country. Most of those seem legit: he was thought to be favoring Oregon, Oklahoma had him out for a visit, Auburn made his top four. It's always tough to discern "offer" from OFFER but the list here belies his modest rankings even when surveyed with a jaundiced eye. Lorenz noted that…

One great indicator that Honigford is a top-level prospect is the fact that he plays in a tiny town and still got the nearly 30 offers that he did. That's not common.

…and Ohio State sites had several articles mentioning Honigford as a guy who usually would have been in their class:

…intriguing prospect and in most other years, he would have probably landed an offer already. It seems the staff is highest on him out of all of the other names on the board, as he is a guy who is really just starting to scratch the surface when it comes to his potential. … If I were a betting man, and had to pick a player to sign with OSU today, I would go with Honigford.

This is obviously a good news/bad news kind of thing since Honigford was pre-empted by an out of nowhere commit from big-timer Wyatt Davis. (FWIW, OSU did pick up an OL late when a spot opened up; Honigford had already signaled that the ship had sailed.)

Also in Honigford's corner are the ol' intangibles. He's a 3.9 student who took a lot of AP stuff and now plans to be a mechanical engineer. He was a three sport athlete in high school, which should mean yet unexplored upside when he focuses on one. He's a farm kid with Opinions About Barns.

Despite this post's general optimism about Honigford's future he is still the least likely member of Michigan's recruiting class to see the field early. Runyan's description of the three tackles who didn't enroll early is telling:

“The first thing that really jumps out (about) them is their size. Chuck – huge dude. Andrew – huge dude. And Joel's pretty big, too.”

Meanwhile Hall had a spring practice that Honigford did not. Don't expect Honigford to hit the field running. In a couple years he could easily be the top tackle in this class.

Etc.: They call him Big Nasty. He was also his high school's kicker(!), going 30/40 on extra points. So… not a good kicker.

Why Mike Schofield? Schofield was an athletic tight end to slap weight on when Rich Rod and Greg Frey scooped him up. He entered at 6'6", 270-ish. That's more or less where Honigford finds himself. He also had a bit of a scouting gap between the end of serious evaluations at the end of his rising senior summer and the closer-to-finished product he'll enter college as. Schofield wasn't quite the talent Taylor Lewan was and mostly played RT as a result, but he was a third round pick and is still a starter with the Broncos.

Lewan is the other obvious comparison since he's the other "tall man needs weight" OT success story under Frey.

Guru Reliability: Low. Barely any camps, poor competition level, radically different weight through the evaluation period, OL.

Variance: High-minus. Could easily get overwhelmed but he's on the right track physically and should have the mental aspects down. OL.

Ceiling: High. Could easily develop into an NFL level tackle despite the rankings. Evaluations are a bit cautious about his lateral mobility. 

General Excitement Level: High-minus. Hey, it's our (almost by default) Sleeper of the Year. Honigford gets the nod over his competitors by virtue of his ideal fit with Greg Frey and engineering inclinations at a spot where intelligence is very important.

Projection: Redshirt. Will compete for a starting tackle job next year as Cole departs; like Hall he's going to be fighting against his classmates, Runyan, and maybe Bredeson for two spots. I'd say he's got as good a chance as either of the yet-to-be profiled gents despite the rankings gap.

Comments

schreibee

July 26th, 2017 at 3:15 PM ^

It's time to recycle the Harbaugh Stanford gif with about 16 OL, 5 TE, 3 FB... we're working towards that type of depth.

Real competition along the trenches, between guys that could go on to the next level... All that's left is to turn it into results in Nov-Jan!!!

A2toGVSU

July 26th, 2017 at 3:42 PM ^

Perfectly illustrate the difference in recruiting strategy between Harbaugh and Hoke. Both coaches recruited very well and got their share of 4 and 5 star guys. The difference is in these 3-star guys.

Hoke 3-stars were in the Desmond Morgan* mold: high floor types who were very developed and could play early if needed, but didn't have enormous athletic upside. The kind of guys who could be productive college players but never get a serious look from the NFL.

Harbaugh's 3-star guys all seem to have the same evaluation: "Enormous upside, very long way to go."

Harbaugh has the confidence to develop maximum "boom" from the "boom-or-bust" types.

*This is not a knock on Desmond Morgan. He was an excellent player at UM and saved our asses against UCONN.

Bertello NC

July 27th, 2017 at 9:08 PM ^

I agree. A large portion of guys JH has recruited have a few common denominators. They all seem to be tall(at least T pos.)maybe not always big in terms of weight, athletic, and flexible. The strength, weight, and technical ability will be molded in due time.

Prince_of_Nachos

July 26th, 2017 at 3:54 PM ^

Juwann Bushell-Beatty could still be on the roster in 2018.

Yeah he was bad last year and didn't play in the spring game. But consider that he:

1) Was sent out for interviews with the media during spring practice

2) Was mentioned by Gary (along with Cole) as the two guys that Gary likes to go against the most

3) Is 6'-6" with long arms and ideal tackle shape, while John Runyan Jr is probably realistically 6'-3"

He's a RS junior with high upside, don't think we should write him off quite yet.

spiff

July 26th, 2017 at 3:57 PM ^

I feel like the 'Perfect Frey-type OT' is getting to be a little worn out. The same way all 3-star RBs don't turn into Mike Hart, not all 'Frey-type OT's' are going to become great players. I would like some actual 5* OT-type OT's' in the mix as well.

 

I'm sure the coaches do too, and we've had some bad luck between injuries, de-commits, and expected commits gone wrong. But replacing 'project' with 'Greg Frey-type OT' only works so many times before it becomes a little worrisome....

Kevin13

July 26th, 2017 at 4:24 PM ^

for players they feel fit their system and style of coaching the most, not what some internet site says about them. These coaches watch these kids in person and there are a lot of factors that go into offering a kid a scholarship and one of those factors is their athleticisim and do they feel these kids will continue to grow and improve. Harbaugh, Frey and Drevno know what they are looking for and seem very happy with the kids they have coming into the system.

war-dawg69

July 27th, 2017 at 3:39 AM ^

Losing out on wilson hurt, but I truly believe in this class Emil Ekiyor is the best guard in the country. If we hit on these tackles such as Honingford Michigan's o-line will be some of the best in the country because the interior lineman are the Isiah Wilson type with guys like Ruiz, Bredeson, Onwenu and Ekiyor. Possibly four all-americans right there, so ya I guess Michigan can recruit o-lineman. I look for big things from Honingford and Stueber and really hope Honingford sticks it to osu for star gazing.

Alumnus93

July 26th, 2017 at 7:52 PM ^

Agreed. This is now Honigford and Hall, who people here have been saying are Frey types. Frey types, to me, are the actual players he tried to recruit to Indiana. Did he pursue Honigford and Hall, while at Indiana last year? If he did, then I can agree, but if not, then the analogy has no merit.

Frey seems to be a very selective recruiter and takes his type of players, which I admit seem to share Honigfords attributes. But if he did, he'd have pursued him plain and simple..

Bighou

July 27th, 2017 at 11:59 AM ^

We can't only go for the cream of the crop and rest on our laurels. We need to ride herd and get Frey-type OL, diamonds in the rough, hidden gems, lucky finds, the few and far between, clouds with silver linings, and once in a blue moom we'll get a hole in one.

 

StellaBlue

July 26th, 2017 at 4:07 PM ^

Love the OL recruiting. Actually I love all the recruiting, but it finally seems we're finally getting back to the kind of OL quality and depth that defined Michigan in the 70s 80s 90s.

randyfloyd

July 26th, 2017 at 8:02 PM ^

Knocked my old HS out of the playoffs. He was very impressive and certainly the best player on the field. I'll definitely be rooting for Joel to be a great OL for us.