Chandler Park Academy wide receiver Csont'e York has largely flown under the radar during the recruiting process, and as a three-star he's one of Michigan's lesser-heralded commits. The Charter School Conference isn't heavily scouted, so I was curious to see how York performed over the course of a full game. On Friday, he caught two passes for 33 yards and a touchdown and added a two-point conversion as CPA fell in double overtime to Old Redford Academy, 26-20.
To discuss York's performance, it's best to add some context. This was lower-division football, and it showed; I lost count of pre-snap procedure penalties when they hit double-digits, both teams put the ball on the ground, officials missed spots by ten yards, and quarterback play was... not stellar. Chandler Park's strategy also left something to be desired—despite having York, the lone BCS-level prospect on the field, facing corners eight inches shorter than him, CPA only targeted him five times during the game, three of those coming on the same drive at the goal line.
As a result, York spent much of the game run-blocking, acting as a decoy, or running routes downfield without much hope of seeing the ball. These highlights reflect that, and trust me, I could've added a solid five minutes of York jogging downfield to this reel. York is easy to spot—he's the one with the maize arm sleeve, maize gloves, maize shoelaces, maize stripes on his socks, and maize mouthguard:
[Hit THE JUMP for the full scouting report and photo gallery.]
Let's start with the good: York capitalized on the few opportunities he had to make an impact, and all three of his catches—including one two-point conversion—featured his excellent ball skills and body positioning. York knows just where to put himself to shield the defender from the ball, and once he does that it's over—he catches the ball away from his body and reels in anything close. Only once did York have a remote shot at the ball and not bring it in, and on that play he almost made a spectacular one-handed grab on a fade (no video, unfortunately). One play later, CPA ran the same play and he came down with a touchdown.
While two of York's punt returns went for little gain, he did break one for a 60-yard touchdown in the second half, though it was called back on a hold. He's not a burner, and he won't be a returner at the next level—he waited until the ball practically rolled dead to pick it up and run—but he showed that he can break through tackles when he reaches open space.
York is also a fluid athlete, coming out of his breaks well when he actually ran a route, though that didn't happen often. While he doesn't have great straight-ahead speed, he's got an easy running style and body control that gives him the potential to be a great route-runner with some more coaching.
York has got a long way to go with the more technical aspects of the position, however. On most plays York simply jogged downfield if the ball wasn't coming his way, in one instance completely failing to block on the edge (second clip above) and allowing his running back to get tackled for little gain. On two occasions he ran directly into another receiver on downfield routes—part of that may be poor play design or a mistake by the other player, but York's routes weren't exactly precise.
When York did make an effort to block, it was pretty obvious that he was holding, and I'm frankly surprised he didn't draw a flag. When he wasn't able to latch on to a defender's shoulder pads, he was thrown aside with relative ease. It looks like he's never been taught how to properly block—in this league, that's entirely possible. Regardless of technique issues, he needs to step up his effort level, both in blocking and running good routes when he's not the primary target.
While York appeared to be the leader of his team and a very encouraging sideline presence, he did pick up an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after his two-point conversion—I'm not sure whether he got it for saying something to an opposing defender or the official, but either way the ref didn't hesitate to throw a flag. He wasn't the only player to pick up a personal foul—one CPA defender ripped off his helmet after a big tackle, causing a mini-flurry of flags—but discipline may be something to monitor for York.
The physical tools are there for York to be a solid red zone threat and possession receiver; he's exceptional with the ball in the air and has good hands. It's obvious that he needs a lot of coaching, and that will come at the next level—he's going to need a year or two before he makes an impact at Michigan. He's well behind where most other BCS-level receivers are in their development, especially with route-running and blocking, and the big question will be how much ground he can cover when he arrives on campus.
As you'll see, Csont'e is very fond of dancing.
I'll be checking out Cass Tech—yes, again—on Friday night when Technicians head to Orchard Lake St. Mary's. Depending on the timing of my return from South Bend, I'll also see De La Salle vs. Catholic Central on Sunday.