Hello: Antonio Poole

Submitted by Tim on January 25th, 2011 at 8:27 PM

OH LB Antonio Poole has committed to become the 15th member of Michigan's class of 2011. He told Tom yesterday:

"It just felt like the right choice, and I couldn't pass up the opportunity. I really would like to play for coach Mattison."

On with the show.

INFORMATIVE PORTION

poolemug.jpg

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #13 OLB, #227 Overall 3*, 5.7, #26 OLB, #17 Ohio 3*, 78, #41 OLB

The three recruiting sites disagree slightly on where Poole should be ranked, though all agree (for once) that he's an outside linebacker. Scout's the most optimistic, putting him at #13 for the position nationally, while ESPN slots him all the way down at #41. Their evaluation:

Has the size and athleticism for the outside linebacker position at the major level of competition. His strong wrap tackling ability should serve him well as a special team's player... We like his instincts and downhill approach when playing the run; demonstrates good timing when filling gaps, showing the quickness to beat blockers to the point of attack. Displays the playing strength to take on and defeat blockers when moving through traffic to the ball... His playing speed and athleticism show up in pass coverage; demonstrates good route awareness, especially with screens and release routes; is alert and can man up with receivers coming out of the backfield; also shows edge blitz speed and a change of direction move; has a good closing burst to the QB.

This is your standard ESPN fawning, and per usual, is accompanied by a "meh" rating. So, what's wrong with him? The sites disagree on his size, but at an average of 6-1, 215, he's a little undersized to be an immediate contributor at linebacker. Ohio State recruiting guru Duane Long elaborates:

His size is a question mark. His game is not. Knocks the stuffing out of people. Great instincts. Runs great. Plays with another level intensity. I think showing he can play the pass is going to be even more important to Pool [sic]. While Grigsby is a hybrid who could grow into a weak side linebacker, Pool is more a sure hybrid.

Oddly enough, Michigan's hybrid-obsessed coaching staff leaves town... and the Wolverines finally offer the guy who looks like a hybrid player. He got bigger after that evaluation (in the winter after his junior season), so size may not be quite the question mark it once was. Scout's Bill Greene chimes in ($):

His film shows an explosive athlete, equally adept at crowding the line of scrimmage, or playing in space.

He "plays fast" ($, info in header). In ranking him the #18 prospect in Ohio, SWOhioFootball has the following to say:

This young man has sideline to sideline speed & never throttles down as he explodes into ball carriers. Great closing speed & such an athlete he can compete anywhere on the field from covering TE off the LOS to the speedy slot receiver staying right on there hip pad...What an unselfish player Poole is taking on multiple blocks hitting the holes and selling out while his teammates can scrape over to make plays, love this cat's motor when Antonio lays the WOOD it echoes throughout the stadium

Their recap also says he could play in the box as a strong safety at the next level, and that, combined with his measurements, leads me to believe he's destined for the weakside linebacker spot.

He has strong academics, named scholar-athlete of the week.

OFFERS

Rivals and Scout combine to list offers from a few MAC schools, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, and Syracuse from the Big East, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and some middle-tier Big Ten teams. He also had interest from Nebraska ($, info in header). He visited Miami (YTM) last weekend, hoping for an offer. He didn't receive one (and reportedly would have committed had the offer come through).

Michigan offered last week, and as he spent much of 2010 openly coveting a Michigan offer, it didn't take long for him to act on it, and commit to become a Wolverine.

STATS

pooleaction.jpg

After an exceptional junior season in which he had 48 solo tackles, 16 assists, 10 tackles for loss, two forced fumbles, and three fumble recoveries, he was named to the First-Team All-Cincinnati defense (PDF link). Winton Woods won the State Championship.

I couldn't find full senior stats for Poole, but Winton Woods finished the season 10-2, losing to Trotwood-Madison in the playoffs. Antonio had 22 tackles for loss.

FAKE 40 TIME

He has a listed 40 time of 4.56, though none of the recruiting sites verify it. That's pretty good speed for a linebacker, and considering the name of Poole's game is "speed," that's totally plausible. I give a mere two FAKEs out of five.

VIDEO

ScoutingOhio highlights:

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Some sources say Poole is ready to play immediately, whereas others say he's too small. His skills against the run and pass are relatively polished and he's a big hitter, so if he takes a redshirt year, it's strictly because he's not needed in 2011 and the coaches want him to put on some mass.

However, don't be surprised if he plays a bit on special teams as a true freshman, and works his way into the linebacker rotation over the course of his career. He has an excellent chance to be an All-Big Ten selection as an upperclassman.

He doesn't have off-the-charts measurables that the NFL covets, so he seems more like a late-round pick or free agent signing at the next level.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Michigan is loading up on linebackers, and anybody who's seen the Wolverines' defense play over the last few years has no problem with that. There's probably at least one more commitment at the position on the way, and defensive line, tight end, quarterback, and fullback are the areas of focus for the rest of the class.

If the coaches can't manage to fill a couple of those spots, they'll probably be fine waiting until next class to fill them in. Almost everything from this point forward is gravy on a transitional recruiting class.

Comments

aaamichfan

January 26th, 2011 at 1:15 AM ^

I've been very high on Poole for a long time. I'm thrilled about this. He is going to absolutely destroy some mofo's, and will strike fear in the minds of opposing RB's.

cjm

January 26th, 2011 at 1:13 AM ^

Mattison hasn't been on the job for more than a week and he is reeling them in. This coaching staff is legit as far as recruiting is concerned. I'm excited to see them prove their worth with the X's and O's.

MGoShoe

January 26th, 2011 at 10:20 AM ^

...the Denard to transfer after the spring game meme.  I was going to comment on this very thing when I read Tim's Hello: Bellomy piece yesterday but was stymied by the site's technical difficulties.  I hope that was just sarcasm, but unfortunately, I don't think it was.

Not sure why folks feel the need to propagate such unsubstantiated crap.

Don

January 26th, 2011 at 10:29 AM ^

What makes it especially odd is that Denard Robinson has shown himself so far to be as "all in" for the University of Michigan as anybody on the team.

Sure, there is the possibility DR, or anybody else, could transfer after the spring game, but up to this point there is literally nothing of a factual or evidentiary nature that you could use to justify the speculation that Denard will leave. It's just silly fear-mongering right now.

GBOD79

January 26th, 2011 at 10:14 AM ^

He is doing a decent job at salvaging the class. However, final judgment will be reserved for next year. Lets see how he does when he has to compete with the likes of OSU, Nebraska, PSU, etc. He isnt really battling the big boys for these recruits.

He is doing a good job though, no doubt.

M-Dog

January 26th, 2011 at 12:16 PM ^

How come I didn't get mobbed by cheerleaders when I told people I was going to the University of Michigan?  What gives?  I want a re-do.

This does show you why it's so easy for big-time schools to oversign. 

These kids are fussed and fawned over every waking hour.  It's easy to see how they come to believe that they are the best player that ever lived, and getting pushed out due to oversigning is something that happens to the "other guy".

GoBlue007

January 26th, 2011 at 4:18 AM ^

Have been reading the news from the sights (in addition to the post above) seems like he got passed over Jr. and early Sr. year due to stigma that he is undersized; however, he is lightening fast to get to the ball.  Hopefully he can bulk up on his frame.  Great recruit, Great Catch. 

NomadicBlue

January 26th, 2011 at 7:07 AM ^

Everyday, this recruiting class gets better and better.  Who will be added tomorrow?  I'm hoping for a lineman - maybe even one for each side of the ball.  I made the statement when Hoke was hired that if he could pull off a top 35 recruiting class, that would be a big win for the team.  Well, now I think we are pushing for a top 25 class.  Well, Brady & co., this is me being impressed.  Keep it rollin'. 

Don

January 26th, 2011 at 8:27 AM ^

He's 30 years old, and playing in his second Super Bowl. Anybody who thinks that Poole is too small, especially for the college game, is an idiot.

fat_wilhelm

January 26th, 2011 at 9:13 AM ^

Given that Mattison seems to have the Midas Touch with linebackers far and wide, I kind of wish he'd make a quick run to Detroit just to say hello to Lawrence Thomas. Could a single look from those magical G-Matt eyes instill panic in Sparty Land? Even though LT seems to be quite solid, it would be fun to watch some e*squirming from the other side.

Vacuous Truth

January 26th, 2011 at 9:43 AM ^

Tim lists DL, TE and FB as the final positions that could use another commitment in this class. Personally, i would think OL would be the top remaining positional priority, besides perhaps TE. 

This year's class boasts 1 (Posada) and maybe a 2nd (Miller is listed at DE on rivals, C on scout), if you consider Fisher and Bryant unlikely to become Blue, which seems to be the at least possible, and perhaps likely. Last year M landed only Pace, and with BWC and Q Washington both likely to stick with defense, we're left with Lewan and Schofield in the 09 class on the O-Line. That's anywhere from 4 to 7 upperclass offensive linemen, barring injuries, in 2013, more likely in the lower range, and I would have to think Lewan would be an NFL early-exit risk.

Probably too late for the new staff to do much about it if Bryant and Fisher head elsewhere, but i think it is certainly a concern.

upnorthinblue

January 26th, 2011 at 10:25 AM ^

I love this, this guys video is awesome.

I wounder what the rest of the big ten coachs are thinking about Hoke at this point. The guy comes in and two weeks later he puts together a decent recruiting class. That kind of recruiting talent and the brand of Michigian is a leathel weapon.

Good job coaches! Keep them coming!