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.
|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 ($):
His film shows an explosive athlete, equally adept at crowding the line of scrimmage, or playing in space.
This young man has sideline to sideline speed & never throttles down as he explodes into ball carriers. Great closing speed & such an athlete he can compete anywhere on the field from covering TE off the LOS to the speedy slot receiver staying right on there hip pad...What an unselfish player Poole is taking on multiple blocks hitting the holes and selling out while his teammates can scrape over to make plays, love this cat's motor when Antonio lays the WOOD it echoes throughout the stadium
Their recap also says he could play in the box as a strong safety at the next level, and that, combined with his measurements, leads me to believe he's destined for the weakside linebacker spot.
He has strong academics, named scholar-athlete of the week.
Rivals and Scout combine to list offers from a few MAC schools, Cincinnati, Louisville, Pitt, and Syracuse from the Big East, Kentucky, Wake Forest, and some middle-tier Big Ten teams. He also had interest from Nebraska ($, 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).
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.
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.