Hello: Blake Countess

Submitted by Tim on December 17th, 2010 at 11:06 AM

Tom reports that Maryland DB Blake Countess has committed to Michigan, the fourth defensive back in the Wolverines' class of 2011.

INFORMATIVE PORTION

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GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
4*, #18 CB, #228 Overall 4*, 5.8, #13 CB, #156 Overall 4*, 80, #14 CB

Countess is another little guy joining the defensive backfield, as all three sites list him at 5-10, and within a couple pounds of 175. He's also a participant in the US Army All-American Bowl, which gives a brief breakdown of his game:

Countess has the smooth hips and backpedal ability to be the prototypical cover corner. Despite his size, he loves to hit and is strong enough to jam a receiver at the line or come up and assist in run support. Countess has the speed to stay with receivers in man-to-man coverage and has an advanced understanding of zone defenses. Countess’ speed is also an asset in the return game.

ESPN's evaluation:

Countess is steady and heady cornerback prospect with natural cover corner skills. Very fluid through his hips and transitions in and out of his pedal smoothly. Aggressive with receivers off the line and plays bigger. Shows good coverage awareness skills; reading routes and the quarterback accurately.

As with most shorter guys, the evaluation determines whether he plays "bigger than his size," and decides he does:

Lacks ideal height but is a real competitor for the football in the contested jump-ball matchup. Soundly times his jump, displays good leaping skills and appears very comfortable around the ball in coverage.

He's an okay tackler, which you'd expect from a smaller guy (ask Courtney Avery). Overall, ESPN, says he's a good-not-great prospect:

Countess is not elite in one particular area but is very well-rounded, reliable and consistent. Brings some intangibles to the position and should fit into a number of defensive schemes at the next level.

Scout seems to be enamored with him, which is odd, considering they rank him the lowest of any service:

A strong, hard hitting defensive back, Countess does a good job of jamming his receiver at the line of scrimmage. Flips his hips well to run with a receiver. An asset in the run game because of his willingness to make a hit. Size and skill set of a cornerback with the mentality of a safety. Comes out of his breaks and closes on the ball very well. Not the biggest DB on the field, but usually one of the toughest - Scott Kennedy, Scout.com.

The only area for improvement they list is "size," which he can only do so much about. He'll spend a lot of time adding muscle in the weight room, but isn't going to get a whole lot taller. He tells Scout that he didn't have any interceptions his junior year, sorta making him the opposite of Dallas Crawford.

Countess is a "riser," with Rivals bumping him from #245 nationally to #156 on the basis of a strong senior season:

"Countess showed real physical toughness and a willingness to come up and hit in game action, something we questioned based on his size," Farrell said. "He's as fluid as we thought, very smooth and an all-around terrific cornerback."

Rivals also says something that sounds a lot like Rich Rodriguez's famous "loves football" line:

He is a classic overachiever that should outperform and outwork his opponents.

He certainly does love to compete, as his frequent showings at camps and combines demonstrate. Blake's athleticism won't come into question, as he posted the eighth-best SPARQ rating at the Nike Baltimore Combine - as a sophomore. He also proved his status as a combine star by excelling at the Under Armour Combine last winter.

OFFERS

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If you're an East Coast school, you probably offered this kid. Georgia Tech, Maryland, NC State, UVa, Wake Forest, and Duke are among the many offers for this Maryland product. Clemson and South Carolina also showed interest.

However, some non-Eastern schools also offered him a scholarship. Arkansas, Louisville, Purdue, Stanford, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin (before his junior season), Cincinnati, Illinois, Notre Dame, and Pitt were among them.

This was a highly coveted recruit, as the offer sheet shows. He ultimately picked Michigan over Georgia Tech and Maryland, a final group that belies his strong offer sheet.

STATS

His Scout profile has some (imprecise) junior year stats:

Blake Countess finished his junior season with over 50 tackles and returned one kick for a touchdown.

Senior year... there's not a ton of info out there. I'll update in next week's Friday Night Lights.

He struggled against Cincinnati St. Xavier, dropping a punt, but was good in coverage.

FAKE 40 TIME

Scout and Rivals are in agreement on his speed, almost to the hundredth of a second. Scout says 4.47, while Rivals credits him with a 4.48. That level of specificity leads me to believe the time is combine-verified and reliable. His highlight video (embedded below) mentions that it's electronically-timed.

I'm left with no choice but to give a mere one FAKE out of five.

VIDEO

Here's the first half of his final high school season:

You can see his junior and sophomore combined highlights here.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

When player evaluations can focus on little other than a player's diminutive size, the first thing that comes to mind is a sure redshirt. For Countess, that's no different, especially since Michigan has had big defensive hauls in 2010 and so far in 2011. He needs to get in the weight room before he can play at this level.

After a redshirt year (or a year spending time almost exclusively on special teams), he'll slowly work his way into the lineup over the course of a couple years. He probably won't have a chance to be one of the starting corners until he's an upperclassman, but there are so many variables between now and then that it's hard to project.

As an upperclassman starter, he has the potential to be a fringe All-Conference candidate, but I don't think he's likely to contend for All-American honors unless he can develop quite a bit under good coaching.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Countess becomes the fourth defensive back to commit to Michigan for this season, meaning there may be some shuffling in positions of players currently on the roster or in the class. Dallas Crawford is a high school safety, for example, and Greg Brown could fill a hybrid role if he keeps growing.

Despite the abundance of players back there, Michigan's coaches are likely to look for at least one more DB, a top free safety like Wayne Lyons - though other options are thin on the ground. Beyond that, defensive tackle, linebacker, and one more offensive lineman remain the focuses for filling the class.

Comments

Bosch

December 17th, 2010 at 12:27 PM ^

Crawford isn't decommitting.  He's preparing for a backup plan in the case that RR is let go.

The timeline has no bearing on whether Crawford stays or leaves.  It will come down to who is coaching the team next year, and that will be decided long before NLI signing day.

Magnus

December 17th, 2010 at 1:05 PM ^

What's it like to be obsessed with another dude like you are with me?  From your comment that you're going to "auto-neg" every one of my posts to this particular comment that's odd and unnecessary, I'm starting to think you spend too much time thinking about me.  It's a little weird.

Go Blue Eyes

December 17th, 2010 at 11:45 AM ^

What I like best is that he committed during a time of turmoil so his choice is more about the college and the program.  He also had an offer from Stanford but I won't comment further on that.

markusr2007

December 17th, 2010 at 11:52 AM ^

and play two ways for Michigan?
 

His safety play has been very good, but I'm startled by his excellent quarterback play.

If we sign Crawford, it's kind of a nice insurance policy, I guess, should anything happen to Robinson, Forcier and Gardner on the same weekend.  Heaven forbid.

mmiicchhiiggaann

December 17th, 2010 at 11:57 AM ^

Its really incredible the job the staff has done with all of the unknowns at this time. These are either some kids who genuinely love the program or the staff is really selling it out there....Can't wait to see what happens down the stretch.

Logan88

December 17th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

I guess it's because his SR film seems to emphasize his offensive/return skills, but when I was watching that film I kept thinking that he reminded me of current WVU players Jock Sanders and Tavon Austin (who I am still bummed about losing to WVU).

Wolvmarine

December 17th, 2010 at 12:15 PM ^

This is great news.   I expect us to have an elite secondary in a few years.  Considering all that has happened the past few years, it has to really piss off Dantonio to no end to know that we can still flat out, out-recruit Sparty. 

TrueBlue2003

December 17th, 2010 at 1:06 PM ^

is still ranked ahead of ours by this site and most others.  They are still getting too many of the top defensive players in the state as well, including 5 star LBs that we desperately need.  I think Dantonio is ok right now.

Tim

December 17th, 2010 at 1:55 PM ^

Their class won't be ranked ahead of ours in the next update, and I imagine Michigan will see a BIG recruiting bump once the coaching situation is settled, at the very least in terms of sheer number of recruits. 

aaamichfan

December 17th, 2010 at 4:21 PM ^

Actually, with Countess we are ranked #24 overall to Rivals. We have fewer commits than anyone else in the top 25, so if we are fortunate enough to get Frost, Zettel, and Bryant, we should solidly be about 15th. 

As it stands right now, our class is already much better than Sparty. And theirs is nearly complete.

briangoblue

December 17th, 2010 at 12:26 PM ^

This class is starting to round into form and defensive depth is starting to come around. Can't wait to see a bunch of juniors and seniors back there in a couple years. I know we need a free safety but I fully expect Vinopal to continue down his path of "overachieving white safety" that we usually see at Iowa/Wisconsin.