Photo: Isaiah Hole/247
Michigan has filled one of their most significant remaining needs in the 2016 class after four-star Boulder (CO) Fairview DE Carlo Kemp chose the Wolverines over Notre Dame this afternoon. Kemp projects to the WDE/BUCK spot currently occupied by Royce Jenkins-Stone, a position in great need of reninforcement.
Kemp is the 21st commit in the class and the third along the defensive line, joining SDE Ron Johnson and DT Rashad Weaver.
|4*, #37 DE||
4*, #9 WDE,
|4*, 80, #42 DE||3*, 87, #30 SDE||
4*, #14 SDE,
Kemp is mostly hanging around the lower end of the top x lists, falling inside the Rivals250, barely missing the Scout300 (the #36 DE is #292 overall), and coming within six spots in the position rankings of making the ESPN300; 247 stands as the outlier.
All four sites are in close agreement on Kemp's size, listing him at 6'3" (or, in Scout's case, 6'2.5") and 250-262 pounds, mostly falling on the higher end of that range. He's right around the size that DJ Durkin prefers for that BUCK spot; Dante Fowler is 6'3" and around 265 pounds, for comparison.
Kemp is a bit of an odd case scouting-wise. He's got very strong family ties to the game of football:
There are few prospects in the country that have been around the game of football like Kemp. He lives with his grandfather, Sam Pagano, who is one of the best high school coaches in Colorado football history. Then, there are his two uncles, Chuck and John Pagano, two of the most respected coaches in the NFL.
"I'm blessed with such a supportive family," Kemp shared. "I live with my grandpa, who is my greatest fan and also my best critic. He is always pushing me to be better and offering me great coaching advice. Uncle Chuck and John are always a text or phone call away and have been great mentors to me. That's my motivation right there. I want to play for one of my uncles in the NFL. I know to get there, I can never stop working to get better."
One might think a prospect like that would hit a ton of camps, but Kemp hasn't done so, and as a prospect in a state not known for producing a lot of football talent there's not a whole lot of scouting on him. His Scout and ESPN profiles both lack the usual evaluation, unusual for a player with his rankings.
The only camp writeup I could find on Kemp comes from back in the summer of 2013, when the sophomore-to-be stood out at an NFL 7-on-7 camp in Cleveland that featured the likes of Leonard Fournette (playing safety, terrifyingly) and Brian Cole; Scout's Bill Greene listed Kemp among the top performers ($):
A 2016 prospect to watch, Kemp started as a freshman last season. He moved exceptionally well for a sophomore-to-be, and has great size at 6-foot-2, 220-pounds. The nephew of Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano, and a player that has a chance to be a star in the future. Impressive size/speed combination. Listed Notre Dame and Ohio State as favorite schools at this time.
This spring, Scout bumped Kemp into their top 300—he's still at the same spot in their position rankings but was passed by some non-DEs—because of his versatility:
Kemp is a versatile player who moves all over the defense. He put his hand down as a rush end, stand up as an outside 'backer and even plays some middle 'backer as well. We think with his frame, he'll end up as a full time defensive end and could even grow in to a tackle but he'll be a very good college player no matter where he lines up.
That shows up in Kemp's junior film, in which he moves all over the defensive front. Irish247's Evan Sharpley did an in-depth breakdown of that film after Notre Dame offered Kemp and found a lot to like ($):
Kemp flashes brilliant athleticism, the versatility to play multiple positions, and potential to be developed into an elite collegiate player. Kemp shows ample speed as an edge rushers, the physicality to play inside, and coverage skills to matchup with hybrid tight ends. Kemp has the body type that will allow him to trend toward a number of different positions based on need and/or development. Exciting talent that seems to have the snack for creating turnovers and batting down balls. Kemp is a smart pass rusher. Impeccable ability to read the quarterback’s eyes will moving upfield. WIll become more dangerous as he becomes more consistent in creating space with his hands versus edge and interior linemen. Has shown fantastic growth from sophomore to junior year, mainly in terms of technique, motor, and physical play.
That's the strengths section; the areas for improvement boiled down to him finding a position so he can develop physically for a specific spot on the field.
Finally, The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan caught Kemp in August in a practice setting and also saw him as more than just a pass-rusher ($):
He has the big, thick build of a prospect who will grow into a true defensive lineman, and while he's adjusting to life away from the line of scrimmage, he has the athleticism to cover players in space, too. He'll be a pass-rush specialist in college, even if he's playing from a two-point stance, but he's more versatile than previously known - without losing the mentality to plant opposing skill players into the turf.
If it looks like a BUCK and sounds like a BUCK...
Kemp boasts offers from Arizona State, Boise State, Colorado, Colorado State, Kansas State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, UCLA, Washington, and Wisconsin, a very solid list for a prospect from his region, albeit one lacking too many elite programs.
Fairview has only produced one Power 5 commit in the Rivals era (2002-), though it's one you're likely familar with: former Nebraska wideout Kenny Bell.
Impressive junior stats via Scout ($):
Over the past two years, Fairview is 23-2 and Kemp has been the driving force. This past season, Kemp had 66 tackles, 20 TFLs, 8 sacks, and 5 forced fumbles, despite a constant double team and occasional triple. He also chipped in 11 rushing touchdowns, proving to be a viable goal line back. Kemp has forced 13 turnovers and blocked 5 field goals in his last 20 games.
I'm sure John Baxter has taken note of that last bit.
FAKE 40 TIME
Kemp's Scout profile lists an estimated 40 time of 4.80, which gets four FAKEs out of five.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
You've probably gathered that I think Kemp will end up at the BUCK, where there's quite a bit of uncertainty with Mario Ojemudia and Royce Jenkins-Stone out of eligibility after this season. Lawrence Marshall is the only other BUCK on the roster who's seen playing time, and after he was expected to take on a big role this year, he's barely seen the field. Unless another lineman—probably Taco Charlton—moves the position next year, Kemp should compete for immediate time with Marshall and freshman Reuben Jones. Kemp has the size to see the field right away and there's a good chance he'll do just that.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The class as it currently stands:
Kemp fills a huge hole in the class, and Michigan is in on several big-time prospects to finish it out—the part that's most difficult to project isn't the size of the class, which should get to or near 28, but which current commits will stick and which will flip commitments or come in as grayshirts.
That's enough for a whole post, so for now I'll note that main positions the coaches are recruiting are defensive tackle (Rashan Gary, Chris Daniels, Jordan Elliott), tight end (Isaac Nauta, Jacob Mathis), receiver (Dylan Crawford, Pie Young, Donnie Corley), inside linebacker (Devin Bush, Dontavious Jackson) and defensive back (Lavert Hill, David Long, Chris Brown).