Four-star Flint Southwestern DL Deron Irving-Bey committed to Michigan this afternoon to end a long in-state battle between the Wolverines and Michigan State. The Spartans were long thought to be the leader in Irving-Bey's recruitment. SpartanTailgate expected him to be an imminent addition to the class after MSU offered in May:
Per a source, Michigan State had the lead for Irving-Bey even before he had an offer from MSU. Michigan State co-defensive coordinator Harlon Barnett has been in touch with Irving-Bey since January and has done an outstanding job recruiting him. Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again very soon. A source added that if MSU stays on Irving-Bey that he’ll end up a Spartan soon.
In October, SpartanTailgate posted a slideshow of MSU's top five most-wanted recruits. Irving-Bey topped the list*:
Some recruiting insiders are hearing Irving-Bey is leaning towards Michigan, but a source close to him told Spartan Tailgate, "I know he loves Michigan State and I'm surprised he hasn't already committed." Irving-Bey plans to take an official visit Tennessee later on this month. We are also told Irving-Bey plans to visit Michigan State again in the near future. Irving-Bey is a high priority for Michigan State because he has the ability to play the same positions for MSU as Malik McDowell does. He can play multiple positions on the defensive line and with McDowell likely to declare for the NFL after his junior season, Irving-Bey is a must get for the Spartans in the class of 2017.
By that time, however, Irving-Bey had become an increasingly frequent visitor to Ann Arbor. A visit to East Lansing (for the Michigan game, incidentally) was sandwiched between an October unofficial and December official visit to Michigan. As Crystal Ball picks to Michigan came flooding in, SpartanTailgate sources changed their tune:
According to a Wolverine source, "The only way Michigan doesn't get Irving-Bey is if he waits too long."
Irving-Bey has taken official visits to Maryland on Dec. 3 and Michigan on Dec. 10. Irving-Bey is announcing at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and likely to select Michigan but could still visit MSU.
A source close to Irving-Bey said, "Deron is still looking at Michigan State and plans to visit there in January."
A separate source said, "A darkhorse in Irving-Bey's recruitment is Maryland." ...
247Sports ranks Irving-Bey as the No. 5 strong-side defensive end in the country. Michigan State is recruiting to Irving-Bey play defensive tackle.
A source added that, "Irving-Bey's senior film wasn't that impressive and doesn't play with a high motor."
Spartan Tailgate was told Irving-Bey is not likely to end up at Michigan State unless they miss out on several other defensive linemen targets ahead of him. That's one of the reasons why Irving-Bey hasn't taken an official visit to Michigan State yet.
Here are a couple totally unrelated screenshots:
Here is a full list of 2017 Michigan State commits on the defensive line along with their 247 Composite rankings:
Three-star SDE Jacub Panasiuk (#26 SDE, #641 overall)
Three-star WDE Lashawn Paulino-Bell (#39 WDE, #709 overall)
Three-star WDE Donovan Winter (#73 WDE, NR overall)
The Spartans do not have a defensive tackle in the class and zero of the 13 DTs in the 247 database holding offers from MSU are listed with more than "cool" interest in the Spartans. Seven of them have already committed to other schools, including Michigan commit Phil Paea. The remaining six don't have a single MSU Crystal Ball selection between them. The only strongside end listed as "warm" for MSU weighs 215 pounds and is ranked 1240th overall. They're expected to pick up a commitment from a 230-pound weakside end they offered yesterday who's ranked 2106th.
But, yeah, I'm sure they passed on the consensus four-star from Flint because he was too far down their board.
A source tells me Irving-Bey is not expected to make that January visit to East Lansing.
*The rest of the list: #5 Christian Cumber (Colorado State commit), #4 Lynn Bowden (Kentucky holds large lead on Crystal Ball), #3 Ambry Thomas (heh), and #2 KJ Hamler (Penn State). I'm noting this both for the lols and to save for posterity in case it mysteriously disappears from SpartanTailgate's archives.
4*, #24 DE,
|3*, #18 SDE||
4*, 81, #18 DT,
4*, 93, #5 SDE,
4*, #9 SDE,
Scout and ESPN both have Irving-Bey at the tail end of their top 300 lists; 247 is the bullish outlier, Rivals the bearish. His position rankings are all over the place because there isn't a consensus on whether he'll wind up on the inside or outside of the defensive line. Like fellow 2017 commits James Hudson and Donovan Jeter, Irving-Bey could be a DT or SDE at Michigan, and like Hudson he even has some potential as an offensive tackle.
Irving-Bey is listed at 6'5" by every site save ESPN (6'4") and somewhere between 265 and 284 pounds to every site save Rivals (a comically low/outdated 245).
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, highlights, and more.]
Irving-Bey was a lightly scouted recruit until this year, at least on the recruiting services. ESPN doesn't have an underclassman evaluation. The earliest scouting post from any site is from Scout's Allen Trieu after January's Camp Pride in Brighton:
On the offensive and defensive lines, Tyrone Sampson and Deron Irving-Bey stood out from the pack. Irving-Bey is a good sized junior with good athleticism, get off, and did solid work with his hands. He also moved over to offensive tackle and showed he could be a Division-I recruit there as well. Really the only player to stop him all day with Sampson who uses his strength and wide base along with excellent technique to regularly win one on one reps.
He was the overall MVP of another local competition, February's Elite Big Man Camp in Wixom, per Scout's Dave Berk:
Irving-Bey was the top performer on the day using his size and athletic ability to win the majority of his battles. With great physical size at 6-foot-5, 250-pounds, Irving-Bey is a prospect that could play on the edge or inside on defense or be turned into an athletic offensive lineman.
Trieu added his take from the same event:
Long, athletic, plays hard. Not a whole lot not to like here. Still can develop go-to moves and counters, but every tool in the kit is there.
Irving-Bey faced a higher level of competition at the Adidas Chicago Showcase in March and proved up to the challenge. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt listed him first among the top five performers:
It is easy to see why Irving-Bey has accumulated a dozen offers, many coming in the last couple months. Listed 6-foot-4 and 245 pounds, there are so few weaknesses in his game. Irving-Bey has the size and strength to handle the point of attack, he has an explosive first step that allows him to get into offensive linemen before they set and he has a great feel for what rush moves to make in which situation.
247's Steve Wiltfong had him third among defensive players:
Flint (Mich.) Southwestern defensive end Deron Irving-Bey was terrific as an edge rusher proving why Michigan State was the latest program to offer last week. The 6-foot-5, 250-pound Irving-Bey was unblockable until he met Boyd in the best of the best round. Irving-Bey used his speed and power to quickly dispose of offensive tackles, at times going virtually untouched to the bag.
Michigan came through with an offer the following month. When Scout updated their rankings in June, Irving-Bey made his debut in the top 300. That same month, he worked out at MSU's one-day Elite Camp despite already holding an offer, and—well, would you look at that—he was the best player of the day, per Helmholdt:
Probably the single most impressive player on the afternoon was Flint (Mich.) Southwestern Academy defensive end Deron Irving-Bey. We have seen Irving-Bey several times this off-season and ranked him as the No. 19 strongside defensive end in the 2017 class, so his performance was not a surprise. The 6-foot-5, 245-pound rising senior is a very impressive combination of size, athleticism and power and proved nearly unblockable during the one-on-one portion of camp. Michigan State has already offered Irving-Bey and sits in great position in his recruitment.
Trieu concurred, placing Irving-Bey atop his list of top defensive performers:
Getting bigger, to the point where MSU tried him inside some. Inside-outside combo guy right now with the skills to win 1-1 matchups.
Trieu saw Irving-Bey record three TFLs in his senior season debut, as well, in a blowout loss for Southwestern.
It was a similar scene when our very own Adam Schnepp and Dave Nasternak saw Irving-Bey play at Davison in late September; Southwestern lost 42-6 to drop to 0-4 but Irving-Bey looked solid. While Davison either optioned him off or ran towards more pliable Southwestern defenders, DIB's football IQ, pursuit, and tackling stood out. He did struggle getting to the passer against a 270-pound all-state Davison tackle, which led to Adam's main critique:
Irving-Bey’s going to have to get stronger at the point of attack in college. That’s not a huge surprise; like improving pad level, most SDEs need to get stronger when they get to college. The other thing that didn’t particularly stand out in this viewing was Irving-Bey’s quickness off the snap. He wasn’t much faster off the ball than his teammates, but he was able to make up for some of that with his ability to escape blocks, recognize, and pursue. At 6’5” and 282 pounds, Irving-Bey has the frame of a Big Ten strongside defensive end. The elements of his game that stand out are the ones that are most difficult to improve and certainly the ones that take longer to develop; he’s a guy who may have redshirted under a past regime simply to add muscle, but who might get limited snaps should he end up a freshman Anchor in a Don Brown defense because of his ability to diagnose plays.
You can see that the surrounding talent at Southwestern and their coaching hold Irving-Bey back at the high school level; the cut-blocking by defensive linemen on display in the above film is, let's say, an unusual tactic, and he clearly hasn't had that much instruction on technique—he pops straight up far too often off the snap. I disagree with Adam that quickness off the snap is an issue; he gets off the snap fine but that advantage is quickly negated when he stands straight up. That's not an uncommon issue for high school DTs; it's one that will need to be fixed. ESPN's evaluation covers this in their section on run defense:
Able to fire off on snap of the ball with pad level and power through contact and disrupt with penetration though can look to lean on that a bit at this stage and can look to struggle to quickly redirect once in backfield. Flashes ability to shoot hands and press blockers and hold ground, but too inconsistent at this stage with hand usage and pad level and can get pushed back and struggle to get off blocks when lets blockers into frame.
There's a lot of hedging in that paragraph—ESPN's evaluations on the whole are riddled with flashes, buts, cans, and the like—but in this case it's appropriate; Irving-Bey is still developing consistency, too.
While there's plenty of technique work to do, Irving-Bey has a lot of readily apparent physical potential, and in addition to that he's got some versatility; he could be a three-tech DT, five-tech SDE, or even an offensive tackle in college. Scout's evaluation focuses on that combination of athleticism, versatility, and potential:
EvaluationKid with a great frame that continues to fill out. Projected as an offensive tackle early in his career and could still play there, but future seems increasingly more likely to be on defense. Long arms, naturally bends well and moves well. Gets off the ball quickly and plays with a good motor. Still developing technique and using his hands better. The bigger he gets, the more likely it is he's a five-tech or maybe even a three for some schools, but an attractive package of skills.
- Quickness off Ball
Areas to Improve
- Techniques and Moves
Irving-Bey has mostly faced local competition on the camp scene; we'll get a better idea of how he stacks up against the nation's elite prospects when he takes part in the Army Bowl in January. You can see his development over the course of only one year from the camp scouting reports. Michigan has a lot to work with here, even if it may take a couple years before he's ready to contribute.
Irving-Bey's offer sheet has a strongly Midwest bent to it aside from a Tennessee offer, easily his best from outside the region. Others include Maryland, Michigan State, Central Michigan, Cincinnati, Indiana, Iowa State, Pitt, Syracuse, and Western Michigan.
As you probably gathered, Flint Southwestern doesn't produce a lot of D-I talent. A rather significant exception: Mark Ingram, Alabama's 2009 Heisman winner and current New Orleans Saints running back. Michigan has signed one Southwestern prospect in the Rivals era (2002-present), three-star 2006 DE Quintin Woods, who instead went to JuCo and wound up at Kansas. The program—and their future Wolverines—had much better success prior to the existence of the recruiting. Five players from Southwestern lettered for Michigan in the 1970s, including quarterback Rick Leach.
Irving-Bey had 73 tackles (63 solo), 23 TFLs, and six sacks as a junior, per MLive. I could only find partial stats for his senior year: he had 23 tackles, seven TFLs, four sacks, and a forced fumble through three weeks.
FAKE 40 TIME
Irving-Bey's Hudl page lists an unsourced 4.8 40 time, which gets five FAKEs out of five.
Single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Irving-Bey may not be ready to make an instant impact, but he'll get a chance to make the two-deep as only Mo Hurst and Bryan Mone are slated to return from last year's DT contributors and Chris Wormley departs from the starting SDE spot. Irving-Bey will either compete with Lawrence Marshall, Shelton Johnson, and his fellow incoming freshmen at SDE or be among the pile of freshmen working to crack the two-deep at three-tech.
My guess is he'll get his feet wet in garbage time situations as a freshman before an expanded role in his sophomore year; Hudson looks the most college-ready among the current commits and Michigan is still very much in the mix for Aubrey Solomon and Jay Tufele, both of whom are more likely to see the field right away.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Irving-Bey is Michigan's 24 commit in a class expected to wind up around 30 or so. He's the third SDE/DT type, joining James Hudson and Donovan Jeter. More commitments could come later this week. Four-star LB Jordan Anthony, is scheduled to announce on Thursday, and there are rumors that more decisions could be bumped up to this week.
Other top targets include five-star CA RB Najee Harris, five-star GA DT Aubrey Solomon, top-100 UT DT Jay Tufele, top-100 NJ OLB Drew Singleton, top-100 TX OT Chuck Filiaga, and four-star MS OLB Willie Gay.