Hello: Desmond Morgan

Submitted by Tim on December 13th, 2010 at 7:08 PM

Instate linebacker burst onto the scene near the end of October, receiving an official offer from the Wolverines. Just a couple months later, he's committed to wearing the winged helmet next fall. Tom has some commitment quotes from the kid.

INFORMATIVE PORTION

morganmug.jpg

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN
3*, #43 MLB 3*, 5.5, NR ILB 3*, 78, #24 ILB

The three sites are unanimous in Morgan's 6-1, 225-pound size, and his mid-level ranking as an overall prospect. ESPN is the outlier, ranking him in the top 25 of inside linebackers, whereas he's outside the top 40 on the other two sites (Rivals stops ranking them at #45). For a breakdown of his game, let's start with ESPN's evaluation:

Morgan is a very tough run stopper; displays dominant playing strength at the point of attack. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition... We like his hand use, showing the physical playing strength to take on and defeat blockers at the point; demonstrates the ability to play low and keep his feet free when moving laterally vs. the outside run.

So, excellent run-stopper, something that Michigan has lacked since David Harris left town (though, in fairness, Kenny Demens seems to be performing well in that role).

Flashes good underneath screen recognition ability however all area of coverage will need refinement; man coverage assignments must be carefully evaluated. This guy plays with the intensity and motor we look for when evaluating the ILB position... Morgan may need some time to polish coverage skills. If a red shirt year is not deemed necessary he could see early playing time on special teams.

morganrhino.jpg

A little weak in coverage, as you'd expect from most linebackers at the high school level. Tom interviewed him shortly after he received the Michigan offer, and Desmond divulged what the coaches like about his game:

They said they're looking for kids that knew how to hit, and that aren't afraid to get after it. They want guys that have a nose for the ball, and smart kids. I learn from my coaches, and I give 110% no matter what. Even if I'm doing something wrong, I'm going to go 100 MPH doing it.

That sounds like an "effort guy" - and the last part sounds so much like Jonas Mouton that it's not even funny.

One thing that's important to note - especially given that ESPN questions his physical ability to play in coverage at an elite level - is that he's a high school quarterback, in addition to his responsibilities on the other side of the ball. That may help his instincts and reads in pass coverage, helping cover for any physical limitations.

The Holland Sentinel says he's "fast enough to help the U-M defense now," though that should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. An opposing coach says he's "a great football player," but that's not terribly descriptive.

OFFERS

As mentioned above, Morgan's recruitment really took off a bit later in the fall, unsurprising for a guy whose primary job in high school is as a Tebow-style (or Chris Relf-style, if you require a more timely reference) Rhinoback. Only a host of MAC schools had offered him in the summer.

Northwestern and Michigan were his final two.

STATS

Scout's very brief blurb:

Recorded 120 tackles as a junior.

That earned him 1st-team All-Area and All-State Honorable Mention. I couldn't find exact senior-season stats on the internet. I'll scour the tubes once more, and hopefully have more detail for tomorrow's Friday Night Lights post.

FAKE 40 TIME

Rivals: 4.7. Scout: 4.65. Those are pretty darn good times for a middle linebacker, especially one that ESPN basically calls "slow." I'll give it three FAKES out of five.

VIDEO

Here's his junior year:

Lovin' the 4.0 GPA listed as a key stat. The first 3 games of his senior year. His full senior highlight starts out with "Put On" by Young Jeezy, which I'll admit is a guilty pleasure of mine.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Part of ESPN's breakdown says that he looks like a spectacular special teamer, as he loves to hit and has good athleticism. That ability may help Desmond get onto the field as a true freshman. However, with kenny Demens and Mike Jones seemingly solid at linebacker spots for the next couple years (assuming a full recovery from Jones's broken leg), Michigan will more likely try to redshirt him, then give him that redshirt freshman year on special teams before being thrown strongly into the mix.

He probably wouldn't become a full-time starter until redshirt junior or redshirt senior seasons, and with Kellen Jones also in the class, there's some flexibility as to where each of them will play. If you held a gun to my head, I'd say Jones is more able to play inside and outside, whereas Morgan is more of a true inside 'backer.

He seems like an instinctual player, even if his physical attributes aren't the greatest. That's the sort of guy that Iowa and Wisconsin regularly turn into All-conference performers, and I think that's also the ceiling for Desmond.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

What is... defensive... recruit?

Michigan is starting to fill in the defensive side of the ball a little bit. There's still a need for more bodies there (safeties and defensive tackles, please), but Morgan shores up a big area of need in linebacker.

I hesitate to predict too far into the future of this recruiting class, as several commits and interested prospects are likely to look elsewhere should Rich Rodriguez be dismissed as Michigan's head coach. That said, another offensive lineman, a wide receiver or two, possibly a quarterback, and a host of defensive linemen and safeties will fill out the class.

Comments

Magnus

December 13th, 2010 at 7:27 PM ^

It's about damn time we get a true middle linebacker recruit.  Don't get me wrong, Kellen Jones could play MLB . . . but Morgan's actually the prototypical MLB body type.

D.C.Blue

December 13th, 2010 at 7:29 PM ^

This kid either reads his keys well (coachable - watches game film / listens to coaches in practice) or just has an amazing response time on his first step or both.  With all of the misdirection option reads, his first step is usually right on.  Love how he gets to the ball with bad intentions.  Seems like a pretty good tackler as well.  Thanks Tim!

Braylons Butte…

December 13th, 2010 at 7:31 PM ^

When reading this post, I couldn't help but think of the Trinity Killer (Jon Lithgow) saying: "Hello, Desmond Morgan". Perhaps some sort of nickname for Des could be had from it...the "Dark Passenger" ?

WolvinLA2

December 13th, 2010 at 8:09 PM ^

I don't know if that's true. If there's one area that West Michigan holds it's own is the OL. Plus, Desmond plays in the largest and most competitive league in greater GR (maybe the state) so I bet most of the OL he goes up against aren't too bad as far as high schoolers go.

WolvinLA2

December 14th, 2010 at 12:04 PM ^

Well, Parker Ehinger from Rockford, who played W0, is a Cinci commit. But realistically, that's the case for most leagues in any state. Do you think all the OL Lawrence Thomas or James Ross play against are getting BCS offers? I don't know many OL coming out of those leagues lately either but no one degraded their videos for it.

Very few leagues, especially outside of Texas, are there multiple BCS calibur linemen. I think the OK Red is on par with most leagues in that area.

WolvinLA2

December 14th, 2010 at 12:19 PM ^

You keep saying that, but do you have anything to back it up? There are a lot of big Dutch kids in West Michigan, OL is the one area where talent is the strongest. The Raiders have an OT starter from FHN (3rd round pick) and the 49ers have an OT starter from Rockford (1st round pick). Dann O'Niell was a big OL talent, Reuben Riley was a good starter for a few years, and WMU and CMU have taken OL talent from GR every year.

If you still disagree with me, tell me why.

Michigan4Life

December 14th, 2010 at 2:02 PM ^

Jared Veldheer wasn't a stud in HS.  He almost didn't get a scholarship offer by his own school, Hillsdale which is a D2 school.

Ruben Riley and Dann O'Niel are the only ones who got offered by a BCS teams which is Michigan, obviously.

 

As whole, the OL talent are subpar.  Are there studs, sure, but we're talking about OL talent as whole.  I've seen the competition West Michigan, I wouldn't go there to recruit OL in that area.  Most of the time, they're not a real big OL with some exceptions.

snowcrash

December 13th, 2010 at 7:47 PM ^

He is a lock for the Heisman, as 100% of previous UM players named Desmond have won it.

Seriously, this looks like a good pickup. He should be able to redshirt.

Arsenal Fan

December 13th, 2010 at 7:48 PM ^

first, his name is Desmond.  second, he is going to be wearing the greatest helmet and jerseys in college football. great pickup for the University of Michigan.  best of luck to him. GO BLUE!

Magnus

December 13th, 2010 at 9:00 PM ^

I don't know for sure, but I doubt it.  He was a bit of a late bloomer.  And no offense to him, but not many guys are eager enough to enroll early if they think they might be headed to . . . Akron.  Or Buffalo.  Luckily for him and for us, Michigan got involved, but I would doubt that he's taken the requisite summer/night courses to enroll early.

wesq

December 14th, 2010 at 11:28 AM ^

I am pretty sure they have raised the credit requirement in Michigan since I graduated but back then you could graduate with 21 credits (42 classes) and you required to take 6 classes a semester.  As long as all your requirements were done 7 semsesters was basically on time.  At most schools you can take a 7th class during a regular school day.

Magnus

December 14th, 2010 at 1:13 PM ^

His overall number of credits probably wouldn't be an issue.  The bigger issue would likely be that you have to take four years of English, for example.  And if he didn't plan to enroll early prior to the beginning of the school year, then he probably hasn't been taking any night classes, either.  So if nothing else, he probably can't graduate until he finishes his English class in June (and potentially various other graduation requirements, like math or science classes).

Again, I don't know anything about his personal academic situation.  I'm just taking a guess based on the arc of his recruitment.