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.
|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.
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.
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.
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.
Here's his junior year:
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.