While most of the focus yesterday rightly centered on Rashan Gary, Michigan pulled off a Signing Day coup when Concord (CA) De La Salle TE Devin Asiasi chose the Wolverines in the afternoon. Asiasi had planned to attend the same school as four-star DT teammate Boss Tagaloa, who committed to UCLA in the same ceremony, and there was considerable pull from his family to stay close to home; in the end, Asiasi's desire to go to Michigan overcame those factors.
Asiasi is the third tight end in Michigan's 2016 class, joining Sean McKeon and Nick Eubanks. Even though McKeon is already on campus, Asiasi is the most likely of the group to make an immediate contribution; he's the highest-ranked and the biggest, most well-rounded prospect of the three.
4*, #4 TE,
4*, #2 TE,
4*, 85, #3 TE-Y,
4*, 92, #8 TE,
4*, #3 TE,
Asiasi is a top-75 overall prospect to everyone except 247, which still has him as a top-ten tight end but ranks him considerably lower than the other three sites. My assumption is 247 is concerned about whether Asiasi can stick at tight end; if he gets much bigger, he may outgrow the position, and while he's also got excellent potential at defensive end they may not like the positional uncertainty.
About that size: Asiasi is listed anywhere from 6'3" to 6'5" and 253-272 pounds, and he looked to be on the higher end of those listings in the Army All-American Game. He's got the build to see the field right away as an in-line tight end.
[Hit THE JUMP for the informative portion.]
Asiasi has spent much of the last couple years convincing scouts he can be a tight end at the college level instead of flipping over to defense. Last March, 247's Barton Simmons named him the best TE at the Pylon 7-on-7 National Championship, and even then he suggested Asiasi best projected to the other side of the ball:
We think Asiasi is likely a defensive lineman on the next level but the way he ran around and made plays at tight end, there’s no doubt he’s capable. The huge, physically imposing prospect was just too strong for defenders and too nimble. He’s a definite stock up guy.
Asiasi subsequently moved into 247's top 100; I haven't found why they dropped him down the rankings since. Asiasi stood out again at The Opening, and while 247 started coming around to his potential as a TE, the DE possibility still loomed:
Some feel Devin Asiasi could have a brighter future at defensive end, but on Thursday he once again showed that Isaac Nauta and Kaden Smith are not the only elite tight ends at The Opening. The 6-4, 271-pound prospect provided a big target in the red zone for Fly Rush, with a couple touchdown catches where he caught the ball away from his body while using his size to keep defenders from being able to make a play on the ball. If perceived frontrunner USC snags this U.S. Army All-American, they might want to consider keeping him on offense early and then deciding whether to transition him to defense down the road.
Scout moved Asiasi up the rankings a couple times over the course of his senior year. Greg Biggins wrote in their midseason update that "he'll be an impact player no matter what side of the ball he's on," and he also handled Asiasi's free evaluation on Scout:
EvaluationAsiasi is a huge tight end target who could honestly have even more upside as a defensive end down the road. He's pushing 270 pounds and will have no problem stepping in to a college offense and being physically able to handle those battles in the trenches. Where he surprises people is with his ability to run and catch. He's a very coordinated athlete for his size and can get down the field. He also has very soft hands and will be that reliable 3rd down pass catcher every quarterback loves to have. He's a tremendous blocker and comes from a system at De La Salle where you learn to block early on or you won't play. As long as he can keep his weight down, Asiasi should be a tremendous tight end at the next level with Sunday potential.
- Ability To Beat Jams
- Hands and Concentration
Areas to Improve
- Elusiveness with Catch
ESPN praised his hands, strength, and ability to run through—albeit not around—defenders after the catch; here's their detailed breakdown of his blocking and their final conclusion, which brings up an unusual and intriguing player comparison:
Comes from a run oriented scheme with a lot experience as a blocker and can be very strong in this area, with size, strength, toughness and experience. Can for more consistency, but overall demonstrates good ability to come off with pad level, deliver a pop, roll hips and push defenders off the ball. Physical player that can play with some nastiness.
Asiasi comes from a successful HS program and should bring with him an understanding of what it takes to win and be successful. He is a big well-rounded TE, but is also a good D-Lineman and you could argue that he is even a better player on that side of the ball and like former Minnesota player Ra'Shede Hageman, Asiasi could enter college as a TE and leave as a real handful as a DL. While defense could be intriguing, certainly has tools to be a very good college TE that can excel as a blocker, help move the chains as a receiver and even offer a little versatility to a unit. Regardless of how utilized, darn good football player that can be an asset to a Power-5 roster.
Hageman came to Minnesota as a 6'6", 250-pound three-star tight end; he didn't stick on offense long, becoming a 318-pound All-American defensive tackle and second-round NFL draft pick.
Hagemen never quite showed the promise Asiasi has displayed on offense, however, and Asiasi may have sealed his future as a big-bodied tight end at the Army game. After a few practice sessions, Scout's crew of analysts said he improved his stock:
Four-star tight end Devin Asiasi comes from a well-known run-heavy offense at De La Salle in Concord, Calif., so we wanted to see how he looked getting more receiving reps. The answer? Great. He's dropped only one pass in three practice sessions and has shown why he's a national top 100 prospect. His size and playing experience suggest that he'll be just fine as a blocker at the college level. Alabama, USC, UCLA, and Washington are the top contenders for Asiasi.
(I left that last sentence in because MICHIGAN OUT OF NOWHERE.)
Rivals concurred after the three practice sessions:
The massive prospect is one of the biggest players on the roster yet he moves remarkably well down field and through his routes. Asiasi has been a favorite for the West quarterbacks throughout the week and that continued Thursday, especially in the red zone. He had a couple nice grabs near the goal line where he could use his size to beat defenders.
Asiasi overcame an uncharacteristic drop in the Army game itself to score a touchdown; Scout's Brandon Huffman named him one of the West team's top performers of the week:
Concord (Calif.) De La Salle tight end Devin Asiasi is the West's No. 1 tight end and cemented that during the week. While he played in a run-heavy offense for the Spartans, during Army Bowl week he was utilized as a receiver instead of having to focus on just blocking. He had a touchdown in the Army Bowl and just missed another one. His size and playing experience suggest that he'll be just fine as a blocker at the college level but it is watching him catch and run, especially at around 265-270, that makes you think he can be an impact tight end in college.
Rivals bumped him from the #4 TE to the #2 TE in the country in the aftermath.
I'll give the last word to The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan, who evaluated Asiasi after his commitment:
He is a naturally strong player with good inherent strength. Both of those aspects will only improve when he gets into a college weight training program. That should allow him to win physical battles against defensive ends in the run game, and also to get off the line of scrimmage going out on pass routes.
It's the passing game where Asiasi is the most gifted. He has good athleticism, and a solid understanding of how to run routes (and the quickness to make that knowledge count). Most importantly, though, he has outstanding hands, and will be very consistent when it comes to reeling in catchable balls.
Tim concluded Asiasi "may be too good to keep off the field" as a true freshman; I'm very inclined to agree.
Asiasi held offers from Alabama, Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Cal, Colorado, Illinois, Kansas, Miami (YTM), Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ole Miss, Oregon, Oregon State, San Jose State, Tennessee, UCLA, USC, Vanderbilt, Washington, and Washington State. He had his pick of west coast schools and some great options elsewhere, as well.
Concord De La Salle is a national powerhouse that's produced some very familiar names. Michigan fans will remember WR Amani Toomer and QB Matt Gutierrez. There's also Maurice Jones-Drew, Aaron Taylor, TJ Ward, DJ Williams, and several other NFL alums.
According to MaxPreps, Asiasi caught 17 passes for 311 yards and five TDs in DLS's run-heavy offense as a senior; he added 49 tackles, 11 TFLs, four sacks, and five passes defensed on the defensive line.
FAKE 40 TIME
Asiasi has a combine-verified 40 time of 5.08, which gets zero FAKEs. While he moves well for a big guy, he's not going to be confused for a field-stretching burner. As Brian has described him, think more like (senior) AJ Williams with a power mushroom.
Junior highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
With the departure of AJ Williams, there's an opportunity for someone to step up as the second in-line tight end, and even when including the returning players Asiasi looks best-suited for that role. That role should fall either be Asiasi or TJ Wheatley; not only does Asiasi have more potential as a tight end, there's a possibility Wheatley ends up as an offensive tackle.
I expect to see Asiasi on the field right away; he's an advanced blocker for a high school prospect and he's a threat up the seam as a pass-catcher. We'll see if he outgrows the position down the line, but early in his career he should stick on offense, and I'm guessing Jim Harbaugh would prefer to keep it that way as long as Asiasi can stay nimble enough to be a factor in the passing game. If he does outgrow the position, he's got plenty of potential as an SDE or five-tech, as well.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It contains an Asiasi.