Michigan picked up their first* commitment of the 2015 class last night when Massillon (OH) Washington kicker Andrew David pledged mere hours after receiving his Wolverine offer. David worked out for the coaches recently and clearly impressed the staff with his ability. For their part, the coaches didn't have to do much to convince David, a lifelong Michigan fan, that Ann Arbor is the place for him ($):
“I grew up a Michigan fan,” David said. “My wardrobe and my carpet in my room are maize and blue. It was a lifelong dream to go there and now it’s coming true. It’s awesome.”
David is now joined in the class by PA OL Jon Runyan Jr., whose commitment post will be up later.
*Sort of: current grayshirt commit FL DT Brady Pallante will join the team in 2015, as well.
|Scout||Rivals||ESPN||247 Sports||247 Comp.|
|NR K||NR K||NR K||NR K||NR K|
Yes, the kicker from the future is unranked on the sites that pay attention to kickers only after they commit. For a better idea at what Michigan is getting, we look to Chris Sailer Kicking, which ranks David as the #6 kicking prospect in the 2015 class; he's the only committed player on the list, and interestingly the lone Midwest kicker to crack the top 50.
For the sake of comparison, Sailer ranked 2013 preferred walk-on J.J. McGrath 68th in the 2013 class. Make no mistake, David is a big-time prospect at his position.
Surprise! The evaluations start with... Chris Sailer, who's already updated David's profile since his commitment:
Andrew is a great young kicker. A fine athlete with a strong leg. Field goals are outstanding. He is smooth, technically sound, and consistent. Kickoffs are solid and will only continue to improve. Also shows punting ability. Makes great strides each time we see him. Is going to be a top kicker in this class for years to come. Has the right attitude and excellent work ethic. Great prospect. Nice early pick up for Michigan!
Don't get thrown off by the 4.5-star rating (by Sailer's system, between a D-I and D-II prospect), as that's the highest rating he's given out for the 2015 class thus far — those will obviously be updated after the next round of camps. A further explanation of why Sailer's rankings are relied upon so heavily comes from a local news article on David:
“If you’re in the top 10 with Sailer, then you should be a scholarship kicker at the BCS level,” [Scout's Bill] Greene said. “That’s how important that is.”
One of the reasons why kicking gurus like Sailer are important is college head coaches really don’t know what they’re getting in a kicker.
“A ranking like Sailer for kickers is actually bigger than the Elite 11,” Greene said. “Those college coaches get a kid on campus and they know what they want in a quarterback. Coaches have no clue about kickers. Urban Meyer knows about quarterbacks. ... Coaches know they don’t know more about kicking prospects than Sailer.
At the Sailer kicking competition last winter, David finished second in the highlight event, "Last Man Standing", connecting on a 55-yard field goal and just missing a 58-yarder in the final round.
David burst onto the scene as a freshman at Massillon, when early in the season he faced a 46-yard field goal into the wind and drilled it—despite thinking he had mis-hit the kick:
“Every kick’s got to be the same,” David said this week. “I knew there was some wind gust. I knew if I hit it right and hit it straight that I have the power to get it there. I followed through, kept my head down and hit it.”
Even with all of that, he admitted to not knowing whether he had put it through the uprights. In fact, to him, things just didn’t feel right when the ball left his right foot.
“At first, I really didn’t think it was going in,” David said. “I turned around and got my stuff. I was pretty mad, then I heard everybody start to cheer. I couldn’t believe it. I didn’t really think I hit it that well. I got it off the front of my foot, but I got it.”
When working out for Michigan's coaches, David showed off his power and accuracy in earning an offer ($):
"They had me kick off the ground, not with the tee, and I hit 14 of 15 kicks from 50 yards," David continued. "It was a great workout and I felt I did my best. My kickoffs were strong also, and I thought they would offer, although I didn't know it would be this soon. For me, there was no reason to wait, because Michigan is the only school I've ever thought of attending. This is a definite dream come true for me and my family."
Even for an elite kicker, this is early for a player to be that proficient at kicking without a tee; this should allow David to be more college-ready than most incoming freshmen at his position.
Michigan was the first school to offer David a scholarship. Given his Wolverine allegiance, I'd expect they'll be the last, too.
Massillon Washington is one of Ohio's most storied football programs, claiming 24 state championships and nine national titles. Michigan's recent history with the program has been, well, a little rocky: their marquee commit from the Tigers was 2009 five-star bust Justin Turner, and in the 2013 class Gareon Conley made a well-publicized flip from Michigan to Ohio State.
David is 6-of-11 on field goals of 40-yards the last two years of varsity football. That includes a 46-yarder as a freshman that he drilled at InfoCision Stadium in a game against Hoban. He is 88-of-95 on PATs and 13-of-24 on field goals.
He was better as a sophomore having converted 56 of 61 PAT kicks and he hit three field goals in a win against McKinley last year. He scored 13 points in that game.
As important is his booming kickoffs. Of his 74 kickoffs, 31 went for touchbacks.
FAKE 40 TIME
He's a kicker.
This video from a Sailer camp shows all of two kicks, but it gives you an idea of David's leg strength:
If you're really curious, the "David Andrew" Hudl page features remarkably extensive highlights from both his freshman and sophomore seasons.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
When David gets to campus, both Brendan Gibbons and Matt Wile will be gone from the program, leaving him to compete with 2013 walk-on J.J. McGrath (and perhaps another walk-on or two, as well) for the starting job at both placekicker and kickoff specialist. Since we're talking about the fickle position of kicker here, I won't bother to make any attempt at a prediction about David's career; being a top-ten prospect nationally is a good start, though.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The 2015 class, at this point, is projected to be very small (like, <15 players), but with a year-and-a-half until their signing day any number put forth right now is certain to grow. We do know this: Michigan has their kicker and are done recruiting at that position, both for the 2014 class (at least as far as scholarships go) and 2015.