Hello: Gareon Conley Comment Count

Ace March 10th, 2012 at 12:27 PM

Image via FridayNighOhio.com

After pretty much letting the cat out of the bag on Twitter yesterday, Massillon (OH) Washington cornerback Gareon Conley confirmed today that he has committed to Michigan ($). He becomes the 15th commitment in the class of 2013—the 13th to earn a four-star rating on at least one recruiting site—and the second cornerback, joining Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis.


Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
4*, #20 CB,
#227 Ovr
NR CB NR CB 3*, 88, NR CB

Conley is flying under the radar to every service save Scout, though it's worth pointing out that Scout has updated their rankings most recently of the four. The sites are evenly split as to whether he's 6'1" or 6'2", and all agree that he's between 165 and 170 pounds. Considering Michigan wanted a bigger cornerback to add to the class and complement Jourdan Lewis, that's a pretty solid frame.

Bucknuts ranked Conley as the #16 player in Ohio for the class of 2013, one spot in front of Taco Charlton and two spots ahead of Mike McCray (this means you can probably expect him to move up when 247 updates their rankings). A concern about taller cornerbacks is usually their overall athleticism and fluidity in the hips, but neither is an issue according to Mark Porter ($):

“I think he may be the best pure corner in Ohio. His ball skills are second to none. His range and athletic ability are second to none. He can match up with the number one receiver. The trait that Cam (Burrows) has over him is he may be more physical. But Gareon is ‘twitchier’ in the hips.”

Scout's group of Midwest analysts also has Conley ranked as the #16 player in the state, and Allen Trieu had some high praise in his evaluation ($):

I may disagree with Bill's statement on Munger [that he's the best player in Ohio nobody has heard of], because this might be the best kid in Ohio no one's talking about. He's long, smooth, can run, and shows good ball skills and smarts. He makes plays in zone and in man coverage, and although he definitely needs to add weight, he's a solid tackler as well.

Scout's Bill Greene questions Conley's size—though I assume it's about his weight; his height is an unquestioned positive—but echoes the sentiments about his athleticism and coverage ability ($):

A fine basketball player as well, Conley has the skill set to succeed at the next level. Although not blessed with great size, he has shown the willingness to come up and hit in run support. His best strength would be his coverage ability, and his speed. Very similar player to Canton McKinley's Jermaine Edmondson, who signed with Michigan State.

Finally, Massillon Washington assistant coach Jamie Palma notes that Conley's coverage ability is exemplary considering his height, making him an ideal matchup against larger receivers ($):

“One thing you don’t see a lot of is guys that can defend and can play corner at 6-2,” said Palma. “Most corners are 5-9 or 5-10… maybe six foot. He is a good 6-2 with a real long wingspan.  So what I think he does is he brings that size out there at corner that you normally don’t see. You think you are going to have a mismatch when you see a lot bigger wide outs. He matches up better with those types of players.”

As you can see, Conley's biggest assets are his athletic ability and coverage skills given his size. Once he adds some weight, he should be able to match up quite well against bigger receivers while still having the speed and agility to hang with quicker players.


When he committed, Conley also held offers from Northwestern, Toledo, and West Virginia. According to 247, Cincinnati, Indiana, Ohio State, Virginia, and Wisconsin also showed interest.


In 2011, Conley recorded 26 solo tackles, three TFLs, a sack, nine pass breakups, and four interceptions, one of which he returned for a touchdown. He put up those numbers despite playing a large portion of the season while wearing a cast due to a wrist injury.


Bucknuts credited Conley with a 4.5, which I'll give three FAKEs out of five—he's reportedly pretty fast, but that sounds like just an estimation or hand-timed run.



I've seen this pointed out elsewhere, but it bears repeating: his long stride bears an uncanny resemblance to Steve Breaston's.


Conley brings somethat that no other corner on the roster will by the time he shows up on campus, and that is size. Of the CBs on the current roster, only J.T. Floyd breaks the 6'0" barrier, and he'll be gone after the 2012 season. If Michigan wants a taller cornerback—and somebody who can come up in run support—to play the "field" corner (wide side of the field, as opposed to the "boundary"), Conley could see action early in his career.

That said, he's going to have to add some weight first. 170 pounds is quite skinny for a 6'2" frame, and if Conley is going to match up with bigger receivers, he's going to need to add some muscle. He has two years to do just that, so we'll see how he looks when he shows up on campus. If he takes a redshirt year, he should be right in the mix for a starting spot across from Blake Countess in 2014, likely competing with a trio of Cass Tech grads in Delonte Hollowell, Terry Richardson, and Jourdan Lewis.


Michigan is now almost certainly done recruiting at cornerback for 2013, barring a player like five-star Kendall Fuller deciding to come on board. They may be done recruiting the secondary entirely, as taking another safety to go along with Dymonte Thomas isn't imperative; again, however, a top talent like Su'a Cravens would have a spot available.

The Wolverines can now focus on bringing aboard a second tailback, one or two receivers, a nose tackle, and a strongside DE. After that, IN EARLY MARCH, the coaching staff can focus almost entirely on targeting the top players in the class and shifting their focus to the class of 2014. Jebus.



March 10th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

I hope they hold the phone on Zach Bradshaw. There isn't anything for most to gripe about as far as recruiting. I know some of you may have wanted to wait on a player or two, but considering we already have a 5 star OB in the fold, I hope they wait a little bit to fill the other 1 or 2 WR spots. They can find a Zach Bradshaw type of WR in a lot of places later in the year if they really must have him.


March 10th, 2012 at 1:31 PM ^

I would like to know how many of you that comment actually have coaching experience and really know what talent looks like. Watching a recruiting board doesn't give you knowledge. Let coaches coach and let fans be fans. I am glad the fans don't recruit and sign kids. Heavens know what we would end up with. Also, we are not going to end up with every 5 star kid or even every 4 star kid. Let Hoke and Company do their job.


March 10th, 2012 at 2:39 PM ^

OSU has commits from 2 higher ranked corners, so likely they're full and/or being cautious. He also didn't have offers from a lot of other regional schools who recruit heavily in Ohio (OSU, MSU, PSU, ND, Illinois, Cincy, etc).  It's fair to say there's some disagreement as to where he ranks among Ohio prospect by both coaches and services.


March 10th, 2012 at 3:41 PM ^

I see it on every kid we get from Ohio.  IIRC, it was either Gedeon or McCray's recruitment that drew the comment that Meyer asked the kid to wait because they hadn't finished assessing linebackers.  Yet the buckeyes insist that all of these guys are meh because "Urbz" didn't offer.  I say, "Yet," because I think he doesn't have as well a developed high school coaches network as Coach Hoke.   As crazy as that may sound, I think that Hoke has better relationships with these coaches than Meyer does -- some feel that he should have already offered their kids.  Hoke is demonstrating that he recognizes that much of the best football talent comes from Ohio, and I think that plays to the coaches. 


March 10th, 2012 at 3:55 PM ^

I think this meme is overdone on both sides.  The two schools don't have the same needs or the same coaches.  They're going to disagree on some players.  There are far more good players in Ohio than either Michigan or Ohio State can take.  For the most part, the Ohio players both schools have targeted haven't overlapped too much.  This should be a win for both sides instead of an annoying pissing match.


March 10th, 2012 at 4:14 PM ^

Others really want a pissing match.  I found it interesting that Meyer offered 14 kids from Florida to 10 from Ohio.  But that is where his ties are. 


I do think that Hoke's Ohio coaching ties have given him great scouting at the schools even if it is a coach looking to get his kid a D1 offer.


March 10th, 2012 at 4:10 PM ^

Let's be fair.  I could just as easily say Conley is a 3-star.  Scout says 4-star, 247 Sports says 3-star.  The other sites haven't ranked him.

The kid only had a few offers.  I can see why some people might be cautious, but just saying "I wish we would have waited for a higher rated guy" isn't really very productive or informative.


March 10th, 2012 at 2:06 PM ^

i like this guy a lot.  despite being somewhat beanpole-esque for now he's not afraid of contact.  given a few years to bulk up, he should be able to morph into a big, physical corner for us.

Surveillance Doe

March 10th, 2012 at 2:31 PM ^

Some of you are making these threads way less fun than they should be. This is really good news, and it's something to be celebrated. Our coaches, I believe, have done enough to earn a little bit of the benefit of the doubt. And it's so early in the process that the coaches are ahead of the recruiting services at this point when it comes to evaluating some of the guys who are high on our board. The coaches know that what they have to offer is special and coveted. Hoke seems to believe that just as much as anyone I've ever encountered. If they are taking a player, especially this early in the process, I am certain they really want him in the class.

Also, remember how everyone keeps celebrating the impressive character of the guys we've been bringing in? That's not a coincidence. Our coaches are focusing heavily on that aspect of a recruit as well. They are talking to coaches, teachers, and parents. We don't get a guy's character-highlight reel. But we've seen at least one five-star turned away because he apparently didn't fit in the off-the-field categories. We've also seen highly rated players not work out for personal reasons in the past. There are a lot of different factors that affect a player's ability to succeed here. We have a very narrow perspective from our living rooms and offices.

I'm very excited to see a four-star, 6'2, very athletic corner from Ohio who grew up a Michigan fan commit to us eleven months before signing day. Welcome to the class, Gareon. I'm excited to have you in the class.


March 10th, 2012 at 3:01 PM ^

By my count (via Rivals) the Big 10 beyond Michigan sits like this:

Illinois - unrated DB
Indiana - none
Iowa - none
MSU - 4* LB, unrated RB, RB and ATH
Minnesota - unrated DB
Nebraska - 4* ATH, 4* DB
Northwestern - none
OSU - 5* DB, 4* OL, 4* ATH, 4* DT, 4* DB
PSU - 3* TE, 4* ATH, 4* QB, 4* DE
Purdue - none
Wisconsin - unrated LB
Notre Dame - 4* OL, unrated TE

Rumors of Penn State's demise were premature.

I'm curious about recruiting philosophies.  I've read one school of thought is to get aggressive early and create a sense of scarcity ... with Texas the king of that game in the state of Texas.  But does anyone really try to roll the dice for only top talent and, failing that, scoop up whatever they can get?  That seems like a pretty risky strategy to me.

If I scan around to other schools, it looks like Alabama and Florida are in the same ballpark as Michigan; LSU oddly enough is well back (3x4* and a couple of unrated); USC has only one (though he's a 5* DE).

Is it possible to categorize -- roughly -- different philosophies of recruiting approaches?  If so, what would those be?


March 10th, 2012 at 3:37 PM ^

This discussion is probably worth it's own board post.

In a perfect world, I assume coaches would prefer for all recruiting to happen in January, a few weeks before signing day.  This would give coaches the most possible data on a recruit (senior season, summer camps, all star games).  Obviously, a lot of recruits don't want to wait so long.  In fact, a recruit can get burned by waiting so long (Alex Kozan would a decent example).  I don't think a 3 star has the luxury of waiting too late, especially if there's a school he really wants to go to.

A lot of recruits either want to get recruiting over with, or look at a super early offer as a sign of "respect".  I don't have any stats to back this up, but this seems more common this year.

As far as what strategy is more succesful, they obviously both have their ups and downs:

Early Pro:

- Can make a good impression by going after recruits early

- Have more time to focus on top recruits

- Have more time to spend on coaching during the year

Early Con:

- don't get to see how kids develop during the summer and senior year

- could get stuck with someone you don't like as much as someone else


In general, I think only the top schools can pull off the late strategy.  I think if I were a lesser school, I'd be handing out offers to sophomores, hoping to get in before the big boys do.