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 3:46 PM ^

The state of Texas had 38 high school players given 4-stars by Rivals last year.  UT is in a spot where they literally have to turn away half the blue-chip talent in their home state.  That's why you've seen them fill up early as they look to take the kids who most want to come to school there.  If anything I think they might be trying to move away from that sort of self-selection and filtering (up until Vince Young, Mack Brown had a policy not to sign a kid who came from a single parent household).

I think this year is a fairly unique one for Michigan recruiting.  In year 2, Brady Hoke is already a seasoned veteran compared to almost all of his competition.  PSU is coming off a horrible scandal and just hired a coach from the NFL with no current recruiting ties/relationships or any history in the area.  OSU is coming off a 6-7 season, a bad scandal, just hired a guy who had been out of coaching for a year and has limited scholarships available to hand out.  Illinois just hired a guy from the MAC and is coming off a mediocre season.  ND is coming off two straight 8-5 seasons, continuing the ND pattern of fawning over a coach before immediately placing him on the hot seat, and that head coach has appeared to be a complete psychopath on national TV. 

As such, we are poaching guys left and right in OH, PA, and IL.  And we got a blue-chip kid out of Colorado where CU just had another awful season and a new coaching staff that is concentrating much more of its recruiting effort into TX and CA than in their home state.

With an 11-2 record, a shiny new Sugar Bowl ring, and a year to get to know these kids, Coach Hoke and Co. have been able to come in and sweep the leg while the competition is just hobbling back into the ring.  To fill up a class this fast with this level of recruits is unprecedented even at Michigan (and maybe anywhere but at Texas).  Even if we continue to have tremendous success on the recruiting trail, it doesn't seem likely that we'll see anything quite this crazy ever again.


March 10th, 2012 at 7:53 PM ^

I expect te 2014 class to be fill by December. Have to start working on those 2015 kids!

It is amazing where Hoke already stands in program establishing in the Big Ten. Greatly due to all the upheaval in the conference. You have Iowa's long standing stability, then what...Michigan State?? Northwestern is still Northwestern, and Nebraska is new to the conference. With Brady's years in Ohio, at Western and here, then Ball State, he's only really had two years of not working the Midwest hard. Not too many guys can say that in this League.


March 10th, 2012 at 11:17 PM ^

I'm pretty sure I could have made a million bucks if I had made a parlay bet when Hoke was hired that within a year:

1. Tressel would be forced to leave OSU in disgrace after back to back BCS bowl wins

2. PSU's longtime defensive coordinator would be exposed as a child rapist, prompting Joe Paterno to be fired unceremoniously in the middle of the season, only to die shortly thereafter

3. Brian Kelly's face would spontaneously combust on national TV

Add in the 1/100 payout from my "Ron Zook will be fired" bet and my ass would be in Bermuda right now.


March 11th, 2012 at 8:30 PM ^

Don't feel bad. I received advice in 1970 from an older guy who I worked with at an after-school job that before long the price of gold would be allowed to float from its then-fixed price of $35/oz and would potentially rise to $200/oz. He advised me to buy as much gold as I could at the fixed price. Of course, I ignored the advice as the strange rantings of a crazy old coot.

The current price of gold is over $1,700/oz.


March 10th, 2012 at 4:19 PM ^

I got the star ratings from here:

I finger-checked the star rating for Breneman.  But Rivals shows 4*.  Don't know what the other recruiting sites say ... some may very well have 5*.

Rivals just happens to be a site I have bookmarked ... no other reason for my using them above others.


March 10th, 2012 at 3:11 PM ^

Watching his junior highlights, I really liked the athleticism he showed. This kid is going to move up in the rankings and I trust Hoke & Co. 100% in what they see in this kid.  Welcome to Wolverine Nation Mr. Conley. 


March 10th, 2012 at 5:22 PM ^

No reason at all not to like this commitment. The need for addition strength is, I'd image, one of the easier things for a kid to add to his game at the college level. With the luxury of a redshirt, I think we can be excited to see him contribute after that.

Cville Blue

March 10th, 2012 at 5:28 PM ^

I'm excited to have him. He was a Michigan fan that grew up in Ohio. Seems to be quite an athlete. From a powerhouse of a high school... I can't think of a reason not to like him!


March 10th, 2012 at 9:42 PM ^

This guy pops off the tape, he is athletic as hell and his frame is excellent.  His long arms will give him ability to reach, obviously which is an advantage in coverage and in the kicking game as shown on tape.  He moves very well and is extremely fluid. 

IMO there is no reason to believe that Gareon will not become an excellent corner at Michigan, once he puts on a few pounds of good muscle. 


March 10th, 2012 at 10:38 PM ^

This is going to sound hugely dickish, but Ace I believe the coach from Massillon is Jamey Palma not Jerry Palma. I know this is something that 99.999% of readers could give a sh** about, but I know the dude personally and he is a really good guy and great coach, I'm sure he would love to know about the mention.

Marlo Stanfield

March 11th, 2012 at 3:13 PM ^

Thought this was interesting...Conley is listed as around the 16th-20th player in Ohio. For reference, Jarrod Wilson was #15 last year to rivals, and a 4-star recruit and people seemed pretty excited about him. Regardless of whether or not the ratings change, Conley should be at least somewhat highly rated.