Sugarcreek (OH) Garaway three-star Joel Honigford became Michigan's second offensive tackle commit in the span of a week when he pledged to the Wolverines this afternoon. Honigford is just two days removed from narrowing his recruitment to a top four of Auburn, Michigan, Michigan State, and Oregon; his Crystal Ball was 100% for MSU when he made his decision.
Honigford is Michigan's 17th commit in the 2017 class and the third at OT, joining JaRaymond Hall and Andrew Stueber. His commitment bumped Michigan back up to fourth in the 247 Composite team rankings.
|3*, #47 OT||3*, #46 OT||
4*, 82, #26 OT,
3*, 86, #73 OT,
3*, #48 OT,
Scouting reports on Honigford almost universally mention that he's a big upside prospect with plenty of work to do to reach his potential, so it's not a surprise to see that his rankings contain a couple outliers. Scout and Rivals both have him about ten spots in the position rankings away from four-star status; ESPN is easily the most bullish, putting him in their top 200 overall; 247 swings pretty far in the other direction.
Honigford's size is a major part of his appeal. Every site but Rivals (6'5") lists him at 6'6" and in the 275-pound range, and he carries that weight well—he looks (relatively) skinny and has the frame to add plenty of weight.
About that size: Honigford has added quite a bit of weight just in the last year or so. This blurb from Scout's Dave Berk after the Elite Big Man Camp in February 2015 sets the tone for most of Honigford's evaluations:
Only a sophomore, Joel Honigford has a great frame at 6-foot-6, 241-pounds. During drills we came away impressed with his agility and quickness. Must get physically stronger and add bulk going forward but has a bright looking future.
Honigford has packed on about 35 pounds since then and still looks like he can add a lot more. Berk's evaluation also falls in line with everyone else's take on Honigford: good size and athleticism, big upside, needs to bulk up and refine his technique. Scout's free evaluation:
EvaluationHas the desired frame for offensive tackle at the next level. Long, lean, and has continued to fill out through his high school career. Solid athlete. Moves with coordination and balance. Can still improve technique, particularly in pass protection while adding strength and more size to his frame but he has good upside.
- Body Control and Balance
Areas to Improve
- Pass Protection
- Power And Strength
Rivals doesn't have much on Honigford despite hosting him at one of their RCS camps. Josh Helmholdt helped explain why in a board post after Honigford's commitment today when asked why the ratings and offers didn't quite line up:
Upside. His offers are about who he can be, not who he is right now as a player. At the Rivals Camp in Columbus he had a so-so performance, and he's had some so-so performances at other camps I've heard. Needs to improve at the point of attack, needs to improve his fundamentals at the position, but does not lack for any physical tools. We measured him 6-5, 277 at that RCS, and he has the frame to add more weight. He plays light on his feet and certainly has the quicks to catch the outside speed rush. Again, this is a development project, but the tools are there.
While we've documented ESPN's habit of posting scouting reports that don't match their rankings, in this case the split makes sense—while there's a lot of technical nitpicks to make, they like his ceiling:
Displays adequate initial quickness and shows good patience and balance in set, though at times can lunge and get top heavy. Needs to continue to refine, but flashes good punch. Needs to watch pad level, but displays good knee bend with enough lateral mobility to mirror rushers when gets hands on. "Bigger fish in smaller pond" to handle himself [ed-Ace: no idea], but needs to add more mass to help him anchor against power.
Demonstrates ability to get into defenders with good quickness and can come off with pad level, roll hips at contact and gain physical leverage. When gains positioning displays good knee drive to generate push, but still needs to improve size and strength as he faces bigger competition. Displays good balance and body control when asked to pull and work to second level and can locate and get a piece of targets.
It's encouraging to read that he's already able to play with good pad level, even if not consistently, and he possesses the balance and flexibility to develop into an excellent lineman. ESPN concludes that he has "promising upside" and could be either a tackle or a guard, and while he's unlikely to contribute early he can be a "good starter at the Power-5 level."
The running story of Honigford's recruitment was his pursuit of an Ohio State offer. The Buckeyes landed two blue-chip linemen early in the class, and with a small group projected for this cycle they may take as little as one more. As recently as February, Scout's main Ohio guy, Bill Greene, expected Honigford to land that coveted offer:
Joel Honigford. Offensive tackle. Garaway. This just might be a guy with so much potential that forces Ohio State to offer. Has great size and athletic ability. Plays against weak competition, but he could be the next Taylor Decker on the college level. The national offers are starting to roll in. I think he is close to landing the Buckeye offer.
247's Alex Gleitman also expected Honigford to get the call if OSU missed out on a couple top-50 targets. Honigford no longer needed to wait after the Buckeyes picked up a five-star last week:
It was a little bit of surprising news when Ohio State decided to completely move on from recruiting in-state talent Joel Honigford on Monday, rather than just telling the in-state product with 29 offers to wait a little longer for them to figure out their numbers situation.
Well, today, it became very clear as to why the Buckeyes did what they did, as the program landed a commitment from Bellflower (CA) St. John Bosco 2017 OL Wyatt Davis, seemingly out of nowhere.
While Honigford isn't far enough along in his development to fit into OSU's small, five-star-laden class, that's not much of a knock—it's impressive that he was even considered given the circumstances. Michigan has a lot more room to take on a high-ceiling developmental prospect.
Honigford holds offers from Auburn, Boston College, Colorado State, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa State, Kentucky, Memphis, Miami (NTM), Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Northwestern, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, Rutgers, Syracuse, TCU, Tennessee, Toledo, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, West Virginia, and Western Michigan. While not quite an elite offer sheet, there are some very good programs on there—that list indicates he could move up from his current three-star ranking.
Rivals is now useless, and a quick Bentley database search doesn't show any former Wolverines hailing from Garaway High. Greene's eval above indicates Honigford doesn't play against high-level competition.
Is OL, no stats.
FAKE 40 TIME
Honigford tested at one of the Opening regionals and posted solid combine numbers:
In the meantime, the slender tackle put up pretty solid numbers at The Opening, including a 5.35 40-yard dash, 4.71 shuttle, 38-foot power ball, and 25.8-inch vertical leap.
While one doesn't normally associate jumping with O-line play, Honigford's vertical is one of the better marks for a lineman, and that kind of explosion plays well at the position.
Sophomore highlights and single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Honigford is a dead lock to redshirt given both his position and scouting profile, as well as the fact that Hall and Stueber (and the top-level targets on OL that haven't committed yet) will be more ready to play early. He should have at least a couple years of apprenticeship ahead of him before competing for a starting job, and he has some positional versatility—there are some indications he's athletic enough to be a left tackle, and he could also be a Braden-style guard, especially if he's closer to 6'5" than the 6'6" at which he's listed. Honigford is an upside guy: Michigan will be patient with him in the hopes that he'll break out in his final two or three years of eligibility.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now at 17 commits in a class that should read the mid-to-upper 20s. The addition of Honigford means they can probably only take three of their four main targets on the O-line, which are Kai-Leon Herbert, TJ Slaton, Cesar Ruiz, and Isaiah Wilson. That's a sacrifice, but one that isn't unreasonable; going 4-for-4 on blue-chip targets isn't an easy proposition, and you never know when a spot may open up anyway.
Other major needs in the class include WR, TE, OLB, CB, and S. Here's the class as it currently stands: