Hello: Joey Velazquez

Submitted by Brian on June 25th, 2018 at 12:40 PM

You may not remember this but several commits ago, there was a guy named Joey Velazquez that caused recruiting mutters to mutter. This was weird because he's going to play defense and at this point we should really let Don Brown do whatever he wants to. And it was doubly weird because Velazquez is headed for the most Don Brown position of all:

He's a viper(!!!). A three star viper, sure, but 1) whatever and 2) Khaleke Hudson was a three star viper for a long time too.

Separate from his football exploits, Velazquez may actually be a bigger get for Eric Bakich. Prep Baseball Report ranks him as a top 100 baseball prospect as a corner outfielder, and he plans to play both sports. If PBR is exactly correct about his ranking (#76) as it applies to the MLB draft he'd be a third-round pick. That might be outside of the early departure threat range, especially if he wants to play football. Or it might not:

“That would be something else. Coming out of high school to the draft, that would be unreal. That would definitely probably be the number one choice, depending on where I go or when I get drafted and all that,” Velazquez said, also noting he could still choose to attend college if he were drafted.

On the other hand, he flipped his commit for a football offer and before that was pretty gung-ho about it:

“There really hasn’t been any changes lately,” he explained. “I’m still committed to Ohio State for baseball, but I’ve let their coaches know that I’m exploring my options as a football player.

“I’d like to play both sports in college if possible, but football is higher on that list.”

Also he told 24/7 that he wanted to be an engineer and academics were important. Still, the MLB possibility is something to keep in mind.

GURU RATINGS

247 ESPN Rivals Composite
3*, #650 overall
#52 S, #31 OH
NR 3*, 5.5
#50 OH
3*, #971 overall
#79 S, #44 OH

Velazquez is a mid-to-low three star right now, but his baseball commitment means he's lightly scouted, for understandable reasons. Rivals has nothing on the national level, and 24/7 is in a similar boat. Orion Sang caught up with Steve Lorenz:

“Michigan has gotten to see him twice,” Lorenz said. “Our evaluators and analysts have really not gotten to see him that much. As far as his recruiting ranking and all that jazz, I’m intrigued and really interested to see what the evaluation will be on him because I believe he’s going to have a lot of eyes on him now.” ...

“Michigan really feels that they’re getting a guy who would’ve been a highly-touted recruit if he had been football first, maybe baseball second.”

Camp season is dang near over so Velazquez will have to have a Hudson-esque senior year to get a bump. Given the state of the industry I don't have high hopes we'll get a comprehensive look; hopefully 24/7 will get a guy or two out to see him.

[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]

SCOUTING

24/7 only started covering Velazquez when Michigan offered him in late April but still has a fair amount of data. Bill Greene caught him at OSU's camp:

LINEBACKER: There's a lot to like with Joey Velazquez, but I don't think he fits the Ohio State defense. Not really a safety or a linebacker, but will fit Don Brown's defense at Michigan as that hybrid defender. He's definitely got Power Five skills and a college body.

That assessment was echoed by both Velazquez and apparently the OSU coaches:

"They aren't really sure what position I would play for them, because I'm more of a hybrid linebacker/safety," he continued. "Giving them the chance to see me in person will allow them to get a better evaluation on me as a player."

And upon Velazquez's commitment Greene provided a scouting post—thank you based Greene—that you can read all of at 24/7 if you are a subscriber; a couple highlights:

...athletic, has quick feet and might have a Big Ten ready body right now. Velazquez will hit people and appears to have enough coverage skills to be an asset in that area. ...very comfortable playing close to the line of scrimmage and either blitzing the quarterback or helping to control the running game. ... not a tall, long, blazing fast, safety.  ... specialty player being recruited to a non-traditional position, and that makes him tough to evaluate for 247Sports. But not all that hard for Don Brown.

Lorenz again:

The 6-foot, 205-pound 3-star prospect is tailor-made for the hybrid viper spot in Michigan’s defense, according to 247Sports analyst Steve Lorenz.

“Velazquez (is) a great athlete,” Lorenz said. “Plays fast enough and plays really, really physically, and speed and physicality are really the two things they want at that viper spot.” ...

The only Rivals thing that approaches a scout is a brief note from a camp Velazquez attended:

Not as heralded as some other prospects at DeSales right now, but Velazquez is a versatile athlete prospect who could play safety, wide receiver, or even walkout linebacker at the next level. Velazquez made some big plays on offense and showed good burst in the open field.

He told their Army site that was his first and only camp:

“I was invited and participated in the Rivals 3-Stripe Camp in Ohio ... the one that was at Hilliard Bradley about a month ago. I played safety at the camp. I haven’t attended any other camps and that Rivals one was the first one I ever attended."

And Rivals did post some video of it:

ESPN, as per usual, has nothing.

OFFERS

Indiana, BGSU, and Army, along with some other low-level ones.

HIGH SCHOOL

Columbus De Sales sent Chris Rock (not that Chris Rock) to Michigan a few years back. Rock washed out pretty quickly. Michigan has an offer out to Velazquez's teammate Rodas Johnson, a four-star DT.

STATS

Via Land of 10:

For the Stallions, Velazquez excels on both sides of the ball. During the 2017 season, he was second on the team in rushing yards (356), rushing TDs (7), receptions (17), all-purpose yardage (495), tackles (50), interceptions (2) and kick return yardage (148). He led DeSales in deflected passes with 4. Although he’s somewhat of a Swiss Army knife in high school, Velazquez sees specialization in his future.

That, too, is very Hudson.

FAKE 40 TIME

He claims a 4.5:

Velazquez has some impressive numbers to bring to bear whether he plays football or baseball. He benches at 390 pounds, squats at 570 and deadlifts at 600. It’s not just strength, either. The kid has speed, too, running a reported 4.54 40-yard dash and 6.84 60-yard dash as a high school junior.

Three fakes? Maybe just two. Per Velazquez after his Michigan camp appearance:

I weighed in at 195 lbs., 6-foot, and in the forty I ran a 4.51, a 4.6 and then ran a third one. I ran a 4.64.

VIDEO

While this isn't quite Hudson-level tape—Velazquez isn't as twitchy or violent—it does contain a lot of good stuff, with various blocks being shed and Velazquez covering a ton of ground on a couple of plays that threaten to break big. He also jumps in front of a few passes from a deeper safety spot.

PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Velazquez will have an excellent opportunity as a second-year player to replace Hudson; he'll be competing with Brad Hawkins and probably another couple guys TBD. I like him better than his rankings, since those are based on little and Don Brown has license to go get whoever he wants at viper.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

We're gonna let the dust settle a little bit here before making more projections for the class; Michigan is not done with commits in the near future. I would not be surprised to see Michigan take another viper sort since those guys can often play safety or be a useful H-back.

Comments

SMart WolveFan

June 25th, 2018 at 12:49 PM ^

Welcome Joey, Way to GoBlue!

I have a suspicion Urbz is gonna regret not throwing the lower ranked Ohio guys a bone here and there; and this guy would have been the one to throw it to.

AZBlue

June 25th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

I agree in the sentiment but not so sure in this specific case in terms of OSU.  Sam Webb did an interview with Bill Greene about him and while he raved about him as competitor etc., he also noted that he is probably too much of a “tweener” to fit as a true LB or Safety.

He did say that JV looks like a great fit for the Viper position in Brown’s defense...just that this position doesn’t exist in a lot of (base) defenses at other schools.

Kevin13

June 25th, 2018 at 1:12 PM ^

Said this a while back. The kid is not rated highly, because he doesn't fit a typical position at the next level. Doesn't quite have the size to be a true LB  or the speed to be a true Safety. However, he is a perfect hybrid and will be an outstanding viper for UM.  Now that he slots into a position at the next level and has committed to UM I think his ranking will go up.

Also he has been committed to play baseball for 2 years, so recruiting sites have basically ignored him. With a good Senior year, he could very easily become a 4 star by the last rating cycle.

bronxblue

June 25th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

Yeah, I think he's a good player for Michigan's defense, but I can see how he would struggle to find a spot in Schiano defense that would need him to bulk up quite a bit to be a LB or be a couple inches taller to be a safety.  But at Michigan, he's perfect for the Viper.  That doesn't mean he couldn't find a way to contribute either place, but I get why both OSU and UM had different levels of interest.

dragonchild

June 25th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

Can you elaborate?  Apparently the story here is that he's a LB/S hybrid that doesn't fit in OSU's scheme.  This isn't OSU passing on a nobody or UM yoinking a coveted recruit; it's as pure a win-win as these stories ever turn ou.  He'd probably never play at OSU and Brown's viper(!!!) IS a LB/S hybrid so he's a very meaningful M pickup.  Maybe I'm missing something I don't see the upside for anyone if OSU fought to keep him in the fold.  Keeping him away from Brown isn't worth the scholarship slot.

SMart WolveFan

June 25th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

This is more about perception than the kid actually fitting on the team.

For all those reasons, Velazqez was probably never gonna sign with OSU, mostly because he'll probably be a pro baseball player; so, accepting an early commitment from him would've impressed the other Ohio recruits, convincing them that OSU hasn't forgotten about the kids that got them to a top5 program.

If you look at the alarmingly low number of OSU offers that went out to Ohio kids over the past three years, you might wonder if star gazing has them looking right past the guys that care about the Mich/OSU rivalry.

And quite a few of those guys have wandered up to AA recently ;)

dragonchild

June 25th, 2018 at 1:51 PM ^

Ah, the "he wouldn't come here anyway" token PR offer. . . OK, I get your point, but the risk there is you might get a Kurt Taylor situation.  I guess if this is the right or wrong call depends on how likely you think the guy would defy expectations.  Me, I think predicting what a HS student will do is inherently risky, and I'm risk-averse so. . . yeah.

SMart WolveFan

June 25th, 2018 at 4:10 PM ^

If you get an OSU offer, it's immediately committable?

Plus, if that's the advice Urbz is listening to I say "GREAT, keep listening".

IMO, giving Ohio kids early offers and accepting a couple early PR commits are pretty easy moves to get from under, especially if the kid doesn't get the requisite ratings bump.

What I think the kids probably notice more is, in the last three cycles, OSU has only given 28 offers to Ohio kids, previous three cycles they gave out 47.

I'm sure for guys who grew up wanting to be Buckeyes, it probably sucks a little to think you should have grown up rooting for Texas if you actually want to play for them.

SMart WolveFan

June 25th, 2018 at 5:22 PM ^

Coincidentally, I just read 247's "Michigan's stepping up in Ohio.." series and in #3, I was reminded of what they did to Danny Clark and that explains why they are now gun shy to offer in state kids.

I mean, when you have a 4* in-state QB who commits to you three years before signing day, gets the 'O" tattooed on his leg (yup that guy), never looks at another school so has ZERO other offers and you push him out for "Tate from Vegas" at the start of his senior year, it makes sense they don't want that to happen again.

Maybe Urbz is losing touch with Ohio recruiting?

Blue in Paradise

June 25th, 2018 at 1:05 PM ^

I loved this kid's tape - he is a cross between Khaleke and Matt Milano (now a starting outside LB on a very good Bills' defense).

As Brian said, less twitchy and violent as Khaleke but more athletic than Milano.  Look at the picture perfect tackles vs. Milano's HS tape.

Also, the kid just seems to have an "it' factor from a personality standpoint and dual sport athlete.  I have a feeling this kid is going to blow up into a star!

dragonchild

June 25th, 2018 at 2:06 PM ^

I would hope he settles in to narrow down his ambitions.  It's likely he's biting off more than he can chew because he doesn't yet understand what he's getting himself into.  That's not a knock on him; I made the same mistake in HS -- I underestimated the time demands in college because of how I was able to juggle things in HS.  There literally isn't enough time in a day to master everything these days, which is probably why football programs are leery of his interest in baseball.  He doesn't need to do everything just to show he has "it", and it wouldn't make him any less of a man to narrow things down.

bronxblue

June 25th, 2018 at 1:09 PM ^

Better athlete than I expected initially.  He's not Hudson in that respect, but he definitely looks physically developed for the spot and 2-sport athletes at this level usually have a pretty decent floor of performance.  Glad they signed him, and my guess is that he'll be an under-the-radar guy who turns into a solid contributor.

DrMantisToboggan

June 25th, 2018 at 1:18 PM ^

Hawkins is back at the regular safety spots. Velazquez should be the starting Viper as soon as Hudson leaves, unless J'Marick Woods moves down to Viper, which I could see.

OwenGoBlue

June 25th, 2018 at 1:54 PM ^

I mean Viper/Hybrid Space Player isn’t really a specialty college position anymore but whatever recruiting guys who haven’t bothered scouting a good player at a school with other prospects in a league with other good prospects. 

I think Joey’s going to be good but we shouldn’t feed the “Viper is just a weird Michigan position that doesn’t translate elsewhere” recruiting trolls when every Don Brown Viper is in the NFL. 

ScruffyTheJanitor

June 25th, 2018 at 2:08 PM ^

So all he wants to be is a high level athlete at two sports while also becoming an engineer? Crimeny.

 

My college goals list was "1: Hello, Ladies; 2: History or something???"

SpaghettiPolicy

June 25th, 2018 at 2:09 PM ^

Looking at the picture at the top and the video at the bottom it is hard to reconcile the two as he looks big in the video and super skinny up top. Doesn't remind me of Khaleke athletically. People either really underrate his athletic ability or maybe I overrate him,  but this guy looks to be a few notches below where Khaleke was coming out of HS.

 

Camp video had him looking slower than a 4.5 40. 4.6-4.7 in the 40 makes a lot more sense than 4.5. 

 

After watching the film he looks like a properly rated 3* IMO. Hope everything works out. Whenever I see Baseball involved I get a bit nervous...

SpilledMilk

June 25th, 2018 at 2:35 PM ^

I'm not convinced that this was driven by Don Brown. I have faith that DB can plug and play any good athlete in his defense but I suspect that Joeys recruitment to UM has more to do with optics (take that urban) and a few of his high school teammates.

Goggles Paisano

June 25th, 2018 at 3:33 PM ^

If he turns out to be a 3rd round pick in next years MLB draft, he would be looking at a signing bonus of $800k or so, which is about the average for that slot.  That creates a really tough decision to pass that up for a very violent sport with a short athletic life.  I know which way I would lean, but to each his own.  He is one heck of an athlete though and to be that good in two sports takes a lot of hard work both in season and off season.  This is a great addition to the team.