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:
— Joey Velazquez (@JoeyV242) June 22, 2018
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.
|3*, #650 overall
#52 S, #31 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.]
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.
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:
— Rivals (@Rivals) June 23, 2018
ESPN, as per usual, has nothing.
Indiana, BGSU, and Army, along with some other low-level ones.
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.
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.
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.