Though the news has been out since Tuesday thanks to an overzealous Dayton Daily News reporter, OH LB Kaleb Ringer made it official tonight (or will very soon): he wants to be a Wolverine.
4*, #8 MLB
When I first wrote this post a few weeks ago, all four premium sites had Ringer listed at 6-1. Now Rivals and ESPN have downgraded him to 6-0, which is probably the more accurate number. I'll give him a shade under 6-1. Scout and 24/7 Sports (the two who list him at the taller height) say he's 225 pounds, whereas Rivals and ESPN are right around 220.
He may not wow you with the eye test, but put on the film and he's all over the field making plays. He's very solidly built, has a nose for the football and has legitimate sideline to sideline speed. He's also physical and can take on blocks. I have to see more of him in coverage, but he's a kid who could end up leading a team in tackles for several years in college.
They list his strengths as hitting ability, block shedding, and speed, while calling size an "area for improvement," which... dude probably ain't growin' a whole lot more. For the record, UMGoBlog's analysts actually say that his speed is only OK.
Per a local fluff article, he certainly has the attitude for a linebacker:
Ringer often does get a backfield call on goal-line situations, but otherwise creates havoc as a speedy, hard-hitting linebacker... “It’s the only sport that you can beat up somebody and not get in trouble for it,” he said. “I really appreciate that.”
In the same article, the Talbott brothers' former head coach talks about Ringer's abilities:
Wayne coach Jay Minton is sold on Ringer. Minton helped groom former Wayne and OSU standout linebacker Marcus Freeman and sees Ringer as having a similar impact. “If there’s a better (linebacker) in the state, I want to see him,” Minton said. “Whenever they can run out of Ringers is fine by me. There’s a lot of them. It’s got to be really neat for that family to see the success that they’re all having. Kaleb could be one of the best of the bunch.”
"As good as an NFL Draft pick" is pretty high praise (though note those words were the author's, not Minton's).
Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long:
Kaleb Ringer, 6-2, 225, Clayton Northmont. I become more impressed with Ringer as time goes along. I have always been concerned about his size. He was about this same size when he first popped up on the radar screen so I was concerned about him outgrowing the position. We have seen it happen with other top linebacker prospects, most recently with Glenvilles Andre Sturdivant. Ringer is even more athletic than Sturdivant and has that same nose for the ball and for making big plays.
He lists Ringer as the #1 linebacker in the state of Ohio. From another breakdown:
I thought he would outgrow linebacker. He has not done that. Ringer is a classic Mike linebacker. Hashmark to hashmark it is hard to not pick Ringer. He is physical and a physical specimen. He is going to carry another 20 lbs on that frame... I have seen his complete highlight film. Not one play of Ringer in space.
Playing in space (and speed in general) are the main questions on Ringer coming out of high school. I won't accuse Long of changing his tune once it became clear that Ringer would become a Wolverine, but he had this to say earlier in the week:
I think he is slightly overrated because the way the game is played linebackers must be able to cover and I have not seen it out of him but if you want a middle linebacker to run from tackle to tackle and stuff the run then this is an awfully good football player. He committed to Michigan without an offer from the Buckeyes. I did not see a Buckeye linebacker in Ringer but this is definitely an upgrade in talent for Michigan.
Judge for yourself, though it seems to me to be a radical change in a short span.
As a Southwest Ohio guy, it's no surprise to see a Cincinnati offer for Kaleb. Syracuse and West Virginia had also offered, along with a host of MAC schools. In the Big Ten, Illinois and Iowa were his other offers.
Notably absent from that offer list are Ohio State and Michigan State. The Buckeyes told him that his lack of an offer had nothing to do with his ability, which might raise a flag. The Spartans (where is older nephew Javon starred a few years back) may have had similar reasons for not offering.
Posted 35 solo tackles and 50 assists
He was also an occasional running back (primarily on the goal line) and punched in a couple touchdowns on the season.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout, Rivals, and ESPN are all sorely lacking in 40 times. That means I get to accuse them of being very FAKE indeed, dishing out five out of five. Between his freshman and sophomore years in high school, he ran a 4.85 at a camp, which does not sound FAKE at all (his 4.13 shuttle time was a much more respectable number).
His sophomore highlights are on Youtube, along with an abbreviated junior highlight reel:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Ringer is a classic middle linebacker, and a perfect example of one difference between the current coaching staff and Rich Rodriguez's staff. He's a big, stocky, smashmouth-type football player, and doesn't have elite speed or the flexibility to project to several different positions. YMRMFSPA some like Jarrett Irons.
With Michigan's linebacker haul in the class of 2010, Kaleb should have the opportunity to redshirt as a freshman. However, starter Kenny Demens will graduate following the 2012 season, and Kaleb will get every opportunity to win the starting position himself. I would assume he doesn't earn that starting position (Desmond Morgan and Kellen Jones will have a year of experience on him), but he'll be a member of the rotation, earning situational playing time and getting plenty of experience in blowouts.
With two years of separation from at least one of the linebackers in the class of 2011 (I assume one or both will see the field instead of redshirting), he should be a solid starter as an upperclassman. He seems to me like the type of guy who can rack up all-conference honors without drawing a ton of interest from the NFL.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
As noted above, Michigan took several linebackers in last year's class. That means they don't need many in 2012, and getting a commitment from a high-profile guy like Ringer means they can focus only on the guys they really want, such as James Ross, Royce Jenkins-Stone, and Joe Bolden. Crazy though it may seem, there's a chance that Michigan will have to say no to one of those guys.
Ringer is the first of many defensive players to commit to the class, joining a pair of offensive linemen. Michigan's main needs for the rest of the class are an elite quarterback, and millions of players on both sides of the line. A couple tight ends and a wide receiver are probably in the cards as well.