Michigan has picked up a commitment from the most Harbaugh guy we've seen in this year's recruiting class, PA ATH Khaleke Hudson. Hudson is not Jabrill Peppers, but if you squint you could be forgiven for mistaking them.
4*, #273 ovr
3*, #26 ATH
#85 S, #28 PA
4*, #318 ovr
#14 S, #11 PA
3*, #384 ovr
#23 S, #10 PA
You're probably familiar with Khaleke Hudson if you've kept up on our recruiting roundups of late. After Hudson put on a show in the Semper Fi game he became a favorite of the staff here. Our recruit-crush only grew once we watched his LB/S/KR/PR/WR/RB 15-minute senior highlight film on which his crushing blocks were a highlight even amongst a bunch of other impressive stuff. He's a Harbaugh guy, and wherever he plays he will hit people in the face hard.
Hudson's versatility should extend to the college level, where he could play RB, S, nickel, or even LB. Personally, I think he's headed for the nickel spot Jabrill Peppers currently mans, and not just becase someone at Michigan said the same thing:
"I know Michigan has said that I could play both sides. They actually think I could be very similar to Jabrill Peppers."
I figure Michigan says that to everyone other than OL these days.
Hudson's versatility is a major theme, with many outlets praising him both ways. ESPN calls him a "very good two-way player"; Scout says it's "easy to see why schools are split" on his eventual deployment.
As a safety he draws praise for his instincts, hitting, and short-area burst. ESPN:
…reads the play quickly and has an excellent burst to get to the spot. Very good at reading and reacting. …has the speed and quicks to cover man, especially TEs or RBs. He is very good at his zone cover responsibilities. He opens to the ball, reads into the QB and has a rapid break to the football in flight. … very quick out of his stance/pedal and flies all over the secondary and into the line of scrimmage with speed and positioning. Aggressive and physical, he is a solid tackler.
There is a minor concern about his ability to turn his hips in an otherwise excellent evaluation… and then you get the big fat raspberry of his ranking. As the #86 safety in the country he's barely ahead of a dude headed to Louisiana Lafayette. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
I wouldn't read much into the ranking. Once you get down the board ESPN rankings frequently defy common sense (there are kids headed to UMass, WMU, Georgia Southern, and South Alabama ahead of Hudson) and are rarely updated.
Scout's evaluation echoes that of ESPN:
…good burst and covers 10 yards in a flash. As a running back, he gets through the hole quickly. As a safety, he closes quickly. In both instances, he is physical and loves to put his shoulder into the play. He has good speed and instincts, but needs to add some flexibility.
Hudson was an under-the-radar guy for a long time—he supposedly tried to commit to Penn State over the summer and was rebuffed—but caught the eye during a terrific senior season. He got invited to the Semper Fi game and was without question the top player in the game itself with seven tackles, 2 TFLs, a forced fumble, and 4 PBUs. He did that while rotating in and out of the lineup, as players do during all star games.
During the practices that are the actual meat of all-star game scouting Hudson performed almost as well. 247's evals from the game named five players on each side of the ball who stood out; on day two Hudson featured on both lists. On defense he looked "very fluid in coverage"; on offense his performance at running back was dubbed "special" by the coaches. He was #1 on D on day one and that report contains an excellent thumbnail of what to expect from him at Michigan:
With his compact physique, Hudson looks like the hybrid linebacker/strong safeties that are starting to become very popular as teams move to more sub-package schemes to combat spread attacks.
Scout dubbed him the best safety and the best running back at the game:
…as a running back he had a knack for finding the holes with fantastic vision, then using his explosive burst to get through it in a hurry. He had a comfort to him at running back and could feel his way in and out of spots and holes.
Hudson is a tough, physical safety who hits hard. … He's also a plus athlete who runs well and looks very comfortable playing in space.
In the aftermath Hudson got four-star boosts from Scout…
…a tough, physical safety who loves to hit. At 6-1, 200 pounds, Hudson has a strong, powerful build and is a prototype downhill safety who can fly off the hash in run support. He's also a plus athlete who runs well and looks very comfortable playing in space.
…and 247. The latter narrowly eliminates him from sleeper of the year contention. Rivals moved him up slightly (he went from the #14 kid in PA to #10) but kept him a three star. It's the goofy ESPN ranking that prevents him from being a composite four star.
In addition to Michigan, Hudson had offers from PSU, Pitt, and UCLA, his other finalists, along with Wisconsin, MSU, VT, UNC, and WVU.
McKeesport hasn't sent anyone to Michigan in the past decade. They had a top-100 DT in 2011 who went to Texas Tech of all places; they've also sent a half-dozen three-star types to mid-level Power 5 schools since Rivals started their database.
In case you're wondering about competition level, McKeesport is in the largest classification in PA and is right outside of Pittsburgh so it's quite good.
Hudson was naturally a two way star:
That jack-of-all-trades ability was evident in the 6-1, 200-pounder’s stats this season. Hudson finished his final high school campaign with 1,118 yards and 17 touchdowns rushing, and 219 yards and five touchdowns receiving. Meanwhile he was just as impactful on the defensive side of the ball, registering 60 tackles and three interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns.
FAKE 40 TIME
Scout has a "verified" 4.61, which isn't particularly fake.
Ace put together video from the Semper Fi game:
Keep in mind that is one game during which Hudson played about half the snaps. Also that is "scouting video," by which we mean we didn't excise the bad bits. Those amounted to one crossing route he got beat on.
And here's Hudson's I be like dang senior highlight reel:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Hudson is your Peppers heir apparent. He could play running back if things are truly dire at that spot but Michigan has a lot of options there; the need is much more pressing in the secondary. With his clear utility on special teams and Michigan's need to replace just about everyone in 2017 a redshirt is unlikely. It says here he has a year of apprenticeship and steps into the nickelback spot for a three-year starting tenure.
Can he be Peppers? He can almost certainly fulfill the screen-destroyer and run support roles. Where he might struggle is where Peppers struggled early this year: covering slot receivers who can cut in or out. That's what the mild criticism of Hudson's hips in the scouting reports might translate to on the field. He also might lack the athleticism to mirror a guy on a vertical route as effortlessly as Peppers does.
I'll take "not quite Peppers" from that spot.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The ever-shifting beast:
Hudson's commitment adds a much-needed piece at safety. Michigan is still pursuing KS S Isaiah Simmons and a number of cornerbacks; Hudson's commitment doesn't close off anyone in particular since Michigan still needs DBs in quantity.