Hello: Khaleke Hudson

Submitted by Brian on January 27th, 2016 at 3:03 PM

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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.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 247 247 Comp
4*, #273 ovr
#21 ATH
3*, #26 ATH
#10 PA
3*, 74
#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.

SCOUTING

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.

OFFERS

In addition to Michigan, Hudson had offers from PSU, Pitt, and UCLA, his other finalists, along with Wisconsin, MSU, VT, UNC, and WVU.

HIGH SCHOOL

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.

STATS

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.

VIDEO

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:

Yeah buddy.

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.

Comments

SeattleChris

January 27th, 2016 at 3:51 PM ^

I actually see more upside for him on offense. Really good vision and burst and great hands. I know the need is at S/LB but I'm crystal ballzing him to stick on O after playing on both sides.

UMichClass2017

January 27th, 2016 at 4:33 PM ^

I am from the Pittsburgh area.  And from what I've heard/talked to people about, "he is the best player in the area."  Additionally, it's good to get into the WPIAL, as they always have a few people heading to high Power 5 colleges.  

Tedbossman

January 27th, 2016 at 4:37 PM ^

While close to being 4 stars, both Hudson and McDoom are composite 3 stars. I usually give recruiting services the benefit of the doubt, but cumong man. What are they looking at here? Did they even turn these guys film on? No reason both these guys shouldn't be comfortably in 4 star range on every site. Makes you wonder...

JamieH

January 27th, 2016 at 6:05 PM ^

Is there a reason teams don't want this guy at RB?  He seems to have tons of lateral quickness, good speed, is hard to tackle, and can catch passes too. 

laus102

January 27th, 2016 at 6:42 PM ^

how this man did not earn a 5 Star, let alone a 4 star ranking is just beyond me, apparently.  

Watching his highlight reel, I shit you not, I felt like I was watching a Barry Sanders highlight reel.  Khaleke is the shit.

If we have enough depth at S, I would par avion overnight Khaleke Hudson to RB.  

Also, how is his 40 a 4.6?  That kid has breakaway speed, none of the opposing DBs were as much as touching him once he got to the second level.  

So much more explosive than Kareem W.  and he has that Deveon power juice in his thighs.  

MaizeXCraze

January 27th, 2016 at 6:47 PM ^

I want to start by saying I'm a huge fan of the "Hello" posts, they are a great tool for recruiting, I especially like the "Prediction Based on Flimsy Evidence" to see when I can expect to see said player contribute for the team. 

I don't know where or if there is a suggestions box, but would it be possible to start putting the phonetic spelling or proper pronunciation of recruits in the Hello posts going forward. With names like Khaleke, Tagoloa, Onwenu, and Elysee Mbem-Bosse it can be difficult to pronounce correctly sometimes and I think it would help the readers of MGoBlog sound more educated as a fan base in general.

Hotroute06

January 27th, 2016 at 7:13 PM ^

From watching his highschool highlights my takeaway as of why he didnt get ranked higher is from lack of speed,  lateral agility,  height and in my opinion bad competition level. Looks like hes playing against a lot of skinny slow white kids.. ( im white ).  Dont forget how Ty Isaac looked in his highlight film.  

Looks like he has the potential to be a great role player and asset in many ways but the Eric Berry, Jabrill Peppers comparisons seem too much.  

 

CoverZero

January 28th, 2016 at 2:59 AM ^

Cover0 loves me some safetys.  That was my old position and the one that i know most about how it should be played.  This kid has a great film.  He not only brings a physical presence, but he is also very athletic and can cover.  

He really does the small things very well, which all great safeties possess:

instincts

plays pursuit and ball angles naturally

has excellent hand skils and is a tackling machine

excellent athleticism and speed

football IQ and leadership skills

I dont believe that Ive seen a better tape on a safety in HS.  Probably Sean Taylors was better...but this kid is not far behind, he is that good. 

If he can get up to speed next year, it would not surprise me to see Khaleke in some nickle situations where they could roll Peppers up in a hybrid OLB/S position.  Thinking 3 and 5 type situations with the lock down corners and help over the top.  Could be deadly.

After next year, assuming Peppers comes back for 17, there will be some adjustments because there is no way both players will be able to be kept off the field.  Perhaps they will be free and strong... either way the combo will be lethal.

93Grad

January 28th, 2016 at 10:08 AM ^

It seems like out last handful of commits are all underrated with a lot of upside. I dare to say they are not unlike a lot of recruits Sparty gets and develops into NFL draftees

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Hotroute06

January 28th, 2016 at 4:56 PM ^

I had to come back on here and take back some of the things I said earlier.  After watching some more videos of him last night what I didnt notice was how stocky and filled out his physique was at first glance.  It made him appear to me that he was shorter than his listed size.   This kid definitley has the same type of build that Peppers has... not normal for a 17-18 year old.  And also the way he moves seems very deceptive and elusive.  Has much more athleticism than I initially thought.   

 

Very excited hes a wolverine. 

CoachBP6

January 29th, 2016 at 6:47 AM ^

Really nice film. Good, fluid athlete in many phases of the game. Has good feet, good hands, good athleticism, nice awareness, good aggression / physicality, plays with passion, and has insane upside in the hands of this staff.

I am mind boggled as to how Hudson flew mostly under the radar. Our gain!!

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