Michigan picked up a commitment out of left field—or, more accurately, the right coast—this evening when Hamden (CT) Hamden Hall tight end Luke Schoonmaker announced he'll be a Wolverine.
— Luke Schoonmaker (@LukeSchoonmaker) July 26, 2017
He's flown almost entirely under the radar; two of the four recruiting sites don't have profiles for him, and the other two have one article and zero scouting reports between them. He's apparently held his Michigan offer since participating in last month's Sacred Heart satellite camp.
Schoonmaker is the 11th commit in the 2018 class and the first at tight end, a position of significant need.
3*, #78 TE,
|NR TE||NR TE||
3*, 86, #32 TE,
At the time of this writing, Schoonmaker doesn't even have a Rivals or ESPN profile. I'm assuming 247 and Scout have given his film a once-over since there are no in-person game or camp reports; the former has him as a middle-of-the-pack three-star, the latter essentially left him unranked.
Schoonmaker apparently doesn't lack for size. Both 247 and Scout list him at 6'6", 225.
[Hit THE JUMP for scouting, video, and more.]
Since we don't have scouting reports, let's take a look at Schoonmaker's film. The first catch: he mostly plays quarterback for his high school team. The other catch: he's way, way better than the Connecticut small-school competition. Here are his midseason junior highlights:
And here is a single-game reel from the NEPSAC Mike Atkins Bowl (Class C championship), in which Schoonmaker capped Hamden Hall's 11-0 season with 203 yards and two scores passing and an additional 102 yards and two TDs on just five carries. The first play of the reel is Hamden Hall's first offensive snap; Schoonmaker runs in a QB sneak... from 87 yards out:
Most of the clips are of Schoonmaker at quarterback, so I jotted down some notes on the plays he lined up at tight end (timestamps from the first video):
1:00 — Good burst off the line, finds space up the seam, goes up for ball but not the cleanest high-point
1:19 — Gets pancake but only after losing initial block; poor initial pop then stops feet on contact; runner forced to bounce into likely TFL
2:55 — Wide open on short crossing route, underthrow takes him to ground on catch
3:05 — Better job of getting pop and moving feet on block, doesn’t sustain it
7:20 — Wide open again on deep crossing route, clean catch on high throw
7:36 — Good initial contact, stops his feet, loses defender for what appears to be a TFL (play cuts away early)
7:46 — Not a clean route (rounded off at break) but nice snag in some traffic
He looks to have good straight-line speed, and while he doesn't have a lot of wiggle, he's got yards-after-catch potential in that rumbling Jake Butt-like fashion—he can juke just enough to keep from getting hit square, at which point he can run through tackles from smaller defenders. I was impressed with his feel for the game; he makes good reads as both a thrower and runner, and while he won't make those same reads as a tight end, that football IQ will help him out. He also shows good vision as a runner.
He's certainly got the requisite size for the position. There's far too small a sample to get a feel for his hands, but on most of his catches he does a solid job of high-pointing and plucking the ball away from his body. He'll have a lot of work to do from a technical aspect, both as a receiver and blocker. He rounds off his routes; those cuts need to be a lot sharper to gain separation against better defenses. When blocking he shows a habit of stopping his feet upon initial contact, which causes him to lose a couple blocks that doom edge runs.
Schoonmaker is a developmental prospect, both because of his current level of competition and his relative lack of experience at the position he'll play in college. It's still easy to see why the coaches like him; he's got an intriguing combination of size, athleticism, and feel for the game. He's got the all-around athleticism this staff covets; in addition to being a pretty solid quarterback, he's a pitcher/1B on the baseball team.
Schoonmaker holds offers from Indiana, Rutgers, Temple, UConn, ECU, UMass, Miami (NTM), and Toledo, according to 247.
According to the Rivals database, Schoonmaker would be Hamden Hall's only FBS signee since at least 2002. Michigan has only had 13 players from Connecticut in program history, most notably early Bo fullback Fritz Seyferth; the only to hail from Hamden was guard John E. Maturo, who suited up from 1946-48.
According to MaxPreps, Schoonmaker caught five passes for 111 yards and two touchdowns as a junior. He also went 55-for-92 for 878 yards (9.5 YPA) with five TDs and five INTs while adding 623 yards and 13 TDs on 53 rushes (11.7 YPC).
FAKE 40 TIME
Schoonover's Hudl page lists an unsourced 40 time of 4.58 seconds, which gets four FAKEs out of five. That time would've been good for sixth among tight ends at this year's NFL Combine. While Schoonover looks fast for a tight end, that would be an elite electronic time.
More single-game reels can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Other than a probable redshirt, it's hard to predict how Schoonmaker's career will go given the limited available video (and the competition level). With his size and athleticism, he's got plenty of upside as a tight end; he'll also need a lot of development, especially as a blocker. He'll likely end up on a similar track as Sean McKeon, another tight end from an East Coast state not known for its high school football.
Ian Bunting, TJ Wheatley, Nick Eubanks, and McKeon (plus Zach Gentry) are slated to be on the roster when Schoonmaker arrives, so there shouldn't be any need for him to see the field right away. He'll work on refining his game and bulking up for a couple of years before vying for playing time, likely as a flex TE in the mold of Butt and Bunting; if he can't block well enough to play at all in-line, he could also try going the Gentry route and making it as an oversized receiver.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
This won't end Michigan's pursuit of tight ends. Texas four-star Mustapha Muhammad remains a solid bet to end up in the class, and Illinois four-star Luke Ford took a campus visit last weekend that reportedly vaulted the Wolverines towards the top of his list. After Devin Asiasi's early departure and Gentry's move to wideout, the coaches will want a second true TE in the class, possibly even a third if Muhammad and Ford both want in and they have the room.
Here's the class as it currently stands: