Hello: Maurice Ways

Submitted by Brian on April 26th, 2013 at 9:58 AM

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Detroit Country Day receiver Maurice Ways has committed to Michigan. Surprise! He's the second receiver in the class, joining Drake Harris, and is in much the same mold: long, rangy, downfield threat.

Let's do it.

GURU RATINGS

Scout Rivals ESPN 24/7 Sports
3*, #50 WR 3*, #54 WR NR 3*, #86 WR, #9 MI

Yes, sometimes Michigan does recruit consensus three stars. Ways is currently one of them. He doesn't look like one on film, though. He's long, lanky, and lopes away from the competition with long strides; he's a guy who makes you think "catching radius" all the time. He looks like a guy who would get an early offer from Michigan.

The catch appears to be, uh, catches. The stuff they don't put in the highlight film, like a this Country Day playoff game($) Tim Sullivan caught last year:

Junior wide receiver Maurice Ways caught two passes for 29 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown reception. He also dropped four passes. …

Ways definitely looks the part of a big, physical wide receiver at 6-3, 185 pounds. Though he's not a burner, he has good speed and agility. The question mark on Ways will continue to be his hands (he had a key drop in a previous game as well). He's reminiscent of former Michigan standout Braylon Edwards in that he'll make spectacular catches regularly, but drop easy balls with just as much frequency. Of his four dropped passes, at least two should have been reeled in, and he had a good chance at the other two, as well. He needs to improve his concentration in order to realize his potential as a wideout.

Oh, look, hives! On my skin! Thinking about that dropped pass against OSU that should have gone to Jason Avant! Hello, hives! We are going to die, all right?

The other game Sullivan caught($) also featured a crucial drop. Ways didn't get as much separation as you'd like but at 6'3" with a "very long wingspan" and leaping ability, he is a matchup problem, hopefully one like the guys Ways models himself after:

“I model my game after Calvin Johnson with our same body types and play-making ability,” said Ways. “I watch film on him a lot and try to emulate my game after his, and also A.J. Green.” … “Basketball was my first love,” Ways said. “But I noticed that I had talent in football and could go further in this sport. Rebounding in basketball is like going up for a jump ball. Blocking out is like blocking a defender.”

As long as he's catching the ball.

Ways has a good excuse for the drops and route-running issues: he's raw. He was gunning for a basketball scholarship when he entered high school and only focused on football last year:

"This is my first year on varsity," he explained. "… It's a big role, and I had to mature fast, had to learn the offense fast. The game speed is faster than JV of course, and the physicality is better. It makes me have to think more to try to manipulate defense in terms of route running."

Somewhat oddly, Trieu's take on Ways's Scout profile lists "hands" as an asset.

Kid with a great frame and height. Has filled out his body, but needs to continue to do that and add strength. Shows good ball skills and uses his natural athleticism to track down the ball and can go up and get it in traffic. No timed speed on him, but shows ability to get downfield on film and also makes some things happen after the catch. Relatively inexperienced, so needs to continue to work on route running and technique. - Allen Trieu

247 predicted he would be a riser this spring:

Maurice Ways, WR, Franklin (Mich.) Detroit Country Day

Film

If you follow recruiting even passingly in the Midwest, you’ve heard of the big, talented Derek Kief at wide receiver. We’re hear to tell you that you need to know the name Ways too if you don’t already. … With the way he moves on film, the ball skills he shows and the big play ability he threatens, Ways could see his offer list triple over the next month.

Both Steve Lorenz of 247 and Sullivan projected that their rating services would move Ways up in the near future. How much? The guess here is that vague four-star-but-not-ranked area.

OFFERS

Rutgers, Iowa, and Kansas were the other BCS schools. Ways had a number of MAC offers as well. He visited Ohio State a couple times; the Buckeyes seemed to have sincere interest but had not offered yet. The wanted him to camp.

That was not likely to matter since he's given multiple interviews in which he says he's a huge Michigan fan.

HIGH SCHOOL

You are aware of Detroit Country Day, surely. They were state runners-up last year. Michigan's only recruit in the past decade or so to come from DCD was Kenny Demens, thought they have acquired a number of walkons—including the spectacularly-named O'Neil Swanson III—in recent years.

STATS

Ways had an impressive 51 catches for 957 yards and 9 touchdowns last year. It helps that he had Rutgers commit Tyler Weigers throwing to him. Not a lot of schools in Michigan have a D-I to D-I connection going on.

Before that, he was on JV.

FAKE 40 TIME

Doesn't have one. Divide by zero fakes.

VIDEO

Rivals has a couple games of full-game highlights($) behind their paywall. It has some of those aforementioned drops. Braylon vibe: confirmed.

EXTREMELY IMPORTANT THING

Ways is a member of the Greg Oden "is that guy 45?" club.

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PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE

Ways will be put in the same opportunity-laden environment as a freshman that Harris will be. Amara Darboh is poised to lock down a starting job with a strong performance this fall, and Jehu Chesson will have a couple years on this class's PT candidates. Other than that, it's wide open with the three sleeper sorts from last year going up against the more athletic 2014 guys. I'd guess Ways gets a redshirt unless he ends up ahead of Harris. With Harris higher-ranked and planning to enroll early, that's approximately a 1/3rd shot.

Long term, he has plenty of upside what with the size and catching radius, and no one actually know how fast he is. You'd think that would be one of the easiest things to get right, but when Chesson was a recruit the main knock on him was his speed. Chesson tore up the track after his LOI and is now getting buzz from players and coaches as a fast-as-hell deep threat($). Also: Braylon. So… yeah.

He should spend the next year having the jugs machine throw babies at him. We'll see where we go from there. Could be big time, could be Tyrece Butler 2.0. Filed under boom or bust.

UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS

Ways and Harris help restock Michigan's outside receiver corps pending the departure of Jackson, Gallon, and Dileo in the offseason. That only gets them to seven players for 2.5 starting spots, so they're still looking. They could use a slot, and FL WR Artavis Scott fits that bill nicely. PA WR KJ Williams, another lanky outside threat, may have missed the boat. Mutual interest with AZ WR/TE Mark Andrews also just ended abruptly.

I actually wouldn't be surprised if Michigan took a fourth receiver somewhere along the line unless attrition is super-low. The numbers everywhere else project to be fine, and depth at WR comes in handy.

By the way, Michigan pass targets in the last two classes go 6'7", 6'4", 6'4", 6'6", 6'4", 6'3", 6'2", and 6'2". Al Borges is going to find Tacopants and starve him off the roster.

Comments

Ron Utah

April 26th, 2013 at 11:54 AM ^

I believe York may be the most underrated prospect in the '13 class.  He is the Jason Avant of the group.  He runs very good routes, gets separation, and catches the ball.  He may never be the #1 WR, but he will be a consistent player who can bail out the QB and get us catches when we need them, IMO.

Jones is an exciting outside threat, but not nearly as polished as York.  I haven't seen much from Dukes other than being able to be decently fast and catch jump balls (which is still awesome) but I don't see either him or Jones display the ability to get separation like York does.

Indonacious

April 26th, 2013 at 10:59 AM ^

I get a lot of the optimism about him shooting up the rankings (to 4* level) but I seem to remember similar thoughts about Channing Stribling (for example) in the last class and he never really made that jump in terms of rankings. That being said, I think Ways is a good prospect, but perhaps people should temper expectations slightly.

Bb011

April 26th, 2013 at 11:06 AM ^

This guy looks really good. I'm not sure how he's only a 3-star, but with skills like he has I don't care what he is ranked, I'm just glad he is committed to us.

WolvinLA2

April 26th, 2013 at 11:24 AM ^

That could be it, but it might not even be that big of a problem.  He's new-ish to football, so he just hasn't caught a whole lot of balls.  He will get a ton thrown to him this fall, and if it's not solved by then, he'll redshirt while catching a ton more.  Hopefully that takes care of it.

WolvinLA2

April 26th, 2013 at 11:17 AM ^

I don't get all the Braylon hate going on here (at least as a player).  Sure, Braylon had some frustrating drops, no doubt about it.  But then he also had a ton of incredible plays which won him the Belitnikoff and got him drafted #3 overall.  

I'm OK with going through all of that again. 

WolvinLA2

April 26th, 2013 at 12:13 PM ^

No one said we couldn't point out shortcomings, but the "hives, hives we're all going to die" was the part I was referring to.  

All players have shortcomings.  But my point is that if someone came to me and said we could have a Braylon clone with all of this good and bad traits, I wouldn't be like "hmmm, he did have those drops." 

M-Wolverine

April 26th, 2013 at 11:52 AM ^

And charging for the content?

Does the MHSAA know about this? I mean, I'm guessing the schools would turn a blind eye towards it because the pub is probably better for their student-athletes than any real financial gain to the rights, but it sees shady that they've paywalled that video.

Magnus

April 26th, 2013 at 11:53 AM ^

Aside from Ways, let me just say again how good Wiegers looks in that video.  That kid has a really good arm.  I would not be surprised if he does some good things at Rutgers.

RoZ06

April 26th, 2013 at 12:40 PM ^

Weigers is impressive in those highlights, not to mention he and Ways seem to have a pretty good connection built already. Why not offer him? Tell Speight that you're looking to build depth and competition, and let the best man win the job. If someone leaves because they're behind on the depth chart, it was still worth taking the kid for the competition he provided. An offer to win a starting job at UofM might be more appealing than a more guarenteed job at Rutgers.

RoZ06

April 26th, 2013 at 2:26 PM ^

Even with the relatively small number of scholarships this year, why not offer a solid QB (consequently the most important position on the field) rather than taking a flyer at a position that is already well-stocked? It doesn't appear that we'll have any critical shortages, especially after WR and CB are addressed.