Jim Harbaugh has pulled in his first commitment at Michigan's head coach tonight, as 247's Steve Lorenz is reporting three-star FL DE Reuben Jones decided to pledge while on his official visit. Jones had been committed to Nebraska until this week, when he received a visit from Harbaugh, scheduled his official, and promptly decommited from the Huskers. He's now the seventh commit in Michigan's class of 2015, and the only DE in the class.
|3*, #145 DE||3*, #27 SDE||3*, 78, #58 DE||3*, 83, #64 SDE||
3*, #44 SDE,
Post now informatively updated.
The services are consistent in ranking Jones as a three-star well off the four-star radar. All but Rivals (6'4", 225) list him at 6'3", 223 pounds. While that's undersized for a traditional defensive end, Jones is likely ticketed for the hybrid WDE/OLB spot in DJ Durkin's defense, which will feature both three- and four-lineman alignments.
Jones didn't garner much attention as a recruit until his high school hosted a Rivals camp in the spring after his sophomore season. He impressed in a crowded field, finishing as the #2 2015 defensive performer behind only five-star Byron Cowart ($):
Playing on his home field, Jones was one of the surprise performers of the day. With terrific speed and a slender but surprisingly strong frame, the 6-foot-3 Jones was nearly unstoppable in one-on-ones. Not only did he win his first three reps, but he continued to step up and challenge all comers from the offensive line position.
At the very same event last May, Jones again played on a level comparable to much higher-ranked prospects ($):
Jones is a slim, wiry defensive end, but his slight frame didn't stop him from being one of the best defensive linemen in attendance. He has long arms and he's surprisingly strong. His long reach, combined with his quick feet, helps him knock bigger, slower offensive linemen off balance. If it weren't for the pair of five-stars in attendance, Jones may have walked way with MVP honors for his efforts.
ESPN's evaluation could easily be confused for that of a five-star. They praise his size/athleticism combo, call him "a dominant pass-rusher" and a "no quit defensive end," and had this to say about his run defense ($):
Is quick to read and react when defending against the inside and outside run; can play with strength at the point of attack, shedding blockers, fighting pressure and working back to the football; this guy doesn't get stuck on blocks. Displays the initial quickness needed to beat blockers across the line and make plays opposite his alignment. Can neutralize the edge block, play through traffic and flatten to the sideline.
They even praise his pad level! Then they ranked him as the #58 defensive end in the country. I'm confused, too.
After Jones committed to Nebraska in November, Big Red Report had a very positive evaluation of his film ($):
Jones plays in an attacking style defensive line and is best suited for one at the next level. He lines up at a couple of different spots and has an impact at both spots. He has an impact running at him, he has an impact running away from him. He also has an impact in the passing game getting to the quarterback, batting down passes when he can’t get to the quarterback and even chases down the receiver 60 yards downfield.
247's Clint Brewster broke down Jones' film and pointed out why he isn't considered a blue chip recruit:
Jones’ effort and toughness on the field are special, which makes him a big time recruit. He doesn’t give up on plays and shows he can make tackles well down the field. Jones’ isn’t a very highly ranked player because of his lack of ideal size at the position and he’s still raw from a technical standpoint. Solid speed once he gets going but by no means does he have great speed.
Finally, Jones' coach weighed in on how he improved over the course of his high school career after he committed to Nebraska ($):
"Probably just in being patient," Coach DeMyer responded when asked where Jones has made the most progress over the past four years. "He's always played 100 miles per hour, but this year he has learned to be a little more patient where he used to run by stuff too fast and people would change direction on him.
"This year he is still playing with a lot of speed, but he's doing a lot better job in redirecting and knowing more about the offenses he is facing. He's been watching a lot more film and knowing which guys can do what."
Jones seems to have a lower ceiling than some other DE prospects because of his size—he'll probably top out around 6'3", 260—but he looks like a player who'll could make an impact as a situational pass-rusher who could develop into something more down the road.
Jones held offers from Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Michigan State, Mizzou, Nebraska, Purdue, UCF, USF, Syracuse, Temple, Wake Forest, and West Virginia, among others.
Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson produced a recent Michigan starter in lineman Ricky Barnum. They've produced their fair share of FBS prospects over the years, most notable among them Bilal Powell, the former Louisville standout and current New York Jets running back.
Per Rivals, Jones recorded 71 tackles, 14 TFLs, and ten sacks as a senior.
FAKE 40 TIME
ESPN and 247 both list a 40 time of 4.89, which gets a mere two FAKEs out of five.
Single-game reels from his junior and senior seasons can be found on his Hudl page.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Jones could be in line for early playing time due to Michigan's scant depth chart at defensive end; at the moment, there are just four DEs—senior Mario Ojemudia, junior Taco Charlton, redshirt sophomore Henry Poggi, and redshirt freshman Lawrence Marshall—on the roster.
Ideally, Jones would get a redshirt year to bulk up, though we'll see if he's afforded that luxury given the lack of bodies at the position. While he may not develop into an NFL prospect due to his size, he's got the chance to be a quality player thanks to his quick first step, strength, and high motor.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Jones is the seventh commit in the 2015 class (since this first posted, Zach Gentry became the eighth), and he's unlikely to be the last defensive end commit—Wisconsin commit Jake Pickard is currently on campus and there are rumblings he's likely to join the class, and Michigan hosted Shelton Johnson last weekend. Given the depth chart, they could definitely use another DE.
It's reasonable to expect this class to finish with 16-17 prospects, leaving 8-9 spots left with Gentry also in the fold. Michigan is pursuing several cornerbacks; they could also use help at running back, wide receiver, tight end, offensive line, linebacker, and safety.