Caution: this draft is from June, so some portions may be slightly out-of-date. If I see anything glaringly wrong or in need of update, I'll fix it.
UT FB Sione Houma committed to Michigan today, showing that Brady Hoke was VERY SERIOUS INDEED about landing a blocking back in this crop. That brings Michigan's commitment total for the 2012 class to 20, with a class of 23-26 on tap (though there aren't that many spots available yet).
|2*, NR RB||NR RB||NR RB||Not in Database|
So, uh, I think it's fair to say this kid is a bit under-the-radar, no? Oddly, it seems that Michigan is recruiting him strictly as a fullback, although all three sites that have heard of him list him as a running back. And, well, they might be onto something. He's listed at a consensus 6-0, 215ish, which is really small for a fullback, unless his frame is really underdeveloped. Considering Michigan has offered a 6-3, 245-lb kid as a tailback for next year's class, it is quite curious indeed.
As a high schooler, he's the A-back (dive man) in a wishbone offense. That may be why schools think he's capable of playing fullback, but it also means he hasn't done a whole lot of lead blocking at this point. His video shows exactly what you'd expect: a guy who gets the ball surrounded by defenders, and instead of trying to go around them, he just keeps his legs churning and grinds out tough yardage. He's not going to go down on first contact, but that's more a result of effort and power, rather than impressive balance.
What is impressive is his ability to pull away from defenders should he happen to get through the first line of defense cleanly. He also shows the ability to catch the ball out of the backfield, an important skill in a West Coast(ish) offense.
Apart from Michigan, it was mostly local(ish) schools that had offered. Utah and Utah State were joined by PAC-12 member Washington as the other schools that had extended offers to Sione.
Georgia Tech (noted fullback-users) had also showed interest, but did not extend an offer.
Scout and Rivals have the exact same stats for him, so I'm guessing they come straight from his coach's mouth:
As a junior Houma rushed for 1,211 yards and 9 touchdowns.
Without knowing how many carries that spans, it's impressive, but we can't be sure quite how impressive it is (his highlight reel embedded below says only 1,064 yards and 7 TDs, for the record). He was named first-team all-state.
FAKE 40 TIME
Once again, Scout and Rivals have the exact same information, so it's likely to be straight from the source: 4.53 seconds. If Michigan is indeed looking at this kid as a fullback, I would guess it's because he isn't very fast (the competition in Utah probably isn't the greatest either, so take the highlights with a grain of salt), so... four FAKEs out of five.
For a kid that the recruiting sites know next-to-nothing about, there certainly is a lot of video available on him. Highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Michigan has a couple fullback options in the class of 2011 (be they position-switchers or preferred walkons), which means they'll have at least a year in the system - and possibly a year on the field - on him by the time Sione enrolls next fall. That spells immediate redshirt, especially since he needs to bulk up to play fullback.
After that, however, your guess is as good as mine. A couple years on special teams (he would make a good coverage man with his toughness and surprising speed) are likely if he can't beat out those ahead of him. If he can, four years of starting is probably in the cards.
Fullback is not a glory position, and he's not going to be a Kevin Dudley-type masher, either. What he will bring is more ability with the ball in his hands, either running or catching it. That provides an offensive versatility, particularly because he could also be the lone back in sets where the running back motions, etc.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
The staff seemed intent on landing a fullback in this class, and they got one. Defensive tackle is still the biggest need for 2012, and other positions are rounding out nicely. Brady Hoke says this will be a nearly-full class of 23-26 kids, so the staff can fill a couple needs, while only worrying about elite prospects.