Brady Hoke continues to prove that in recruiting, at least at Michigan, commits come in pairs. After Kyle Bosch committed earlier today, Novi (MI) Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman announced on Sam Webb's radio show this afternoon that he also pledged to the Wolverines. Michigan now has five commits in the class of 2013, and four of them are already garnering four-star ratings from at least three recruiting services.
|4*, NR DE||
4* DE, ESPNU
150 Watch List
4*, 92, #9 SDE,
As you can see, Shallman is a four-star recruit across the board, though his position is very much up in the air; Michigan reportedly recruited him as a running back, but he also played on the D-line in high school and is listed at DE by Scout, ESPN, and 24/7 (though the latter also lists him as a fullback). All four sites agree that Shallman stands at 6'3" and somewhere between 245-255 pounds, though watching him this year I think he's at or above the higher end of that range.
Shallman was plagued by a hamstring injury for much of his junior year, so it's difficult to find any evaluations of him as a tailback. There is one, however, and it's... mine. Here goes me:
Shallman is at his best running North-South, and while he doesn't have top-flight speed, he does get to the second level of defenders in a hurry. When he reaches the back seven, he has a tendency to put his head down and try to bowl defenders over, which often works but also limits his big plays—to his credit, however, there wasn't a single run in which Shallman didn't fall forward for at least an extra yard or two.
I was impressed, as I pointed out earlier, with Shallman's agility. He's not going to utilize a lot of fancy jukes or spin moves, but his go-to move—the quick jump-cut as he approaches an oncoming defender—worked really well for him. Shallman isn't going to make a lot of guys completely whiff at the next level, but he's shifty enough to get defenders off-balance, and with his power that's enough to shed tackles—Inkster defenders were bouncing off of him all night.
Though he only was asked to do this on a couple of plays, Shallman showed that he was a capable lead-blocker, getting to the second level and pushing his man several yards downfield on a couple of occasions. I didn't get to see him in blitz pickup, as Inkster couldn't generate a pass rush on the few occasions the Shamrocks attempted a pass, but his strength is definitely an asset in the blocking game.
In that game, Shallman finished with 72 yards and two touchdowns on just ten carries, including a very nice 25-yard TD run in which he juked two guys (unfortunately, I wasn't able to get video of the game). He seems like the type of player who could plow ahead and pick up decent chunks of yardage, though he's not as much of a big-play threat, and he echoed that sentiment when I talked to him after the game:
ACE: You watched the game against Western. What do you think about the offense, and how do you think you can fit in and make it better?
WYATT: Right now they're still running more spread because of the personnel that they have, they don't really have the 'I' type of thing that they were talking about to me, because they want me to play tailback. When they did go to the 'I', it was very interesting because they were getting six-yard chunks, and that's the type of football I like. I like lining up, going straight ahead, and hitting some people straight in the face, so that's what I like to see.
In case you can't tell, Shallman loves contact and is not afraid to dole out punishment on either side of the ball.
The other evaluations mostly focus on Shallman's ability as a defensive end. Since there's a decent chance he could end up there by the time his Wolverine career is over, they're worth looking at. Here's Josh Helmholdt discussing Shallman after last year's season opener ($):
We did not get to see the 6-3, 250-pound junior tote the football as we had hoped - he was suffering from a hamstring injury and only played on defense - but once he checked in on the defensive line late in the first quarter, Shallman did not come out until the game was well in hand. At times he looked to be protecting the leg, but mostly he went all out and looked sharp. His athleticism for a big prospect is outstanding and his speed is well above average for the defensive end position. We're still not sure if tailback is an option in college, but Shallman is definitely a high-end defensive prospect with a great motor.
Shallman played sparingly on defense when I watched him play, so I'll trust the more experienced scouts when it comes to judging his ability on that side of the ball. His athleticism for his size is a definite plus; while he doesn't have ideal speed for a tailback, he's more than fast enough to put on a good speed-rush from the edge. Here's Allen Trieu on Shallman after his sophomore season:
The 6'3, 248-lb Shallman could be a fullback or defensive lineman at the next level. Since fullback is not a position every school uses, we're projecting him as a tackle, where he played last year. He's a very good player. He's aggressive and has a quick first step.
Trieu also scouted the same game as Helmholdt ($), saying Shallman "looked good [on defense]. He was active, got good penetration and made a couple plays at or behind the line of scrimmage."
Along with Michigan, Shallman held offers from Cincinnati, Michigan State, Ohio State, and Syracuse. He also had interest from Cal, Florida, Georgia Tech—a very interesting suitor if they were looking at him for running back—Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, and Wisconsin, among several others.
As a sophomore in 2010, Shallman toted the rock 53 times for 355 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. He also 32 tackles (six TFL), two sacks, and a forced fumble.
I'm still trying to track down junior stats, but I'll update the post if I come across them.
FAKE 40 TIME
From a July 2011 Sam Webb feature in the Detroit News:
At 6-foot-3, 251 pounds, Shallman is far from your typical ball carrier. He'll routinely outweigh many opposing linemen, but don't think for a second that makes him a plodder. The Shamrock standout runs a 4.7 40-yard dash, has a 38-inch vertical and a shuttle time of 4.1 seconds. That makes him pound-for-pound one of the best athletes in the state regardless of class.
ESPN lists Shallman as running a 5.11 (though they do list an impressive 4.18-second shuttle), and I've also seen him listed at a 4.9 elsewhere. I'll give the 4.7 a four FAKEs out of five.
Junior highlights from both sides of the ball:
You can also find Shallman's sophomore highlight reel here.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Shallman is a tough prospect to peg down. He certainly isn't your traditional running back, though he could be used very effectively either as a change-of-pace/short-yardage back or a second weapon in the backfield, either in a dual-tailback set or as a fullback. He has experience at both tailback and fullback, and we could see him used in several different roles as a Wolverine.
The big question is whether Shallman will be able to stick at running back; at around 260 pounds as a high school junior, it's tough to see him staying there if he arrives in Ann Arbor much larger than that. Given that he's a four-star DE prospect, it certainly wouldn't be an issue if it worked best for him to shift over to defense. A potentially apt comparison is former Texas Longhorn Henry Melton, another four-star athlete who was 6'3", 275 pounds coming out of high school. Melton began his collegiate career as a massive tailback, averaging five yards per carry and scoring ten touchdowns on just 87 rushes as a freshman. He continued to grow, however, and by his junior year he had shifted to DE, where he started ten games—recording ten TFLs and four sacks—as a senior. Melton was a fourth-round pick of the Chicago Bears and has 9.5 career sacks as a 295-pound defensive lineman.
It's tough to say at this point where Shallman will end up. If he can keep his weight down, I could see him being an Owen Schmitt-style threat out of the backfield. If he gets much bigger, I think he's better suited to play on the defensive line, where he could stand out at end. My guess is we'll see him start his Wolverine career at running back, but don't be surprised if he's a position-switch candidate down the road.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Shallman gives Michigan a bruising backfield presence, and now they'll focus on bringing in a talented all-around back as a complement. Joliet (IL) Academy four-star Ty Isaac appears to be the top player on Michigan's board, but they've offered several other blue-chip running backs as well, including DeVeon Smith, Justin Davis, Derrick Green, and Keith Ford. Expect the Wolverines to take one more back, likely from among that group; Isaac and Smith seem like the best bets to end up in the class.
Overall, Michigan has now filled five spots in what should be a 20-22 player class. There's still a need for 3-4 more offensive linemen, a couple big-time receivers, and depth across the board.