Post Commitment Spree Recruiting Overview: Defense Comment Count

Brian July 6th, 2018 at 12:52 PM

Above: Ojabo, via 247. Previously: Offense

Now I'm just a couch. I turned into a couch. It's like "The Metamorphosis" except extremely comfortable. Let's play the feud!


STATUS: Michigan already had five-star GA DE Chris Hinton, four-star KY DE Stephen Herron, and three-star OH DE Gabe Newburg in the class; they added NJ DE David Ojabo [hello] during the blitz. Ojabo is Taco Charlton again, a huge bundle of potential that needs refining. 24/7 had an article about projecting high school defensive ends to the NFL that concluded you should go get the most absurd 220-230 pound athlete you can find that highlighted Ojabo as this year's best fit with that theory:

David Ojabo may be the most compelling candidate to prove out the 2018 draft trends. He’s late to football with 2017 being his first season ever putting on pads. ... diverse athletic background playing volleyball, basketball and soccer before finding football. He has tested extremely well in a combine setting with a 4.75 40 and a 33-inch vertical at 6-foot-4.5, 233 pounds and he has clocked a 10.93 in the 100 meters.

A sub-11 100 meter dash at 233 pounds. Yessir.

FWIW, Herron continues to insist that his Stanford flirtation is over and done:

“People think there was (wavering) because I’m really close with Stanford, but I’m not looking right now,” he said. “I chose Michigan for a reason and Michigan is very close and dear to my heart. Something is going to have to happen for me to go out there. Something has got to happen. It’s not like I’m the type of guy who de-commits because I don’t like that place anymore."

That's the third or fourth quote he's given to reporters about his status as a hard commit. Unless he schedules a visit it's probably time to take him at his word. (If he schedules a visit it's time for last rites for his commit.)

MORE? Apparently. Michigan's continued pursuit of DEs probably says something about where they expect Hinton to play—on the interior—and maaaybe signals that they're a bit uncertain about Herron even still. Michigan's best shot at adding another is NJ DE Aeneas DiCosmo, who's another one of those Michigan-Stanford battles. This is termed a "dogfight" by Wiltfong, which is an improvement from "foregone negative conclusion." DiCosmo is another super athletic three star sort.

Michigan is pursuing five-star OH DE Zach Harrison, who's been on campus multiple times and seems legitimately interested... but most discussions of his recruitment are framed to give Michigan fans a soft landing when he commits to OSU. IN DE George Karlaftis has seen his stock skyrocket over the past six months. He remains a commit to hometown Purdue but Michigan continues to poke. Maybe Brohm gets poached after the season? They're also vaguely in it for CA DE Kayvon Thibodeaux, the #1 overall player on the composite.

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STATUS: Michigan added instate DT Mazi Smith [hello] during the blitz. He's currently the only guy listed at DT in the class, but as mentioned above Chris Hinton is already listed at 280 and is probably going to project to the interior. Smith is a penetrator who's like Mo Hurst in the same way that every viper-shaped person is a version of Jabrill Peppers.

MORE? You'd think so after airballing on DTs last year but there's only one even vaguely realistic prospect out there at the moment, and that's Kalil Branham's 2019 teammate Rodas Johnson. Wisconsin just got a flood of crystal balls and Evan Flood bluntly reports that's because neither PSU or Michigan has him as a take. 24/7 lists zero other DTs with Michigan as "warm."

I mean, if Hinton is a DT that's two touted guys and probably fine, but at a spot where you have 1.5 starters at each position I'd expect Michigan to be going harder.

2020 BONUS: Michigan added IL DT Denver Warren [hello], who I guarantee I will say is from Colorado at least three times. He's a 4-star-ish dude who's already around 315 and is probably headed for nose tackle.


STATUS: Michigan added two guys who say that Michigan's recruiting them as a viper(!!!) and—surprise—comparing them to Jabrill Peppers. DC S Quinten Johnson [hello], who I guarantee I will call "Quentin" at some point, is a near-copy of Khaleke Hudson physically who has a top ten SPARQ score nationally and just hit up the Opening. His current three-star status will either be repaired or ruthlessly exploited by this site for Sleeper of the Year purposes.

OH LB Joey Velazquez [hello] was an OSU baseball commit until Michigan offered him the chance to play both sports and has barely been ranked as a football player as a result. He's a bit bigger and a bit stiffer than Johnson and has fewer paths to the field, but Don Brown could take a cauliflower at viper and I'd probably be fine with it.

These guys join FL LB Charles Thomas, who projects to the interior in the same way many light and conventionally "undersized" guy do in Brown's defense.

MORE? Michigan is getting an official from GA LB Kalen Deloach, who says that Michigan and FSU are recruiting him hardest. This could also be the landing spot for NC ATH Quavaris Crouch, who Lorenz recently asserted Michigan leads for. There are as of yet no ballers bold enough to project that.

Another interior guy would be good after taking just Cam McGrone last year.


STATUS: GA CB DJ Turner II [hello] was part of the blitz and is as of now the only CB in the class. Also, reeeeee!

Apparently nobody watches football anymore to scout players—I opened over 100 tabs on Turner produced by the recruiting industry and every one of them was about him going on visits, or thinking about going on visits, or putting out a tweet about which visits he went on. Apparently nobody in this industry watches the gorram 7A STATE CHAMPIONSHIP IN THE STATE OF GORRAM GEORGIA these days.

Very same, other Barry. Turner had a boatload of offers and dropped from a low four-star into three star territory after playing safety in a loaded secondary last year.

MORE? There are currently no realistic targets at cornerback in 2019. FL CB Akeem Dent is Joe Milton's cousin and will apparently make it up for a visit at some point, but he's committed to FSU and will be a very tough pull.

Michigan did take three last year and has a 2020 so they could probably get away with just Turner. It would not be a surprise if this was a spot where Michigan went looking for a sleeper.

2020 BONUS: Michigan added Belleville CB Andre Seldon [hello], who aspires to be Jourdan Lewis 4.0, Lavert Hill 3.0, and Ambry Thomas 2.0.


STATUS: The aforementioned Quinten Johnson certainly has the athleticism to land at safety if the need is greater there. He's the only safety-shaped object in the class.

MORE? Michigan is after a couple of very highly touted folks. The most highly touted is five-star OK S Daxton Hill, who emerged from nowhere to become a guy Michigan is legitimately in on. The program seems to think he's theirs to lose, per Sam Webb, but without corroborating evidence from outside Schembechler that's still in "hopeful" territory. (Some croots have a hard time saying no and give everyone the impression they're going to land said croot.)

Lorenz has similar intel and reports that Hill is coming up for an official for SMU... maybe? Hill just tweeted out an upcoming commitment. That's probably not good.

Michigan's also in on TX S Lewis Cine, who seemed like a slam dunk when he was in Don Brown's New England stomping grounds. A move to Texas before his junior season complicated things. He was recently on campus but it's Texas and Penn State with the balls.


With one five-star in the fold, a couple of excellent lottery tickets at DE, and a couple of seemingly underrated guys this defensive class is also trending towards the B+/A- days of yore. There's a big bifurcation coming up, with Michigan a reasonable underdog for a handful of five-stars and very little else on the plate. Michigan's probably working behind the scenes to come up with a few more prospects; the most likely outcome is to whiff on the big timers and fill in a few late spots with prospects that are a bit meh. But if they grab a big timer or, I mean yeah, two, pretty good.


Ron Utah

July 6th, 2018 at 1:25 PM ^

Adding either Crouch or Hill makes this a homerun defensive class.

Adding both might cause the earth to tilt on its axis when Crouch comes on a blitz and Hill is the robber.

Will be interesting to see how many more guys Michigan recruits on defense.  My guess is that they won't recruit many more until they know what their top targets are doing.


July 6th, 2018 at 2:02 PM ^

i could see him on O - interesting though given their lack of bigger WRs outside of 2017 class and the current commit of other slot option.

hes a pretty talented DB prospect and they could use another quick, athletic CB.  i like his game, looks promising on tape.  im interested to see how this one plays out, and think hed be a steal even if theyre pitching him as an athlete or slot


July 6th, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

It used to be that the recruiting services would temper my enthusiasm for our incoming classes. Now, I just assume that they're getting it wrong if a guy isn't at least a 4*. Thomas, Turner, Johnson, Velazquez all seem to be seriously under-rated.

Ron Utah

July 6th, 2018 at 1:48 PM ^

Don Brown can develop all of those guys into very productive players.  There's a decent chance that this year's defense loses up to six guys to the NFL: Gary, Winovich, Bush, Hudson, Long, Hill.  While I certainly hope that doesn't happen, the fact that it's even a possibility says a lot about Brown's defense and the staff's ability to develop players.

Shea, Higdon, Bredeson, and Gentry could all go from the offense.  Heck, Warriner might even develop JBB into a draft pick.  

There will likely be 6-10 guys drafted in 2019.  This staff is delivering on its NFL pedigree.

Watching From Afar

July 6th, 2018 at 2:23 PM ^

I would think Michigan loses 2/4 of Bush, Hudson, Hill, and Long.

Projecting Bredeson is a little much at this point IMO. Even with a better OL coach, he has a lot of work to do in order to go early. OGs don't get drafted as high as OTs so unless he's a top 3 round OG, I doubt he'd leave. And based on what we've seen, he's not a top 3 round OG right now or using a relatively reasonable trend in development.

Gentry is a really big match up problem and the NFL might go after him early similar to Gesicki, but Gesicki had better combine numbers than Gentry will probably put up (4.5 40 at Gesicki's size is just stupid) and a lot more production (he had a competent QB throwing him jump balls).


July 6th, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

I wouldn't be surprised at all if all four declare. Long and Hill seem most likely of the four. Bush is the exact type of hybrid space LB who can cover shallow routes and crush ball carriers that is becoming highly coveted in the NFL. I think Hudson will be the most likely to return, but he could also have a monster stat-packed year and capitalize on that stock.

Watching From Afar

July 6th, 2018 at 3:13 PM ^

For Hudson, the reason why Peppers went early was because he was a great athlete (so is Hudson) but could also return kicks on top of being projected to play as a true safety. I don't know if Hudson is seen that way. And while there are hybrid LB/SS guys in the NFL now, they're bigger than Hudson, which was the knock on Peppers coming out as a tweener without great size.

I think 1/2 of Hill/Long leave. That might be selfishly motivated, but they don't get the ball thrown at them a lot so they don't get a chance to show out. I think they're both crazy good, but maintaining Long's low passer rating at a higher volume would really show he isn't just a guy people have avoided throwing at.

Bush, it depends on how athletic his numbers really are. Small, inside LBs still aren't aplenty in the NFL. He could switch to OLB and handle the flats/blitz, but in his current position he doesn't have to cover a ton (that we've seen).

Ron Utah

July 6th, 2018 at 2:55 PM ^

I agree that Bredeson is not likely to go.  That said, we was second-team all-B1G last year and could take off as a junior (common for OL) under Warriner.  Even if he does, I hope he stays for his senior season.

Not sure how Gentry would test.  Worth noting that he is a far better blocker than Gesicki ever was.  If he can put up monster numbers, he'll definitely have a shot.

On offense, the only guaranteed draftee is Higdon.  Patterson is probably the next most likely.  But if our offense takes off and Michigan has the special season we are all hoping for, it's likely that we see a few more leave for the league.

Watching From Afar

July 6th, 2018 at 3:06 PM ^

Sure, Bredeson should get better if not just because of the simplicity of Warriner's coaching. He was pretty bad in pass protection last year (outside of Cole, who wasn't?) and took some weird pulling angles that turfed some of Higdon/Evans' runs, so that is a huge step he has to take.

I mean, Gentry blocks better than Gesicki because Gesicki had zero interest in even trying to block and got rag-dolled by LBs. I still wouldn't say Gentry is good at blocking. I think he was in the 4.7 range coming out of HS and at the Michigan "Spring Combine" which was unofficial and probably had a few tenths knocked off. But more to the point, splitting time with McKeon might turf an otherwise potentially good statistical year when it comes to TDs and receptions. He'll have a high YPR number again, but I don't know if that will be enough to make it worth leaving early for.

Higdon should have an even better year just because there is a threat of a passing game. Seeing JOK behind center and an OL that couldn't block all that well allowed teams to stack the box with everyone and their mother. He was over 5 YPC when everyone knew he was getting the ball. I'm looking forward to seeing him not have to break tackles at 2 yards every run this season.


July 6th, 2018 at 3:25 PM ^

Seems like they're working on the assumption some DEs will just get huge and end up DTs (beyond Hinton). They'd rather have more bullets in that chamber than take a big but not explosive DT like Rodas Johnson.

I remember a Jeter quote a few years ago along the lines of "I got here and everyone is a DE!" - now he's at DT, Kemp is getting some run there (which may just be due to Gary) and that could also be where DIB ends up long-term. On the less encouraging front, it's late early for Ron Johnson on the interior and Lo Marshall is probably just a guy on the inside, though he'll probably be solid as a 5th year rotational dude. 

The Oracle 2

July 6th, 2018 at 3:32 PM ^

I don’t think it can be overstated that these recruits and potential recruits need to see Michigan have an outstanding season on the field. After what happened last season, getting off to a strong start is ultra important for everyone’s perception of the program.

Blue in Paradise

July 6th, 2018 at 4:33 PM ^

I believe the reason we are taking less DTs than expected the last two years is that Don Brown is planning to use more 3 man fronts going forward.

Some analyst mentioned that a few months back and it fits the recruiting pattern.


July 6th, 2018 at 10:14 PM ^

Is Herron really a take any longer?  I mean his commitment has been lukewarm at best and his performance at the Opening stunk.  He may have burned the bridge early on and the further evaluation has not been positive.  Just a gut observation based on rumors of a Herron decommit following the Opening plus the Ojabo commitment.  


July 7th, 2018 at 9:09 AM ^

Seems like all long shots except for DiCosmo. If we get the Sanristil kid, maybe that helps with Cine. All in all, still a pretty good defensive class.

Also, Rodas Johnson plays with Joey Velazquez at De Sales. Branham goes to Northland. Both Columbus schools though.


July 7th, 2018 at 9:18 AM ^

I listened to Sam Webb interview Stephen Herron on WTKA a day or two ago and I will not believe he's ours until signing day. He listed his himself as "un-committed" at the Opening which is not good at all since he's been committed for like a year and when Sam was asking him questions, he'd say some good things then add a "but" to the end that didn't inspire too much confidence. Also, his demeanor in the interview just seemed kinda off compared to someone who is a solid commit