There's enough to cover from the BBQ that I'm splitting this edition of the roundup into two parts. Today I'll cover the five recent commits; tomorrow I'll go over the rest.
Sammy Faustin and When Stars Really Matter
Let's start this roundup with the most recent of Michigan's slew of commits, three-star FL S/CB Sammy Faustin. It was quite clear from the comments that many around here didn't see much past this...
3*, #75 CB,
|3* CB||NR CB||
3*, 86, #74 CB,
3*, #78 CB,
...before passing judgment on Faustin and questioning why the coaches would take such a low-rated player this long before signing day. One of the main arguments against Faustin is one we've made many times here: star rankings really do matter.
They do. There's a mountain of evidence to back up that assertion. Context is key, however. The recruiting rankings that matter are the final rankings, once the recruiting services have as much data as they can gather. Nobody is going back to look at rankings at the time of a player's commitment.
Faustin hasn't even played his senior season. We already have a couple recent examples of who-dat defensive back commits taken by this staff developing into (or being recognized as) solid prospects by the time signing day rolled around. Josh Metellus was either a two-star or unranked on all four services when he committed in the 2016 class; three sites subsequently gave him the Michigan bump to three stars, while ESPN got fresh eyes on him and rated him a four-star prospect with an evaluation to match. Metellus saw the field as a true freshman, impressed, and should start this year. More recently, Benjamin St-Juste was a literal unknown when he committed—initial camp reports got his name wrong—then starred at The Opening and cracked the 247 top 100.
Faustin is skeptical of your armchair scouting.
"Trust the coaches" can be a lazy deflection. Between Jim Harbaugh and Don Brown, though, it's hard to question these guys when they identify a player they want early. At the very least, we should let the process play out a little further. Sometimes it only takes a day; read Scout's post-commitment writeup on Faustin and tell me where you think he should be ranked:
Faustin, who passes the eye test with prototypical size in the secondary, is a versatile defender who does a great job of reading and reacting from his cornerback position. Once dissecting the play, Faustin turns heads with the ability to burst out of his back pedal by pushing off his back foot, flashing impressive acceleration in the process. This is a kid who also shows decent technique for a cornerback of his stature.
Faustin is one who does not shy away from physicality either. Once finding his lane to the ball carrier, Faustin closes on the ball in a hurry while also playing under control. There are times when he loses track of his tackling technique, but for the most part, Faustin is a sound tackler in space who strikes with good pad level. He is not the most explosive kid and can work on his flexibility, but does not have much of a problem flipping his hips and readjusting. Faustin is a defender who provides that pop at the point of attack.
For a safety who'll cover the slot, that's a pretty ideal evaluation. It jives with the junior film, which doesn't look like that of the #78 corner in the country. The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with Tom Lemming for a scouting report, and this one also sounds like it's meant for someone better than a middling three-star:
"Faustin is one of my 'Other Players to Watch' in Florida," Lemming said. "He's 6-2, 175 pounds and has legit 4.5 speed. He has good range, quick hands and loose hips and does a very good job of playing the ball. He needs to add weight and strength but is an exceptional athlete."
In related news, recent tight end commit Luke Schoonmaker got a 14-spot bump in Scout's tight end position rankings, added a three-star ranking from Rivals, and got evaluated by ESPN, which now has him as the #19 in-line TE in the country. There's plenty more in last week's roundup.
If you're going to star-gaze without watching the film, I recommend at least waiting until February.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the roundup.]
Cameron McGrone: Future MIKE?
When I wrote up four-star IN LB Cameron McGrone's commitment on Monday, I saw him as a WILL in the Devin Bush mold. 247's Steve Lorenz posted in his VIP notes that Michigan's coaches see him in a slightly different spot:
The staff is recruiting McGrone as a MIKE; they are the only school who likes him there. He will give them a different dimension at the position as he's an outside backer athletically but plays a physical style Don Brown will love in the middle. Provided he is healthy, he is a player I personally view as a potential contributor in year one.
Given McGrone is further along as a run defender and blitzer than he is in coverage, that fit makes sense as long as he adds the requisite bulk and block-shedding ability. Lorenz also notes this is Michigan's second commit (following Christian Turner) for whom they overcame a big Notre Dame lead; Shayne Simon unfortunately represents the flip side of that.
Meanwhile, Scout's Allen Trieu updated his evaluation on McGrone with a positive mention about his coverage ability:
McGrone is an aggressive linebacker with excellent burst and explosion. He is a great blitzer because of his quickness off the snap, but also his timing. He will take on blocks aggressively as well and does a good job of delivering initial contact. As he adds more technique in terms of using his hands, he should be a guy who can blow up lead blockers because of his explosive power. You don't see him in coverage a ton on his high school film but he looked good in that department during the camps we have seen him at.
If the "blow up lead blockers" bit holds true, I'm sold on him as a MIKE.
As a bonus, fellow Indiana native Emil Ekiyor—who took a recent visit to Alabama, a dangerous contender—seemed quite pleased about McGrone's commitment. More on him tomorrow.
Stephen Herron Gets THE Coach Quote
Scout's Allen Trieu caught up with five-star 2019 KY DE Stephen Herron's coach after his commitment and got the quintessential high-character-guy quote:
"You can't ask for better kid," Vaughn said. "He's the complete package. He's really the definition of it, of being a complete package. He runs a non-profit where he gives back to under privileged youth. He goes on missions. He has a 4.2 GPA. If I had a daughter, he would be first in line for me to date my daughter. You can't go wrong with a kid like that on top of the athletic ability."
In Herron, Michigan is getting a highly recruited athlete with outstanding grades who still wants to do better.
"He can get a lot better because he is willing to put work in," Vaughn said. "He's not satisfied with his success. Sometimes when kids have early success, they may think they've arrived but Stephen is willing to work for his goals and aspirations."
In addition to being very good at football, he sounds exceedingly unlikely to wash out.
Lorenz's post-commitment VIP Notes, uh, note that Stanford held the lead heading into Herron's visit, but Jim Harbaugh gave him a lot of attention and Greg Mattison also played a big role in turning the tide. The 2019 DE class is shaping up to be really dang good:
I'm not going to think about the numbers in 2019 right now. This is more about getting an elite player at an important position and it could be the start of another excellent class up front. I still believe Michigan is the favorite for five-star DE Chris Hinton and are a major factor for four-stars George Karlaftis and Joseph Anderson among others as well.
Karlaftis looks like a very good bet to wind up in the class after last weekend. Herron-Hinton-Karlaftis would be a hell of a haul.
Nolan Rumler: Searching For Negatives
The common theme in four-star 2019 OG Nolan Rumler's post-commitment evaluations is scouts having a difficult time finding something to criticize. Rivals's Josh Helmholdt:
"We list Rumler as a guard, but he has played tackle in his high school career and brings versatility to the table," Helmholdt explained. "He earned an early four-star designation from us and has very few weaknesses for a young lineman."
WHAT ARE THE CONCERNS? There are basically zero concerns about Nolan Rumler, and if he stays healthy he is going to be a multi-year starter and future NFL player. To nitpick, he is not a long-armed, 6-foot-6, super athlete on the offensive line, which slots him as an inside player. There are no concerns with talent, grades, conduct or leadership, as this is a quality young man in every aspect.
As evidence Rumler is a team guy, Lorenz reports that he held off on making his pledge public to build excitement for the BBQ:
On June 27th, Rumler called the Michigan coaching staff and informed them that he was verbally committing to the Wolverines, but wanted to wait until he returned for the BBQ to make it public and generate some excitement heading into the event. It's a subtle but well-hatched plan that may get some momentum going with some guys the staff is in good shape with.
He's also looking to do some recruiting of his own with Hinton as a top target.