With the hiring today of "Mama" it seems the potential exists for 5th year senior Stanford DB Wayne Lyons to be headed to A2. Until today I was trying to figure out why a (mostly) starter for a very good defense, at a great academic institution, with great weather, in a good conference, playing for a staff who develops defensive players well - would uproot his life for 1 year, but it now makes sense.
Anyhow here is a little I unearthed. Unlike Michigan football, Stanford football is not rich with blogs and website covering every little breath so it was not easy to find too much. RuleofTree - their SBNation blog - which I found a lot of good info on their prior coaches, and Kevin Hogan is my main source of all things Lyons ... and even then there were basically 2 stories remotely related to him this fall
Also I only cared about what I could find the past 2 years - what he was ranked in HS means absolutely zilch. (He was the 6th best rated S if that matters to you) I do hope S.C./Magnus can look at his film and offer their own scouting reports. There is not much (positive) on his NFL prospects in terms of scouting but that is a harsh bar, and again the # of sources is limited - whereas I could find 15 opinions on Blake Countess quite quickly.
Stanford bio here. 6'1, 193 lbs.
Best as I could tell working backwards is Stanford had a first year DB coach this year and Lyons - despite starting in 2013 - was not a top line starter. While a competent player he sounded like a starter by default perhaps paralling to a guy like Raymon Taylor. A decent college player but one apt to make mistakes and who has holes in his game.
His 2013 to 2014 journey actually sounds a lot like James Ross III if we ignore the position. Ross I believe was the 2nd leading tackler in 2013 (Lyons was the 5th in 2013 for Stanford), and saw his playing time eradicated quite badly, partly due to formations that focused more on nickelback rather than 3 LB sets and partly due to (????). Lyons had a similar falloff in that he was a part time starter - 7 games started as a senior. A blurb from ROT blog writer Jack Blanchat:
....his college career thus far has been more average than stellar. If this is indeed Lyons' final year at Stanford, perhaps he is looking for a starting opportunity after being forced to split time at cornerback this fall. Under first-year defensive backs coach Duane Akina, Lyons appeared to grow as a player, but some costly lapses may have forced Akina to restrict his playing time.
Blanchat was a bit more kind in his end of year wrapup of Stanford football writing in December:
Alex Carter was fantastic, Wayne Lyons finally took a leap, and Jordan Richards was great against the pass and the run. The only weak spot from time to time was Zach Hoffpaiur, who has never been particularly natural in coverage. (But he was good at stopping the run as a nickel corner.) I think Duane Akina proved to be an asset to the Stanford coaching staff right away, and I think the added physicality from this unit was attributable to his coaching philosophy. The fact that he finally got Wayne Lyons to break through his plateau was most impressive to me.
So the positive is Lyons seemed to make some progress from a plateau. The negative is the writer seemed amazed by it. And even with that progress he was still forced to split time.
One other thing to keep in mind was the other CB in Stanford's system was Alex Carter who apparently is good enough to declare early for the draft as he has. So it seems Lyons (or other CB on field that Lyons lost playing time to) would be the target of opposing QBs). But other than that Lyons was surrounded by a lot of talent - while Stanford fell off record wise their ills were mainly on the offensive side of the ball. So he has no excuse of playing in a weak defense and not getting help.
I am going to put 2 scouting reports to end this and again keep in mind these are just individual opinions, and 1 is very scathing but to each their own - again I hope Magnus and S.C. can come and offer their views, not that we want to sugarcoat his abilities but the more views on him the more of a complete picture we get.
First, Walter Football with an updated view of him in 2015 v last year:
2/7/15: Lyons had 30 tackles with three passes broken up and zero interceptions in 2014. He didn't impress against USC and struggled versus Notre Dame. Teams generally targeted Lyons instead of throwing at Alex Carter.
5/30/14: Lyons has good size and strength on the edge while also being a special teams contributor. The junior totaled 69 tackles with two passes broken up and an interception in 2013. To rise in the rankings as a senior, Lyons needs to show the speed and athleticism to cover speed receivers. He was beaten too often last year and allowed too much separation.
Second... and again this a random Lions blog from last July... but it doesn't sound too different than Walterfootball - just more detailed...
At 6’1” 195, Wayne Lyons has size on his side as a cornerback prospect. Stanford utilized him exclusively on the right side, rotating out with senior Barry Browning last year. Lyons is entering his second season as a starter in 2014. His first did not go as planned.
Lyons was often picked on when receivers could expose his poor athleticism and technique. The Michigan State game is the prime example. Lyons’ hips are too stiff in transition. His footwork is sloppy in and out of his backpedal as well. Receivers who can quickly enter his comfort zone can get him spinning in circles and gain big separation out of breaks. He will then extend his cushion to inappropriate lengths to make up for it.
Though he has two interceptions a season ago, both against Notre Dame, Lyons doesn’t have great ball skills and isn’t often in position to play the ball in the first place. That means his size doesn’t become a benefit enough. Getting physical with receivers is the equalizer for him as with most technically challenged cornerbacks.
For Lyons to become a viable prospect at all, he must stop stumbling around the field in coverage, make his backpedal and leveraging more consistent, and tighten his space with receivers. He’s a senior prospect who still needs to master the basics.
So that's what we have - sounds like a guy who had a new coach come in last year, helped improve his game at least modestly but even with that was losing starting time to other guys. And his running mate in the CB backfield left early for the NFL. So these things also make sense as to why he would leave Stanford in his 5th year, other than Mama coming home.
Projected role on UM: With Lewis locked down at 1 corner, and Peppers apparently moving to S there is a vacancy at the other CB. Lyons sounds a lot like a taller Raymon Taylor - he is serviceable and a good 1 year stop gap which hopefully Stribling can push hard in his 3rd year and RS FR Brandon Watson can also push. (Some might say Blake will be the other corner - could very well be - but I'd rather just see him be the nickel). The defensive coaching at Stanford is generally very good so would not expect some quantum leap due to subpar coaching.