Recruiting thoughts re: Williams and Johnson

Submitted by maizedandconfused on November 8th, 2011 at 3:07 PM

So Ive been thinking about this Drake Johnson business, and if they kid can run a 13s 100m hurdle I'll look at him. Then you tell me hes tough enough to carry the ball 30 times a game and I want him.

Anyways, based on the recent "Thompson to Syracuse" headlines and the fact that AJ Williams has been playing OT for almost this entire season in HS, what are the chances that we turn Johnson into a H-back/TE role instead of a RB role and slide Williams inside?

Seems that Williams might outgrow the TE position, and if we are going to recruit a blocking only TE why not just recruit another OT and put him in for ManBall situations.

Seems to me that, with the agility concerns re: Johnson being a feature back, getting him into the flats and letting his speed do the work might be where they coaching staff is thinking.

Drake is listed at 6'1/2 and 215,  xcould more than likely bulk up to 235 or so for the H/FB back role and create serious mismatches with cover schemes espeically with 4-3 teams running man (leaves either a DE or an OLB to cover him).

Alternatively, he could be an ideal 3rd down back, both being a larger blocker and a speedster in the flats.


Space Coyote

November 8th, 2011 at 3:19 PM ^

This is an interesting scenario.  As a TE/H-back Johnson would need to learn how to block (assuming he doesn't do it much now so probably doesn't do it very well) and would still be extremely undersized.  His height would be a major concern (they would probably want someone at least pushing 6'3" and would prefer someone 6'4"-6'6"), and even his weight would be on the lower end of where they want (~245 lbs).  He would be a mismatch if teams respected him as an H-back, but that's where it would be difficult.  I don't think this is what the plan is, and assume that they want to give Johnson a try at TB with the option of moving him to WR, safety, OLB, etc. down the line.  He could be closer to ideal size for FB, but with a FB already in the class that doesn't seem likely.  Also, FBs are a breed of their own, it takes a certain mentality that you don't see with his film IMO (that's not a knock by the way, he just doesn't have the insane attitude associated with FB prospects).

I had originally thought there was a chance Williams moved inside, but I think the staff is sincere about wanting him at TE.  I think that they truly want someone who can be an effective blocker but still have the ability to run some routes, and not just in goal line situations.  I see him sticking at TE.

I say Johnson starts at RB and probably becomes Darnell Hood (depth where it is needed).  Most likely, and one thing that is nice about someone like Johnson and his apparent passion to play Michigan football, is that he will be a solid ST player in all aspects (an that doesn't really mean he is a return man, but may be a gunner, protection, etc).


November 8th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

Kinda sounds like what people wanted Tebow as. Anywho, I went to high school with Drake, he is a good 5'11"-6' in reality. No chance as a TE. He is a running back all the way.

Broken Brilliance

November 8th, 2011 at 3:14 PM ^

Drake to Hback seems plausible. Its hard to project where he'll go when the class isn't even full yet. I personally would consider him at receiver depending on what happens with Dunn. What do I win if im right about this in four years?


November 8th, 2011 at 3:21 PM ^

Sam Webb seems to agree that AJ might move inside (up to 290 lbs. and did well at OT this year), and also  thinks that it is likely for Pharoah to move to TE as he has done well as a reciever this year.  Apparently Pharoah now prefers TE to DE.  I don't see Drake as an H-Back; if anything he could wind up  at WR but should get a shot at RB.


November 8th, 2011 at 3:25 PM ^

I've seen drake play a few times. he isnt 215, probably more like 190. Gaining 40 lbs for a 6'6" lineman is no easy task and adding that much weight to Drake's frame seems very unlikely. i could see him as more of a slot guy but definitely not tight end.


November 8th, 2011 at 5:53 PM ^


It took Lewan two years to gain 34 lbs and he had the biggest gain of those listed. And Taylor is 6'7" Johnson maxes out at 6'0". Other notable weight gainers, Roh and Heininger, are 6'5" and 6'6" respectively. I don't know where the fuck you guys think Johnson is gonna put 30-40 pounds but you're outta your fuckin minds. Isaiah Bell has gained like 40 pounds since he's been here, but on a larger frame than Johnson. And Bell has some bad weight on him, but I would obviously never say that to his face. So yea, if you want a fatter, slower version of Johnson, I guess 40 lbs is a feasable. 

Webber's Pimp

November 8th, 2011 at 3:33 PM ^

As good as this class is there are a couple of questionable decisions that have been made by the staff in light of the position preferences the reccruits have expressed. For example, if Pharoah Brown wants to play TE as opposed to DE then why did we turn away Se'von Pittman ( a guy reputed to be a better DE than Brown btw)? The Pittman scenario hurts even more if you consider he shortly thereafter signed with our instate rival. The same can also be said of Thompson. I've read reports that Michigan is still looking to bring in another TE. I don't know if that's accurate or not but if AJ Williams is a possibility as Guard or OT (remember he's 6'6/290) then why would we slow play Thompson who's supposed to be a decent pass catching TE? I won't even get into the Tommy Schutt and Danny O'Brien recruitments but suffice to say I wanted one more DT in this class. I also question the Houma offer given the huge needs we're facing at OL and WR positions as well as the open possibility of landing elite talent in Brionte, Yuri Wright, and Shaq Thompson. How do you turn those guys away if they want to come? After today's commitment we only have 4 more ships to give out. 


November 8th, 2011 at 7:57 PM ^

The coahes don't care if you wanted more than one DT.

We are not privy to what goes on in those meetings where they talk about recruiting plans.  The coaches also know what is going on with the current team.  We basically have 3 DL coaches so I'm pretty sure they what is going on for those positions.  

Webber's Pimp

November 8th, 2011 at 9:03 PM ^

Chill out. As an alumn and contributor to the University endowment I have a right to express my opinion. If you've been watching at all you know this defense has gotten pushed around over the past 3 years. This year we look much much better but keep in mind that we graduate Martin and RVB. I realize only two DT's play at any time but there is such a thing as depth. We are currently experiencing a depth issue at OL (it's downright shameful that we only have 8 OL on scholarship!).  Imo, the DL looks to have the same issues going forward  if anybody gets hurt or abandons the program or gets tossed from the program. 

Look Up_See Blue

November 8th, 2011 at 8:10 PM ^

I could be wrong but with Pittman wasn't there a qualifying issue/concern?  From what we heard he was pretty high on Michigan and I thought there were reports of bad grades.  The Tommy Schutt things frustrates me as well.  And i'm sure the coaching staff is not happy with how they played that hand.  Hopefully they learn from it and don't make more mistakes like that.  


November 9th, 2011 at 7:45 AM ^

I ask Tom VH about the Schutt situation when it was going on and he told me that him and Pipkens play the exact same tech on the DL so they would be counter productive if they took both. Even though they was in the fold for Danny O he was a different tech that is why they was willing to take him. I was baffled myself about the Schutt situation myself. Dont know if that clarifies anything or not.

I also heard that Pittman situation was due to grades.


November 8th, 2011 at 3:30 PM ^

I agree AJ Williams may move to tackle, but that won't happen next year.  If and when he does move, we need another TE.  Funchess is going to be great, we need another on the roster - a big, classic TE.  Not an H-back.  Just my opinion

Now P. Brown to TE?  That makes sense.


November 8th, 2011 at 3:45 PM ^

So if we move Williams inside to G/C, (athleticisim is high better for pullnig) that leaves us the ability to move Brown to TE.


I tihnk we have needs at essentially 2 spots on defense.

Interior tackles (see Pipkins, Godin, Wormley (even though i have him at SDE) )


With the logjam at WDE/SDE i dont see why we wouldnt let Pharoah try out TE.

Black Roh Rock Clark Ryan etc. 


November 8th, 2011 at 3:57 PM ^

I know it's incredibly early to speculate, but is there any chance Pharaoh Brown has the ability to play on both sides of the ball at DE and H-back a la Owen Marecic at Stanford?  I know he certainly has the athletic ability and he has stood out on offense, this may be the best way to utilize his skillset.  


November 8th, 2011 at 4:28 PM ^

Our edges could be dominant in years to come, with Strobel/Wormley/Ojemudia added to the young talent we have now. 

Add me to the list of conspiratorialists who believe we'll be running a 3-4 soon.  That's really the only way I see us taking a RB, while still heavily recruiting another RB, and passing on Danny O'Brian / Tommy Schutt.

EDIT: or more correctly said, I think we'll be running more 3-4.  Mattison seems to like multiple fronts and formations. 


November 8th, 2011 at 8:07 PM ^

What the hell are you talking about? H-back either refers to the RB or the postion that's half-way back in the backfield. it doesn't refer to the fullback although sometimes the TE, FB, or HB can line up at similar depths depending upon the play and the offense.

It's just odd to say tight end or H-Back when a TE is usually 6'2" - 6'6" and an H-Back can be anywhere from 5'6" to 6'3".


November 8th, 2011 at 8:18 PM ^

I'm not eactly sure, but I think there is a differnce between a H-back and a HB(half back).  Someone more knowledgeable might be able to confirm. 


Taken from Wikipedia.


An H-Back is an offensive position in American football, and is also known as power back. The position is a hybrid of a fullback and a tight end. The position was made notable in the NFL by the Washington Redskins under head coach Joe Gibbs who ran a two tight end system. The position was named F-Back when used later in Norv Turner's offensive system.


November 8th, 2011 at 9:15 PM ^

Don't get H-back and halfback confused, they are not the same thing.  You did this in a post above as well.  The names are very similar so it's an easy mistake, but they aren't the same.

Halfback is just another name for tailback or running back.  An H-back is a TE/FB type that can take a hand off, lead block, or catch a pass.  Usually 240+ and taller.  Koger and Watson play an H-back role for us at times. 

Bo Knows

November 8th, 2011 at 4:18 PM ^

Branching off of the pharaoh brown comment about him wanting to play TE.  I think that guys who play defense should really want to play defense.  It takes a specific mentality.


November 8th, 2011 at 4:27 PM ^

If his reported 6-1 205lbs is accurate, it makes him one of the bigger backs on the squad.  If his speed is accurate (which we know is), he's one of the faster backs on the squad.  I don't remember what Wheatley weighed as an incoming freshman, but I think he was approximately the same size.

I, for one, am glad to see DJ in the fold.  I absolutely expect him to compete for the starting spot. 


November 8th, 2011 at 5:24 PM ^

Williams is a smart move to OL and Pharaoh Brown would make an exciting TE. If we can land a back like Dunn ... then there's a chance Drake Johnson could move to the defensive side of the ball. The kid is likely around 6' 195, and would make for a good safety given our lack of depth at safety.


However, he could easily stay at RB and either play a feature role, or be put in a Tandem with a powerful back ala Brionte Dunn or Thomas Rawls.


November 8th, 2011 at 5:56 PM ^

It's a good idea about H-Back, but I'd rather see him get a chance on returns and asa 3rd/4th WR.  6 feet with speed ad jumping ability (I'm guessing, but most hurdlers I knew in HS and college were good leapers) is a decent combination, and could be a nice downfield threat.  I don't foresee him being a All B1G guy or anything, but a nice depth guy on those 3/4 wide packages that Borges probably wants to run.


November 8th, 2011 at 10:59 PM ^

There have been a lot of good reasons why that is unlikely IRT Johnson.  He doesn't have the heighth or potential mass to make the move to TE or H-Back.  I think we can also rule it out because they already have Houma signed, who already seems to have a head start on the bulk and strength.  Even with the manball love, I can't imagine Hoke/Borges really wanting to expend two scholarships on H-Back projects.   Perhaps Borges wants to run some Flexbone, but I really doubt it.

Most likely these are a couple of good athletes who will be capable of providing offensive and special teams depth in a number of ways depending on how they develop and were recruited as such.


November 9th, 2011 at 10:59 AM ^

Agreed, completely.  We know DJ is super fast.  If he gets even close to the 235 that the OP suggests and is still somewhat super fast, why would we not want him toting the rock a bunch?  You don't need a ton of other skills at RB when you're 220+ and outrunning DBs.