Friday, July 29, 2016

On the Rise: Breakout Candidates for 2016

Here are several players that have been on the roster for at least one full year and will see a significant bump in their respective playing time. Most of these guys did not play much - if even a single snap - in 2015 and none of them were fulltime starters. Some were backups that got their pads a little dirty once or twice, but they were only scratching the surface of their potential. To most passive observers their performances this year will appear to be from out of nowhere. All of these guys should be fulltime starters by 2017, if they haven't cracked the starting lineup this season already.

I left certain names of this list, such as Ben Gedeon, Grant Perry, and Channing Stribling, because they don't fit the profile of a true breakout candidate. In other words, they have already broken out (IMO) and shown their worth as potential starters or primary backups already. To be on this list you must be a relative unknown or major question mark going into the season.

Mike McCray II #9
LB Mike McCray II (RJr) - The linebacker from Trotwood, Ohio missed the entire 2015 season with a shoulder injury. With the lack of depth currently at the linebacker position it was crucial for him to be ready to compete in camp this summer. Luckily, he showed up back in spring practices, and not only did he reportedly compete well during all of the offseason sessions, he also led the spring game with nine tackles (2 TFLs). There might not be another player on the defense that will see a bigger spike in the stat sheet this season. When you consider the type of prospect Michigan recruited in McCray II back in 2013 many of us fans have been waiting for him to emerge. He was a consensus 4-Star prospect who had eight Big Ten offers and four from the SEC. He looked promising as a redshirt freshman backup in 2014 and he could be a huge improvement over Desmend Morgan at the weak-side position. I've actually been shocked to see a lot of national and regional publications not mentioning his presence, but I believe that shows their lack of scouting and research more than it actually reflects upon his ability.

OT Grant Newsome (So) - Newsome (6'7"/300lbs) proved to be so good as a true freshman that the coaches had to find a way to get him on the field. So, as any innovative staff would do, they went as far as employing a six man front line to start the game against Minnesota, and moved other players (Mason Cole) around to get him in other games and take advantage of any mismatches. Coming out of spring, Newsome is the guy to beat at left tackle and it would take a truly unforeseen breakthrough performance by another player to pry the job away from him. I expect him to be protecting from that position for the next three years at a very high level. Do not be surprised if he becomes an All-Big Ten player and future NFL draft pick.


Tyree Kinnel #23
DB Tyree Kinnel (So) - While Kinnel won't be a starter this year, it looks like he has a bright future at safety. He garnered the respect and trust of the coaching staff enough to get some playing time as a true freshman and he appears to be in the mix as the team's dime-back. If either Thomas or Hill can't go at either safety spot then Kinnel will most-likely be the the guy who fills their roles this year. He stood out in the spring game while helping to lead the Maize team over the Blue, and he continues to do all the right things throughout his development. Expect to hear his name more this fall on both special teams and defense, and expect him to be a team leader in the years to come.

TE Tyrone Wheatley Jr. (RFr) - Very few players impressed in the spring more than Wheatley Jr. His size alone catches everyone's eye at 6'6"/285lbs, and he provided one of the biggest highlights of spring practices - a one-handed catch and run that turned into a 75 yard score at Ford Field. Yes, it was practice, but it's hard not to take note of such things from a guy with his measurables. The coaches mentioned him a lot since the bowl practices last December as a player that has shown tremendous improvement, so it's fair to say that any hype building up over him is at least somewhat warranted. I for one will be surprised if he doesn't take over A.J. Williams' blocking role and provide a couple big plays this fall.


Ty Issac #32
RB Ty Issac (RJr) - Issac's story has been well documented in regards to his status as a 5-Star prospect who transferred to Michigan after spending one year at USC. He had a couple breakout moments early last season after sitting out one year, but his season went off the rails after a couple key fumbles and some off-field issues that remain undisclosed. He has apparently worked his butt off since then though, and has found himself in the good graces of the coaching staff. Coach Harbaugh had even given Issac praise throughout spring training, as well as at the Big Ten Media Days when he stated that "Ty Issac has a really good chance to make something happen". With his combination of size (6'2"/225lbs) and speed (4.5 forty), there is little doubt in his physical ability. Now it's just a matter of him finding his groove and becoming more consistent on the field. Of course, he still has to battle with returning starter De'Veon Smith and top backup Drake Johnson before he can get a chance on Saturdays. It won't be easy, but nothing worth doing ever is.

DE's Chase Winovich and Lawrence Marshall (RSo) - This one is a twofer as both guys will be counted on to provide some depth at the end positions this season. Marshall got high praise from Harbaugh coming out of his first spring last year, but he failed to make an impact in the fall. He continues to grow and mature, and with a strong summer this year he could get his chance to compete on Saturdays. On the other hand, Winovich has proven to be a bit of a disappointment at both linebacker and tight end. The coaches moved him to the weak-side end spot for spring practices and he responded well. He got a lot of props from the staff, including defensive coordinator Don Brown. These coaches are no dummies. They know they are about to lose most of their top players along the line. They will need to get some of the younger guys a little game work in order to prepare for the future. And with Hawaii (3-10), Central Florida (0-12), and Colorado (4-8) all at home to kick off the season one would have to think that some backups will get plenty of opportunities to play. Just as much, the Wolverines could use another pass-rusher in the mix, and both Winovich and Marshall should get a chance to prove themselves worthy of playing time very soon.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Updated Basketball Depth Report

Point Guard

1. Derrick Walton Jr. (Sr) 6'1"/190lbs
2. Xavier Simpson (Fr) 6'0"/180lbs
3. Andrew Dakich (Sr) 6'2"/190lbs

QA: Walton Jr. returns for his fourth and final season in Ann Arbor, and there are a lot of expectations for him to be a team leader. He has struggled with consistency but has shown the ability to beat teams in a number of different ways. If he can put an end to his streakiness he could be First Team All-Big Ten performer. Simpson has all the raw ability to be a killer guard. He should get a lot of time on the floor at the point, as well as at the two-guard spot. Dakich will most-likely be nothing more than a mop-up player, though his minutes will probably increase slightly due to all the defections that have occurred this past off-season.

Shooting Guard (2-Guard)

1. Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman (Jr) 6'4"/190lbs
2. Ibi Watson (Fr) 6'5"/185lbs
3. Fred Wright-Jones (So) 5'11"/170lbs

QA: Nobody on the team is more athletic or has a flare for the big-play as Abdur-Rahkman, who was simply amazing at times last season. However, he too struggled with consistency. Look for him to rebound and have a big campaign at the #2 spot. Watson might be forced into more action than the coaches would like due to other players transferring, but he appears to be an underrated prospect that could surprise in his first season. Don't expect to see anything from Wright-Jones, a former team manager turned walk-on, despite the fact that he has earned himself a scholarship.

Small Forward (3-Guard)

1. Zach Irvin (Sr) 6'6"/215lbs
2. Sean Lonergan (RJr) 6'5"/210lbs
3. Ibi Watson (Fr) 6'5"/185lbs

QA: Irvin will be looked upon as the team leader and should be a captain in his final season. He had his moments last year but also struggled to string together big games. This is his last chance to prove that his lofty rankings as an in-coming recruit four years ago were deserved, and he will get his opportunities as I don't expect him to leave the floor much considering the lack of proven depth behind him.

Power Forward (4-Guard)

1. Duncan Robinson (RJr) 6'8"/215lbs
2. D.J. Wilson (RSo) 6'10"/240lbs
3. Austin Davis (Fr) 6'10"/240lbs

QA: Robinson is more of a small forward/shooting guard-type player but he fits the four-spot in coach Beilein's scheme. He proved himself worthy last season, playing in all 36 games and starting 27.  He averaged nearly 30 minutes per game and was often deadly from three-point range, hitting on 95 from the arc for the season (2.6 per game). Some of his best play came late in the year, including a tournament win over Tulsa. Expect more from him this season as he settles into his role. Wilson will probably play around 10 mintues per game and will be used to match up against bigger opponents. He should develop into a decent defender but don't expect too much from him on the offensive end.

Center

1. Moritz Wagner (So) 6'10"/235lbs
2. Mark Donnal (Sr) 6'9"/240lbs
3. Jon Teske (Fr) 7'0"/245lbs

QA: Wagner was the break-out star of the Big Ten and NCAA tournament for the Wolverines while stringing together some inspired performances. He has reportedly gained a solid 15lbs since then and will be counted on to be the spark plug and fan-favorite of the roster. Hopefully he can provide enough presence under the net to draw attention away from the shooters out on the perimeter. Donnal has been solid if unspectacular thus far in his UM career. Expect to see him getting 12 to 15 minutes per game in relief of Wagner. Teske has nice size and length, but it is not clear whether or not he is ready to compete for minutes just yet. If he shows any type of spark it would go a long way towards providing depth up front.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Top 10 Remaining Recruiting Targets - Revised

With 18 commitments currently in place for the 2017 recruiting cycle, Harbuagh and his staff will look to fill the remaining holes with some of the nation's top talent. There appears to be as many as a dozen spots remaining, so here is an updated list of the top 12 candidates to fill them. If all these kids listed here were to be added to the Wolverines' recruiting class it would most-definitely put them in the running for the top class in the nation.

  1. RB Najee Harris - As of late July I did not think Harris was a possiblity to join the Wolverines, but that was before he decided to make the trip the BBQ at the Big House. Despite his commitment to 'Bama, all bets are off now that Harbaugh and crew have gotten him on campus. It sounds like things went very well.
  2. WR Donovan Peoples-Jones - All the signs are pointing to one of the best overall athletes and receivers to be playing at Michigan for the next four years. If he truly wants to be a surgeon he couldn't pick a better place to start his education.
  3. OT Isiah Wilson - He could fill a spot in the starting lineup from day one as Michigan will be losing at least three starters after this season. He has all the size (6'7"/350lbs) and ability to be a major force up front. He also attended the BBQ and got a lot of love from the offensive staff.
  4. CB Darnay Holmes - Last week I didn't think UM had much of a chance with this kid. Then he came to the BBQ and walked away smiling. It really sounds like Harbaugh and company knocked it out of the park once again this past weekend.
  5. LB Baron Browning - One of the top prospects coming out of Texas seems to like the Wolverines. If they can get him to visit during the season then they will have a good chance of stealing him out of the Longhorn state. He could play immediately.
  6. OL/DT Tedarrell Slaton - Versatility and size (6'6"/330lbs) would be a huge asset for the team along the front line. Could he and Wilson line up next to each other for four straight years? It is not out of the realm of possibilities. Although, his recruitment seems to have lost some steam as of late.
  7. DT Jay Tufele - The Wolverines will have to reload with all the attrition that will occur along the D-line after this season. It is a relatively weak year for tackles but Tufele is one of the best available.
  8. WR Nico Collins - Would be a huge steal right out of Alabama and add another potential star to the receiving corps. He too had another great visit at the BBQ and keeps the Wolverines at #1 on his list.
  9. OC Cesar Ruiz - Top center prospect could be an All-Big Ten player some day at Michigan. A lot of other schools are after him hard, but Harbaugh and Drevno will do everything in their power to sway him their way. 
  10. CB Ambry Thomas - Is much-needed for depth with so many guys graduating this year. He surprised many people by standing out at Nike's The Opening in July, playing both offense and defense. 
  11. S Jaylen Kelly-Powell - A top in-state prospect would help reload in the middle of the secondary with Delano Hill and Dymonte Thomas both moving on next year.
  12. OT Toryque Bateman - Harbaugh has said that they "could take as many as seven linemen in this class and still not have enough numbers". I would not be surprised to see eight get signed. This kid, who reportedly stands at 6'8"/305lbs, sounds like he could be the next to commit.
Others to Consider:
  • WR Oliver Martin - Was highly under-rated and under-recruited before his breakout performance at The Opening. The UM commits that were there lobbied for him to get an offer and the coaches responded. He looks like a great prospect to play the slot.
  • OT Aaron Banks - Although I think this is a longshot, he keeps Michigan in the mix. What the hell do I know anyway?
  • LB Drew Singleton - One of the best 'backer prospects in the country has narrowed his list down to 12 schools. Michigan is in that group but it feels like there is a long way to go in his recruitment, though if he wants to go to Ann Arbor he is more than welcome.
  • ATH Markquese Bell - Would be a huge win over the Buckeyes in the on-going recruiting war and fill a major need at safety.
  • LB Jordan Anthony - Another kid that seems to really like Michigan and there is definitely a spot for him, but there are several other schools that are in just as good position for his services.
  • LB De'Andre Wilder - Looks like a good fit for the Sam position in Don Brown's defense. It will probably be hard to get him out of the state of Florida. Hell, it will be hard just to get him out of the city of Miami. 
  • CB Jaylon Redd - Another solid corner prospect that would help fill out the depth chart.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Names You Should Know: Returning Leaders

2016 Edition
Jourdan Lewis #26

1. Jourdan Lewis CB (Sr) - Lewis was my number one player coming back last year and he did not disappoint. His presence in the secondary is pivotal, as he presents a real threat to opposing passers. Honestly, there might not be a better corner in the country. He is a willing tackler who will come up to help in run support, but his real forte is coverage. Without him on the field the defense as a whole would look a bit different. He is also a very good kick returner and he genuinely looks for ways to contribute as a player.
2. Jake Butt TE (Sr) - Butt already ranks among the best tight ends to ever play at Michigan, and he could have been a second round pick in this year's draft. The team is privileged to have him back for his senior year, just as much as they are to get Lewis back. Butt has been and will continue to be a huge factor as a team leader on the field and in the lockerroom. Everybody is expecting a monster season from him now that the offense has two full off-seasons under Harbaugh and company.
3. Chris Wormley DL (5th) - Wormley is a another returning player that already has a ton of quality experience on his resume and could've been a high draft pick this year. Just like Lewis and Butt, he is choosing to come back for one more season. He will be among the best defenders in the conference, and possibly the country. He will get a ton of attention from pro scouts and I would not be shocked if he was taken in the first round next spring.
4. Jehu Chesson (5th) - As the reigning team MVP, nobody saw a greater jump in productivity over the course of the last year than Chesson. He is one of the fastest players on the team that has always given good effort while blocking on the perimeter. He came alive as a receiver and a kick returner midway through the season and then he tore apart the Gators' vaunted secondary in the Citrus Bowl. More is now expected from him in his final campaign. Could he too be a top draft pick next spring? Yes, I believe he could.
Jabrill Peppers #5
5. Jabrill Peppers LB/DB (RSo) - Everybody knows there isn't a better athlete on the team than Peppers. He can and actually will do everything in all three phases of the game. He is known as having a great attitude and being a hard worker every day, and if he returns for 2017 he will no doubt top this list. The fact that he is not number one is a testament to the quality of the senior leadership on this team.
6. Mason Cole OT/C (Jr) - Cole is the best lineman on the team and he can actually play all five positions up front. He has two years of starting experience at left tackle but he should be the next great Michigan center after moving there this spring. He should be a First Team All-Conference player before his career is over.
7. Ryan Glasgow NT (5th) - A former walk-on, Glasgow has a non-stop motor and he uses great technique to beat guys that are more athletically gifted than him. As soon as he went down with an injury the defense really started to suffer up front. He will be depended on as much as Wormley to be a leader on defense.
8. De'Veon Smith RB (Sr) - Smith is the returning statistical leader in the backfield for the second year in a row despite suffering some nagging lower leg injuries. If he can maintain optimal health he could finally rush for 1,000 yards and score double digit TD's. While he definitely won't beat many safeties in a foot race, he generally makes good reads and allows his blockers to do a lot of the heavy lifting. He is and will remain the starter.
9. Amara Darboh WR (5th) - Darboh was expected to be the number one guy last season, but Chesson kinda stole the show. That's not to say that he had a bad year or that he didn't have his own highlights. He actually did lead the team with 58 catches and he should have a big senior year. He should also be a mid-round draft pick too.
10. Erik Magnusson OT (5th) - Mags has carved out a nice niche as a tough, versatile lineman. As a fifth-year player he will be counted on to be a leader too. He has started 24 games at both guard and tackle over the last three years, so the experience is there for him to draw from. With a mistake-free year he will get drafted.
Taco Charlton #33
11. Taco Charlton DE (Sr) - With a name like Taco and an ability to make plays in the backfield (nine sacks and 14 tackles for a loss as a top reserve over the last two years), it's no wonder why he is a fan favorite. He has a lot of experience (four starts) to his credit and rumor has it that he is a good teammate that loves the game as much as anybody. Many of us fans are expecting BIG things from him this fall.
12. Drake Johnson RB (5th) - As one of the fastest and most experienced running backs on the roster, it will be hard to keep Johnson off the field. There is some young talent looking to make an impact right away, but they can wait a year while Smith and Johnson finish out their legacies with a bang. And while Smith is a big jack-hammer-type back, Johnson brings more finesse and speed. He is also a decent receiver out of the backfield. Don't be surprised if they both make NFL rosters someday.
13. Kyle Kalis OG (5th) - Kalis hasn't quite lived up to expectations as one of the top recruits in the class of 2011, but he hasn't been horrible either. I would just like to see a little more push along the front line from the right guard. He did improve over the course of the year and probably had his best game against Florida. He now has 28 starts to his credit so it's probably about time he put it all together for a dominant year from start to finish.
14. Ben Gedeon MLB (Sr) - Gedeon is a former four-star athlete that has been a primary backup since stepping foot on campus four years ago. He has garnered a lot of playing time and will now be one of the fulltime starters. The reports on him out of spring practices were very good, so there is a lot to be excited about with him next to Peppers.
15. Bryan Mone (RSo) - After sitting out the entire 2015 season with an ankle injury, Mone will be returning to have a huge impact on the D-line. If both he and Glasgow have injury free years it will be an uphill battle for most offenses to establish any kind of inside running game. Both guys are future NFL'ers.
16. Channing Stribling CB (Sr) - Has been getting reps in games since his freshman year and he should be 'the other starting corner' opposite Lewis. Stribling had a very strong spring and asserted himself back into the starting lineup. If he does take his play to another level and stay healthy there will be very little hope for the majority of Big Ten wide-outs against the Wolverines.
17. Delano Hill SS (5th) - With his younger brother now entering the mix out at corner as a true freshman, Delano needs to set the example as a veteran player at safety. He already has 13 starts to his credit over the last two years and the coaches are counting on him to have a good season as they move Peppers to LB.
Dymonte Thomas #25
18. Dymonte Thomas FS (Sr)Started making a name for himself on the team midway through the season and looks like a starter at safety for his final year of eligibility. He was a highly regarded four-star athlete coming out of high school, and with the defense as good as it is around him he now has a chance to make a name for himself in the conference too.
19. Jeremy Clark DB (5th) - With multiple starts at both safety and cornerback, Clark brings a lot of experience to the table. At 6'4"/205lbs, he possesses the type of size to create matchup nightmares for offenses. He also runs a 4.4 forty. Whether or not he starts or is used primarily as a nickel player, it is of no consequence to us fans. He will be on the field a lot this fall and he will be a big-time contributor. He does have some pro potential too, which tells you a lot about the quality of depth on this defense.
20. Ben Braden OG/T (5th) - Another lineman that has two dozen starts but has not been too overwhelming for opponents...yet. At 6'5"/336lbs, Braden is surprisingly athletic and he could be a key player on one of the nation's best O-lines. A lot is riding on him performing at a high level in his 5th year and the coaches seem confident that he is taking that next step in his respective development. It's fair to argue that he should be bumped up this list a little bit, considering how much experience he has in the trenches.

Notable Mention:

Mike McCray II LB (RJr)After being MIA for most of the past 12 months, McCray II is now my pick to have a break-out year in 2016. It is unclear exactly what type of player he will be for Michigan, but the little bit we have seen from the former four-star our of Ohio at least gives me some hope. He was heavily recruited and in 2014 was a top backup on the nation's #7 defense. He earned playing time in 11 games that year with one tackle, one tackle for a loss, and a blocked punt. Yes, that is minimal stuff, but it's a good sign from a guy in a limited role. All the reports on him this spring were positive and he topped it off by being the leading tackler in the spring game, including two for a loss. If he does indeed stay healthy he could team up with Gedeon and Peppers to actually form one of the best linebacking units this team has had in nearly two decades.


Top Role Players, Contributors, and the Best off the Bench:

Kahlid Hill #80
Henry Poggi FB/HB (RJr) - At 6'4"/270lbs he could be a real handful for any defender that he is targeting on a lead block. He could also help out at defensive end if another body is ever needed over there.
Kahlid Hill FB/HB - Will play a number of roles going forward, but he will primarily be a fullback/H-back role. Has shown good hands and some sneaky moves for a guy his size (6'2"/263lbs).
Grant Perry WR (So) - Should be the top guy in the slot and the number three receiver overall. He isn't the fastest guy on the field but he knows how to play ball. And that's all that really matters.
Maurice Hurst Jr. DT (RJr) - Could start for a lot of teams and will be one of the top backups along the DL who will get a lot of PT. He too had a monster spring game too.
Ian Bunting TE (RSo) - Did earn playing time in his second year on campus and looks like a top backup right now for Jake Butt. He is expected to contribute more this season and compete for a more prominent role next year.
Patrick Kugler (RJr) - Appears to be the top backup at guard and center heading into spring. If Cole has to play tackle Kugler will be the center.
Drake Harris (RSo) - Now that he 's gotten some experience on the field and has gone almost a year without injury, it could be a breakout year for the speedy and athletic Harris.
Mo' Ways (RSo) - Has made improvements each of the last two off-seasons and contributed quite a bit as a redshirt freshman. He will be a top backup at receiver if he recovers from foot surgery that derailed his spring.
Shane Morris QB (RJr) - Morris took a redshirt in Harbaugh's first year and was not considered a favorite to win the starting job going into spring. His arm is legit though, and he is a decent athlete that has surprisingly good quickness with the ball in his hands, so he could end up being one of the biggest surprises of 2016.


On the Rise:

Grant Newsome #77
Grant Newsome OT (So) - Looks like a prototypical Michigan tackle and he has quickly established himself with the coaching staff as a player they can rely on. He is already listed as the starter in spring after getting one nod as a true freshman (as a sixth lineman). His ceiling is high.
Ty Issac RB (RJr) - As a fan, I wasn't particularly happy about Issac's fumbles early in 2015, so I wasn't that surprised when he got benched. He looks like he is in better shape though and the reports have been positive so far in the offseason. If he does in fact make a statement for himself this spring and summer there might not be enough balls to go around in the backfield for the freshmen.
Wilton Speight QB (RSo) - This big passer got some experience as the top backup last season, but he will face a lot more competition for any work this year. He did look like the best QB on the field during the spring game, so there is a chance he could be turning a corner in his development to win the job by September 3rd.
T.J. Weatley Jr. TE (RFr) - At 6'5"/290lbs, T.J. will take over where A.J. (Williams) left off in the blocking schemes. He looks like he is a little more athletic that Williams too, so he should get more looks as a receiver than his predecessor. Again, all the reports on him out of spring have been positive. Wheatley was the highest rated prospects that the Wolverines nabbed in the class of 2015.
Noah Furbush LB (RSo) - The Ohio native contributed on special teams in 2015 after redshirting the year before. He has put on nearly 25 lbs since getting on campus and the coaches have high hopes of him being a top reserve at linebacker this year, as well as playing on special teams. If he can get some good experience this year it would go a long way towards helping him prepare for a possible starting gig in 2017.
Tyree Kinnel #23
Tyree Kinnel S (So) - Earned some playing time as a freshman, particularly on special teams. He will be depended on as a top backup this year and an eventual starter in 2017. He has enough size (5'10"/200lbs), speed, and coverage skills to be a multi-dimensional defender for the Wolverines. He might even have enough skills to be a full-time corner someday. He too had a good day in the spring game, helping the Maize Team to a win.
Rueben Jones LB (RFr) - This is one guy that is going to have to bake a little bit, but the former defensive end from the Sunshine State has a lot of the right ingredients to work with at linebacker. He has enough speed and hustle to chase ballcarriers and enough strength to grapple with blockers. He just doesn't quite know what he's doing yet in regards to playing linebacker. With some diligent coaching and continued hard work he could help the team with any depth issues this fall and then compete for a starting job in another year or two. He could be a very good special teams player right away so keep your eyes peeled for him on coverage teams in the fall.

Five Instant Impact Freshmen:

Rashan Gary DL - The number one player in the country is expected to at least be a top backup and garner lots of playing time this season. It will be a lot tougher to get on the field than most people realize, as the D-line returns lots of good talent, but there is very little doubt in anybody's mind that Gary will be out there a lot this season. He has displayed a quick first step and top end speed for a guy that brings a solid 6'4"/290lbs frame. He also showed good natural strength early on in high school and now is reportedly benching 375+lbs. Could he be a top NFL prospect in three years?
Devin Bush Jr. LB - Has displayed his quickness in the spring and brings some decent pop when making contact. He could be good enough to be a starter by fall, but he will probably have to settle for a backup role behind the starters. That is okay though, as the coaches like to rotate guys to try to keep the defense on the field stocked with fresh legs.
Ben Bredeson OL - Although the staff hopes they can redshirt him, the numbers might dictate something else for Bredeson. There isn't very much depth along the line right now. So if Bredeson is as good of a prospect as we all think he is he could come in and instantly establish himself as the sixth or seventh best lineman on the roster much like Grant Newsome did last year.
Quinn Nordin K - Returning 5th-year senior Kenny Allen is solid and will get a lot of work as both a kicker and a punter. Nordin, who is the highest rated kicker that Michigan has ever recruited, should be good enough to help relieve some of the pressure. He could be the starting kicker so Allen can solely focus on punting, or vice versa. Either way, I am willing to bet that he plays as a freshman.
Khaleke Hudson LB/S - Hudson looks like one of the most underrated players in the country. He is a gifted athlete that seems to know how to really play football. I would not be shocked if he was the top backup at either SAM linebacker or at safety. I see him as the eventual successor to Peppers after he leaves for the NFL. Whenever that happens anyway.

Monday, March 21, 2016

After Another Season Derailed By Injuries, Basketball Team Regroups

With everything that went on this past season with the Michigan basketball team, it was honestly a nice surprise to still see them standing when the Round of 64 in the NCAA Tournament opened up last Friday. The team was left without any senior leadership on the floor with both Caris Lavert and Spike Albrecht both on the sidelines since December, but they still somehow managed to win 23 games. Juniors Zack Irvin and Derrick Walton Jr. did well enough upon being thrust into the role of the veterans among a roster loaded with underclamssmen. In fact, Michigan sported the youngest roster in the Conference. And being the Optimistic Fan that I am, I won't hesitate to look to next season.

So, here's the never-too-early roster report for the 2016-'17 season:


Derrick Walton Jr. #10
Point Guard:

1. Derrick Walton Jr. (Sr) 6'1"/190lbs
2. Xavier Simpson (Fr) 5'10"/160lbs
3. Andrew Dakich (Sr) 6'2"/190lbs

Outlook: With the range to hit the big threes and the quickness to beat many defenders to the basket, Walton Jr. has produced a lot of highlight moments on film. However, he has been way too inconsistent to really lead this team to a Big Ten title just yet. To his defense, there was very little relief for him with Lavert and Albrecht both out. He and his fellow back-court mates got worn down by deeper opponents, and probably felt the lingering effects of a long season come February when the team lost five games. Incoming freshman Xavier Simpson, recently crowned Ohio's Mr. Basketball, will immediately help relieve some of that pressure. Although he might be somewhat of a liability on defense due to his size, Simpson has the talent to score from anywhere on the floor. He also displays an innate ability to create opportunities for others with precision passes. Fans are hoping he can provide a much-needed spark off the bench at the pivot. Dakich, a senior, will not be relied upon much at all, but he should be good enough to handle a couple minutes per game to help keep guys fresh throughout the season.

Preseason Grade: B


Guard:

Muhammad-Ali
Abdur-Rahkman #12
1. Muhammad Ali-Abdur-Rahkman (Jr) 6'4"/185lbs
2. Xavier Simpson (Fr) 5'10"/160lbs
3. Ibi Watson (Fr) 6'4"/180lbs

Outlook: This was another position that struggled with depth, but the Wolverines have at least found one nice diamond in the rough with an ability to create scoring opportunities on his own. Nobody on the team drives to the basket better than Abdur-Rahkman, so look for him to improve upon his 8.6 points per game and continue making highlight reel plays. If his postseason play is any indication he should be scouring somewhere around 15 points per game next season. If Simpson proves to be a deadly scorer he could get some looks here too, but fellow freshman Ibi Watson could be one of those under-the-radar-type of prospects like Lavert was four years ago. He appears to have a very nice stroke from three-point range but needs to add strength if he wants to truly compete at the next level. Without the two freshmen this spot begins to look extremely thin.

Preseason Grade: B-


Guard/Forward:
Zach Irvin #21

1. Zach Irvin (Sr) 6'6"/215lbs
2. Kam Chatman (Jr) 6'8"/215lbs

Outlook: Irvin was the de facto scoring leader this past season, but his percentages were nothing to brag about (41%FG, 30%3ptFG, 68%FT). He drastically needs to improve in those areas if he truly wants to lead this team. Dawkins provided some solid relief with over 15 minutes per game last season, but he is now gone via transfer to play for his dad at UCF. Irvin will no doubt need to gobble up over 30 minutes per game, but Kam Chatman should help relieve some of the pressure.

Preseason Grade: B-


Guard/Forward:

Duncan Robinson #22
1. Duncan Robinson (RJr) 6'8"/210lbs
2. Kam Chatman (Jr) 6'8"/215lbs
3. D.J. Wilson (RSo) 6'9"/240lbs
4. Sean Lonergan (Sr) 6'5"/210lbs

Outlook: Robinson appears to be emerging as a star in Ann Arbor. He shot 46% from the field and 45% from beyond the arc, and he was the second-leading scorer on the team (402pts) with just under 29 minutes per game. He is also the team's best free-throw shooter and will be a leader going forward. Chatman hit a huge three-pointer in the Big Ten Tourney to beat Indiana after only garnering seven minutes per game all season. He should get an increased role, particularly now that Dawkins is gone. The presence of Wilson and Lonergan helps with depth, but without Robinson in the starting lineup it could get ugly real quick. More rebounds from this group as a whole would be nice too.

Preseason Grade: B-


Power Forward/Center:

Moritz Wagner #13
1. Mark Donnal (RJr) 6'9"/240lbs
2. Moritz Wagner (So) 6'10"/225lbs
3. Jon Teske (Fr) 6'11"/210lbs/Austin Davis (Fr) 6'10"/240lbs

Outlook: The Wolverines struggled the last couple years to establish a strong front-court. Mark Donnal (25starts) and Ricky Doyle (11starts) have garnered most of the playing time but neither guy was a force on rebounds. Donnal did lead the team with 25 blocks, but he also lead the team in personal fouls (84) while managing only 3.7 boards per game. Those are not the type of numbers you really want to see from a starting center. Look for him to improve in those areas and be more of a leader in his fourth season with the program. Moritz Wagner proved to be a real spark plug off the bench down the stretch in his first season at Michigan. He needs to add some bulk to his frame and work on a lot of the little things during the off-season, but with some improvement in his game he could be on the verge of becoming a standout player for the Wolverines. And to be honest, I believe his development this off-season will be crucial to next year's successes. Teske and Davis will both spend time on the bench in 2016, but if either one shows a propensity for nabbing rebounds and blocking shots they will get a chance to play early and often.

Preseason Grade: B


Big Keys to Success? 

Depth - If the young guys and veteran reserves can step their games up and provide more quality minutes off the bench, then the sky could be the limit for this roster. There simply wasn't enough depth to make a sustained run at the Big Ten title or in the NCAA Tourney this past year, but the core talent was there to compete with most teams throughout the season. With all the kids that got good experience the last few months coming back and a top 25 recruiting class coming in, it's hard to argue that the team isn't headed in the right direction going into the off-season.

Rebounds - If there is one stat that needs to improve it is this one. It's not rocket science, it's basketball. A team cannot expect to have much success if it doesn't provide second chances for itself on the offensive end of the floor, or take away second chances from opponents on defense. Guys like Donnal, Robinson, Chatman, Wagner, and Doyle all need to play with a little more athleticism and crash the boards with more authority in 2016. It actually wouldn't take much, as they were only out-rebounded by 39 total rebounds all year, so with all the returning guys along the front court I feel like one should EXPECT them to drastically improve in this area.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Top Wolverine Pro Prospects

2016

Willie Henry DT 6'3"/311lbs - Henry was one of my favorite Wolverines over the last three seasons. He can battle it out in the trenches and come up with big plays. He has had issues with injuries and probably made a good choice to come out early. Risking another injury could damage his stock, and after the season the Wolverine's had it is reasonable to think that it can't get too much higher. He has shown good production over the years but is just now turning 21, so there is a chance he is still has some room to grow as a player. He could go as high as round two, but with the quality of mid-round talent and overall depth at the position he could possibly slip all the way down to the fifth or sixth.
Prediction: 4th Round

Graham Glasgow G/C 6'6"/307lbs - Easily was Michigan's best and most consistent lineman over the last three years after making the team as a walk-on five years ago. He has a lot of work to do in regards to strength and technique, particularly hand placement, but he could carve out a niche somewhere if a team is willing to develop him.
Prediction: 5th Round

Jake Rudock 6'3"/207lbs - Even I overlooked Rudock as a pro prospect, and I thought he was great all season long. After his pro day I am convinced that he has the necessary tools to be a solid late-round pickup for a team looking for depth at the quarterback position. He could eventually develop into a starter. Being that it's a thin year for passers helps Rudock's cause a little bit.
Prediction: 5th Round

James Ross III 5'11"/230lbs - Might not really have the size that most scouts are looking for, but he has enough potential as a pro to warrant someone to burn a late pick on him. He could be a very good special teams player.
Early Prediction: 7th Round

Joe Bolden 6'2"/239lbs - Played well early in his career but didn't quite develop into the real play-maker the defense could have used in his senior year. He still has potential to make a roster and contribute but might be too slow-footed to really breakthrough as a starter in the pros.
Early Prediction: Undrafted Free Agent

Desmond Morgan 6'1"/236lbs - There were a couple occasions were Morgan looked like the best defender on the field, but he disappeared quite a bit and faced some injury issues. He could possibly make a team and contribute on special teams though.
Early Prediction: Undrafted Free Agent

Jarrod Wilson 6'1"/210lbs - Solid if unspectacular college player that has enough in terms of measurables and good experience to get pro scouts interested enough to make him a rookie free agent offer. If he does get drafted it won't be until late Sunday.

A.J. Williams 6'5"/280lbs - Williams showed that he can utilize his unique size to block in the trenches or catch linebackers and safety by surprise with a catch downfield every now and then. He was the leading receiver against Northwestern with four catches for 48 yards. Don't expect any production like that from him against NFL defenses, but he could be a good role-player on offense. He could also be a decent special teams player in some capacity.

2017 Draft

Chris Wormley DT 6'5"/300lbs - Probably the best pro prospect on the team right now. A smart player who shows up when it matters the most and has his best games against the best competition. With an ability to play strong-side end or tackle, he brings a lot of versatility and athleticism to the table. Expect him to be a big-time player and a leader on the team during his final year in Ann Arbor. If he has a monster season he could be among the top D-linemen taken.
Early Prediction: 1st Round, Pick 21

Jake Butt TE 6'5"/245lbs - With ideal size, good hands, and an ability to adjust to the ball to make a play, Butt is about to as close to a prototypical receiving tight end as there is available for the 2017 draft. He should be among the top two or three players at the position on every NFL team's board, so he could go as high as the mid-first round. Teams will be looking to see him get a little stronger and improve his overall blocking, but he should be good for 50+ catches and another 500 yards of offense in his final campaign. Although it's early, I would be fairly disappointed if he slips into the third round.
Early Predicton: 1st Round, Pick 29

Jehu Chesson WR 6'3"/207lbs - The reigning MVP returns for a one more year at Michigan. He is a smart player that does a lot of little things right and always gives good effort. He has appeared in every game since redshirting his freshman year and will have over 30 starts to his credit before its all said and done. If he shows up as big this season as he did against Ohio State and Florida then he could be a first round pick.
Early Prediction: 1st Round, Pick 32

Jourdan Lewis CB 5'10"/176lbs - Although he does not have the ideal size that NFL teams covet on the perimeter, his athleticism and ball skills are among the best available at the position. He can lock onto receivers in coverage or use good angles and speed to chase them down from the opposite side of the field. He isn't a punishing tackle but he is capable of coming up and assisting in the run game. He could be a late first round pick, but he will most-likely be a nice day two pick up for somebody.
Early Prediction: 2nd Round, Pick 37

Ryan Glasgow NT 6'2"/297lbs -
Early Prediction: 3rd Round

Kyle Kalis
Early Prediction: 4th Round

Taco Charlton
Early Prediction: 4th Round

Amara Darboh
Early Prediction: 5th Round

Erik Magnusson
Early Prediction: 5th Round

De'Veon Smith
Early Prediction: 6th Round

Ben Braden
Early Prediction: 7th Round

Delano Hill
Early Prediction: FA

Drake Johnson
Early Prediction: FA

2018 Draft

Jabrill Peppers DB
Mason Cole C/T
John O'Korn QB
Bryan Mone DT
Maurice Hurst Jr. DT

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Loading Up 'The Team' with the Class of 2016

The New Wolverines (by position)

Grading System:

  • 91-100 points - True "five-star", once in a generation-type of player with elite physical tools and brings a big-boy's game. These guys have a higher chance of contributing right away for most programs and could be close to being NFL-ready.
  • 81-90 points - The top of the four-star athletes, these guys are generally highly coveted by most big-time programs and can usually find a role on a team very quickly.
  • 71-80 points - This range of prospects consists of some of the four star prospects and upper echelon of the threes. These recruits have a high chance of being a contributing factor for most programs but may need a few years to develop. Believe it or not, most of the NFL is made up of guys in this range. Often, the guys that get these rankings are simply late-bloomers that need a little more time to grow.
  • 61-70 points - This range of prospects are players that will most-definitely need some time to work on their game and hit the weight room, but they can often develop into great players too. Many NFL players were once two-star recruits of this caliber.
  • 51-60 points - Predominantly not FBS level talent. Recruits that receive a ranking in this range are lacking physical maturity and elite skills, but might have just enough raw talent to be worthy of a scholarship somewhere. 
  • 50 or less - Division II and Juco prospects mostly. These guys typically lack the physical maturity to compete at the FCS or FBS levels.
No, I don't do all my own scouting. I rely on the combined efforts of coaches, scouts, and recruiters all over the country, as well as my own film study. My goal is to not pigeon-hole any prospect into any type of mold, but instead get an overall picture of the type of player we as fans hope they become. Therefore, there are alternate positions the prospect could play at Michigan given in parentheses. 


Quarterback

Brandon Peters (Avon, IN) 
4-Star (QB)
6'5"/205 lbs 
Grade: 88 

The Report: Is already enrolled and in the weight room in Ann Arbor. He has the raw ability to make things interesting this spring, but he is probably still another year away from actually competing for the job. Stranger things have happened though, and Peters seems to have a cool demeanor coupled with an arm that can drop dimes 60 yards downfield. He was dominant in high school, but the level of competition he faced in Indiana is not considered elite. It was reported from the Nike Opening camp last summer that he needs to work on getting back in his drops quicker, and he has the necessary athleticism to work on it. It was also said that there really wasn't anybody better than him in terms of delivery of the ball.

The Word: With all the tools this kid possesses, I dare say he is the best pure quarterback prospect the team has had since Chad Henne or Ryan Mallett first stepped foot on campus.

Running Back

Kareem Walker (Wayne, NJ)
4-Star (RB)
6'0"/210 lbs 
Grade: 87

The Report: Another early enrollee that is widely considered among the top 50 recruits in the country and one of the top backs all-around. Some recruiting services have him even listed as a 5-Star. He has nice size and appears to have elite-level speed. He tends to run upright and could put himself at risk of getting his clock cleaned at the next level, but it's nothing that can't be fixed.

The Word: If he can read his blocks and keep his pad level down he could break out as a true freshman, but he probably needs a year before he really gets his college legs under him.

Kingston Davis (Prattville, AL) 
3-Star (FB)
6'1"/225 lbs 
Grade: 75

The Report: Is not as fast or considered to have as high of a ceiling as Walker, but Davis seems to possess enough size, strength, and toughness to carve out a niche under Harbaugh. He always seems to be moving things forward and can carry defenders for extra yards. He was an All-State selection in Alabama as a senior and was considered a top fullback prospect by many scouts. He is also an early enrollee and will compete this spring.

The Word: Don't be surprised if Davis gets playing time as a freshman too, although it is already a bit crowded in the backfield for 2016. My guess is that he will redshirt now and compete for a job in 2017,

Chris Evans (Indianapolis, IN)
4-Star (ATH) 
5'11"/186 lbs 
Grade: 79

The Report: Was a shifty playmaker in high school that could score from just about anywhere. His forty time is in the 4.6's, so he isn't the fastest guy, but he is definitely fast enough. He is a smooth athlete that could play running back or work out of the slot as a receiver. He should be an option as a kick returner as well. Harbaugh loves him and said that he seems to understand angles better than any other recruit.

The Word: Redshirting this fall and living in the weight room for a year will do him a lot of good. Be patient and look for him to contribute down the road.

Wide Receiver 

Ahmir Mitchell (Egg Harbor City, NJ) 
4-Star (ATH)
6'3"/206 lbs 
Grade: 85

The Report: Great measurables minus top-end speed. Has good hands, a wide catching radius, and can play the possession game in tight spaces, becoming a powerful runner after the catch. He needs to work on route-running a little bit so it's a good thing he is also enrolled early. If he gets any bigger he might be playing linebacker some day.

The Word: If he works hard and irons out some wrinkles in his game this spring, he could be added to the mix on game days this fall.

Dylan Crawford (Rancho Santa Margarita, CA) 
4-Star (CB) 
6'1"/175 lbs 
Grade: 85

The Report: Good route-runner with extremely good hands and a high football I.Q. He will deliver some downright nasty blocks on defenders of all sizes and is a very dangerous runner after the catch. He isn't a true burner but, like Mitchell, he should be just fast enough to get over the top of most safeties. He looks like he might make a fine cornerback too if the team ever needed to move somebody over there.

The Word: Crawford was a huge win for Harbaugh off the West Coast. He should be a factor some day soon and has the tools to be one of the best receivers and/or kick returners in the Big Ten.

Brad Hawkins (Camden, NJ) 
4-Star (S)
6'2"/200 lbs 
Grade: 78

Scouting Report: A solid player that brings good hands and toughness to the position. He doesn't blow scouts away with his measurables but managed to make a lot of big plays against sound competition in high school. Again, he isn't a burner either, but he finds a way to win his matchups. Played some safety in high school but looks more like a pure college receiver.

The Word: He's a classic UM receiving prospect and helps make this one of the best groups of receivers in the nation to sign with a team.

Nate Johnson (Thompson's Station, TN)
3-Star (CB)
5'11"/175 lbs 
Grade: 77

The Report: A very good athlete that runs the shuttle drill as good as anybody in the country, Johnson also made a name for himself by scoring 29 TD's in his final year of high school. Don't be fooled by the star ranking, this kid has a very high ceiling and Harbaugh really is glad to have gotten him to sign. He played a little corner in high school too, so he could be an option to move over there if needed.

The Word: If he flashes only half the ability he showed in 2015 then Michigan got a true steal out of SEC country.

Eddie McDoom 
3-Star 
(Winter Garden, FL) 
5'11"/170 lbs 
Grade: 77

The Report: McDoom would be one of the top recruits for the position in most classes, but this isn't like most classes. He has very few weaknesses apparent in his game and he looks like a pure receiving prospect with good all-around ability. Has decent measurables, although, like all the receivers in the group, he is not among the fastest prospects in the country.

The Word: I would take just about any 3-Star prospect out of the Sunshine State, and the fact that he was once committed to Oregon tells you a lot about his national appeal as a player.

Tight End

Devin Asiasi (Concord, CA)
4-Star (DE)
6'3"/265 lbs
Grade: 88

The Report: An unbelievable athlete prospect that projects well on either side of the ball. His potential on offense is something that doesn't come around very often, and the coaches are very excited about it. He can run, block, and catch well, using his 270 lbs to his advantage against smaller opponents.

The Word: The class of tight ends already produced some hits, but Asiasi knocks it out of the park and makes this one of the best groups in the country.

Nick Eubanks (Fort Lauderdale, FL) 
4-Star (WR)
6'6" 230 lbs 
Grade: 80

Scouting Report: A tall receiving prospect that played against good competition in South Florida. He has a tremendous catching radius and appears to have decent hands. He doesn't get a lot of push as a blocker but he seems to give good effort on every play. Needs to get stronger and add good weight, but could move to wide-out like Devin Funchess did. By the way, Funchess will be playing WR in the Super Bowl this Sunday!

The Word: Nick Saban was after him hard right up 'til NSD, so getting him to sign is a big win for Harbaugh.

Sean McKeon (Dudley, MA) 
3-Star (DE) 
6'5"/230 lbs 
Grade: 74

The Report: Is one of the fastest TE prospects in the country (4.6 forty) and has the size to boot. He didn't face very good competition or play on a very good team in high school, so he will need some time to adjust. He is enrolled early so that should help. Overall, many around him think he is one of the most-likely prospects to exceed any expectations.

The Word: I wouldn't bet on him making too many appearances this year, but he is every bit as good of a prospect that Harbaugh and company need at the position.

Offensive Line

Ben Bredeson (Hartland, WI) 
4-Star (G/C/T)
6'5"/295 lbs 
Grade: 90

The Report: Is considered an elite caliber lineman by most scouts. He moves well, attacks defenders, and rarely gets beat. He looks like a slightly bigger, slightly stronger version of current Wolverine Mason Cole. He could probably play as a true freshman if needed and he is the only line prospect in the class that looks like he could play tackle. He held up well against the nation's elite at the Under Armour All-American game.

The Word: Ultimately, the coaches just hope he can provide some depth this year and compete for a starting job anywhere on the line in 2017.

Michael Onwenu (Detroit, MI) 
4-Star (ATH)
6'3"/365 lbs 
Grade: 88

The Report: Is a much better athlete than his weight would suggest. He is indeed strong, but he can move his feet and mirror most defenders in pass protection too. He can also pull and trap, but is probably most effective just driving the line of scrimmage back into the linebackers on run plays. He probably has some bad weight that needs to get shed, and every kid can improve their strength and footwork, but Onwenu can play early.

The Word: No matter which side of the ball he ends up playing, we really haven't seen an interior line prospect like Onwenu in my lifetime.

Stephen Spanellis (Gilman, MD) 
3-Star (G/T)
6'5"/330 lbs 
Grade: 76

The Report: Another drive-blocker that plays through the whistle and punishes defenders in the run game. He will never be a left tackle, and will probably be limited to the interior, as he just lacks the lateral quickness to hang with speed edge rushers. He can hold is own and will feel comfortable plowing the field with would-be defenders.

The Word: He is by all means a legit prospect for a run-heavy offense, and he should compete for a job somewhere in 2018. He just needs to trim up in the weight room and work on technique.

Kicker

Quinn Nordin (Rockford, MI) 
3-Star (K/P)
6'1" 200 lbs
Grade: 77

The Report: Is one of the most heavily recruited kickers in Michigan history, and is the top kicker in this class. He can make all the necessary kicks and reportedly nailed a 65-yarder off the ground in practice. He is a whiz on kickoffs and can punt well enough to play there if needed. He is also a decent athlete and lacrosse player.

The Word: Nordin could take over duties at kicker as a freshman so Allen can concentrate on punting, but it remains to be seen if the 5th year senior is ready to give up the job just yet.

Defensive Line

Rashan Gary (Paramus, NJ)
5-Star (E/T)
6'5"/293 lbs
Grade: 99

Report: Is every bit as good of a prospect that we have seen at any position on any given year for as long as I can remember. He doesn't get pushed around in the run game and he can rush off the edge. He is just as fast and quick as he is big and strong. He dominated every camp he attended and beat all the best blockers in the country. He even outran some receivers at The Opening. He is as ready as anybody to play at the next level, and would be the crown jewel of nearly any recruiting class.

The Word: Michigan doesn't actually need him to play right away, as they have a lot of talent returning, but it will probably be hard to keep him off the field as soon as he steps foot on campus. At any rate, signing him is a sure sign that Michigan is indeed back on the national scene.

Ron Johnson (Camden, NJ) 
4-Star (DE/OLB)
6'4"/240 lbs 
Grade: 83

The Report: A sound edge player that contains running backs and can seek out and destroy a ball-carrier. His first step is quick enough to beat many left tackles off the snap and strong enough to hold blockers off his body or hold the point of attack. He could play either the strong or weak side, but it may take a couple years before he actually develops into the player the coaches think he can be in college.

The Word: His hustle will be an asset to the defense no matter which end of the line he plays, but it will take at least a year before he's ready to compete for a full-time job.

Carlo Kemp (Boulder, CO) 
4-Star (DE/LB) 
6'3"/255 lbs 
Grade: 79

The report: Was recruited to play the "Buck" role in Durkin's D, but could probably play weak-side end or linebacker in any scheme. Has enough size and strength to mix it up in college already. He also has enough speed and hustle to be an effective pass-rusher. We will learn more about him as a player this spring as he is one of the seven early enrollees on campus already.

The Word: At the very least, he should develop into a player somewhere on the two-deep of the front seven, and could garner some playing time as a freshman if he learns to read his keys quickly.

Michael Dwumfour (Wayne, NJ) 
3-Star (OG) 
6'2"/286 lbs 
Grade: 75

The Report: Looks a lot like Willie Henry did coming out of high school as a 3-Star prospect. The coaches envision him developing into a nose tackle, as he has the ideal frame and the raw strength to help hold the line. He can play offensive guard too, but that would only happen if the team desperately needed bodies over there.

The Word: He will most-likely require two or three years to truly develop his game, but he could be a starter and an All-Conference player some day. It would be ideal to see him add some good weight and get up over 300 lbs while keeping his quickness off the line.

Linebackers

Devin Bush Jr. (Hollywood, FL) 
4-Star 
5'11"/225 lbs 
Grade: 83

The Report: A quick, strong, and smart player that is ready to play college football. He can hit the gaps and stuff running plays or chase backs down sideline to sideline. He can also manage the middle of the field in pass coverage, or cover backs in the flats well enough. He probably won't get much bigger and his height leaves a little to be desired, but he is a very good football player all-around.

The Word: Just what the team needed to help fill in the gaps on the depth chart this spring. I expect him to get a lot of playing time this fall and be an important piece somewhere in the two-deep. Hell, he could even be a starter on day one.

Elysse Mbem-Bosse (Ellenwood, GA)
3-Star 
6'3" 230 lbs 
Grade: 77

The Report: A stud thumper with the size to compete early on in his career. He isn't the fastest linebacker, and he probably will never be a true sideline-to-sideline player, but he could very well become a middle linebacker that shuts down the interior running lanes.

The Word: If he shows up in great shape this summer and picks up the defense in camp, he could find himself getting reps come game time this fall. Ideally, it would probably be best to redshirt him though.

Joshua Uche (Miami, FL)
3-Star (DE)  
6'2" 212 lbs 
Grade: 77 

The Report: A smart kid with a real burst off the ball. He has only played three years of football after trying out as a sophomore. He reportedly runs a 4.6 forty and plays with a lot of strength for a kid his size. He played defensive end in high school and terrorized opposing QB's. He would need to get bigger to play end in college, but will probably play more of a linebacker role.

The Word: What's not to love about this kid? He will most-definitely redshirt, but Uche has a high ceiling and a lot of un-tapped potential. We will know more about him as a defender in a couple years but he could earn playing time on special teams early.

Devin Gil (Hollywood, FL)
3-Star 
6'1" 215 lbs
Grade: 75

The Report: Has gained some weight in the last few months and is reportedly up to as high as 225 lbs. Just this summer he weighed 205 and was considered a safety by some scouts. It appears he will be just a linebacker going forward. He is a sound tackler and throws his body around with the best of them, taking on blockers and blowing up blocking schemes. He can also chase many ball-carriers down from behind.

The Word: Gil could be a starter someday right along with high school teammate Devin Bush Jr, but he will probably need more time to pick things up at the college level.

Defensive Back

David Long (Los Angeles, CA) 
4-Star (ATH) 
5'11" 175 lbs 
Grade: 88

The Report: One of the top overall athletes in the class, Long is also a pure football player who seems to play the game naturally. He can seemingly do it all on offense or defense, and might just do both at Michigan eventually. Some of his best highlights from high school were of him actually blocking for other guys. His combination of speed, situational awareness, athleticism, and hustle remind me a lot of Jabrill Peppers, but Long isn't quite as big as the former 5-Star.

The Word: He will fit in well around Ann Arbor, and we should expect to see something from him this fall. He will most-likely be a starting corner in 2017.

Lavert Hill (Detroit, MI)
4-Star (CB)
5'10" 172 lbs
Grade: 87

The Report: He looks similar to Jourdan Lewis did coming out of high school. Hill would be the highlight of most classes, but to have him sign on is just a major bonus in this year's cycle. He can cover a receiver's butt like underwear and can go up and snatch the ball out of the air. He should be starting in another year or two.

The Word: Might be the best pure cover corner that was available , so it's a huge win over Michigan State for his services. Honestly, outside of Asiasi, Hill was my biggest surprise of the day.

Khaleke Hudson (McKeesport, PA) 
4-Star (SS/LB) 
5'11"/205 lbs 
Grade: 81

The Report: There are very few flaws in his game as of now, but it is unclear exactly what position he will play in college. Either way, he is a very good athlete with a defender's mentality and a nose for the ball, and once he gets it in his hands he is a threat to take it to the house.

The Word: It's hard not to watch his tape and think that he could be an All-Big Ten safety someday soon.

Josh Metellus (Hollywood, FL)
3-Star (FS) 
6'0"/187 lbs 
Grade: 77 

The Report: Might be the most underrated prospect in Florida. It was hard not to watch his senior film and bump him up the rankings. He is one of the best tacklers in the country with the speed to chase most players down from behind. He also changes directions quickly and surprises opposing players with his pop. He always finishes the play. He could play early for the Wolverines and is one of those players that is most-likely to exceed any expectations.

The Word: Josh Metellus is like a fine wine that just keeps getting better with age.


Note: The jury is still out on whether or not LB/S Dytarious Johnson makes it in the class. There is a spot for him if his grades pan out this spring.