It’s tough to see what they’ll become [UM Bentley Library]
So yesterday came and went the way it went. The SEC cheats, Michigan’s a tougher sell right now for reasons, yada yada—those who choose to rend garments or yell at the folks wearing tatters have plenty of threads to do so in. Let’s talk about the guys Michigan got.
As it so happens I keep a database of Michigan recruits that goes back to the 1993 class, and that gives us a chance to put all the new guys in context. Shall we?
Shea Patterson is a transfer but let’s start with him for we can have nice things reasons. Also because he was one of the highest-rated quarterbacks out of high school to ever come here:
Shea in 2016 was the #1 Dual Threat or #1 QB to everybody, and between third and 15th overall. Quarterbacks ranked in the Top 5 overall tend to have some real talent—nobody doubts Mallett’s arm. A year of starting in the SEC should put Shea in good shape to challenge for the top job this season, provided the NCAA waives the transfer year. Yay for five-star quarterbacks!
Joe Milton comes in as a project, though one with significant upside. That kind of player usually creates a large amount of disagreement among the recruiting sites and it would appear that’s the case with Joe:
ESPN rated him the highest, which is a bit of a red flag since they tend to fire and forget. Scout had him one of their highest three-stars (before they merged with 247) and Rivals had him a solid 4-star. 247 was down relative to the others. The result is somewhere between Dylan McCaffrey (4.31 average star rating) and Alex Malzone, and closer to the latter. His late fall on 247 dropped him to 16th in the composite score. Some guys you’ve probably heard of who’ve fallen around that range in past years include Maryland’s Kasim Hill (2017), Northwestern’s Clayton Thorson, Wisconsin’s Bart Houston, ND’s Everett Golson, and Messiah deWeaver, Brian Lewerke, and Andrew Maxwell of MSU.
I also tried to find a Harbaugh comp and came up with 2009 Stanford recruit Josh Nunes. Like Milton, Nunes put up big high school stats with a low completion percentage. He wasn’t much of a runner. From my Hall of Harbaugh Quarterbacks piece from a few years ago:
Josh Nunes, the 9th pro-style QB and 139th overall player according to the 247 composite. Nunes was a prolific passer in high school (6,306 yards and 52 TDs in 34 starts) who on Harbaugh’s recommendation added Running (3.1 YPA with sacks included) to his reads as a senior. Nunes was heir apparent to Andrew Luck but lost his job to Kevin Hogan while out with a foot injury in 2012, and lost his career to a freak pectoral injury in 2013.
Also the greatest QB of all time was rated around this spot in 1995, but that was 1995.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the offense]
These guys are all in a relatively small grouping:
Running back heights and weights are complete B.S. by the way so ignore those, lest you confuse Michael Barrett for Thomas Rawls.
I believe a few of the guys on this list you’re not as familiar with were Carr camp commits who got bumped up some for Michigan interest. Most of them of course are Rich Rod’s various swings at a Steve Slaton type. What we’re really looking at is the murky depths of running back recruits who weren’t scouted well: scatbacks who played receiver or something in high school, bowling balls from Iowa and Flint, etc.
Projecting running backs from the pond of generic three-stars is difficult. These guys often have something in their game—lack of size, lack of top-end speed—that shows on tape. Turner you can put around Karan Higdon-level. The other guys are probably going to do as well as the system can use them. The types who turn into NFL draft picks are usually high 4 stars or 5-stars, but of course we don’t want any more of those.
Rankings mean diddly here but here is Ben VanSumeren among the scholarship FBs:
Back when crootin scouts treated fullbacks as a position that everybody needs, the face-mashing types who could win a regional skills competition would shoot up the rankings. It’s hard to put that into context today.
|No YOU just keep bringing up Anes because his floor mates always tell the poop story when you do so. [UM Bentley]|
John Anes was on everybody’s All-American lists and the subject of a Michigan-Ohio State-Penn State battle royale; Ben VanSumeren is a similar prospect but gets rated as an athlete. Can he jump really high? Play Tight end? But he’s a linebacker prospect too right? Oh. Okay, to the pile of three-stars you go.
The Hammer Panda got ranked in this zone too but he was about 40 pounds heavier and mostly known as a plus receiver for an H-back tight end. VanSumeren isn’t Ben Mason’s size, but not Ben Mason—probably closer to what Wyatt Shallman was as a recruit, if Shallman desired to play the position he got ranked at. Anes is the closer example—if they did SPARQ scores back then Anes would have done well by accounts.
The rankings might be less instructive for projecting Bell than the career of his new coach [Eric Upchurch]
With five of the top 20 receivers Michigan’s ever recruited currently on the team, this was a year to take a flier, and Ronnie Bell is ahead of nobody but a JUCO I couldn’t figure out how to rank:
That’s really no comparison: historically sites didn’t rank far enough down to put Ronnie Bell on the scales. Neither would any of the sites stand particularly strongly behind their ratings here, since Bell chose football after they’d pretty much put the class to bed. The guy in range here is D.J. Williamson, a track star whom Rich Rod convinced to play football who turned out to be just that: a track guy who needed convincing to bother to play football. This is the worst way to get a read on Bell so let’s just move on.
He’s pretty Butt. [Bryan Fuller]
Mustapha Muhammad generated more disagreement on paper than in the final numbers. ESPN had him the #2 inline tight end, while Rivals thought he was barely a four-star, and 247/Scout came in at a Top 150ish player. Basically Jake Butt:
Historically these high four-star tight ends work out pretty well, though Mackey Award winner is a tough ask. He’s not in the range of Jerame Tuman or Devin Asiasi—the two immediate impact types Michigan’s recruited for the position (Tim Massaquoi and Mark Campbell were rated at other positions). But “between Aaron Shea and Jake Butt” is encouraging. Ignoring Jim Fisher for lack of data, every Top 200 type tight end that Michigan’s recruited has ended up a draft pick or is eventually going to.
Now we have a scroll quite a ways to get to Luke Schoonmaker and the generic three-stars:
Paskorz slipped in between them this week but Schoonmaker and McKeon are close comps as unscouted athletes whom Harbaugh snatched from Egypt. All the other guys in range were low-rated EDGE prospects so McKeon is really it.
I believe Ryan Hayes will grow into an OT—his speed limits how much of an impact player he can be at tight end—so I have him ranked there.
What if he’s tight end AND he’s Schofield? /mind blown [Fuller]
No, once again Michigan was not able to reel in an instantly viable left tackle despite an open door at both tackle positions to play early. The good news is eventually guys like Jaylen Mayfield and Ryan Hayes do tend to work out:
Somehow the “FINE we’ll let you be a four-star” late riser types hits the sweet spot for Michigan offensive tackle prospects. Grant Newsome was a super smart son of an Ivy League professor and one of America’s top secret service agents whom Brady Hoke managed to keep stashed away through all the turmoil of 2014. Michael Schofield is probably the closer comp to Mayfield, despite having two inches on him, as ~200ish OT prospects praised for their lateral mobility and intelligence.
“We turned an athletic 6’8” stick into an NFL left tackle” is a VERY common (Ryan Ramczyk, Jack Conklin, Jason Spriggs, Eric Fisher, and Ryan Clady are a few who became 1st rounders) story, but the problem with that projection is it ignores a ton of similar high schoolers who wound up looking more like a power forward than an agile mountain.
Ryan Hayes is next to Juwann Bushell-Beatty despite most of a human in weight difference between them so let’s try the 247 database for a sample that’s not from an NFL draft history site.
2009: Reid Fragel, Ohio State: Became an okay OT.
2011: Giorgio Newberry, FSU, 2011: Move to DT
2014: Noah Beh, Penn State: Transferred to Delaware. Derek Allen, Rhode Island: Became a starter as a RS Junior, will finish career at R.I. Koda Martin, Texas A&M: Lost starting job 10 games in, will be TAMU’s LT this year.
2015: Cole Chewins, MSU: Lots of starts but still undersized. Brady Aiello, Oregon: Projected to claim LT job this year.
2016: Nathan Smith, USC, Marcus Tatum, Tennessee, and Alex Akingbulu, UCLA are probably too young to tell us anything yet. Smith tore his ACL last year. Tatum made a few starts but was bad. Akingbulu hasn’t played.