March 21, 2012

Michigan recruits in the positional rankings

Now that Rivals has unveiled most of its three-star prospects and positional rankings, let's take a look at where Michigan's 15 commitments fit in. Are any of them likely to move up or down next time the rankings are updated?

Shane MorrisWarren (Mich.) De La Salle6-3, 195
4*National Rank: No. 16Position Rank: No. 2 Pro-style quarterback
Why He's Here: "As his game has progressed he has learned to vary his trajectory and put more touch on his passes when the situation calls for it. Just as important to the quarterback position, Morris has the moxie and leadership qualities to take control of a huddle and has shown to be a player others will follow." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt.

Rise or Fall?: It's tough for a prospect already in the nation's top 20 to improve his profile. Scouts were very high on Morris following a strong performance last summer, but he didn't put up big stats as a junior (his receiving corps did him few favors in that regard). If he impresses on the summer circuit once more, a five-star rating is likely, and he could become the nation's top pro-style QB.
Mike McCrayTrotwood (Ohio) Madison6-4, 230
4*National Rank: No. 44Position Rank: No. 8 Outside linebacker
Why He's Here: "If McCray plateaus right now he's still going to be one of the top linebackers in the Midwest, and probably the country. But McCray also has room to grow in his game. He can add strength and definition to his body in the weight room this off-season, which should also improve what is already pretty good speed." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt.

Rise or Fall?: McCray already put up excellent numbers as a junior, and it will be tough for him to exceed them in his final high school season. While his physical tools can develop a little bit more, it's more likely that he maintains this ranking, or slides slightly.
Chris FoxParker (Colo.) Ponderosa6-6, 295
4*National Rank: No. 46Position Rank: No. 4 Offensive tackle
Why He's Here: "Fox is very athletic for his 6-6, 300-pound frame. He moves laterally with good balance and can maneuver his body in open space very well for a young player of his size. He comes off the ball strong and hard with good driving feet." - film evaluator.

Rise or Fall?: Fox is considered one of the country's top offensive linemen, and it doesn't seem likely that anything will change that. He should maintain his ranking, or drop a bit if other prospects impress as seniors.
Patrick KuglerWexford (Pa.) North Allegheny6-5, 280
4*National Rank: No. 54Position Rank: No. 7 Offensive tackle
Why He's Here: "I'm not going to let anyone get to me, and I don't want anybody to beat me. I want to knock the guy down on every play, whether it's a run or a pass. I'm definitely more of a run blocker right now, so I need to improve my pass blocking. I also would say I need to get more patient. That's something that people don't realize is an important part of being an offensive lineman." - Patrick Kugler

Rise or Fall?: At the next level, Kugler is expected to line up at guard or center because his frame isn't optimal for tackle. Since interior linemen do not typically garner the high rankings that tackles do, expect Kugler's ranking to move down. However, there's a very good chance he will be considered the country's top guard if he's re-ranked at that position.
Kyle BoschWheaton (Ill.) St. Francis6-5, 285
4*National Rank: No. 60Position Rank: No. 9 Offensive tackle
Why He's Here: "I think the biggest thing is that he has such a high motor. He's a very intense football player, and I think a lot of times, bigger kids like that take a while to develop that. But he has an intensity level that I've never seen in a big guy. He loves contact. That, to me, is the big difference." - St. Francis coach Greg Purnell

Rise or Fall?: Like Kugler, Bosch projects to the interior of the offensive line, though he's currently ranked as a tackle. Because of that, don't be surprised if his rankings drop.
Dymonte ThomasAlliance (Ohio) Marlington6-1, 170
4*National Rank: No. 77Position Rank: No. 8 Safety
Why He's Here: "The first thing to know about Thomas is that he is fast - extremely fast. He plays more of an outside linebacker role for his high school team so we did not see much of him in coverage, but he is a solid tackler who will step up and strike a ball carrier." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt.

Rise or Fall?: Thomas has been primarily an offensive player at times for his high school team, and his role on defense doesn't allow him to stand out on that side of the ball. If he impresses in summer events - and gets more run at safety this fall - his ranking can soar.
Jake ButtPickerington (Ohio) North6-6, 230
4*National Rank: No. 96Position Rank: No. 4 Tight end
Why He's Here: "On offense, he is a natural pass catcher and his speed is above average for the tight end position. He also shows great competency and willingness as a blocker. He has the size to block in the run game and the athleticism to be a major threat in the passing game." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt

Rise or Fall?: One thing working in Butt's favor is that, prior to his commitment, he was viewed as a two-way player, rather than as a tight end. Now that scouts can focus on his offensive play, they may see more than they initially realized. However, he has had good exposure as a junior, and it could take an exceptional year statistically to move up.
Logan Tuley-TillmanPeoria (Ill.) Manual6-7, 280
4*National Rank: No. 109Position Rank: No. 13 Offensive tackle
Why He's Here: "He does have some excess weight he can trim in the coming months and years, but his athleticism is above average and he has the tools necessary to play the left tackle position. Tuley-Tillman shows a nice mean streak, but also will have to learn to be more disciplined as his game develops." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt

Rise or Fall?: Tuley-Tillman is one of Michigan's best potential movers in the class. He has mounds of physical talent - evidenced by the interest of Alabama, Texas, and USC, among others - but has only been playing football for a few years, so he has a lot to learn. He has the work ethic to turn athleticism into skill, and could move way up when all is said and done.
Wyatt ShallmanNovi (Mich.) Detroit Catholic Central6-3, 255
4*National Rank: No. 160Position Rank: No. 10 Athlete
Why He's Here: "As a running back, he's got very good speed. He's powerful. He's got the ability to break tackles, not go down on the first hit and get the extra yard. I think he'll be a tough running back. He's got the different qualities it takes to play at the next level. He has to work on his strength and get himself to that Division I point." - Detroit Catholic Central coach Thomas Mach

Rise or Fall?: Shallman will play running back to start his Michigan career, and his size is out of the normal range for that position, to say the least. His strength and speed will keep him highly-ranked as an athlete, but being a position tweener will keep him from climbing.
Jourdan LewisDetroit Cass Tech5-11, 170
4*National Rank: No. 167Position Rank: No. 12 Cornerback
Why He's Here: "His speed is unquestioned, but he also had more pop in his hits than we expected, knocking several ballcarriers backward with good form tackles. His ball skills were also on display with a shoelace interception. What Lewis will need to improve is his play recognition, but that will come with experience and the junior had little of that before this season." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt

Rise or Fall?: Lewis has reach his current standing based on athleticism and production, but his size will always be a limiting factor in his ranking, unless he's just unstoppable as a senior. Most corners ranked ahead of him are 6-0 or taller. Teams will learn to avoid throwing his way this season (a luxury they didn't have with Terry Richardson manning the other corner in 2011), and his numbers won't stand out enough to bump him up.
Taco CharltonPickerington (Ohio) Central6-6, 240
4*National Rank: No. 183Position Rank: No. 16 Strongside defensive end
Why He's Here: "He does a great job of bursting up field at the snap, closing the perimeter attack of the offense.  There is no hesitancy in his game - he plays fast and pursues the ball with his impressive speed. He closes strong to the ball and shows great effort to chase the ball down from the backside." - film evaluator

Rise or Fall?: Charlton is blessed with physical talent, but has spent most months other than the fall honing his skills on the basketball court, rather than the gridiron. If he moves into football full-time as a senior, he can turn his quickness and size into production, rocketing up the rankings. Otherwise, he will be a prime candidate to develop - and fast - under the tutelage of Brady Hoke, Greg Mattison, and Jerry Montgomery.
David DawsonDetroit Cass Tech6-5, 305
4*National Rank: No. 199Position Rank: No. 23 Offensive tackle
Why He's Here: "The big junior is a road-grading offensive lineman that is very solid in the running game and could end up possibly moving inside at the next level. He put on a show at several camps and combines over the spring and summer." - Southwest Recruiting Analyst Brian Perroni

Rise or Fall?: Like Bosch and Kugler, Dawson is probably ranked at a position (offensive tackle) that he's not going to play in college. Playing on the interior of the offensive line is not as glamorous - and typically leads to lower rankings. Unless Dawson is simply dominant this fall, he'll probably maintain his current ranking.
Deveon SmithWarren (Ohio) Howland5-11, 210
3*National Rank: N/APosition Rank: No. 32 Running back
Why He's Here: "He is one of the best backs in Ohio, if not the best, regardless of size. He's very gifted. He's got tremendous balance and power. He doesn't fumble. He's got great hands. He is an outstanding blocker." - Warren Howland coach Dick Angle

Rise or Fall?: Smith plays at a program that receives its share of exposure, and his current ranking has less to do with getting his name out there than it does his lack of a few attributes. If he can impress scouts this fall with improved foot quickness and top-end speed, he can move up the rankings. Otherwise, he's likely to top out not far from where he is.
Jaron DukesColumbus (Ohio) Marion-Franklin6-4, 195
3*National Rank: N/APosition Rank: No. 43 Wide receiver
Why He's Here: "He's 6-4 or 6-5 legit, 200 pounds, he runs a 4.6. He has great ball skills catching the ball. He's a pretty good blocker. All that god-given talent he has. And then, once you meet the kid and talk to him, that's the selling point. He's just such a great kid." - Marion-Franklin coach Brian Haffele

Rise or Fall?: Dukes is all-but guaranteed to move up, at least a bit. Wide receivers his size are simply rare enough that they're a hot commodity. Dukes' speed is limited, and that will probably prevent him from moving up too far (unless it improves, of course), but a low-end ranking in the four-star range is a distinct possibility. A huge year statistically could only help his case.
Gareon ConleyMassillon (Ohio) Washington6-2, 165
3*National Rank: N/APosition Rank: N/A Cornerback
Why He's Here: "Conley's tall, but he's very skinny," Helmholdt said. "He has a good feel for the position. Solid speed - though he's not a blazer. Little stiff in the hips, and that's not unusual for a kid that tall, but he still gets in passing lanes and is able to challenge for jump balls." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt

Rise or Fall?: From this observer's point of view, Conley is likely to rocket up the rankings during the course of his senior season. He played nearly his entire junior year with a broken thumb - which limited his interception and receiving numbers - and a healthy fall in 2012 should see him show off his exceptional speed enough to move up in the rankings.
Khalid HillDetroit Crockett6-3, 230
3*National Rank: N/APosition Rank: N/A Tight End
Why He's Here: "Hill has all the physical tools to be a Division I tight end, he just is a little on the short side at 6-foot-3. We'll see how he grows." - Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt.

Rise or Fall?: Barring any growth, Hill's physical potential - at least as a true tight end - is limited. Of course, Michigan's offense has the perfect role for a tight end on the shorter side with their U-back position. Hill started on both sides of the ball as a junior, and should see more receptions this fall, with most of Crockett's receiving corps having graduated. He'll likely only move up a bit, but he fills a niche in Michigan's offense even if that's not going to earn him four stars from Rivals.

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