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Monday, August 28, 2006

California running back Avery Horn committed over the weekend, choosing Michigan over a wide array of mid-level Pac-10 teams:
Hanford, Calif., Hanford High School running back Avery Horn had early offers from Fresno State and Nebraska, and with his latest offer from Washington now stands at seven. In between, Michigan, Oregon, Oregon State and Washington State all threw their respective hats into the ring.
Scout and Rivals both have him as a middle-of-the-road three star recruit. ESPN gives him a 78, though their scouting report($) on him is amazingly positive for a recruit they essentially said "meh" about:
He runs much bigger than his size would lead you to believe. Shows an aggressive style and runs with authority. Hits the hole with great burst and is capable of sneaking through tiny creases. Has good lower-body strength, hits the hole quickly and is a surprising between-the-tackles runner who excels at picking up yards after contact. Runs with good balance, flashes a powerful stiff arm and bounces off arm tackles.
It continues like this for a while longer before some minor concerns about size (he's 5'10", 180-ish) and cut fluidity are expressed. Maybe I'm wrong on the "meh," since on second thought 79s are at the tail end of the ESPN 150. I guess a 78 translates to a mid-four star ranking on Scout or Rivals.

Scout has a couple of quotes:
"He's got burst speed. He can really accelerate. He's a track man and ran a 10.5 (100m) twice last week."
That's his coach. Further:
Avery had a great season last year. He scored 24 touchdowns coming on rushing, punt returns and kick returns. Most of them are long runs and he is really jogging in the last 10 yards. He just has so much acceleration. He had 1,800+ yards rushing last year."

"He had one kick return last year that was over his head, caught it about an inch off of the goal line, and ran it back. That was a 99+ yard run back. That was a school record."
Central Valley messageboard has slightly less outlandish numbers:
Horn rushing = 168-1345 (8.0) 19 touchdowns
Horn receiving = 7-157 (22.4) 1 touchdown
Horn passing = 0-2-0-0 Smile
Horn KOR = Four touchdowns

He started slow and didn't have a 100-yard game until the league opener against Redwood where he ran for 209 yards on 21 carries and scored three touchdowns including a 75 KOR. His other big game was at Lemoore when he tallied 202 yards on 24 carries.
Another poster echoes the speed theme from earlier:
Horn is similar in that he has something you cant teach... SPEED! Avery can flat fly and is one of the fastest in the state, which is what has improved his stock. The football camps and track meets in the off season have helped him more than his rushing stats. I would say right now he is being recruited as an athlete, because of his 100 times. Again, size and speed are the two things you cant teach, and with speed like Horn has, he could play several positions besides RB at the D1 level.
And, finally, a probably-irrelevant-but-fun story:
I wouldn't consider this guy the biggest hitter this year because he didn't really have the opportunity to hit that many people...but he laid down probably the biggest hit I saw this year....Avery Horn got to see some action at safety against Lemoore and absolutely blasted Lemoore's TE. The kids helmet busted off his head...a few pads inside ended up on the field...and the kid was bleeding from his face...don't remember him returning....last I saw he was sitting on the bench with a towel over his head....remember that one J??? He also had his fair share of punishing hits on tacklers when he was running the ball...the kid is built
Editorial Opinion: Horn's commitment might be disappointing for those holding out hope for Robert Hughes or John Clay, but neither of those players is likely to end up at Michigan and in Clay's case it's debateable how heavily Michigan pursued him in the first place. Those disheartened by the lack of a fourth star next to Horn's name on various recruiting websites should take heart in his relatively early offer -- he's had one for at least a couple months -- and decent offer list. Also, the main question about his future has to do more with his size than anything else, and all of a sudden I want Michigan running backs to be slightly larger than protons. Hmmm... wonder why?

Still, it's a comedown from the projected 1-2 OMG shirtless punch of Clay and Hughes when this recruiting year was fresh and therefore destined to be Teh Best Evah. Michigan might take one more wide reciever, but other than that is done with offensive skill position talent and has one guy who is unquestionably the man (Ryan Mallet). Maybe Hemingway if you believe ESPN over Scout and Rivals. That's a little disappointing. It does help that there's good reason to believe players like Helmuth, Webb, and Horn are underrated because they're small or under the radar or fullbacks. Won't somebody think of the fullbacks?