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Friday, October 27, 2006

WR Toney Clemons has committed to Michigan. Hooray and stuff. Informative update coming.

Informative Update: So... yeah, there's this YouTube compliation video with grainy-field level footage of Clemons doing stuff. Sometimes it's running a route or waiting for a punt or, like, sitting down, but he's definitely doing stuff. One warning: if you're Mormon, at work, or just irritated by choruses that consist of "#*$& bitches, make money" repeated a dozen time you might want to mute your computer. Anyway:

There's remarkable consensus on Clemons for a total lack of consensus. Scout has him the #8 WR in the country, Rivals #20, and ESPN #37, but all say the same thing about him: he's peanut butter cookie dough, raw but so good.

Mmmm... peanut butter cookie dough.

Anyway, witness the remarkable consensus! Scout:
Clemons is fantastic in the air, showing great leaping ability, body control, aggressiveness, athletic ability and concentration. He’ll attack the ball at the highest point and make an acrobatic catch with the defensive back draped all over him.
... but they list "route-running skills" as an area for improvement. (Also, Scout purports that this quote came from Clemons in re: his Michigan official visit: "It was bananas!" Did we take him to a speakeasy? Or just warp him into Pleasantville?)

He is explosive for his size and can get over the top of defensive backs in a hurry. He has very good hands and long arms. Can extend to snag balls thrown outside of his frame and shows outstanding body control on contested balls and jump ball match-ups. ... Huge red-zone threat because of height and strength. ... There is no questioning his tools, measurables and athleticism, but he is raw.
ESPN ends up rating him a 78, which doesn't match the "WR #37" ranking, since their 150 ends at players ranked 79, making a 78 a four-star equivalent. Weird.

Local high school coaches:
Recently I asked a dozen high school and college coaches who they thought was the best prospect between Jon Ditto, Nick Sukay, and Toney Clemons. Six coaches thought Ditto was the best prospect while six thought Sukay was.

...As for Clemons, while none of the coaches considered him the best of the three, he did get a good amount of second place votes and was considered to be the receiver with the biggest potential. "If he ever puts it together, he could be tough," said one coach, "but he is the most raw of the three. You would be taking him on potential because he won't make the sudden impact that Ditto and Sukay would make".
(Odd, since Sukay and Ditto are not college WRs. Sukay is a safety, Ditto a TE. The high school coaches probably answered a different question than they were asked.)

Gateway HS coach (the home of Steve Breaston, I believe the home of Justin King, that foolish man) Terry Smith:
"Clemons was the best of the bunch [at the Pitt Scout Combine]; when a defensive back gives you a cushion, the good ones you can always tell will eat that up, and he does," said Gateway football coach Terry Smith, who worked with wide receivers at the combine. "He is just a great athlete, he's not a polished receiver, but his natural ability is off the charts."
Clemons was named MVP of that combine, and after it it was widely presumed that the guy was a five-star lock when guru rankings came out. Obviously, that didn't happen.

In keeping with our upside-themed discussion, NFL Draft Showcase -- run by a guy who's somewhere between "random" and "guru", Allen Trieu, projects him as the #1 wide receiver prospect for the... uh... 2010 NFL draft:
Surprised? [That you rate HS seniors? Yes. -ed] Clemons may be a top 100 player in most books, but rarely is he rated in the top 5-10 at the position nationally. After watching him on tape, I'm blown away by his ability to go up and get the ball. He has a big frame (6'3, 190) and great athleticism. He was also a track (hurdles) champion, so you know he has the physical tools. He hasn't put up huge stats, but he has all the skills to blossom into a big time college receiver and he projects well to the NFL as well. This could be a player some of the national powers regret sleeping on.

Finally, a few more articles.

So there you go. Raw. Described as a "track phenom," named an Army All-American, a combine MVP, has friends with horrendous taste in highlight compilation music. Sounds good.

There is a catch, though: what was the deal with his offers? Michigan beat out Pitt, WVU, Colorado, and MSU -- though mostly Pitt -- for his commitment. No offense to those schools, but that's not exactly USC, OSU, and Texas. Michigan was the only top-tier school to offer, which has to raise questions. Anyone as supposedly electric as Clemons should have at least token offers from the big schools, especially after that combine performance. I guess we'll see.

This is all very odd to me. How raw can a wide receiver be? Your job is to go out, run routes, and catch the damn ball. I can see how there might be an adjustment period if you were switching positions, as Steve Breaston did, but Clemons has played WR his entire high school career. Any inconsistencies in his technique or route-running will get worked through in his freshman year, especially given Michigan's apparently never-ending assembly line of terrifying wideouts. Either Clemons is not the remarkable athlete everyone says he is or a bunch of schools just made a major mistake.