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Monday, February 12, 2007

Austin Panter

El Dorado, Kansas - 6'4" 240
Rivals4*, #18 JUCO
Anything But Powers
Previously On
Commit note.
NotesPlease, no "shagadelic" references.

Panter, Michigan's first JUCO since Russell Shaw in the late 90s, has three years to play two. As an early enrollee and a highly rated player at a position Michigan is thin at he is not going to redshirt. He'll compete with Johnny Thompson for the privilege of being unfavorably compared to David Harris for two years.

Will he win said competition? Hard to project. Thompson showed a lot of potential in his half-game audition at WLB versus Iowa in 2005 and JUCOs can be wildly variable in their talents. FWIW, his coach was over the moon for him:
"Well, I coached Rudy Johnson who is with the Bengals right now (starting RB, and a first round draft pick). I coached both of Auburn's starting cornerbacks, David Irons and Jon Wilhite. I've got starters at Nebraska, Arizona State and Florida State."

"Austin is tops with all those guys."
Clunky grammar aside, that's high praise. Also high praise: Panter was the national JUCO defensive player of the year. So he's got like the defensive JUCO Heisman. Yeah!

Unfortunately, JUCO D Heisman has been about as good an indicator of future success as Actual Stupid Heisman: Proceed with caution.

Guru Reliability: Low, as only Rivals and Scout bother to rank JUCOs and place them on entirely different scales than high school players.
General Excitement Level: Majorly harshed by a trip down JUCO D Heisman memory lane but still high.
Projection: Platoons with Thompson early in the year and wins the job.

Marell Evans

Richmond, Virginia - 6'2" 204

Scout3*, #29 WLB
ESPN70, #89 S
YMRMFSPALarry Foote(?)
Previously On
Commit note.
NotesVarina HS (Brandon Minor)

Gurus hate Marell Evans and there is no senior-year injury or academic suspension or alien abduction that could reasonably explain his low standing in their eyes. This is despite Evans starring for Virginia powerhouse Varina, the former home of Hart heir apparent Brandon Minor and a school that's heavily recruited by D-I programs every year. As a junior Evans started and was all-region; as a senior he was one of the main pieces of Varina's defense. Still, at the time of his commitment Evans had offers from the likes of Temple and Buffalo. There's no wiggle room here: if you believe guru rankings mean anything, Evans is going to have a hard time seeing the field at Michigan.

Mitigating factors: Michigan, having an in with the Varina staff in the person of Brandon Minor, may have been privy to some information others didn't have; Evans projects at OLB instead of safety at the college level and evidently got bigger over the course of the year; Virginia Tech and Clemson were evidently "interested," for whatever that means.

A final, positive note from The Sabre:
Defensively, one player I’m very anxious to see develop in the coming years is Michigan linebacker recruit Marell Evans. The 6-3, 205-pound Varina standout plays with fire and shows terrific closing speed and playmaking ability. In my opinion, the in-state programs could regret not getting in on this kid.
The Sabre then proceeds to rank him 23rd in the state, but there you go.

Guru Reliability: High, especially when his offers were similarly meh.
General Excitement Level: Evans is the member of this class least likely to see serious playing time.
Projection: Hate to dismiss a guy's career before it's begun; also hate to go against Michigan's history of digging up diamonds in the rough; still going to do it.

Brandon Herron

Sugarland, Texas - 6'2" 198

Scout4*, #18 SLB
ESPN77, #23 OLB
Previously On
Commit article.
NotesTeammate of Troy Woolfolk

Yes, it's Larry Foote Comparison Mania at MGoBlog, but who else do you go to when an outside linebacker is described as frighteningly athletic but raw? As it is for Evans, it's moreso for Herron, a combine freak who played as a drastically undersized defensive end (6'2", 200 pounds) for Dulles. Evidence of combine goodness:
[North Texas recruit] Bron Hager went to a combine event in College Station on April 22 and posted a 40-yard dash time of 5.02 seconds, which ranked 24th out of the 27 linebackers at the combine.

Brandon Herron of Fort Bend Dulles ran a 4.55 40-yard dash to finish second, but he is also the 20th ranked outside linebacker in the nation and a Michigan recruit. Hager had some tough competition.

That's an impressive electronically-timed 40. Exhibits B and C and etc. are collected in Herron's commit article.

Herron was a soft verbal to Nebraska early in the year, but there was some miscommunication or one party backed off or whatever -- recruiting! -- and he opened his recruitment back up, which is when Michigan got involved. The timing implies that they were scouting around for some plan-B types after striking out on their primary targets, and Herron fits the bill: as Jim Stefani would say, a low-floor high-ceiling type.

(Side note: Herron may be a loose cannon who fires off one or two fantastic quotes to the media before being permanently muzzled by Carr & Co. Witness his description of Texas Tech as "a box surrounded by dirt" in a Rivals article.)

Guru Reliability: Low. Position switch and combine numbers make him hard to peg. A real boom-or-bust type.
General Excitement Level: Ask me in two years.
Projection: Obvious redshirt. (Carr on Herron:
“He needs to develop size-wise, but he’s an outstanding athlete. He’s going to need a year to develop his strength, but Steve Szabo really liked his athleticism.”
) From there it's anyone's guess.