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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Toney Clemons

New Kensington, Pennsylvania - 6'2" 190

Scout4*, #10 WR, #67 overall
Rivals4*, #12 WR, #91 overall
ESPN78, #43 WR
Lemming#18 WR
YMRMFSPABraylon Edwards
Previously On
Giant highlight reel; commitment googlestalk
NotesSteve Breaston's cousin, further proving that all high-end recruits from Western PA are part one one enormous family.

Early in the recruiting year, Clemons was pumped up as by far the best prospect in Pennsylvania. He visited a few combines and crushed them, leaping and running his way into the hearts of hopeful recruitniks across the Midwest. But offers hardly came. For a long time Clemons was sitting on scholarships from Pitt, Akron, Ole Miss, and UConn despite getting all that pub. Grades? Guru miss? High school coaches late with film? Who knows?

When hype solidified into actual rankings around midsummer, Clemons was well-regarded by Scout and Rivals but not the sort of elite, five-star type it seemed he would be. His senior year didn't help matters. Playing in a run-oriented offense lacking the sort of quarterback who could use Clemons' skills, his numbers dropped. He finished the year with fewer than two dozen catches and close observers of Pennsylvania talent dropped him down their boards -- though it should be noted there's certainly a sour grapes effect in play. Yet Clemons somehow ended up on the year-end top 100 lists of both Scout and Rivals despite that messy senior year, completing a weird inversion. At the start of the year, local sources were in love with his potential and soured while national guys were more hesitant. By the end, the national guys had thrown him into their top 100 lists after his disappointing senior year.

So: we have an athletic marvel, a lanky leaper who was winning statewide track meets as a sophomore (and again as a junior)but never managed to apply that athleticism on the football field. A boom-or-bust recruit who could be all the good things about Braylon Edwards or all the bad things or a mixture of the two.

Guru Reliability: Low. The senior year stats can be excused but the weird disconnect between general hype and his offers is something of a concern.
General Excitement Level: Manic-depressive here, but leaning towards excitement. Clemons may be raw but he's also in possession of rare physical attributes.
Projection: Raw as hell, probable redshirt with Hemingway and Babb seemingly ready to see the field ASAP. Also would be nice to get him another year away from the MM/AA duo o' destruction.

Junior Hemingway

Conway, South Carolina - 6'2" 205

Scout4*, #26 WR
Rivals3*, #38 WR
ESPN84, #4 WR, #19 overall
Lemming#16 WR
YMRMFSPAMarquise Walker
Previously On
Michigan Shoots Into Hemingway's Heart
NotesWrites without commas or adjectives.

So, yeah... those numbers above disagree fiercely. Hemingway is either in the top 10, 20, 30, or 40 receivers in the country, depending on who you listen to. Rivals went so far as to downgrade him to a three-star after season's end for reasons unknown (read: plain old provincialism on the part of that particular region's rankings guru). Meanwhile, ESPN is freakin' out over here. Scout and Creepy Tom Lemming split the difference.

Leaving aside his exact proportions of shirtlessness for the moment, Hemingway is a leaper capable of ridiculous grabs. His overall athleticism has been questioned by those skeptical of his talent, but no one debates his body control, leaping ability, and hands. It seems at the very least we can expect some sort of Avant/Walker hybrid, though hopefully without Walker's unfortunate spate of senior-year drops.

I can't find Hemingway's senior stats (little help?) but do know that they were in the range of 70-ish catches and 1200-ish yards despite being bracketed nearly constantly -- whenever I read an article on Conway High their head coach brought it up, seemingly unprompted. That coach took every opportunity to plug Hemingway as the best player he's ever had at any position in 25 years of coaching Peyton Manning, Dick Butkus, and Jesus. Couple that with Hemingway's bevy of early, panting offers from a wide array of high-profile programs and IMO Hemingway, not Clemons, is the best incoming WR prospect for Michigan this year.

Guru Reliability: Very low. Michigan and a host of other big-time schools were on Hemingway early on. His senior year production does nothing to bring his previous hype into question, and his downgrades came mostly after he finished dragging his team to the state final.
General Excitement Level: Avant++. Avant++.
Projection: Does not redshirt but I find this less than annoying because we need to spread out all these receivers over a few classes. Hemingway is the most polished and ready to step in. I doubt he sees much action with Manningham and Arrington in front of him, but candidate 1A to be Michigan's go-to guy in '09.

Zion Babb

Alhambra, California - 6'0" 177

Scout4*, #55 WR
Rivals3*, #42 WR, #48 CA
ESPN78, #34 WR
Lemming#12 CB
Previously On
(actually Fanhouse) Commit article.
NotesPlays for the Alhambra Moors(!!!).

Another recruit that may eventually find himself on the other side of the ball, Babb was widely projected as a defensive back when he committed. Hemingway, Clemons, and Rogers were already in the fold, Michigan needed defensive backs like Bobby Shaftoe needs morphine, and Babb was evidently not near the caliber of the former two. This is not the case, at least not yet. Babb will come in as a wide receiver.

Like fellow California commit Avery Horn, Babb had offers from Nebraska and most of the Pac-10 save Cal and USC. A track guy, he's a slant-and-go type a little bit like Breaston but not nearly as far down that particular axis of little fast bastard who can't catch.

Update: When Babb committed ESPN hadn't ranked him yet. They've done so now, calling him a "real horse of a prospect" (uh... thanks?) and, uh...
He reminds us of a west coast version of Junior Hemingway.
Then they describe his "adequate elusiveness" and "deceptive speed" before returning to the horse thing:
Overall, Babb is good looking on the hoof and very productive.
Enumclaw man?

Guru Reliability: Strong. No reason to believe that Babb is anything other than an average recruit.
General Excitement Level: Looking forward to reading about Johnny's tortured relationship with Babb, not expecting magic on the field.
Projection: Designated reverse guy.