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Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A disclaimer on the "You May Remember Me From Such Players As": YMRMFSPA is supposed to be a rough estimate of what kind of player the recruit could turn into if he pans out. It is not a projection. The players listed tend to be very good because no one knows what kind of player Doug Dutch is; we just know he can't get on the field. I am not saying that I expect Martavious Odoms to be Devin Hester, the best return man in the history of the NFL. I'm saying that Odoms is sort of like Devin Hester and if we roll a second critical hit on our critical hit roll he might be half as good.

End disclaimer. On with shew.

Boubacar Cissoko

Detroit, Michigan - 5'8" 174
Scout5*, #3 CB, #48 overall
Rivals4*, #4 CB, #44 overall
ESPN78, #28 CB
Others#41 to Takkle, #48 to Lemming
Other Suitors
MSU, PSU, Tennessee, Illinois
YMRMFSPAChris Houston
Previously On
Sadly little
NotesMost entertaining name since Zoltan Mesko

There's a remarkable consensus around Boubacar Cissoko, with four separate rating services placing him between the #41 and #48 prospect in the country. Only ESPN's often contrarian service disagrees. All scouting reports are the same: "damn, this guy is good, but it's too bad you need an electron microscope to find him."

This video, though it has some irritating sections where it repeats for IMPACT, is an uncommonly useful summary of Cissoko's talents and drawbacks:

You can see that Cissoko is indeed incredibly quick, has an excellent change of direction, and covers guys who are a half-foot taller than him like a blanket. He reminds me of Chris Houston, the smurfy Arkansas cornerback generously listed at 5'10" now playing with the Atlanta Falcons.

A couple years ago, I watched Houston and Arkansas play South Carolina. Redshirt sophomore Sidney Rice was the Gamecock's big star and Houston lined up nose-to-nose with Rice in eff-you press man on every single play. Spurrier went after him again and again; sometimes he won and sometimes he lost, but usually because Rice reeled in a perfectly-thrown fade. It was a fantastic individual battle and I came away impressed with both players. So did the NFL: Houston went with the eighth pick in the second round; Rice went just four picks later.

Maybe this isn't the most reassuring comparison, as Rice did end up with 7 catches for 128 yards and Arkansas lost, but... hey... free second round pick!

Michigan announced Boubacar Cissoko's commitment moments after Ronald Johnson spurned them for USC, so there was little in the way of a recruiting story. Once the coaching changeover happened Cissoko announced intentions to visit Illinois, Penn State, and maybe Tennessee but those never materialized and Cissoko reaffirmed his commitment soon after. We don't have much to go on except the recruiting services here.

Guru Reliability: Maximal. The unified chorus: this is a perfect cornerback except he's 5'8".
General Excitement Level: High. Obvious physical limitation aside, the perfect corner.
Projection: Plays as a freshman and is starting next to Warren by his sophomore year.

JT Floyd

Greensville, South Carolina - 6'0" 179
Scout3*, #75 S
Rivals3*, NR
ESPN75, #75 ATH
Other SuitorsTennessee
YMRMFSPACharles Stewart
Previously On
One Down.
NotesEncapsulates the concept of a verbal commitment perfectly in above-linked post:
When asked about how committed he was, Floyd almost provided the answer UT fans are looking for.

"This is definitely, probably, the best place for me," Floyd said.

Normally picking up a guy who not only decommitted from Tennessee but had that Tennessee offer by midway through his junior year would be cause for the restrained celebration with an eye towards potential flameout that is the proper way to greet any and all high profile recruit's commitment, but JT Floyd's case is an odd one.

Other than sleeper lineman Patrick Omameh, Floyd has the worst average star rating of any player in this class. He's a three star and a low one to both Scout and Rivals; ESPN concurs. Since Floyd was late commitment who got a thorough once-over just two weeks ago, forgive me if I excerpt the above linked post instead of rehashing it:

Rodriguez is pursuing an inordinate number of WR/DB/RB tweeners. Floyd is one of these; though most project him on the defensive side of the ball he was a two-way star at JL Mann High this year:
Floyd, who has committed to the University of Tennessee ("soft verbal," he said during the season), is playing wide receiver and returning kickoffs and punts for the North.

As a senior, he caught 50 passes for 811 yards and 11 touchdowns. He also scored on a punt return and a fumble return.
Floyd appears to be a middling recruit. Other schools in pursuit were Tennessee (obviously), South Carolina, North Carolina, NC State, and Maryland. Though the junior-year offer from Tennessee is impressive, Floyd did not draw interest from any other major programs. Floyd was picked for an annual North-South SC All Star game but was passed over for some sort of "Shrine" game.

Guru ratings are pretty consistent. Lemming rated him the #19 safety, just ahead of MSU commitment Charles Burrell, in October. ESPN gives him a meh 74 and has different ideas than most about his preferred spot on the field:
Floyd is a two-way standout at safety and wide receiver, but the more you watch him on defense, the more you think he may end up at wide receiver. He is athletic and rangy but not really a devastating player in the middle of the field. On offense however, he makes a lot of plays and is one of the more surehanded guys we have seen in this class.
The rest of his $ profile makes him sound like a less physical Jason Avant; there are repeated references to his lack of elite speed and his reliability/excellent hands/clutchosity. Everyone else projects Floyd in the secondary. Rivals gives him three stars and ranks him #20 in South Carolina. Scout also gives him three stars and dubs him the country's #74 safety.

While you can argue that Floyd's early commit to Tennessee removed him from guru radar screens and depressed his ranking, the schools after him, the All-Star snub, and the universal "meh" ratings suggest otherwise. Floyd is a middling recruit who's 50-50 to contribute. He's a good pickup in this transitional situation -- Michigan is scrambling to fill 25 slots with few prospects left on the board --but isn't likely to be a star.

Guru Reliability: High. No reason he'd be under the radar; offers about commensurate with ranking.
General Excitement Level: Meh.
Projection: Though he's being brought in as a corner a move to safety is likely given the above, where he'll probably end up buried behind Stevie Brown, Artis Chambers, Stewart, and maybe Brandon Smith until his junior year, at which point he might develop into a contributor.

Brandon Smith

New Brunswick, New Jersey - 6'2" 210
Scout4*, #4 S, #62 overall
Rivals4*, #11 S, #166 overall
ESPN75, #75 ATH
Others#88 to Takkle, #44 to Lemming
Other Suitors
South Carolina, Rutgers
Previously On
Shamefully little.
NotesDon't judge, but he has the same hairstyle Johnny Sears did. Does, I guess.

Here's Brandon Smith doing a lot of stuff:

And Smith doing yet more stuff, all manner of stuff really:

If there's stuff to be done, Brandon Smith is the guy to do it. No doubt you've noticed that a fair amount of the stuff Smith does is at the quarterback position and Michigan seems to have a big gaping hole at that position, and maybe the two could come together? Well... not so much. The universal opinion from recruiting gurus and collegiate coaches is that Smith will end up on the defensive side of the ball; he's a D-I athlete but not a D-I quarterback.

Like Brandon Moore we have a split between guru ratings -- three top 100s, a near top-100, and ESPN's dissenting opinion -- and offers, although in Moore's case had the offers on his side and the gurus against him. What to make of Smith's divide?

It's usually good policy to discount ESPN's opinion when it's in wild disagreement with the other services, but here I tend to give their rip job ($, "he's not a fast-twitch athlete and lacks explosive quickness and speed"; "Takes too long to reach top speed"; "He can be late, takes false steps and doesn't see things happen quickly enough") some credence. Reasons:
  • Rivals started off very high on him, ranking him around #50, but steadily dropped him as the year progressed despite his status as a high-profile uncommitted player.
  • Despite all the guru accolades Michigan's main competitors were Rutgers and South Carolina; other offers came from Maryland, NC State, Wisconsin and West Virginia. He wanted offers from Florida and Ohio State which never came.
  • You always risk looking like a tool when you rely on your super awesome scouting skills and six plays on youtube to discern a kid's fate, but... yeah, I didn't think he was all that.
Smith looks like a prototypical collegian at a strapping 6'2", 210, but the lack of big time offers is telling. It's easy to believe Smith could lure the gurus in with his impressive frame at various combines and inflate his ranking while leaving college coaches relatively unmoved.

Guru Reliability: Low... I'm skeptical of the big split between his ratings and his offers.
General Excitement Level: Moderate.
Projection: ESPN projects a move to OLB and I think they're right.

Position Grade

B. Cissoko immediately following Warren should give Michigan two high caliber corners for the next two or three years, depending on just how high caliber Warren ends up. I'm relatively down on Smith, but I'm not so arrogant to presume I know better than a couple of Michigan coaching staffs and four different recruiting services. He's a good pickup. Floyd... well, there's always a chance he defies expectations and given the numbers in the secondary he'll get an opportunity.

I remain leery about the numbers back here. Richards, Sears, Adams, and Englemon are gone from what seemed like a thin secondary a year ago and only three players enter to replace them.