Wyatt Shallman, listed as 6'3, 255ish, has committed to Michigan on Sam Webb's radio show, the Michigan Insider. He visited campus recently, but like Chris Fox, was not scheduled to be on campus for this past weekend. I'm not sure whether or not he made it to the basketball game. I saw Shane Morris (and what I would assume to be his brother?), as well as Chris Wormley, but Shallman didn't pop up in my viewing area. Anyway, Shallman is a top 100-200 type player from the state of Michigan, so bringing him in this early was a relief, although not unexpected.
Since Detroit Catholic Central is a very well scouted school (in fact, check out Tremendous on their top player for the 2014 class, Dylan Roney), schools got into Shallman's recruitment at a very early stage. He took a tour of a few of the area powerhouses, including Penn State, Michigan, and Notre Dame, in the spring of his sophomore year. Michigan managed to make great strides with him, after being the first to offer him in early May. Many thought the recruitment would not take long to drag out afterwards. While he waited things out over the summer and through football season, he attracted a few more offers, including OSU, and began to look like less and less of a maize and blue lean. Then, on Saturday, he committed.
The staff has maintained, throughout his offering and subsequent recruitment, their desire to play him at tailback, calling him our Brandon Jacobs. Naturally, if you're a connoisseur of Southern Illinois football (or the New York Giants, I guess), you'll know that Jacobs is the 6'4, 264 bruiser who can do things like this to Brian Urlacher, and evidently has the same force of a charging bull. A lot of people want to see his role changed or expanded (myself included, as you'll see in a minute), but for now, this is what Al Borges sees when he hears the name Shallman. A lot of schools had very ambiguous offers out, regarding what they wanted with Shallman. Some wanted DLine, some said Tight End, and Meyer wanted him as an Aaron Hernandez-type flex player (which is what I'm hoping Michigan plans to use him as, eventually).
Without a clear understanding of how this offense is going to look without Denard, or exactly where Shallman fits into that, it's hard to predict playing time. Maybe they want another big back like Stephen Hopkins or Thomas Rawls, who will be a Senior and Junior when Shallman comes onto campus. Maybe they want another flex-type U Back like Funchess or Ricardo Miller, who would be a RS Freshman/Sophomore or RS Junior when he comes onto campus. I'd hope it would be the latter, but it seems more like they want the former. The two I mentioned would likely be the only two to get in his way for playing time, as the only other RB on the roster that weighs in heavier than 200 pounds is soon-to-be-gone Michael Cox. Incoming recruit Drake Johnson is 205, but I don't think he'd be your prototype big back.
Anywho, this likely means early playing time for Shallman. Like I mentioned, I'm not too high on him as a running back. I've said for months, on twitter, that I think he has poor balance. If you watch the aforementioned Jacobs play, he's a bowling ball. He's not going to juke anyone out of their socks, but he's so big that he doesn't have to. Shallman, however, seems to go down fairly easily. When you're watching his highlights, you don't get the sense that he's 250+. He also has the tendency to be a Michael Shaw-esque, in that he dances around instead of concretely hitting the hole. For Shaw, who's 195 pound scatback, it's understandable. But doing that at 250 pounds is losing your biggest strength- your power at the point of attack. Furthermore, instead of dropping and cutting like Shaw does, he instead seems to bunny hop. Therefore, he loses a lot of speed when changing direction. Bottom line- he's a 250 pound RB that plays like he's 60 pounds lighter. I'm hoping this is coachable, but it more often has to do with the athlete's mentality than his coaching.
I'd much rather have him as a RB/TE type player. For those of you that watched the Patriots this year, you'll know Aaron Hernandez did it all. He's a big target that's not afraid to go over the middle and take a hit. He's a strong in-line blocker, both from the backfield and on the line (strong, I should say, for his size). He even would get a few touches as a tailback! Shallman's true potential is to be found, just as he's listed- an athlete. Deploy him all over the field, find the mismatch, and exploit it. Just like Denard this year, Shallman will be a test of Borges' ability to be creative without getting cute, although admittedly, to a much smaller extent. MnB's Jeff Contizano adds his thoughts:
Wyatt is a real intriguing prospect. The Michigan coaches have told him he'll get a shot at running back, but he could theoretically play any of RB/FB/TE/H-Back/DE/DT. Regardless of where he ends up, you have to take a player with his skill set and athleticism. Plus, it's always great to grab talented players from Michigan and the midwest.
Once more, you'd probably do well to simply skip my rantings and let Jeff neatly summarize in a few sentences.
So there you have it, folks. Shallman is an athletic project that the coaching staff simply couldn't miss out on. Landing him, this early, allows focus to shift to landing another RB to complement his skills, like IL RB Ty Isaac, CA RB Justin Davis, VA RB Derrick Green, OH RB Deveon Smith, and TN RB Jordan Wilkins, to name a few. Of those, they should have the best shot with Isaac or Smith, with the darkhorse being Green (if they can yank him away from Buckeyeland, it'll be a coup almost as big as Kalis).