Chris Fox, listed as 6'6", 300ish pounds, called up the Michigan staff Saturday night to offer up his commitment. Although not on campus during the commit-a-palooza, he took note of it from the trusty interwebs and thought to himself, I'm not going to go anywhere I'll like more than Michigan, so why not just end it now? As a result, Michigan fans got a pleasant surprise in the midst of a day of many pleasant surprises, in the midst of a highly enjoyable second half of basketball. All and all, quite the pleasant day.
Although Fox has family in the Ann Arbor area, the coaches deserve major props for landing him. They identified him early on in the process, got him up to campus for their June camp last summer, and offered him after a thoroughly impressive workout. This is more impressive when coupled with the fact that he had never started playing offensive line until about a week or two earlier. Home-team Colorado would follow suit, joined later by the likes of Ohio State, Florida State, Iowa, and Purdue. A bit of a weird offer list, but it clearly shows Fox for what he is-a diamond in the rough that, given time, would likely have exploded into a bit of a super-recruit. Instead, Michigan has locked him down within a month of NSD for the 2012 class. Advantage? Hoke. Well, and Funk.
Offensive line has been a top priority for the Michigan staff over the past few years. After bringing in four kids in the 2012 class, as well as a TE that some suggest might end up at OT, as well as a two-star walk-on from Seaholm, the position was still one that needed addressing, with 2-3 starters (if Mealer or Khoury work their way into the starting lineup) leaving after the season, and at least one backup. These two O-Line focused classes follow two consecutive years that resulted in 4 O-Linemen committed, two of whom (Posada and Pace) are no longer with the team. Naturally, without knowing how this batch of 2012 kids will fare this fall, it's difficult to predict which positions along the line will be 'locked down' and which ones will be open for competition. It's difficult, even, to project where those kids are going to end up, so projecting playing time for Fox would be an exercise in futility. This is what we do know-Fox is extremely raw, big yet athletic enough to play tackle, and has a huge upside once he puts it all together. He could potentially end up at guard, or either tackle position, in my opinion. Fox isn't like Braden or Bosch who, if they play on the outside (Braden definitely will), I think putting them on the blindside would be a mistake. Fox has good enough athleticism and lateral agility to be an above average pass blocker.
I like a few things about his highlight film, even though it consists mostly of defensive highlights. First of all, I liked how quickly he (and his feet) move, especially in pursuit of the ball. Heck, he might even fit in on a Mattison coached defense, with all of the hustle he shows out there. No matter how far away from a play he gets, he never seems to give up, and finds a way to the ball carrier. On offense, this means that he's a relentless blocker. I also like his frame. To me, he looks to be nowhere near the 300 pounds he's listed at. He has a very Chris Wormley-esque body frame, which makes me believe he could probably add another 15-20 pounds and maintain his current agility and physicality (Manbaw? Manbaw.). On defense, he also seems to have an exceptional burst. On the offensive line, this could be especially useful in getting the quick first step to reach or seal, or simply impact on the defender before he can prepare himself for it.
So there you have it, folks. Both sides (Fox and Michigan) pulled together to find a great fit, early on in the process. In Michigan, Fox gets the school he's always known to be his destination; in Fox, Michigan gets a great kid with exceptional ability for his size. With Bosch, Dawson, LTT, and Fox, Michigan pulled in four top-200 level linemen within the course of two days-no small feat, even if at least two were considered to be Michigan leans. Fox will continue to grow, and could even find himself higher in the rankings than he lies currently, depending on his participation in camps and all-star games, as well as his senior highlights.