New Blue, Ross Douglas

OH DB Ross Douglas, listed at 5'10, 180ish, committed to the Michigan staff the same day of his offer after having stuck with his verbal to the Nittany Lions since late February. Douglas was widely considered the third recruit to leave PSU after the fallout (behind NT Greg Webb and basketball recruit SF Brandon Austin), quickly seeing that it wasn't the right situation for him. While more will follow him, Michigan is not likely to pursue any of them. As far as current players go, Hoke and staff might give some defensive linemen a precursory look, but probably nothing more than that.

Douglas is a kid that we've been hearing about for quite some time. Despite coming from a school that has only sent one safety to Eastern Michigan since the dawn of the recruiting services, Douglas and his coaching staff managed to get his name out in a big way. He camped throughout the midwest, and was already being courted by Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State and MSU during his sophomore year. As the 2013 cycle started up and offers began flying out, we saw that although Douglas was getting some of that interest backed up, many of those schools shied away from an offer (although that could at least partially be attributed to his early commitment. Still, I think that line of logic is a little flimsy. Do you think a verbal commitment is going to stop Urban Meyer or Brian Kelly from pursuing a kid they really want? No, and it wouldn't stop Hoke either). In any case, he briefly held a Michigan offer before it was pulled, likely around the same time CA DB Cameron Walker and really anyone not named McQuay or Fuller saw their offers disappear. Once he decided to shy away from Penn State, a lot of the realistic options at DB had become significantly less realistic- only McQuay III seems to be heavily considering Michigan at this point- so they went for the sure thing and accepted Douglas' commitment.

Some may take my language to mean I see Douglas as a form of settling, but that's not quite the point I was trying to make. Instead of gambling on a boom or bust type in McQuay, taking the sure thing in an average nickel/boundary CB is not a bad thing. Some have thrown out the comparison to Avery which is...well.. sort of. Avery lacks elite top end speed but makes up for it with above average hip swivel and good quickness. Douglas probably has 4.5 speed, more than adequate for a collegiate DB, but isn't especially quick. I'll point you to a certain play that stuck out to me in his highlight film. That's a slow ball from a quarterback at least 20 yards away. He sees the break of the WR, yet lacks the suddenness or explosion to break on the ball and pick it off. I have to think Jourdan Lewis would make a pick six out of that. Perhaps I've just been spoiled by the elite closing speed Lewis and 2012 signee Terry Richardson have shown, but Ross just seems like an average cover guy. He also shows off a bevy of technical flaws, but I have more than enough confidence in Mallory to coach him up on that.

At the very least, he brings a good deal of speed and physicality, and could find a way into the rotation at the nickel (where he'll have to compete with Delonte Hollowell) or boundary corner (where competition will come from Raymon Taylor, Terrence Talbott, Gareon Conley, and Channing Stribling). So yeah, probably a nickel guy. Despite his higher ranking, I'm not sure Douglas will bring the same presence at the nickel that Avery does.

Since Douglas jumped on board, there remains exactly one spot left for the class. Although prospects like Alvin Bailey, the aforementioned McQuay, and Derrick Green remain uncommitted, the last spot is likely reserved for Laquon Treadwell. With Douglas, Michigan now has its 5th DB in the class; a smallish cover guy in Jourdan Lewis (Field Corner), two bigger, physical guys in Stribling and Conley (Boundary Corners), a physical safety in Dymonte Thomas, and now a nickel. With 5 corners and 4 safeties over the course of the past two classes, the DB position will not be a huge priority in the 2014 class. If I had to guess, UM will take 2 CBs (ahem Westphaal and Webb), a safety (you could probably put Jabrill Peppers here, but that's far from a sure thing), and perhaps one more elite guy (Troy Vincent? D'Andre Payne? Nick Watkins? More likely someone we've not yet heard of).

My fellow MnB Recruiting Guru Anthony adds in his two cents...

I see a corner capable of being a solid nickel corner, and possibly even a starter if need be. At 5'10", 180 he's built like a corner who would be useful in the slot. Physicality and tackling ability are there despite being on the smaller end, and I like his footwork in both press and off techniques. His awareness and football IQ are strengths.

Most of his position-specific traits are of the good, not great type. His agility is decent but he lacks that cliche extra gear needed to cover ground quickly. I'd expect his 40 time to be in the high 4.4 to low 4.5 range. His ball skills are solid, often pinning the receiver to his hip before turning his head to locate and make a play on the ball.

Overall he's the typical high 3-star to low 4-star cornerback. His offer sheet reflects the ability of a corner capable of starting, and he'll get an opportunity to battle for a spot. At best Michigan got itself a solid starting corner, at worst it added depth at the nickel spot behind an already talented crop of cover men.

So there you have it, folks. Douglas is not a high ceiling type of athlete, but could add a quality player in the nickel position. We may not hear his name for a couple of years, but when we do, he'll likely be a solid player around which Mattison is able to build his defense.

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