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Scouting Michigan’s Newest Commit: Gabe Newburg

Analyzing what Jim Harbaugh and staff like about the Ohio 3-star prospect

Obviously not one for the spotlight, three-star Gabe Newburg committed to the Wolverines on Monday night, mere hours before the National Championship game. Newburg deserves attention though, so let’s take a look at what the defensive end will bring to the table when he joins to the team.

Gifs are clipped from Newburg’s highlight film here.

His longer junior highlights on Hudl are here.

First Step

One of the abilities that first jumped out to me was how quick off the line Newburg was. He possesses a great first step that gets him around tackles and to the quarterback in a hurry.

This play is a good example of his pass rushing acumen.

Newburg explodes off the line, and reaches the tackle before he is able to gather himself from his kicksteps. Coming in strong, Newburg is able to use the tackle’s backwards movement against him to blow him back past the pocket, exposing the quarterback for a sack

From this, you can tell that Newburg has a background in wrestling. He knows how to move his opponent where he wants, using leverage and momentum.

The clip provides another angle of the play, so you can enjoy watching the exact moment the quarterback knew he was about to be smothered.

Newburg also uses that quick first step to set up spin moves, which looks to be his favorite pass rush technique. Watch him set up this tackle with quick steps to the outside, before spinning right around him on the inside.

The tackle ends up totally embarrassed, falling down while trying to keep up with Newburg. Meanwhile, Newburg is chasing down the quarterback for a sack.

The spin move makes a couple more appearances in the Hudl highlights if you want to see more.

Diagnosing Plays

Something else that continually shows up on Newburg’s film is his ability to diagnose plays. There are several instances of him blowing up read options by showing excellent technique and vision.

Newburg has a knack for knowing when he is being optioned. Instead of rushing upfield, he stays at home, waiting for the play to develop.

In the play above, Newburg does just that. Immediately recognizing that no one is blocking him, he stops and gets in an athletic stance. He looks to see if the running back received the handoff. Once Newburg sees that he didn’t, he goes and tackles the quarterback, forcing a fumble for good measure.

This happens again,

and again,

and again.

One of Michigan’s few weaknesses in the previous few seasons has been getting at mobile quarterbacks. Newburg should be able to help with that once he’s ready to see the field.


Being a mid-level 3-star recruit, a good portion of fans are probably angry that they are taking Newburg this early in the cycle. However, I believe that the main reason Newburg is ranked this low isn’t because of anything he has demonstrated on the field, but rather how he projects in the future.

Newburg isn’t the super twitchy, jump out of a building, rangy athlete that NFL personnel love and draft in the first round. Instead, Newburg relies on his technique and fundamentals to make plays.

While Newburg’s ceiling may be lower than others, it also means his floor is a lot higher. There is significantly less bust potential with a prospect of his ilk. At the very least, Newburg should be part of the defensive line rotation, even if he never becomes an all-Big Ten level of player.

Getting into Michigan’s strength program and adding weight to his 6-foot-5, 230-pound frame will be crucial to his development in college. Packing on more muscle and good weight will make him more durable and able to stand up against Big Ten tackles.

Newburg will need to develop some more before he can see the field, but luckily Greg Mattison is one of the best in the business. There is no doubt he will get Newburg prepared to see the field and compete at a high level.