Three-star recruits become borderline household names for a variety of reasons. Often, it is because a Ronnie Bell or Mike Sainristil quickly proves that scouts vastly overlooked them. In the case of Joey Velazquez, it was due to his unique role as a true two-sport player.
Velazquez has found himself on both the baseball field and the football field for the Michigan Wolverines and while he may not be a superstar, he has been a fun story as both squads have found themselves in the postseason. The calendar has turned to August, meaning it is time for the linebacker to get the pads back on and assume his role on the defense.
The story so far
Much of the scouting came on the baseball side, as Velazquez was ranked much higher with the bat than he did on the 247Sports composite, which landed him outside the top 1,000. The ranking obviously should be taken with a grain of salt, but it should be noted the prototypical viper recruit in Don Brown’s defense is not the favorite of recruiting services.
Velazquez did seem like the perfect fit for that role, even if his athleticism was not otherworldly despite his two-sport versatility. Of course, Michigan has made a change in defensive scheme, so when he finally got some legitimate playing time last season it was spread between both linebacker and safety (and of course special teams). All in all, he only made a couple appearances on defense, but he did notch a fumble recovery on the muffed punt at Wisconsin.
Outlook moving forward
With the viper role a thing of the past at Michigan, it feels like Velazquez is best as a traditional linebacker. And given some question on his coverage skills, probably more towards the middle. He certainly has the speed to shoot gaps and can lay a nasty hit, so there are definitely packages where the Wolverines can throw him on the field and let him loose.
Velazquez could benefit from some turnover at safety, though there are some talented options who have been hoping to see more playing time with the departure of Brad Hawkins and Daxton Hill. He will probably see himself playing a little at both spots, but his ceiling at this point is mostly as a rotational piece, which is totally fine for what he brings to Ann Arbor overall.