Wednesday night, Michigan secured a commitment from Trente Jones, a four star offensive tackle out of Georgia.
Securing a blue chip prospect from the south, while also filling a major position of need excited the Michigan fan base, including myself. After watching Jones’ highlights, I am even more ecstatic about this young man’s potential. Let’s take a look to see what he brings to the table.
Jones exhibits incredible strength in his blocking. His highlight film has enough pancakes to start an IHOP. Check out the plays at :38 and 1:03. Jones fires off the ball quickly, and immediately stonewalls rushing defensive ends. He uses his strong lower body to drive through the defenders, putting them on their backs.
He also shows significant upper body strength, literally tossing his man in a couple of instances. Look at 2:04 and 3:22 for examples. In these plays, Jones lets the defender get into his body, but he disengages by throwing the guy onto the turf.
Another great trait exhibited by Jones is his enthusiasm for finishing blocks downfield. If he does not immediately pancake the defender, Jones sticks with him until the play is finished.
The play at 1:35 is a good example of this. Here, Jones releases to the second level and finds a linebacker who he sticks with for 25 yards downfield, until he finishes him off.
Jones shows this again at 4:35, where he caves in the right side of the line on a power play, driving his man into the ground. This gave the running back plenty of space, if the pulling tackle had found his guy.
These last two plays are also examples of how Jones can flourish in either a power or zone running scheme. Michigan found a lot of success running power in the middle of the season, and with Greg Frey gone, they will probably stick to this strategy. Jones has shown that he can adapt to this smoothly.
This is the area that impressed me the most with Jones. Most high school tackle prospects are not very polished in their pass blocking at this stage of their careers. However, Jones showed great instincts in this area.
The play at 1:12 is a great demonstration of Jones’ pass blocking acumen. He kick steps, creating space between him and the defender. Then, he extends his arms, keeping his guy at bay as he tries to go inside. This is excellent technique showcased by Jones.
Jones is excellent at hand fighting, not allowing the defensive end to latch onto his pads and drive him backwards. Watch the play at 2:55, where Jones hilariously swats his man’s hands down, completely neutralizing his first move. It’s hard getting past an offensive lineman when you can’t even touch him.
One final play that will be especially appreciated by Michigan fans comes at 4:16. Jones shows great awareness picking up a delayed blitz. He first neutralizes the man lined up across him, then passes him off to the inside, before sliding out to pick up a linebacker rushing in late. This awareness will be widely welcomed by Michigan quarterbacks, who were victims of several missed blitzes last season.
The major issue that I picked up on while watching Jones’ film is his hand placement. The general rule for offensive linemen is that holding is acceptable, as long as the lineman keeps his hands inside the defender’s should pads. If they are not, expect a holding call from the referees.
Jones displays this tendency a few times in his film, most notably at 1:27, 2:17, and 3:04. In these plays, you can clearly see him grabbing the defender’s jersey on his right shoulder. This is a big no-no and will get called by college refs.
Keeping those hands inside the shoulder pads will be one of the first issues that Jones will have to address at the next level. But I have no doubt that the coaching staff at Michigan can iron this out pretty easily.
Overall, I am very high on Jones’ ability and upside. I believe that he is due for a major bump in the rankings as he demonstrates his talents at camps over the summer and during his senior season. It will be tough to keep him off the radar, which means some other schools that have given Michigan fits on the trail will likely make a push. Here’s to hoping they can hold them off.