Not only did college football kick off last weekend, but so did several of the country’s top high school football teams. Many of them were matched up against each other and showcased on ESPN networks, including Baltimore’s No. 6 ranked St. Frances Academy traveling to Florida to take on No. 15 Miami Central.
The game ended up being no contest, with St. Frances blowing away Miami Central 49-13. But with highlight reels only telling us so much about a player’s ability, being able to watch a full game provides the opportunity to check out how the quartet of Michigan players on the roster performed every snap. Here are some scouting notes I wrote up for all four recruits while watching the game:
Four-star RB Blake Corum
Hands down, out of the four players that I was focusing on, Corum impressed the most. The box score backs this up, with Corum scoring four times, twice on the ground and twice through the air. Listed as 5-foot-8, 193 pounds, he has a reputation as an all-purpose back who will be used to catch passes and rely on his speed.
While he certainly possesses those skills, the trait I was most impressed with is his power. He constantly churned his legs with strength that had defenders who were diving at his legs getting wiped away like bugs on a windshield. St. Frances even used him in short yardage situations, with Corum converting 3rd and 2 and 4th and 1 situations early in the game to keep the chains moving.
There’s no better example than his 70-yard touchdown run which saw him breaking through a defender wrapped around his waist and swatting away some weak arm tackles with ease:
That clip also shows his elusiveness and change of direction, which he used to dust 4-star cornerback and Michigan target Henry Gray on the way to the end zone for his first touchdown of the day.
They used Corum in the passing game often, where he looked like a natural. He possesses great body control and catches the ball in stride to maintain his speed and get to the end zone.
Finally, when he didn’t get the ball, Corum was a willing blocker. Whether it was being the lead blocker on a sweep or protecting his quarterback in the pocket, Corum was never afraid to do the dirty work. This combination of skills has me very excited for Corum’s future at Michigan and will allow him to see the field in a variety of situations, whether it be passing downs or short-yardage.
Three-star OL Micah Mazzccua
When Michigan took Mazzccua back in February, it was known he was a work in progress. He’s a raw player with tools you can work with, but far from a finished product. That was definitely on display during this game, which featured flashes that showed how Mazzccua could thrive at the Power 5 level, but also some serious technique issues that will need to be cleaned up by Ed Warinner and crew.
Starting off with the positives, Mazzccua is a powerful run blocker. When he gets a piece of someone, he’s able to eject them from the play with little effort. He shows good hand placement while both run and pass blocking that allows him to move guys where he wants them, clearing space for his teammate with the ball.
However, Mazzccua makes things hard on himself by playing with way too high of a pad level. When pass blocking or pulling, he’ll stand almost completely up, stretching his 6-foot-5 frame out to make it easier for defenders to get around him. By having such a narrow base, it’s hard for him to stay in front of pass rushers, even if he’s locked onto the inside of their shoulder pads. He’s very slow while pulling, partially because he turns, stands up, then starts running, rather than staying low and doing it all in one motion. The running back reached the hole before Mazzccua both times he was asked to pull in this game.
Mazzccua may also need to work on his conditioning so he can stay on the field longer. He frequently rotated with another guard during the game. To be fair, it was extremely hot down in Miami, as evidenced by the outfit worn by St. Frances head coach Biff Poggi:
But still, Mazzccua needs these reps to develop as a player. He also seemed lackadaisical on the field, often standing around in a crowd of bodies without really trying to move defenders. On one play he even turned around and looked into the backfield while blocking to see if the quarterback had thrown the ball yet instead of focusing on the guy in front of him. It doesn’t take any skill to play with effort, and hopefully Mazzccua gains some tenacity to pair with his brute strength to really help creates holes for Corum and his other teammates.
Four-star LB Osman Savage
Now let’s move onto the defensive side of the ball, where Michigan has a pair of commits at the linebacker position with vastly different styles of play. Savage lined up most often at the right outside linebacker spot, but also got a few carries at running back. He had a role similar to Michigan’s Viper, lurking at the end of the line of scrimmage and setting the edge for his defense.
Savage is a patient player, waiting until the play develops before he commits to attacking to make a tackle. He seems content with allowing the defensive line to cause disruption and make the play. And when your defensive line features SIX players rated as 5- or 4-stars, that’s probably not a bad decision.
Still, I’d like Savage to player more, well, savagely. He seemed to disappear at times and didn’t really make an impact because he was basically playing a safety role and waiting for a mistake to be made before engaging. Playing with more aggressiveness will allow him to cause more havoc and blow up plays at the line of scrimmage earlier, rather than letting the ball carrier get a few extra yards.
Three-star LB Nikhai Hill-Green
On the other end of the spectrum is Hill-Green, who goes full speed all the time. He has a twitchy burst that gets him to full speed very quickly, but that can turn into recklessness when he’s not careful. Whenever Hill-Green spots that it’s a run, he turns on the jets and goes straight to where he sees the ball. The problem is that on plays like read options, the ball is usually in a different place than he expected. This causes him to have to change direction, which he does fairly slowly, and take a bad angle to the ball. He got gashed a couple of times running pell-mell into the backfield trying to make a tackle for loss, only for the quarterback to pull the ball and run right by him.
While Savage was an outside linebacker who played close to the line of scrimmage the majority of the time, Hill-Green was at middle linebacker and was asked to drop into coverage more often. St. Frances uses mostly zone coverage, at which Hill-Green is very adept for a high schooler. He has a knack for reading the quarterback’s eyes while dropping into his zone and breaking to the direction of the ball quickly. For a high schooler, this skill is definitely advanced.
Both linebacker commits need to find the happy middle between their styles of play in order to be successful at the next level. Savage will find that defensive lines are rarely as dominant as St. Frances’ and will have to step up and make plays himself, while Hill-Green needs to slow down and read the play before taking off for the ball.
St. Frances has an absolutely loaded schedule, with games against national powerhouses Mater Dei and IMG Academy still to come. There should be plenty more opportunities on national television to watch these guys as the season progresses. I’m very interested to see how these guys develop as they get more experience under their belts.