When you set out to track all of Michigan football’s offers in a given cycle, you start to notice trends that can glean information on the staff’s recruiting board. One of these trends was a small flurry of offers to wide receiver prospects starting in the middle of February. When top receiver target Malcolm Johnson Jr. released a list of twelve schools without Michigan on it, those offers started to make sense.
Given that Johnson is now presumably off the board and there aren’t a lot of other clear targets at wide receiver at this point in the cycle, it seemed like a good time to look at the prospects that Josh Gattis offered and see what they bring to the table.
Gattis is clearly targeting longer prospects to play on the outside after stocking the slot room with guys like AJ Henning, Giles Jackson, and Mike Sainristil in the last couple of classes. With that in mind, it’s easy to see why the skill set displayed by Texas three-star Hal Presley resulted in an offer last week.
At 6-foot-3, 190 pounds, Presley is the tallest out of any of the recently offered prospects, and he’s required to use every inch of that frame while on the field. Watching Presley’s junior film, it’s hard not to get flashbacks of Nico Collins last year. Often, Presley will have to adjust on the fly to underthrown balls that put him in double or even triple coverage.
Presley shows really good body control to contort himself into a good position to high point and pluck the ball out of the air. This protects the ball from defensive backs and allows him to win contested catches.
Now, winning these jump balls is a great skill to have, but you’d also like receivers to be able to get separation so they don’t have to rely on winning these battles all the time. One way to get separation is to have clean releases off the line that get the defensive back turned the wrong way.
On this play, Presley doesn’t really attempt a release off the line, instead just running straight to the inside shoulder of the cornerback. This lets the cornerback to just turn and run with Presley, keeping pace with him down the field. Presley does have inside leverage that provides a window for the quarterback to hit, but with two safeties closing in fast underneath that is a low percentage throw, especially at the next level.
There are many types of releases that receivers can employ against man coverage like that, and Presley will have to develop some better moves in order to get a bigger cushion to make catches.
Next up we have JJ Jones, a three-star receiver from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Since full game film is always better to watch, I found his team’s state championship loss to Wren last season on YouTube. Jones is also 6-foot-3 and plays on the outside. He had 16 touchdowns on only 45 catches last year, so he’s always a threat to score.
If I’m being honest, the film didn’t showcase any traits that jumped off the page for Jones. Mostly he caught passes on short outs and was immediately tackled. His one clear highlight was a 30-yard touchdown catch for Myrtle Beach’s first score, where he showed good hands and timing on a tough catch.
Jones’ route running can often be sloppy, with him rounding off the routes at the top instead of using an aggressive plant and sinking his hips to gain separation. Jones is the receiver at the top of the screen in this clip.
He also displayed some issues with ball security, losing control after securing a catch twice.
Since there weren’t too many skills that jumped off the screen from this game, I turned to Jones’ junior highlight film to see what his assets were. From the first couple of plays, it was clear. Jones is a threat after the catch, using excellent vision and agility to evade tacklers and gain extra yards.
Jones released a top group of schools before Michigan offered him, so it remains to be seen if he’ll shuffle his list to include the Wolverines after the fact. If not, I think that some of the other guys on this list would be better options.
The last guy we’ll talk about today is the lowest ranked but looks to be the highest on Michigan’s board. Three-star Markus Allen from Northmont (OH) has impressed Josh Gattis with his film, and I have to agree after diving deep into this group.
Allen is 6-foot-2, 190 pounds and is extremely fluid and athletic in his movements. He has the ability to adjust on the fly and change direction after the catch to break away from defenders. I really like how smoothly Allen is able to adjust to the ball over his shoulder on this touchdown grab, making it look easy along the way.
He also has jump ball skills to rival Presley, possessing good instincts and high-pointing the ball to reach it before the defender can. Here’s a good example where Allen has to come back to the ball and leaps over the cornerback to make the catch.
Before Allen even makes the catch, I like how he decides to break off his route and go deep behind the cornerback instead of cutting in front. He shows savvy in finding spaces in the coverage and gaining separation.
I really don’t see any holes in Allen’s games, although I couldn’t find full game film to find issues that don’t show up on highlight film. He appears to have good long speed, balance, and agility in his movements, along with natural instincts and body control. He’s ranked too low in my opinion and would be the guy I’d most like Michigan to land out of this trio.