Michigan’s third defensive commit in the 2021 class and second at defensive end is TJ Guy, a three-star from Massachusetts. Guy is fairly lowly ranked at No. 759 in the country, but unlike Michigan’s other defensive end commit Dominick Giudice, he’s not coming out of nowhere.
Guy has been a clear target for the staff for a while now, receiving his offer on January 31st while he was still committed to Boston College. About two weeks later, Guy decommitted from Boston College and looked like he was Michigan’s to take.
Somewhat surprisingly, I was able to find multiple full games of Guy’s high school on YouTube, so I was able to get a pretty comprehensive look at his game. The two games I watched were Mansfield’s 34-6 victory over King Philip and their 41-0 victory over Lincoln-Sudbury in the state championship game.
Guy is listed as 6-foot-4, 240 pounds and looks even bigger than that on film. He has a thick build and should be able to add 30 to 40 more pounds. He moves fluidly for his size and has a quick burst off the line.
Guy is lined up at defensive end on the near side of the line, wearing No. 79 with white bands on his legs.
He uses a swim move in pass rush effectively, using it often to get by the left tackle in the King Philip game. This move combined with his speed off the line got him by the line in a flash. It looks like he may only be comfortable using his left arm to swim, as he never used the move when lined up on the left side of the defensive line.
However, it looks like that swim move is the only developed pass rush tool that Guy has in his toolbox. It often looks like Guy doesn’t have a plan of attack when rushing the passer, which leads him to improvise and end up wasting time with the tackle instead of getting to the quarterback.
On this play, Guy doesn’t close the gap between him and the kick-stepping tackle, moseying back until the tackle plants. He finally engages with the tackle and jumps way too late to try and bat the pass after it’s already past him.
His lack of hand usage appears often on tape and will have to be a major point of coaching for him while at Michigan. As a defensive lineman, your hands are your greatest weapon to gain leverage and control blockers. Guy will not shoot the hands and instead let an offensive lineman grab hold of him easily, making it difficult to disengage.
Here, Guy is lined up at the far side of the line. The tackle gets his hands on Guy first, and Guy just drops his arms to his side while reading the play. When he sees the running back coming his way, Guy is able to use his strength to fight away down the line and make the tackle, but the shed is not nearly as effective as it could have been.
This brings us to my biggest criticism of Guy: his level of effort. He does not have a great motor at all, too often standing up and watching plays or lightly jogging when pursuing the quarterback. He had several opportunities to put more pressure on the quarterback or potentially get a deflection or sack, but instead save his energy for later.
A play from the state championship game displayed this well. The opposing running back breaks free into the open field, and Guy is in pursuit. This does show his speed as he keeps pace with the back down the field. He closes the gap and is in position to make the tackle if he dives, but right when he is the closest, he just decides to give up and slow down. The running back continues on and gets down to the five-yard line.
If Guy is not willing to lay out for a tackle in his team’s state championship game, it raises serious questions about his effort and willingness to give it all on every play. This effort is especially needed when you don’t have pass rush plans to deploy and are against using your hands with blockers.
Guy is a project with the natural frame and athleticism to succeed, but will need a few years of coaching before he is ready to contribute. I’d put him on the same developmental path as Julius Welschof or Taylor Upshaw, the two defensive ends in the 2018 class with similar builds. While he’s listed as a weakside defensive end on 247Sports, Guy will be best at anchor in Michigan’s scheme. It’s going to take some work to turn this Guy into a Dude.