While Michigan’s offensive line class already had three four-stars, it was missing a true left tackle prospect. They got that Monday when three-star Tristan Bounds committed.
Listed as 6-foot-7.5 and 285 pounds, Bounds’ frame is by far his best asset as a prospect. He continues the line of guys like Ryan Hayes and Jeffrey Persi who are at least 6-foot-7 while still having room to add good weight. This means he’s a project with a low floor but a vast ceiling if he can unlock the potential his body affords him.
Nearing 300 pounds, Bounds is the most filled out of those guys at this stage in his career, and it shows on tape. He’s a massive player, often overwhelming opponents with his sheer size. But for his size, he is able to move his feet quickly and swivel his hips to get around players.
This reach block showcases his ability. While taking steps outside, he targets the defensive end effectively with his inside arm, stopping his momentum. He then engages his outside arm and turns his hips to seal his man off from the play.
However, with that size comes some issues. The first is his pad level. Unsurprisingly, it’s tough for a 6-foot-7 kid to consistently bend low enough to get a good enough target on defenders.
In this next clip, he can only grab onto the top of the end’s shoulder pads. When you’re holding on to the top of someone, it’s really hard to drive them backwards, and that’s what Bounds experiences in this play. Without being able to use any of his strength, he has to resort to throwing him to the ground in what will be flagged as a hold at the next level since his hands are clearly outside of the shoulder pads grabbing cloth.
Even when Bounds gets a good target on a defender, I worry about his functional strength. Too often, it’s the defender directing where the pair goes rather than Bounds clearing the path for his back.
On this play, the stand-up defensive end drives Bounds back a couple steps on his initial rush. After Bounds fails to anchor, the end sees the ball going inside and redirects. He takes Bounds along with him, who is trying to get back in front, but can’t shove him off his path. Ideally, Bounds would be able to stonewall this rush and kick out the end away from the play so he can’t add to the pile.
Since there weren’t any full games of Choate Rosemary Hall online, I thought it would be a treat to break down the next best thing. Bounds faced off against penultimate Michigan commit Kechaun Bennett last season, and both have reels of their matchup.
I was interested to watch this because it matches the pair’s best skills against each other. Bounds is an excellent pass protector, with good footwork and hand placement to mirror pass rushers, especially at his size. I covered Bennett’s game in my previous scouting report, which was mostly about his pass rush skills.
Watching both Bounds’ and Bennett’s clips, it’s clear to say the former won. Bennett doesn’t show any plays of him going up against Bounds, contributing mostly on special teams instead. Bounds, on the other hand, stonewalls Bennett more than a few times.
Bounds can be prone to leaning while in pass protection instead of kick-stepping and timing his punches, but that doesn’t show up too often.
Instead, he usually shows a great ability to fight away the defenders’ hands and make them widen their pass rush to keep the pocket clean for the quarterback.
Bounds will unquestionably take a redshirt when he gets to Michigan. He has to reshape his body to add some more strength and get to a good playing weight. It’s important to note Bounds was originally a 2020 recruit, but reclassified when he transferred to Choate Rosemary Hall from Episcopal in Virginia. That gave him a second junior season, and when you watch his development from his last year in Virginia to his first year in Connecticut, the difference is striking.
This means Bounds will have an extra year of playing time under his belt when he enters the program and could mean he is a candidate to play earlier than most would expect. He’ll have to wait behind Ryan Hayes for a year or two, but could play as a redshirt sophomore in 2022 once Hayes leaves.