Michigan picked up its first offensive player of the 2022 class when three-star tight end Marlin Klein joined the fold on Tuesday.
Klein has spent about a year in the United States after moving from Germany to continue his football career. He’s only played the game for three years, which obviously puts his development behind most peers in his class. Luckily, he possesses tools that most other teenagers don’t have, mainly a 6-foot-6 frame.
His length will make him a big time mismatch on the field as a flex tight end that will be split out to run routes more often than not. Klein only weighs 215 pounds right now, so he is basically a jumbo wide receiver for his high school team.
That high school is Ruben Gap-Nacoochee School, which is located in Georgia but actually plays their schedule against other small North Carolina private schools. As a sophomore, Klein caught 15 passes for 335 yards and four touchdowns.
Klein’s sophomore highlight film is short, but it shows plenty of tools that got the Michigan staff extremely excited about his potential. From the first play, it’s clear Klein controls his frame abnormally well for someone his size.
With the ball thrown almost directly over his head, Klein tracks the ball in the air, stretches his arms out late to avoid getting raked by the defensive back and plucks the ball dropping in front of his face.
Klein can also use his height to win contested jump balls. His large catch radius will be difficult to defend for any linebacker or safety lined up against him. On this catch, he gets behind the defensive back, but is able to come back and jump over him to grab the ball.
The trait I was most impressed with was Klein’s ability after the catch. Klein is surprisingly fast and shifty for someone his size and used it to outrun defenders consistently.
Apparently Klein runs a 4.44 40-yard dash, which I would take with a grain of salt. But watching him breakaway from the players here, I don’t think that time is too far off.
His combination of speed and size is going to be a nightmare to cover over the middle.
As you’d expect from a foreign prospect, Klein is going to take some time to develop both physically and technique-wise. He’ll have to put only around at least 25-30 pounds before he gets close to tight end shape.
He also has to develop his route tree. On his film, Klein basically runs only fades with a couple curls and slants thrown in. On the latter, you can see his footwork is not where it needs to be and will have to be drilled into him.
But it is evident if Klein can put together all of his tools into a complete package, his ceiling is vast. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Matthew Hibner-like rise in the rankings for Klein. As a prospect that has a higher starting point than Hibner, that means he’ll likely crack four-star status.
Once he gets to Michigan, I wouldn’t expect to see him contribute until around year three. Michigan would like to pair him with another guy at the position in his class, preferably someone who is closer to seeing the field. The top options right now include top 100 guys Donovan Green and Jaleel Skinner and another under-the-radar guy in Oscar Delp.