High School: Choate Rosemary Hall (CT), previously Episcopal (VA)
Measurables: 6-foot-7.5, 285 pounds
Ranking: Three-star (.8850 composite), No. 419 overall, No. 36 OT
Other finalists: Notre Dame, Virginia, Virginia Tech
When you look at Michigan’s list of targets at offensive tackle throughout the 2021 cycle, it’s a lot of misses on top 100 players and four-star studs. But when Michigan’s backup is 6-foot-7.5 behemoth Tristan Bounds, it’s hard to be too disappointed.
On paper, it looks like Bounds is yet another New England recruit. However, Bounds is originally from Virginia, transferring to elite boarding school Choate Rosemary Hall as a junior. When he transferred, Bounds had to repeat his junior year, making him a year older than most in his class.
This extra year also did wonders for his development on the football field. Watching his first junior tape while still in Virginia, you’ll see a lumbering giant who looks unsure about how to use his size and strength against the Lilliputians. Fast forward a season and you’ll see a more complete football player who knows how to most effectively utilize his tools.
That version of Bounds made him a hot commodity on the recruiting trail. For a while, Michigan wasn’t prioritizing Bounds as they pursued guys like Landon Tengwall, Caleb Tiernan and David Davidkov. In the meantime, Notre Dame went all-in for Bounds while Virginia and Virginia Tech tried their hardest to keep him home.
But when most of Michigan’s targets decided to commit to other Big Ten schools, they turned up the heat on Bounds. He took unofficial visits to both South Bend and Ann Arbor in May, and ultimately decided to side with the Wolverines on June 1.
Since committing, Bounds has been one of the most vocal leaders of the class on social media. This has been especially true during the turmoil of the regular season and questions about Jim Harbaugh’s status. Bounds never wavered throughout all of this, instead posting statements of his dedication to the program. It’s clear Bounds is committed to taking advantage of what the University of Michigan has to offer, and has sky-high potential on and off the field.
- Massive frame with long arms
- Moves well for his size with good athleticism
- Fights away pass rush moves to maintain good hand position
- Size makes it difficult to get good leverage on defenders
- Can punch early and lunge forward in pass pro
- Struggles to finish blocks
Like any 6-foot-7 offensive line prospect, Bounds is a project. He’s huge, with long arms that will allow him to keep defenders out of his chest and stop them from dictating control. He filled out a lot between his two junior years but still has room to add weight.
For someone with his size, Bounds moves surprisingly well. He also plays basketball, which is a good indicator of his athleticism. On reach blocks, Bounds is able to swing his hips to defender’s outside shoulders and seal them off from the play. He’s also adept while pulling, maintaining a wide base to maintain his balance and effectively target defenders.
Bounds’ biggest issue is staying low enough to get good leverage while blocking. Often, he plays high, resulting in him driving from the top of a defender’s shoulder pads instead of in the chest. Bounds can also improve on driving his feet through contact, which will allow him to utilize his size and momentum better.
In pass protection, Bounds will occasionally get eager and punch too early, causing him to lunge and get off balance. He effectively neutralizes pass rush moves with good hand fighting, adjusting to keep his hands in position.
Bounds’ natural tools make him a wildcard. If he can unlock his potential, anything is on the table. Development will take a few years, though, so we won’t know what Michigan has here for a while.