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May 22, 2014

Michigan moves in the Rivals250

Another set of the Rivals.com prospect rankings for the 2015 class is here, and U-M has four commits inside the Rivals250, one just outside, and two players looking to make moves later in the process. A look at all seven Michigan commits and the change to their rankings.

Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher's School defensive back Garrett Taylor
Old Ranking: 6.0 four-star, No. 41 overall prospect and No. 6 cornerback nationally, No. 1 player in Virginia
New Ranking: 6.0 four-star, No. 48 overall prospect and No. 7 cornerback nationally, No. 1 player in Virginia
Taylor had to pull out of the DC/Baltimore area Rivals Camp Series event, so the rankings experts didn't get one more chance to see him in person. While the 6-1, 188-pounder is already highly thought of, it would have been his opportunity to show that he will be able to remain at the cornerback position, even though he continues to get bigger. If he still has the flexibility and speed at that size, he's a rare cornerback prospect. If not, he may eventually move to safety.

Lakewood (Ohio) St. Edward defensive back Shaun Crawford
Old Ranking: 5.9 four-star, No. 106 overall prospect and No. 11 cornerback nationally, No. 4 player in Ohio
New Ranking: 5.9 four-star, No. 111 overall prospect and No. 13 cornerback nationally, No. 4 player in Ohio
Like Taylor, Crawford had to change his plans and miss a Rivals Camp Series event, the one in Detroit April 27, specifically. The 5-9, 165-pounder wants to show off his size for the opposite reason that Taylor does: he's not worried about being too big, he wants to get even bigger. Crawford's explosiveness and athleticism could convince the Rivals rankings experts that he deserves to be ranked higher (another 5-9 corner, Adoree' Jackson, was a five-star last class). Crawford is hoping for a slot in the Rivals Five-Star Challenge to prove himself instead.

Indianapolis Lawrence Central linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.
Old Ranking: 5.8 four-star, No. 183 overall prospect and No. 6 inside linebacker nationally, No. 1 player in Indiana
New Ranking: 5.8 four-star, No. 167 overall prospect and No. 6 inside linebacker nationally, No. 1 player in Indiana
Kirkland made a nice statement at the Rivals Camp series event in Columbus April 26, seeing his national ranking improve by 16 slots. He showed off that - despite his college-ready size at 6-1, 233 pounds - he is no big, lumbering 'backer. He was light on his feet and strong in pass coverage. He earned the positional MVP award at that camp. Going along with the instincts and aggressive power against the run we'd already witnessed on the field last fall, Kirkland was worthy of the jump.

Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne safety Tyree Kinnel
Old Ranking: 5.8 four-star, No. 188 overall prospect and No. 9 safety nationally, No. 9 player in Ohio
New Ranking: 5.8 four-star, No. 193 overall prospect and No. 10 safety nationally, No. 9 player in Ohio
Like Kirkland, the 6-0, 190-pound Kinnel was a positional MVP at the Columbus Rivals Camp, but his performance was about in line with expectations, so his ranking didn't change on its own accord (though a couple players made large leaps into the Rivals250 to bump his national standing down a negligible amount). Kinnel was solid in coverage, every bit as big and strong as expected, and an invitee to the Rivals Five-Star Challenge. That event will give him the opportunity that a bump is warranted next time the rankings are updated.

Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone
Old Ranking: 5.7 three-star, No. 16 pro-style passer nationally, and No. 4 player in Michigan
New Ranking: 5.8 four-star, No. 11 pro-style passer nationally, and No. 4 player in Michigan
No player on Michigan's commitment list made as big an impression this spring as Malzone did at the Detroit stop on the Rivals Camp Series. The 6-2, 205-pounder has long struggled with adjusting his mechanics between the baseball diamond and gridiron, and he proved at the event - even in the midst of his baseball season - that he can flip the switch as easily as ever, not letting the windup from the diamond affect his delivery. He was as accurate as ever, earning the bump from a three-star to a four-star prospect and a nice leap up the pro-style passer board.

Philadelphia St. Joseph's Prep offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr.
Old Ranking: 5.6 three-star, No. 31 offensive guard nationally, and No. 14 player in Pennsylvania
New Ranking: 5.6 three-star, No. 39 offensive guard nationally, and No. 14 player in Pennsylvania
Runyan is a player whose flaws will need to be worked out on the field, not during camp season. While the 6-4, 250-pounder is more physically impressive than before, his strength, aggressiveness, and ability to be nasty on the field can only be settled between the white lines. He skipped out on camp season, though Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic Recruiting Analyst Adam Friedman did stop by his school to observe a workout, and the camp season wouldn't have affected his ranking much anyway.

Massillon (Ohio) Washington kicker Andrew David
Old Ranking: 5.2 two-star
New Ranking: 5.3 two-star
Kickers rarely see much movement in their rankings, and David is no exception. The 5-8, 170-pounder has been and remains one of the top kickers nationally. If he proves that his accuracy and range are improved during the fall, a very slight bump up is possible.

Overall

Thanks to bumps from Malzone and Kirkland, along with very small slippage from those who didn't improve their rankings, Michigan's team ranking is in better shape now than it was before this edition of the Rivals.com rankings were released. U-M boasts the No. 24 group in the nation with just seven commits (fewer than all but one program - No. 23 UCLA - ahead of them) and 783 team ranking points.

In the more crude method of average stars per commit, Malzone's bump from three to four stars was the only change in the status, taking the Wolverines up to an impressive 3.57. No team ahead of U-M in that metric (the Wolverines are No. 11) has a special teamer - or any two-star, for that matter - committed. If David weren't committed, Michigan would tie for No. 3 with UCLA.





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