Essexville (MI) Garber fullback/tight end/linebacker Ben VanSumeren flipped from Iowa to Michigan on Sunday afternoon. He chose Michigan over the likes of Cincinnati, Iowa State, Minnesota, and Missouri, among others.
VanSumeren is listed at 6’3″, 228 lbs. He runs a 4.5 forty and a 3.95 shuttle. He claims a 350 lb. bench press, a 570 lb. squat, and a 42″ vertical. He set a state record for catches with 85 this season, totaling 1,259 receiving yards and 13 receiving touchdowns. That all came after he started the first two games at quarterback.
ESPN: 3-star, 78 grade, #52 ATH
Rivals: 3-star, #37 ATH
247 Sports: 3-star, 86 grade, #54 ATH, #655 overall
Hit the jump for more on VanSumeren’s commitment.
I had been aware of VanSumeren as an in-state prospect for a while, ever since he committed to Western Michigan in February. He decommitted and offers from bigger programs started rolling in. After the Iowa offer came in October, it didn’t take him long to take an official visit, and then he committed in November. It looked like that would be it and he would sign with the Hawkeyes on December 20. That is until Michigan sent him an offer late last week and several of the coaches visited his school on Friday morning. They convinced him to take an official visit this weekend, and now he’s committed to the Wolverines.
VanSumeren is a jack-of-all-trades football player as the best athlete on his team – quarterback, receiver, linebacker, crack blocker extraordinaire. At 6’3″ and 228 lbs., he’s a bit of a tweener when it comes to an offensive position; he’s somewhat short for a tight end and fairly tall for a fullback. Iowa had him pegged as a linebacker, which is where his physique would seem to fit best. He has good straight-line speed and some shake to him. He can high-point the football and shield the ball from defenders. The most important thing for him is probably that he’s a very physical player. He’s not afraid to hit, whether he’s blocking, taking on blockers, or running the ball.
On the negative side, VanSumeren has not had a chance to concentrate on any single position since he plays so many different spots. It may take some time for him to learn the nuances of one position, but he’s obviously a smart guy; not only did he learn several positions for his high school team, but he has offers to play for several Ivy League programs. Physically, he will need to continue bulking up and getting stronger, since 228 lbs. isn’t particularly heavy for a college H-back, particularly one who’s 6’3″.
Overall, this is a good pickup for Michigan. The clear favorite for the fullback position next season is sophomore Ben Mason, since two fifth year seniors are graduating (Khalid Hill, Henry Poggi) and the only other fullbacks are walk-ons and Jared Wangler. There is immediately playing time available, and Mason himself got plenty of playing time as the #3 guy during the 2017 regular season. Jim Harbaugh loves to use fullbacks and tight ends, and VanSumeren will probably not redshirt.
There are some stargazers who are probably not happy that Michigan got a commitment from a 3-star prospect, but there are a couple reasons to dismiss the idea that this hurts the class. First of all, Michigan had three scholarship fullbacks on the roster in 2017 (Hill, Poggi, Mason), so this is actually still a reduction in scholarship allocations for the fullback position. Second, a 3-star prospect like him would usually be so lowly ranked in the recruiting class that some websites wouldn’t even count him toward the team recruiting rankings. Since Michigan will have a small class, he may “drag down” the class ranking, but that can be misleading. Third, the #1 fullback in the 2018 class (Miami commit Realus George) is a 3-star and #1468 overall; VanSumeren is a 3-star and #601. Fullbacks are very rarely rated highly, so teams that recruit them surely acknowledge that recruiting pundits won’t approve.
Michigan now has 17 commits in the 2018 class, and this puts the team at 87 allotted scholarship players for 2018 (LINK), which means at least two more players will have to depart from the current squad.
TTB Rating: 78 (ratings explanation)
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