Casey Phinney, Wolverine

Casey Phinney, Wolverine

April 3, 2020
Casey Phinney (image via 247 Sports)

Dedham (MA) Noble & Greenough linebacker Casey Phinney committed to Michigan on Friday morning. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Army and UMass, plus some Ivy League schools.

Phinney is listed at 6’1″ and 225 lbs.

Rivals: 3-star ILB, 5.5 grade
247 Sports: 3-star, 84 grade, #37 ILB

Hit the jump for more on Phinney’s commitment.

Phinney was offered by Michigan back in May of 2018, almost two years ago. That means he was offered a scholarship after his freshman season. He was one of those guys that you maybe expected to continue and grow, and he’s still listed at the same height and weight he was when I first wrote about him. He decided to pull the trigger publicly this morning.

Phinney is a thickly built inside linebacker. He looks like a traditional fullback/inside linebacker combo. He appears to do a good job of communicating and looks like the shot-caller on the defense. In fact, one of his best assets is his ability to quickly diagnose plays and attack. He can stack and shed blockers releasing to the second level, and he does a good job of running his feet through contact.

On the negative side . . . look . . . I’m going to say something similar to what I said about Louis Hansen yesterday. I don’t see Phinney moving Michigan’s defense forward. He is a tough, hard-nosed, physical linebacker playing in a finesse and speed world. Is he going to cover wheel routes matched up against the Saquon Barkleys and TreVeyon Hendersons of the world? Absolutely not. (I understand those are tough covers, and linebackers can’t cover those guys, but that’s just a giant mismatch.) I could see the Phinney commitment making more sense for a team running a 3-4, but Michigan’s 4-3/4-2-5 doesn’t seem like a great fit for his skills.

In what’s expected to be a small-ish class, I believe Michigan could hold out for a more athletic addition to the linebacker corps. The Wolverines have gone toward smaller, faster linebackers in recent years (Devin Bush, Cam McGrone, etc.). For a Michigan comparison, Phinney looks a whole lot to me like Desmond Morgan. Morgan was a fine linebacker, but . . .

Michigan now has six commits in the 2021 class, including three in the past two days (joining Hansen and punter Tommy Doman). Phinney should be physically ready to play, and he’s a smart player, so I expect the mental adjustment to come quickly, too.

Michigan has recruited Noble & Greenough a fair amount in recent years. They offered tight end Cam Large (Wisconsin) in the 2020 class, and they also have an offer out to offensive guard/defensive lineman Drew Kendall in 2021.

TTB Rating: I’m not posting TTB Ratings until I wrap up the 2020 class.


  1. Comments: 1863
    Joined: 1/19/2016
    Apr 03, 2020 at 12:38 PM

    Fullback. Book it

    Like Lank said, “we’re knocking on the door” of elite ?

  2. Comments: 295
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    Apr 03, 2020 at 12:59 PM

    Wow. It’s obvious that Harbaugh isn’t going to be here much longer. His regression in recruiting efforts, attitude and excitement have totally gone off the charts. He went from high-energy and all PR to mind-numbing dullness at UM. He basically doesn’t care much more about the program and realizes he can’t quit, he can’t beat OSU and he’s not wanted here for much longer. I haven’t heard anything about the new recruiting coordinator from all the big-time recruits. In fact, I can’t even remember his name!

    Look, 3 of the last 4 kids could have been offered on signing day and accepted. To put in actual recruitment of players it takes coaches who love recruiting. Most of them left. This is why we are left with grabbing whoever is available AND, maybe most importantly, are high-character kids. I’m all about taking them if they are great athletes and highly recruited like Cornelius Johnson. However, these other kids are decent hs fb players who want to keep playing and would jump at the first power 5 offer sent their way, especially a great academic school like UM.

    It’s very disappointing what this program is becoming. I’m not going to be shocked when Donovan Edwards sees these types of kids and goes to Georgia. Spindler doesn’t care if the kids bright young men, he wants to compete against the best. Not some kid who has great highlights against a middle school sized children. He’ll end up at ND most likely.

    I’m starting to feel the same way about UM as I do the Detroit Lions. Nothing is going to greatly improve until they make major changes at coaching and front office (Athletic Director). Granted, I’ve been home for 3 weeks and my kids are driving me nuts so I’m just bitter all around.

    My TTB rating for this kid will be 51.

    • Comments: 3844
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Apr 03, 2020 at 1:34 PM

      I’ll say this: Michigan has taken early commitments from some guys who have not ended up in the class by the end. That just happened with Nick Patterson in the 2020 class. Things like what you said are always said about some of those early guys, and then at the end, they sign with Princeton or don’t even play college football. There’s still a lot of time between now and signing day.

      So I agree with you regarding a couple of the commitments, but I don’t agree with your conclusion that Harbaugh is regressing or is throwing in the towel.

      • Comments: 18
        Joined: 1/16/2019
        Apr 03, 2020 at 2:13 PM

        My question is whether JH even has a recruiting plan or philosophy. It seems as though the team puts out all its offers, and it’s first come-first served for commitments. As for this commitment specifically, is he taking this player in order to get a commitment from teammate Drew Kendall? Is he helping to boost this player’s stock in order to entice Drew Kendall, with the understanding that the player will decommit by signing day? He can’t have space for a lot of linebackers in the 2021 class, so what does he tell the supposedly top 2 targets on the board? And yes, what does he tell the top 100 types who probably want to go up against other highly rated players in practice every day?

        • Comments: 295
          Joined: 12/19/2015
          Apr 04, 2020 at 12:31 AM

          It’s very rare for teammates to choose the same college. It’s often talked about when they’re in high school but it rarely ever becomes reality. Spindler and Dellinger talked about how they wanted to go to same school but it’s looking like they won’t. I remember Devin Asiasi saying he would be going to the same school as another 4-star player, they changed before signing day. At the end of the day the player’s “team” (mostly parents and coaches) are able to convince them to think more selfishly, which I think is the best option.

          Also, there’s not a lot of room left for OL in this class. Especially in the interior. So, if Kendall commits then most likely Spindler is gone. Then again, I’m sure Don Brown will offer some other 2-star OG from Massachusetts tomorrow and he’ll commit on the spot.

  3. Comments: 313
    Joined: 8/17/2015
    Apr 03, 2020 at 5:32 PM

    I think this recruit is much better than 1,000th player in the nation. If this is his athleticism at 235 lbs I think he could be an average big ten starter after some college weights. 550th – 700th nationally type of range in the recruiting services. TTB ranking of 59 right now but only because there were 4 LBs taken in the class before. Otherwise I’d give him a 67-71.

    His highlight tape has a lot of plays where he’s untouched on his way to a TFL. When he engages a blocker with a running head start he does ok. My biggest issues is not taking on blockers and to disagree with you, his play diagnosis.

    Pre-snap, if he has a read he’s great. He has a running head start, splits a center/guard or goes around a DE, boom tackle for loss. Probably half his plays are TFLs/sacks with maybe a hand touching him on the way. If it’s mid play and he’s 5 yards off the LOS, he waits for the play to develop and uses his athleticism to catch up after a quarter second of hesitation.

    He’ll follow a DE rather than pursuing the edge or a gap. Is he keeping contain? Probably, but there seemed like there was a play or two he could’ve had a TFL if he pursued a little earlier, rather than no gain taking the edge. When he’s chasing down a RB he has the speed to get to the edge, but I don’t know what kind of competition he’s facing.

    I like him less as a FB than I do as a LB.

    Overall not thrilled with this commit, but maybe his competition is great. Maybe he’s not even near his ceiling and maybe he’s going to blow up his senior year.

You must belogged in to post a comment.