Preview of 2017 In-State Recruiting: #6-10

Preview of 2017 In-State Recruiting: #6-10

May 31, 2016
KJ Hamler 955x

Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s WR K.J. Hamler (image via MLive)

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Last week I started a series of posts on the top recruits in the state of Michigan for the class of 2017 (LINK). These posts are coming a little bit later than I usually like to do them, but that’s okay. After the top ten to fifteen prospects, you’ll probably come across some brand new names, maybe from your hometown or your rival school. I’m presenting these posts in groups of five. The top five were:

1. Donovan Peoples-Jones
2. Ambry Thomas
3. Antjuan Simmons
4. Ja’Raymond Hall
5. Joshua Ross

6. K.J. Hamler – WR – Orchard Lake (MI) St. Mary’s
Height: 5’9″
Weight: 155 lbs.
Notable offers: Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Oregon, Penn State, Pitt, West Virginia, Wisconsin
Commitment: Uncommitted
247 Composite: 3-star, #47 WR, #326 overall, #10 in-state
Analysis: I discussed Hamler at length here. He recently got invited to The Opening. I think Hamler has to end up in the right spot for him to reach his potential, a place where he can work in a wide-open offense. Oregon and West Virginia would be good landing places, but not the more pro-style offenses like Michigan, MSU, Pitt, etc.

Hit the jump for #7-10.

7. Phillip Paea – DT – Berrien Springs (MI) Berrien Springs
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 285 lbs.
Notable offers: Arizona, BYU, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Oregon, USC 
Commitment: Michigan
247 Composite: 3-star, #34 DT, #469 overall, #13 in-state
Analysis: I went into depth on Paea when he committed to Michigan (LINK). I think he has more upside on offense than defense, so we’ll see how his career develops.

8. Hunter Rison – WR – Ann Arbor (MI) Skyline
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 185 lbs.
Notable offers: Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Miami, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Texas A&M, UCLA 
Commitment: Michigan State
247 Composite: 4-star, #43 WR, #300 overall, #9 in-state
Analysis: Rison, who is the son of former Michigan State and NFL receiver Andre Rison, doesn’t leap off the screen as a football player. He lists a 4.71 forty, and he’s 6’0″, 185 lbs. Even against average competition in southeast Michigan, he doesn’t get great separation. However, his concentration level in traffic is impeccable. He makes a lot of tough catches with bodies all around him, and he’s not easy to take down after the catch. I don’t think he’ll be a star at the next level, but he has solid coaching (his father is an assistant at Skyline) and should make a nice possession receiver for the Spartans.

9. Jaylen Kelly-Powell – S – Detroit (MI) Cass Tech
Height: 6’0″
Weight: 183 lbs.
Notable offers: Arkansas, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Stanford, Wisconsin 
Commitment: Uncommitted
247 Composite: 4-star, #22 S, #243 overall, #5 in-state
Analysis: Some of the recruiting services have pegged Kelly-Powell a little bit higher, but I see him as a solid but boring safety at the next level. He has good speed (4.49 forty) and changes direction well, and he has decent size. The biggest thing that sets him apart from other guys is how quickly he can plant and change direction to support the run or break on short passes. He plays some corner for his high school team, but I don’t think he looks comfortable out there in space and I don’t know if he has the hips to play there. He’s a very solid player who uses good technique and should get on field wherever he ends up because of his consistency.

10. Corey Malone-Hatcher – DE – St. Joseph (MI) St. Joseph
Height: 6’4″
Weight: 246 lbs.
Notable offers: Alabama, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Wisconsin 
Commitment: Uncommitted
247 Composite: 4-star, #17 WDE, #243 overall, #6 in-state
Analysis: Malone-Hatcher claims a 4.79 forty, a 425 lb. bench press, and a 600 lb. squat. He plays football like one would expect for someone with those measurements. That is to say, he’s a strongside end in a weakside end’s body. He has heavy hands (when he chooses to use them) and somewhat heavy feet, and he’s not a huge speed rush threat off the edge. He’s very strong, though, and does a good job of shedding blockers. St. Joseph plays him at tight end and middle linebacker at times, but he’s a middle linebacker like Brandon Graham was a middle linebacker. Malone-Hatcher needs to work on his technique from the defensive end position, improve his stance and pass rush moves, and become more consistent. He has a lot of potential, but he’ll benefit from being able to concentrate on just one position in college.


  1. Comments: 295
    Joined: 12/19/2015
    May 31, 2016 at 9:27 AM

    First off, I love these kinds of articles that compare prospects. Great job! I typically don’t watch a lot of film until guys start to become serious about committing to UM so this is my first time reviewing some of these guys but here are my observations:
    1. Kelly-Powell looks like he plays fast at least. He’s more of an arm-tackler than a hitter but seems to have good, not great ball skills. Not many big plays made. I will give him credit for looking the part of a football player who doesn’t take plays off.

    2. Malone-Hatcher doesn’t look 6-3. He looks like average height compared to his competition which wasn’t great. His strength definitely stands out, but that’s against average competition at best. Not as thrilled as I was previously about him and think there are better prospects out there. Was his achilles injury last season a rupture or a strain?

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 31, 2016 at 3:01 PM

      I agree on Kelly-Powell.

      Malone-Hatcher’s Hudl page lists him at 6’4″, but I have a hard time believing that unless he has hit a growth spurt recently. I can’t tell you whether it was a rupture or a strain. From what I heard, his family was pretty hush-hush about the situation, presumably because it might raise concerns about his health.

      I’m glad you enjoy these posts.

    • Comments: 1357
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      May 31, 2016 at 8:00 PM

      I like him. I think he’s a pretty nice combination of strength and quickness. He looks kind of nifty running around out there in a bizarre, sincerely trying country boy sort of way. Whoever said he was raw was understating the issue. His stance is about as ugly as it gets, on one occasion he takes a step backward at the snap in order to get balanced enough to go forward. I’m thinking that Mattison is a guy who can get all that fixed pretty quick.

      He strikes me as a big strong athlete that kind of likes to run into people. Take him and then coach him up. I’ll even give him just the tiniest of chances to play some Mike.

      i don’t think he’s 6’4″ either, maybe not 6’3″.

      I love Paea. i particularly like the play about four plays into his vid where he pulls and just blasts some poor outside LB wearing blue. To his credit, the kid stays up and fights, but the second the whistle blows, he has his hands on his knees trying to remember just exactly why he ever wanted to play football in the first place. Paea is a man. I think he could be special.

      • Comments: 359
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Jun 01, 2016 at 9:16 AM

        Ha! I hear Keith Jackson…

        “He looks kind of nifty running around out there in a bizarre, sincerely trying country boy sort of way.”

  2. Comments: 77
    Joined: 1/22/2016
    May 31, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    CMH measured in at 6-3, 246 with a 4.29 shuttle at one of the Nike training camps and his power ball throw was top 5 regardless of class. He’d be a solid pickup, though I agree there are better DE prospects out there (one of which we are in line to get in Luigi Vilain). What’s worrying is that he had an ankle injury that he tried to play through last year. Ended up getting surgery for it and missed the rest of his junior year.

  3. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    May 31, 2016 at 2:09 PM

    Good post series. Enjoying it.

  4. Comments: 6285
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    May 31, 2016 at 2:17 PM

    I’ve made arguments in the past about height (especially for RB) but I’ll do it for WR too. I can’t say if Hamler should or shouldn’t be offered (his other offers indicate he probably deserves it), but height shouldn’t be a reason he is not. Nor do I think that projecting him (or any other WR who happens to be short) to a limited role of lining up inside of outside WR a fair or wise thing to do. Consider:

    -3 of the top 5 draft picks were 6′ or under in 2016 NFL draft.
    -The top WR taken was 5’11.
    -2 WRs were taken that were 5’9 or less last year, including Demarcus Ayers who is 5’6.
    -height has been shown to NOT correlate with success in the NFL

    Pretty much every time I hear about WR whose only question is height I immediately presume the kid is underrated. That’s why I’m excited about the ’16 class with McDoom, Johnson, Evans, etc. Even Harbaugh, who is as traditional/power/pro as it gets, sees the value in ‘undersized’ WR.

    I don’t know if Hamler fits in the class or if he might be a Norfleet-like option late in the cycle, but it sounds like he has a high likelihood of being a good player and I’d hate to see that happen at MSU or another school that is on our schedule.

    • Comments: 3845
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      May 31, 2016 at 3:11 PM

      Hamler was offered, but Michigan has not been recruiting him heavily.

      As for the height issue, I responded in depth to your comment(s) at MGoBlog, so I won’t rehash the whole argument here. In short, height is not THE determining factor, but it is A determining factor. Short quarterbacks can be successful (Drew Brees, Russell Wilson, Doug Flutie, etc.), but they are not the norm. Nate Robinson is a good basketball player, but he is not the norm.

      Undersized wide receivers do have a place – as do small running backs, big running backs, etc. – but it’s not a good idea to overload a position with a bunch of players with the same skill set. No receiver is “strictly” an outside or inside guy, anyway. Depending on formations, personnel, etc., almost everybody lines up in the slot, goes in motion, lines up on the outside, etc. It’s a matter of where a guy fits best or should play the most, and I don’t think Hamler fits as an outside WR in Jim Harbaugh’s offense. And I think Harbaugh agrees; if he disagreed with that statement, then he would probably be recruiting him harder.

      • Comments: 6285
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        May 31, 2016 at 5:20 PM kind of is the norm..and it’s not clear that it’s any sort of factor at all.

        Most basketball players (at least if you’re talking beyond HS) are 6’2-6’9. Most WR are 5’11 to 6’2. It does matter that Nate Robinson is short because he can end up guarding guys who are 6’5 on a regular basis. Hamler’s not going to do that ever if he’s a WR (other than turnovers I suppose).

        There’s a cogent argument to be made for QB height mattering (seeing over the OL). But there really isn’t one for WR. The closest one is ‘catching radius’ – but using height as a proxy for catching radius is terrible – standing reach would be a better physical measure for example. More importantly – strength, timing, instincts, and leaping ability all affect ‘catching radius’ more than how far the top of your head is away from the ground when you stand up straight. On top of all that catching radius is a tiny fraction of what makes a WR good (route running, speed, hands, getting off jam-coverage, etc.).

        You have me on Harbaugh’s take on Hamler – and I’m not going to disagree with his assessments…BUT. He offered him, so that’s a sign that he wants him – he just might want others more. Secondly, Michigan took a huge WR class last year, so they might be hesitant to take commitments from too many more until DPJ and other elite WR targets and other positions play things out.

        • Comments: 3845
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          May 31, 2016 at 5:41 PM

          How is height for WRs not a factor when the only two 5’9″ and under guys who were drafted were in the 6th and 7th round? I looked at the top 100 Rivals WRs from two classes ago, and there were 2 guys who were 5’8″ and 2 guys who were 5’9″. Zero were shorter than 5’8″. If height isn’t a factor, why are 96 of the top 100 wide receivers taller than 5’9″?

          Your comment about basketball doesn’t really complete the circle. Hamler *is* going to be guarded by players, and most of them will be taller than 5’9″. No, he won’t have to guard tall receivers, but he will have to battle 5’10” or 6’0″ corners and safeties.

          I’ve made the point elsewhere (including in the MGoBlog thread you commented on) that we had a big WR class last year, so there’s not a great need for slot receivers, so I agree with you there.

          • Comments: 6285
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            May 31, 2016 at 8:02 PM

            Apply your logic in the reverse direction and see how much sense it makes to you. Like so: Rivals top 100 WR only has 6 above 6’4. Only 1 was above 6’5. Only 3 WR over 6’2 got drafted this year. Besides super fast Michael Thomas, they went in rounds 5 and 6.

            There are a lot of tall people, if height isn’t a negative, why are so few tall WR getting drafted and ranked highly in the the top 100?

            Does that make sense? No. The reality is that most guys who can cover distances quickly are going to be in the 5’10 to 6’2 range. That’s the fat part of the bell curve. That’s your supply. That’s a reality of the population pool in the USA.

            The guys under 5’10 and over 6’2 that have the talent to overcome the talent numbers game are going to be few. That doesn’t mean that height is huge factor. It means height correlates with the available supply of talent. Speed matters at WR, and speed and height are correlated because physics, but height itself the determining factor.

            I’m glad you brought up CBs because that’s a good example of my point. There was a time when people thought fast players who were short had to be CBs and fast people who were tall were WRs, but now the trend has flipped. I think it makes sense – a tall CB can deflect away passes (without having WR skills like catching) and a long one can jam WRs (which a WR doesn’t need to worry about). But probably the biggest part is that the game has evolved and gotten smarter and people realize that being tall is not a big deal for WRs. The actual factual real data tells us it doesn’t once you are talking about people good enough to make the NFL.


            If your definition of ‘tall’ is over 5’9 – then you are correct. But nobody is calling a 6′ WR tall on the field because context.


            Hamler shouldn’t be considered a ‘slot WR’ anymore than Desmond Howard or Jeremy Gallon or Mario Manningham or Steve Breaston or Braylon Edwards or Devin Funchess.

            He’s a WR, who happens to be short. Funchess is a WR who happens to be tall. Don’t mean a thing if they can’t run fast, cut quickly, adjust effectively with the ball in the air, and catch the ball in traffic.

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