Cardinal Mooney (Youngstown, OH) safety Ray Vinopal celebrated today’s state championship victory by announcing that he had committed to Michigan. He called the coaches on Wednesday to let them know about the commitment, but it was kept quiet so Vinopal could concentrate on beating DeSales High School (Columbus, OH) in the championship, which he and his teammates did with a 35-7 win.
Vinopal is a 5’10”, 178 lb. high school free safety/running back who will most likely play strong safety in Greg Robinson’s defense. (Remember, the strong safety for Robinson is usually the deep safety.) Cardinal Mooney is a traditional powerhouse, having produced players like Penn State RB Brandon Beachum, Ohio State DT John Simon, and Notre Dame safeties Dan and Kyle McCarthy in recent years.
I have been lukewarm on Michigan’s pursuit of Vinopal since he was offered. He’s a 2-star recruit to each of the three recruiting services (Rivals, Scout, ESPN), but more than that, I’m just not that impressed with the film I’ve seen. Vinopal has some physical limitations. He’s listed at 5’10” or 5’11” and anywhere from 170 to 178 lbs., but he looks small on the field. His 40-yard dash time is listed at 4.56, which you know is a lie, considering the fact that Pat White ran a 4.55 at the NFL Combine last year. Vinopal’s other scholarship offers came from the likes of Bowling Green, Kent State, and Air Force.
When I read Bruce Feldman’s Meat Market last year, I read an interesting quote from former Ole Miss coach Ed Orgeron. When he and his coaches were looking at a prospect’s film, he said something along the lines of, “You can’t knock a kid for technical faults. As a coach, you have to believe you can fix that.” From reading that book and using that philosophy, I’ve taken that advice and applied it, not only to my reviews of recruits, but to my coaching.
And that’s the problem I have with the Vinopal offer and commitment. When I watch him, I don’t see a whole lot to fix. He’s pretty technically sound. He reads plays well, he accelerates well, and you can see that he goes full-speed. He goes all out . . . and I’m still not impressed. He’s not a great tackler. He’s not extremely fast. He’s going to get overpowered in the run game, outrun in open space, and outjumped in the passing game. When he gets to full speed, his running form goes completely out of whack, although that’s something that may be able to be fixed.
Meanwhile, Michigan still has two somewhat realistic options for 4-star safeties Sean Parker (Narbonne, CA) and Rashad Knight (Jacksonville, FL). They’re also recruiting Glenville, OH, safety Latwan Anderson, although he’s almost surely ticketed for Ohio State. The Vinopal commitment also puts the Wolverines at 23 commitments for the 2010 class, a class in which Michigan can only take 25 scholarship players. There are still uncommitted players at other positions out there, such as Maryland linebacker Josh Furman, Florida cornerback Tony Grimes, and Grimes’s teammate, defensive end Clarence Murphy.
Something has to give. Perhaps Michigan’s offer to Vinopal is as a grayshirt player, someone who will pay for his first semester of college until a scholarship opens up. Perhaps Michigan knows that one of their commitments isn’t going to qualify; linebacker Antonio Kinard and slot receiver Tony Drake are rumored to be on the verge of not qualifying.
Either way, I’m not excited about Vinopal’s commitment. Michigan already has Vinopal’s brother on the roster – his name is Jordan Kovacs. Both are short on speed and talent, and both are undersized. I hope Vinopal turns out to be Michigan’s version of former Iowa safety Bob Sanders or even former Minnesota safety Tyrone Carter, but I just don’t see that happening. Vinopal looks like a career special teamer.
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