Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Linebackers

Review of 2006 Recruiting: The Linebackers


October 13, 2011
Sean Weatherspoon could have been a Wolverine.

Obi Ezeh
High school: Catholic Central High School in Grand Rapids, MI
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #51 RB;
Other notable offers: Eastern Michigan, Indiana, Western Michigan
College: Michigan
Scoop: Ezeh redshirted as a true freshman in 2006, but leaped onto the scene as a redshirt freshman in 2007. He started ten games at middle linebacker, was a Freshman All-America, and made the Freshman All-Big Ten squad due to his 10 starts, 68 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 forced fumble. He followed that season with perhaps his most productive year – 98 tackles, 7 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 interception, 3 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery. After that his career seemed to progressively deteriorate. Ezeh held onto the starting middle linebacker job for most of his redshirt junior year in 2009, making 69 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups, and 1 fumble recovery; however, he played sparingly late in the season while losing time to Kevin Leach, a 210 lb. former walk-on. Those struggles continued into 2010, when Ezeh was displaced by redshirt sophomore Kenny Demens halfway through the season. Statistically, his fifth-year senior campaign was his worst, as he finished with 58 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, and 1 fumble recovery. (Text taken from Ezeh’s senior profile, which was posted in April.)  Ezeh went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft; he signed with the Washington Redskins as an undrafted free agent but was cut prior to the season.

Cobrani Mixon
High school: Colerain High School in Cincinnati, OH
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #8 ILB;
Other notable offers:
College: Michigan Kent State
Scoop: After redshirting as a freshman at Michigan in 2006, he transferred to Kent State University and sat out the 2007 season due to transfer rules. He had 73 tackles and 2 sacks in 2008 as a redshirt sophomore. By 2009 he was an All-MAC linebacker, racking up 108 tackles and 3 sacks. As a senior in 2010, Mixon made 82 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 11.5 tackles for loss, and 1 interception; he was also named a team captain and was named First Team All-MAC at linebacker.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Jonas Mouton
High school: Venice High School in Venice, CA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #3 S;
Other notable offers: Cal, LSU, Nebraska, Oregon, Texas, USC
College: Michigan
Scoop:  Mouton arrived at Michigan and almost immediately became a linebacker. He redshirted as a freshman in 2006 to learn the position and add some weight. After the redshirt year, he backed up Chris Graham at weakside linebacker in Ron English’s 4-3 system. That year (2007) he made 5 tackles at linebacker and on kick coverage. Once Graham graduated following the 2007 season, Mouton backed up Marell Evans for one game and then earned the starting WILL job in the second game against Miami (OH). He finished the season with 76 tackles, 6.5 tackles for loss, and 1 sack. As the incumbent in 2009, Mouton had a subpar year. The defense was abysmal, and the inside linebackers – Mouton and Obi Ezeh – constantly looked lost. Mouton ended the season with 66 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 interceptions, 1 fumble recovery, and 4 pass breakups. As a fifth year senior in 2010, Mouton led the Big Ten in tackles with 117. He also had 8.5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, 2 interceptions, 3 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 2 fumble recoveries.  (Text taken from Mouton’s senior profile, posted in February.)  Mouton was drafted in the 2nd round (#61 overall) of the 2011 NFL Draft by the San Diego Chargers; however, he suffered a knee injury and has not played yet in the NFL.

Quintin Patilla
High school: Carman Ainsworth High School in Flint, MI
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #26 OLB;
Other notable offers: Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Indiana, Toledo
College: Michigan Grand Valley State
Scoop: After redshirting as a freshman in 2006, he played sparingly as a fullback and on special teams in 2007. Patilla transferred to Grand Valley State University prior to his redshirt sophomore season and did not play that year. When he got to GVSU, he played defensive end at 6’3″, 255 lbs. However, I cannot find any stats for his 2009 season and he did not return to GVSU in 2010. I’m assuming his football career is over.

Thaddeus Gibson
High school: Euclid High School in Euclid, OH
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #9 OLB; Scout 4-star, #9 LB
Other notable offers: Penn State, Tennessee
College: Ohio State
Scoop: Gibson redshirted as a true freshman in 2006.  He played in 9 games as a redshirt freshman in 2007, picking up 11 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1 sack, 1 forced fumble, and 2 pass breakups.  In 2008 Gibson had 26 tackles, 9 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 1 fumble return for a touchdown, and 1 pass breakup.  As a redshirt junior in 2009, Gibson had 45 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 4 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 2 fumble recoveries, 1 interception, and 3 pass breakups.  He left Columbus with one year of eligibility remaining and was picked in the 4th round (#116 overall) by the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 2010 NFL Draft.  He has since been signed by San Francisco and now the Washington Redskins, but his only official appearances came in two 2010 games with 49ers, where he notched 3 tackles and 1 forced fumble.

Akeem Hebron
High school: Good Counsel High School in Olney, MD
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #4 OLB; Scout 5-star, #5 LB
Other notable offers: Ohio State, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech
College: Georgia
Scoop: Hebron redshirted in 2006 and played for Georgia Military College in 2007, picking up 25.5 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, and 1 forced fumble.  Hebron played in six games in 2008, picking up just 1 tackle before fracturing his ankle.  As a redshirt junior in 2009, he had 3 tackles.  In his senior season of 2010, Hebron made 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Michael Morgan
High school: Skyline High School in Dallas, TX
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #5 OLB; Scout 4-star, #34 LB
Other notable offers: Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas A&M
College: USC
Scoop: Morgan redshirted as a true freshman in 2006.  He was a backup strongside linebacker as a redshirt freshman in 2007, picking up 9 tackles.  Once again a backup in 2008, Morgan had 24 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and 1 fumble recovery.  He started 9 games as a redshirt junior in 2009 and finished with 50 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, and 1 pass breakup.  In his senior season of 2010, Morgan had his best season with 57 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, 1/2 a sack, 8 pass breakups, 1 forced fumble, and 1 fumble recovery.  He went undrafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Toryan Smith
High school: Rome High School in Rome, GA
Ratings: Rivals 3-star, #15 ILB; Scout 3-star, #52 LB
Other notable offers:
College: Notre Dame
Scoop: Smith played as a backup inside linebacker during his freshman year, racking up 9 tackles on defense and special teams.  A backup once again in 2007, Smith had 14 tackles and 1/2 a tackle for loss.  As a part-time starter in 2008, he notched 18 tackles, 1 pass breakup, and 1 fumble recovery.  As a senior in 2009, Smith had 15 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss, 1 sack, and 1 fumble recovery.  He went undrafted in the 2010 NFL Draft.

Joshua Tatum
High school: McClymonds High School in Oakland, CA
Ratings: Rivals 4-star, #3 ILB; Scout 5-star, #7 LB
Other notable offers:
College: USC Missouri
Scoop: Tatum redshirted as a true freshman in 2006.  He fell off the face of the earth in 2007, but at the City College of San Francisco in 2008, Tatum had 120 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 7 pass breakups, and 1 interception returned for a 93-yard touchdown.  He then transferred to Missouri, where he suffered a back injury in spring 2009 and sat out the following season due to the injury.  As a backup linebacker in 2010, Tatum had 7 tackles, 3 tackles for loss, and 1 sack.  He was not drafted in the 2011 NFL Draft.

Biggest miss: Michigan doesn’t seem to have done too poorly with the 2006 linebacker class.  Sure, two of the four guys left early in their careers, Ezeh regressed throughout his career, and Mouton was the best of the offerees, based both on his production and getting drafted in the 2nd round of the NFL Draft.  But the kids who went elsewhere were just as disappointing.  Gibson seems to be the choice for “biggest miss” based on his 10 career college sacks and 4th round draft status, but I’m not that disappointed that he went elsewhere.

Biggest bust: It’s between Akeem Hebron and Joshua Tatum for this title, but at least Tatum had success at his junior college – 120 tackles, 15 TFLs, 7 sacks, 7 pass breakups, a 93-yard INT return are a big deal at any level.  Hebron never amounted to much of a football player at Georgia after being a 5-star to Scout and the #4 outside linebacker to Rivals.

Best in class: Sean Weatherspoon was the #19 overall pick in the 2010 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. Lots of schools missed Weatherspoon, whose choice of Missouri was arguably his best offer over the likes of Iowa State, TCU, and Tulane.  He made 111 tackles, 14.5 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks, and 1 interception as a senior in 2009.  And that was actually a dropoff from his junior season, when he had 155 tackles, 18.5 tackles for loss, 5 sacks, and 3 interceptions.

5 comments

  1. Comments: 21415
    Anonymous
    Oct 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM

    "Mouton backed up Marell Evans for one game and then earned the starting WILL job in the second game against Utah."

    Not that it really matters but Utah was the first game of the 2008 season. I think Miami (OH) was the second.

  2. Comments: 21415
    Oct 13, 2011 at 11:51 AM

    @ Anonymous 7:47 a.m.

    Fixed. Thanks.

  3. Comments: 21415
    Anonymous
    Oct 13, 2011 at 1:43 PM

    Great post, one small quibble. Thaddeus Gibson was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 4th round and signed by the 49ers after the Steelers cut him.

  4. Comments: 21415
    Oct 13, 2011 at 2:02 PM

    @ Anonymous 9:43 a.m.

    Fixed. Thanks.

  5. Comments: 21415
    gobluetwo
    Oct 13, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    'Spoon really was a huge miss by a lot of folks. Just goes to show what an inexact "science" recruiting is. As a Falcons fan, he's been a great addition to the LB corp, but his "spoon" celebration thing is a bit dumb.

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