Black is a 3-star defensive end to Rivals and a 4-star defensive tackle to Scout. It seems a bit up in the air as to what position he’s going to play at Michigan. Some seem to think that he’ll pack on some pounds and play 3-tech defensive tackle for the Wolverines, and some think he’ll lean out and remain at strongside defensive end, the position he played in high school. If it means anything, his brother Larry is a 6’2″, 306 lb. redshirt freshman defensive tackle for Indiana.
As a junior, Black racked up 76 tackles and 8 sacks. He added 61 tackles and 10 sacks as a senior. Michigan offered him prior to his senior season, so the coaches have been going after him for a while. Black has suffered from a bout of indecision, however. He’s been committed to Indiana and, most recently, Cincinnati before settling on Michigan. There’s only a week before National Signing Day, but I’m not going to trust that he’s set on Michigan until he faxes that letter of intent to Ann Arbor. He might end up back with Cincinnati or Indiana, or perhaps he’ll entertain his offers from Illinois, Michigan State, South Carolina, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others.
As for projecting him forward, if Black remains at Michigan, I expect that he’ll step into the 5-tech defensive end spot previously held by Brandon Graham. When watching his film, he looks almost like a clone of Graham. He’s short-ish and thickly built. Perhaps the best thing I see on film is the way he keeps his shoulders square to the line. Too many talented athletes in high school fire off the ball and shoot straight for the ball carrier, but college opponents will take advantage of that lack of discipline. His fundamentally sound positioning shows that not only is he coachable, but the biggest obstacle for him might be his strength and conditioning. He does play a little upright, but at only 6’2″ and going up against tackles who are three to five inches taller than him, leverage shouldn’t be a major issue. I’m sure Michigan’s coaches will work with him on staying lower, being explosive, and using that leverage to the best of his ability, but that’s not a big concern.
Black will probably redshirt in 2010. He’s got some bad body weight on him and needs to lean out. There’s very little depth at defensive end, but I imagine the 5-tech defensive end spot will be played by Ryan Van Bergen. Will Heininger is an experienced backup, and Anthony Lalota will be a redshirt freshman, but he’s a project. I think Ken Wilkins, who’s 246 lbs. and a workout warrior, will eventually be a 5-tech. But Black might be the best of the bunch.