|Shreveport (LA) Calvary Baptist quarterback Shea Patterson (#1)
Every year I put together a list of potential quarterbacks from Michigan and rank their desirability. This year’s list includes only players Michigan has offered, since more offers have gone out than in the past. Brady Hoke was very stingy with quarterback offers and generally didn’t offer guys until National Signing Day of the preceding class, but he went a little crazy with 2016 guys and offered some of them early. Jim Harbaugh has reaffirmed some of those offers and added one name to the list (Brandon Peters), plus he has gotten in the ear of Georgia commit Jacob Eason, whom I also included. Remember that this is a look at which players fit Michigan’s personnel, coaching staff, and system best, not necessarily who will be the best college football player overall.
If additions to the list are needed later, I’ll do a separate post at that time. Otherwise, these are the guys Michigan has offered and pursued at one point or another for the 2016 cycle. Enjoy!
1. Jacob Eason – QB – Lake Stevens (WA) Lake Stevens: Eason is a 6’5″, 205 lb. quarterback who committed to Georgia last summer; he also holds offers from Alabama, Florida, Florida State, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma State, Washington, and Washington State, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 5-star, the #1 pro-style quarterback, and #4 overall. As a junior in 2014, he completed 197/287 passes for 2,829 yards, 32 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Eason is a tall kid who can easily see over the line, and he does a good job of standing in the pocket and finding his man. He keeps his feet active and is always in a position to throw, which is helped out by the fact that he has the arm strength to make all the throws. I believe he has an NFL arm as a high schooler, and he can put the ball on a line even when he’s running and can only use his arm. In that way he reminds me a little bit of some throws I saw Jameis Winston make this past year, but overall, I see Sam Bradford when I look at Eason. Eason can put some nice touch on the deep ball, and he can find small windows in the secondary. He also gets rid of the ball quickly and seems in command of the offense, understanding where to go with the football and when. He gets through his reads in a hurry and can scan the whole field, which is impressive for a high schooler. There’s not much to criticize, but he is not a dynamic runner, lacking great speed or elusiveness but with enough athleticism right now to keep the chains moving. Also, when he has to hold onto the ball, he starts to drop his throwing arm and he can be a little careless by keeping only one hand on the ball at times, which might lead to turnovers. He also appears to operate exclusively out of a shotgun spread, which means that playing from under center might be a tricky adjustment.
Hit the jump for seven more quarterback breakdowns.
2. Shea Patterson – QB – Shreveport (LA) Calvary Baptist: Patterson is a 6’2″, 195 lb. prospect who’s a 247 Composite 5-star, the #3 pro-style quarterback, and #18 overall. He has offers from Alabama, Arizona, Auburn, Baylor, Clemson, LSU, Michigan, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Ole Miss, and Texas, Texas A&M, and USC, among others. As a junior in 2014, he completed 129/199 passes for 2,428 yards, 38 touchdowns, and 3 interceptions. Right off the bat, I get a Johnny Manziel type of vibe from Patterson when watching his film. He has somewhat of a nondescript frame, and neither his speed or his arm strength jump off the screen. However, he is someone who seems to be good at just about everything. The most impressive thing about him is his pocket awareness, ability to move within the pocket, and ability to find throwing lanes. He also shows nice touch on some deep throws. He can be careless with the football, carrying it one-handed when scrambling and dropping it to waist level, and those habits will eventually lead to fumbles if not corrected. Manziel did the same thing and got himself a Heisman trophy, so it’s not a death knell for a quarterback’s career. Patterson is not the quickest decision maker of this group, but he does seem to have a good grasp of what the defense is doing and finds his receiver fairly quickly. Mechanically, Patterson does a good job with his footwork getting himself ready to throw, and other than dropping his throwing hand when scrambling, he is pretty polished. Patterson runs a shotgun passing spread offense that does not see him dropping back from under center, which may be a significant adjustment if he goes into a pro-style offense in college.
3. K.J. Costello – QB – Rancho Santa Margarita (CA) Catholic: Costello is a 6’4″, 213 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Michigan, Stanford, and USC, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #4 pro-style quarterback, and #41 overall. Costello is a tall kid who looks like he’s hit a bit of a growth spurt since his sophomore season. When he steps into his throws, he has a cannon for an arm and throws with a nice, high elbow. Otherwise, he tends to fall off to his left side and drop his arm slot, which can cause the ball to sail a bit. His standard delivery is somewhat Phillip Rivers-like. Also like Rivers, Costello throws a very good deep ball and can place it where only his receiver can catch it. He sometimes shows a hitch in his delivery where the ball drops too low and takes too long to come out, but that’s not a consistent problem and seems to be something he can correct. On short throws, he is quick to identify blitzes and attack the area the blitzer vacated, which often gives his receiver time to make the catch and gain some additional yardage. He often releases the ball on outs or hitches before they come out of their break, so he has developed a good rapport and good timing with his guys. He can slide around in the pocket well, and he keeps his eyes downfield when rolling out of the pocket. Costello shows some nice touch on the run, and he can get out and move a little bit to scramble for first downs, but he won’t be much of a threat to break long runs or have plays designed for him to keep the ball. Costello runs mostly a shotgun spread offense, and he does not look particularly adept at dropping back from under center or handling play fakes where he turns his back to the defense. One thing to note is that Costello seemed to have a favorite receiver, who is #5 in the highlights and appears to have been Kyle Sweet, a 2015 prospect who signed with Washington State. Also, while not wildly successful last season (RSM Catholic went 6-5), they played against some excellent programs in California.
4. Dwayne Haskins, Jr. – QB – Potomac (MD) Bullis: Haskins is a 6’2″, 185 lb. prospect with offers from Arizona, Arizona State, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Penn State, Texas, and UCLA, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #5 pro-style quarterback, and #64 overall. As a junior in 2014, he was 159/259 (61.4%) for 1,953 yards passing and 24 total touchdowns. Haskins is one of the shorter guys Michigan is pursuing, but he still has decent height. He appears to be rather polished with his ball handling, play fakes, etc., even on the few occasions where he is lining up under center. He has a nice, compact delivery and releases the ball up high where it will be tougher for defenders to bat down. He stands nice and high with a proud chest and on the balls of his feet, so he is always ready to throw. He does a good job of throwing when rolling to his right, but he could use some work going to his left, as he tends to fall off to the side and not square his shoulders. Haskins is fully in command of the offense and knows where to go with the ball, so there’s not a whole lot of wasted time in the pocket looking for guys to come open. His arm strength is good, and he can push the ball down the field, but he also shows nice touch on short and intermediate throws. He’s not afraid to work the middle of the field, either, which is something a lot of high school quarterbacks (and coaches) avoid. Haskins is just a so-so athlete on the move, and he probably will not be a dynamic runner at the next level, but he has the speed to keep defenses honest and move the chains.
5. Malik Henry – QB – Bradenton (FL) IMG Academy: Henry is a 6’3″, 180 lb. prospect who transferred from Westlake Village (CA) Westlake to IMG Academy after his junior season. IMG Academy has become a haven for burgeoning prospects and produced quarterback Deondre Francois (FSU) in the 2014 class. Henry himself committed to Florida State in November 2014 and also held offers from Arizona State, Auburn, Michigan, Notre Dame, Texas, and UCLA. He’s a 247 Composite 5-star, the #2 pro-style quarterback, and #9 overall. His Michigan offer came from the Brady Hoke regime, and that offer has not been reaffirmed by the new coaching staff, as far as I know. Henry has decent height and a slight build, so he will need to get stronger. Somewhat like Haskins as an athlete, he won’t wow you with his running ability but has enough speed and escapability to be effective at moving the chains and can keep a defense honest with the occasional option play. Henry has a live arm and can really sling the ball when he sets himself up properly. His throwing motion is reminiscent of Denard Robinson to me with the way he follows through, and I’m not sure if that’s a compliment. Henry seems to be a split second late on a lot of his throws, which negates his receivers’ ability to run after the catch. Some of his completions are also high, which has the same effect. This is another quality that reminds me of Robinson, who was not known for his pinpoint accuracy. Henry does a nice job of reaching back with his right foot to gain depth, and he remains balanced in his drop.
6. Messiah DeWeaver – QB – Huber Heights (OH) Wayne: DeWeaver is a 6’3″, 202 lb. prospect with offers from Duke, Kentucky, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and others. He was at one time committed to Michigan. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #12 pro-style quarterback, and #325 overall. After his junior season, he transferred from Trotwood (OH) Trotwood-Madison to Wayne High School. DeWeaver has good enough size to be successful, although he needs to add some weight in order to absorb the physical nature of the college game. He shows good pocket awareness and generally keeps the ball at chest level and ready to throw when scrambling. He can shuffle left or right and still keep his eyes downfield. One of his best qualities is his ability to get the ball out on time, which reduces the chance of sacks, fumbles, batted down passes, etc. That also seems to be somewhat out of necessity because of an inability to really push the ball down the field. Mechanically, DeWeaver does a nice job when he throws downhill, and he has a short, compact delivery on all of his throws. However, corner routes, out routes, go routes, etc. are potentially troublesome. The ball tends to flutter and does not have much zip, which suggests that he’ll be more of a short-to-intermediate thrower. Athletically, DeWeaver has decent speed but is not an adept or physical runner. He can take what the defense offers on the ground, but he’s not going to run through tackles or beat many guys to the edge. Overall, DeWeaver is a decent prospect but not the best one Michigan can find.
7. Brandon Peters – QB – Avon (IN) Avon: Peters is a 6’5″, 205 lb. prospect with offers from Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Virginia Tech, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #10 pro-style quarterback, and #305 overall. The first vibe I got from Peters was that of Steve Threet, whom you might remember from the 2008 Michigan team. Those memories are not positive, although Threet was a square peg in a Rodriguez hole (that sounds dirty). Anyway, despite that reminiscence, I tried to push it out of my mind for objectivity’s sake. Peters has a good frame for a pro-style quarterback, the frame of Michigan quarterbacks of yesteryear – Tom Brady, Elvis Grbac, John Navarre, etc. He runs fairly well for a quarterback that size, but that should be taken with a grain of salt, because guys like him generally get slower as they pack on weight. However, he will be a load to bring down and is a physical runner, so he could end up being a guy who won’t break the huge runs but can run through arm tackles of linebackers often enough to get you some first downs. As far as throwing goes, Peters is a little bit deliberate in his motion and sometimes looks like he’s trying to guide the ball rather than throw it. He can throw from different arm slots, but he can be a little sloppy when it comes to mechanics overall. On the plus side, he has a strong arm and throws a good deep ball. He also runs a pro-style offense that plays him under center at times. His highlight film is one of the few that shows his receivers dropping balls, which might be indicative of not only the talent on his team, but the talent in Indiana overall. Indiana is not a football hotbed, and the cream of the crop from the Hoosier state includes names like Jay Cutler, Rick Mirer, Rex Grossman, and Jeff George. Talent-wise, that’s not a terrible group, but it’s not an inspiring list, either.
8. Jarrett Guarantano – QB – Oradell (NJ) Bergen Catholic: Guarantano is a 6’4″, 200 lb. prospect with offers from Alabama, Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss, among others. He’s a 247 Composite 4-star, the #6 pro-style quarterback, and #98 overall. The offer from Michigan popped up during the Brady Hoke regime, and I have not heard whether the new staff continues to recruit him or not. Either way, I will include him here. First of all, Guarantano has good height but is very skinny at this point, and on the run, he almost looks like a Devin Gardner or Terrelle Pryor – long strides that make him look a gliding runner. That running ability might be his best asset, as he show the speed, nifty feet, and toughness to be a consistent threat on the ground. In fact, I’m very surprised he’s listed as a pro-style quarterback, because I think he’s the definition of a dual-threat guy. As a dropback passer, however, his feet are a little bit questionable mechanically, and he does not always seem to be in rhythm. He has a very strong arm, despite often throwing off his back foot. Guarantano can push the ball down the field, and he can also fit short throws into tight spaces. I question his ability to make passes requiring touch, because his highlights don’t showcase that skill. My big question mark about Guarantano is the slowness of his decision making. He often makes throws late and he holds onto the ball too long in the pocket, which will be tougher to get away with in college. In my opinion, he looks like the quintessential Ohio State quarterback, a guy who probably requires a running element to the offense and some simple reads.
Feel free to leave your thoughts in the comment section.