Dele’ Harding, Wolverine

Tag: Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy

1Nov 2014
Uncategorized 2 comments

Dele’ Harding, Wolverine

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy linebacker Dele’ Harding

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy linebacker Dele’ Harding committed to Michigan on Friday. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Tennessee and USC, among others.

ESPN: 3-star inside linebacker
Rivals: 4-star, #5 inside linebacker, #186 overall
Scout: 3-star, #29 outside linebacker, #286 overall
247 Sports: 3-star, 84 grade, #17 inside linebacker

Harding is a 6’1″, 232 lb. prospect. As a junior this season, he has 67 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks, 5 forced fumbles, and 4 fumble recoveries.

Harding was a high school teammate of a couple current Michigan freshmen, wide receiver Freddy Canteen and safety Brandon Watson. He has been high on Michigan, visited over the summer for the past couple years, and was offered by the Wolverines this past June. A couple other big programs came calling, too, but he always seemed to have an affinity for the Wolverines.

I had not seen video on Harding until this evening, and it appears this was posted just after Harding committed. Without any visual evidence, it was hard to gauge whether such an early offer to a 2016 prospect was warranted or not. Now having seen the video, it leaves me scratching my head a little bit. I’m not quite sure what a team like USC – which practically has its pick of players on the west coast – sees in Harding in order to offer him so early.

From my perspective, Harding is a solid tackler once he gets his hands on ball carriers, and he seems to create a lot of turnovers. Otherwise, I don’t see a ton of positives. He plays upright, is a little slow to diagnose plays, takes poor angles, does not change direction well, and lacks great speed. There are some nice hits on his highlight reel, but not many remarkable plays. However, ECA does play a very good schedule – Cleveland (OH) St. Edward’s, Paramus (NJ) Catholic, Washington (DC) Friendship Collegiate – so perhaps his lack of big plays should be taken with a grain of salt. Still, the raw athleticism expected of someone with his caliber of offers seems to be missing.

Harding reminds me a little bit of former Michigan linebacker John Thompson. There is obviously time to improve, but that’s what I see right now. He is the third commit in the 2016 class, joining quarterback Messiah DeWeaver and offensive tackle Erik Swenson. I would expect that Michigan goes hard after several linebackers, because Joe Bolden, Royce Jenkins-Stone, Desmond Morgan, and James Ross III are all scheduled to graduate after the 2015 season.

TTB Rating: To be determined

29Jun 2013
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Brandon Watson, Wolverine

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy cornerback Brandon Watson
(image via The M Block)

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy cornerback Brandon Watson committed to Michigan on Saturday. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Boston College, Connecticut, and Rutgers, among others.

He’s a 6’0″, 185 lb. prospect. I have been unable to find stats for him (or teammate Freddy Canteen), but ECA played just three games last year, so they probably wouldn’t be very impressive, anyway.

Rivals: 3-star, #56 CB
Scout: N/A
247 Sports: 2-star, 79 grade, #120 CB

Watson was offered by Michigan when he camped in Ann Arbor two weeks ago. He sat on the offer for a little bit, and it sounded like a USC offer would have surpassed Michigan’s, but the Trojans haven’t stepped forward and may not. If they do, it may be a battle to keep Watson committed.

I have not been able to find any film on Watson, so I have no analysis of his skills to offer. However, he was the #1 performer at the Pennsylvania SWAG 7-on-7 tournament in April, a tournament that included Canteen, WR Chris Godwin (Penn State commit), S Montae Nicholson (Michigan offer), WR Chris Samuel (Notre Dame, Ohio State offers), QB David Sills (USC commit), CB Daquan Worley (Penn State commit), and WR K.J. Williams (Michigan offer). Here’s what Rivals had to say about him in the tournament:

Whenever the football was in the vicinity of Watson, it was either getting intercepted or it was going to be an incompletion. As Flash Training worked toward another 7 on 7 title, Watson was dominant in coverage. He consistently got a good punch at the line of scrimmage in man coverage, and when playing off he closed quickly on the football. As receivers attempted double moves, Watson ran with the opposition step for step, showing great change of direction. The most impressive part of Watson’s day was successfully defending a number of jump balls in the end zone against taller receivers.

 So take that however you want.

Michigan now has thirteen commitments in the 2014 class, and Watson is the second corner committed, joining Jabrill Peppers. Bolingbrook (IL) Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal, Monroeville (PA) Gateway safety Montae Nicholson, and Long Beach (CA) Poly safety John “Juju” Smith are still potential options in the defensive backfield. I think Westphal is the most likely of that trio to fall off Michigan’s radar, since he’s been recruited as a nickel corner and may not have the coaches’ confidence to play safety. Nicholson is a safety and Smith is being recruited mostly as a safety, though the coaches have said that they might work him in at receiver, too.

TTB Rating: N/A

29Jun 2013
Uncategorized 6 comments

Freddy Canteen, Wolverine

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy
wide receiver Freddy Canteen

Elkton (MD) Eastern Christian Academy wide receiver Freddy Canteen committed to Michigan on Saturday. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Connecticut, Hawaii, Maryland, Rutgers, and Tennessee, among others.

Canteen is 6’1″, 175 lbs. with a 4.43 forty time. He had 6 receptions for 114 yards and 1 touchdown as a junior in 2012.

Rivals: 4-star, #43 WR
Scout:  3-star, #80 WR
247 Sports: 3-star, 86 grade, #103 WR

Canteen camped at Michigan in mid-June, along with teammate and fellow Michigan commit Brandon Watson. Both players earned offers at the camp, and it took them about a week-and-a-half to commit.

There’s not much film on Canteen, just about four plays on his Hudl page. He’s earned praise at every stop for his route-running ability, and there are some hints of that on his film. He uses stutter steps, head fakes, good angles, and solid coverage recognition to get open. He also shows some good acceleration and explosiveness to get upfield after the catch. The quarterback for ECA is 2015 prospect David Sills, who has been committed to USC since seventh grade. While Sills might not be the cream of the crop in the class, working with a high-level quarterback has likely helped Canteen develop more than some other prospects.

Canteen has reportedly bulked up some since his junior season, but he appears to be very slight. He will have to get stronger, which is normal for a high schooler. I would also like to see him work on using his hands to catch passes, rather than catching them in his body.

My guess is that Canteen will play slot receiver for Michigan. He has some of the same qualities as Roy Roundtree, although I think Canteen might be a little bit faster. While Roundtree eventually played flanker at Michigan, that was more out of team necessity than his skills actually fitting that position. Canteen should be a quality receiver and could contribute early in his career, but his lack of bulk and strength may limit his yards after the catch and his ability to beat physical man coverage.

Canteen and Watson are the twelfth and thirteenth commitments of the 2014 class, and Canteen is the third wide receiver. Michigan likely wants to take four receivers in the class. Tarpon Springs (VA) East Lake’s Artavis Scott and Bethlehem (PA) Liberty’s K.J. Williams are both possibilities, but recent information suggests those two will pick Clemson and Syracuse, respectively. Eastern Christian Academy has produced some quality players in recent years, like Khaliel Rodgers (USC), Kenny Bigelow (USC), and several other prospects headed to the likes of UConn, Tennessee, and West Virginia.

TTB Rating: 73 (ratings explanation)

Here are some Hudl highlights of Canteen.