Tarik Black, Wolverine

Tarik Black, Wolverine


December 14, 2016

Tarik Black (#17, image via My Record Journal)

Cheshire (CT) Cheshire Academy wide receiver Tarik Black committed to Michigan on Wednesday afternoon during a ceremony at his school. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Connecticut, Georgia, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Stanford, and UCLA, among others.

Black is listed at 6’4″, 208 lbs. and has been selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. He claims a 4.4 forty, a 38″ vertical, a 4.01 shuttle, and a 10’6″ broad jump.

RATINGS
ESPN: 4-star, 81 grade, #31 WR, #223 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #10 WR, #76 overall
Scout: 4-star, #13 WR, #99 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 92 grade, #29 WR, #197 overall

Hit the jump for more on Black’s recruitment.

Black was offered by Michigan in the spring of 2015, just a few months after Jim Harbaugh was hired. He was already interested in Michigan, so the offered piqued that interest. But there were still some ups and downs throughout his recruitment, including times that people thought he might go to Alabama, Notre Dame, Ohio State, or Stanford. The belief in Notre Dame as his future destination was strengthened when his high school teammate, RB/DB C.J. Holmes, committed to the Fighting Irish. However, Black – who visited Michigan numerous times, including for a game as a junior, the BBQ at the Big House, a spring tour, a game as a senior, and then this past weekend – always seemed drawn to the Wolverines. He has reportedly been a silent commit to Michigan for the past several weeks.

Black’s best asset is his tall, long frame that should give him the ability to be a guy who can catch jump balls and fade routes. He should also be a nice, big target working over the middle of the field. He uses his hands well to catch the ball, and there are highlights of him reeling in both high and low passes. He plays football like a basketball player, and while Michigan hasn’t done a lot with jump balls over the past couple seasons (maybe in part because they don’t have many big, physical options), that could become a part of their repertoire if they have the right personnel. Black has some good change of direction skills and isn’t just a straight-line player. He doesn’t appear to have much of an opportunity to run a lot of complicated routes, but he seems to be willing to run good routes and has the necessary skills to set up defensive backs. He also shows some good blocking ability and willingness to push defenders around, and his size and length should help him in that area.

On the down side, Black doesn’t have great long speed. So while he changes direction well, he may not be the type to break huge plays. There are also times where he carries the ball loosely and away from his body, something he will have to improve at the next level to prevent trailing defenders from raking out the ball. Adjusting his route running and learning the proper techniques for running a variety of routes might be an area in which to improve, too.

Overall, Black is a good pickup for the Wolverines. He will be facing a significant step up in competition after attending private school in Connecticut, but his skills should translate well. He’s more athletic than Michigan “jump ball” guys of recent vintage like Csont’e York and Jaron Dukes, neither of whom worked out at Michigan. Drake Harris might be the closest thing Michigan has to that guy at the receiver position right now, but he’s never been particularly physical and still isn’t as big as Black’s listed weight, even after three years on campus. The guy that comes to mind is a bit of an obscure blast from the past in Tyrece Butler, who played at Michigan in the early 2000s during the John Navarre era. Butler was 6’3″, 211 lbs. and his most productive year included 21 catches for 199 yards in 2002. However, he had the unfortunate luck of playing second (or third) fiddle to the likes of Marquise Walker, Braylon Edwards, and Jason Avant during his career. Black has the talent to outstrip Butler’s production, but I think they’re pretty similar players.

Black is Michigan’s 22nd commitment in the 2017 class, and he’s the second wide receiver, joining prep schooler Brad Hawkins. Black is also the second Connecticut product in the 2017 class, following fullback/linebacker Ben Mason. The class should reach an eventual number around 30, likely including four wide receivers. In addition to Holmes, Michigan is also pursuing Cheshire Academy cornerback Brandon Sebastian, a Boston College commit.

TTB Rating: 79 (ratings explanation)

32 comments

  1. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Dec 14, 2016 at 1:55 PM

    That’s a modest assessment for a guy with his offer list and ranking.

    I started cringing when I was reading about jump balls and basketball. Jaron Dukes came to mind before you mentioned him.

    What do you think about his potential to switch positions to DB or Flex TE?

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3787
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 14, 2016 at 2:39 PM

      I think he’s too narrow-framed to be a tight end, but I do think he could potentially be a safety.

      As for the assessment, you know, this isn’t Oklahoma State or USC or WVU or even Alabama. This is a tight end- and run-heavy offense. Yardage-wise, Harbaugh’s most productive WR at Stanford/Michigan has been Ryan Whalen with 926 yards back in 2009. Doug Baldwin has been the most productive NFL WR from a Harbaugh offense, and he went undrafted. So I don’t see a lot of evidence that Michigan receivers will be All-America, first round types in the near future. I’ll acknowledge that it’s possible.

      If Black were going to WVU or Oklahoma State, he might get a higher grade.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 182
        Joined: 9/15/2015
        ragingbull
        Dec 14, 2016 at 3:20 PM

        good point, and a point some dont seem to acknowledge. black likely wont see 10 targets per game or rack up 70-80 catches like you referenced with WRs at wvu, osu, etc. different type O, different utilization of personnel (at least to date). all evidence points to a power running O with heavy TE involvement and which prefers to take advantage of play action passing.

        in terms of position switches, you dont see it as often as some may think, at least in terms of 6’4″ WRs flipping to DB. it does happen though. fsu actually moved a 6’3″-6’4″ WR to safety (ermon lane) and hes played fairly well this year. not sure if hell play much in the bowl game if derwin james starts but itll be interesting to see

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3787
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 14, 2016 at 4:58 PM

          Yeah, typically you would want to switch someone’s position in their first year or two on campus. It’s not something you can usually do 3 or 4 years down the road and get a high-quality product.

        • Lanknows
          Comments: 6182
          Joined: 8/11/2015
          Lanknows
          Dec 14, 2016 at 6:34 PM

          I would not say “all evidence”. Last year’s offense was entirely dependent on the pass game and they have only looked like a quality power running outfit against over-matched opponents.

          No question that TEs and FBs will be a big part of things but I think Harbaugh wants a dynamic offense that has the talent to get big plays. He’s not recruiting guys like Evans, Johnson, McDoom, and DPJ to relive 80s football.

          • Thunder
            Comments: 3787
            Joined: 7/13/2015
            Dec 14, 2016 at 7:10 PM

            But he didn’t throw the ball to Johnson and McDoom (or Evans much). They mostly sat on the bench, ran end arounds, and then caught a couple balls each. Literally, I think both of those WRs caught 2 passes. I’m not saying they won’t be used, but you don’t have much evidence that they will be.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6182
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Dec 14, 2016 at 11:54 PM

              Again, I don’t think this years pass targets really are the point of this conversation.

              The evidence that they will be used is that the 3 senior top receiving targets are gone, that those guys got the ball as freshman, and that Harbaugh is recruiting a bunch of small speedy players at skill positions (in addition to the big backs and TEs that fit the stereotype).

              You just got done saying Butler didn’t get the ball because he was behind better players…

              Anyway WR end arounds are not exactly what people are imagining when they talk about TE-heavy power football.

            • Lanknows
              Comments: 6182
              Joined: 8/11/2015
              Lanknows
              Dec 15, 2016 at 1:36 PM

              It seems like you are arguing you can’t rank Black too highly because of Harbaugh’s system. Yet you’ve ranked a bunch of other WRs higher and will (blind guess here) rank DPJ much higher.

              All I said was this was ‘modest’. Not a critique.

              I think production is less relevant to NFL than you are assuming. I chose the most obvious examples but there are plenty of other less obvious versions where guys who aren’t especially productive in college get drafted higher than more productive players and ultra-productive players (like Jeremy Gallon) get ignored. Production obviously plays a bigger role in conference accolades but it’s not all about volume either (as Johnson illustrated).

              The Stanford examples are useful but limited. Harbaugh didn’t get high 4 and 5 star WRs at Stanford. Wahlen was a walk-on I think. So if you want to apply the 5-star version of that you can play that game.

              Point is if Black doesn’t live up to his recruiting hype, it won’t be because of Harbaugh’s offense. He’s signing up at Michigan. Yes that means he probably won’t get 10 targets a game. No that likely won’t affect his NFL draft stock. The stream of highly rated WR recruits coming to Michigan argues that they don’t think it hurts their draft chances to play here either.

              • Thunder
                Comments: 3787
                Joined: 7/13/2015
                Dec 15, 2016 at 4:05 PM

                No, he didn’t get elite talent at Stanford, but his talent was on par with everyone else when he was with the 49ers. He had Michael Crabtree and Anquan Boldin in San Francisco, and they were still only catching 72-85 passes for 1,000 to 1,200 yards. Again, those are solid numbers, but they’re fairly pedestrian for a team’s top WR in the NFL.

                Recruiting ratings are going to fluctuate based on what I see from the program. Harbaugh’s receivers so far have not been extremely productive. The best predictor of future results is past results, and the past results suggest that Michigan’s wideouts aren’t going to be Dede Westbrook.

                • Avatar
                  Comments: 1863
                  Joined: 1/19/2016
                  je93
                  Dec 15, 2016 at 5:09 PM

                  Do you feel optimistic about how we’ll spread the ball around?

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3787
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Dec 15, 2016 at 8:57 PM

                  I don’t really see Harbaugh as a guy who will spread the ball around among a bunch of players. Naturally, there are lots of guys who will get the ball (running backs, fullbacks, tight ends, wide receivers), because Harbaugh doesn’t ignore the FB or TE like some coaches do. However, as far as wide receivers go, it seems like Harbaugh throws the ball to his split end and his flanker, and that’s about it. I don’t see him spreading the field with four and five wide receivers and trying to spread the ball out among those guys.

                • Lanknows
                  Comments: 6182
                  Joined: 8/11/2015
                  Lanknows
                  Dec 15, 2016 at 5:13 PM

                  Right. The issue is if system should play into recruiting rankings. The idea that evaluations of recruits should be diminished based on the scheme they choose to play in is a difficult in a conversation focused on skills and abilities (as recruiting evaluations mostly are).

                  I don’t think anyone is inherently less of a player for choosing Michigan over Baylor. And arguably the best WR of the last 20 years (if not ever) played in perhaps the least stat-friendly system for WRs there is.

                  How representative the 49ers and Cardinal offenses are to Michigan is a mostly separate debate. A more interesting one too, IMO. I think Harbaugh has adapted and is a lot more flexible than people give him credit for.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Dec 14, 2016 at 5:25 PM

        You lost me. I agree production is context-dependent but your rankings don’t reference yardage or other stats and your post is mostly about skill and abilities. Calvin Johnson caught 1200 yards once in 3 years and never matched Jeremy Gallon’s 2013 yardage total, so the NFL clearly doesn’t just care about production. And I my chief interest isn’t in the NFL anyway.

        When I said modest assessment I was referring to the comparison to Butler who was a very unexceptional player and the lack of play-making you describe. I wasn’t disagreeing, just noting the discrepancy. As I’ve said in the past I appreciate that you are thinking independently from the rankings.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3787
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 14, 2016 at 5:40 PM

          I guess your comment that it was a “modest assessment” is vague, then. Do you mean the words or the TTB Rating? Whether you like the categories for the TTB Ratings or not, they are what they are. And I think I made a pretty good case that Harbaugh’s WR numbers don’t lend themselves to being in the 90s.

          Tyrece Butler was a fine wide receiver. He was not outstanding. He could have been more productive if he weren’t blocked by true #1 guys (Edwards, Walker, etc.), but I don’t think he was in danger of setting the world on fire. Just because I make a comparison to body style and such doesn’t mean I’m projecting him to have the exact same career. Not everyone who “reminds me of Mike Hart” is going to end up the school’s leading rusher.

          • Lanknows
            Comments: 6182
            Joined: 8/11/2015
            Lanknows
            Dec 14, 2016 at 6:10 PM

            You gave him a rank in the category that says “Solid starter in Big Ten; some NFL draft potential ” and you compared him to Butler, a career backup who did not play in the NFL and who I do not think of as a good player. Compared to other top 100 recruits with offers from Alabama and company this is modest.

            I’m still not tracking what this has to do with the quantity of “WR numbers”. Seems like conflating two related but separate issues. I agree a Harbaugh WR is unlikely to catch 1500 yards or whatever. If you are saying no Harbaugh WR will ever be an elite player because he can’t in this system I would disagree with that.

            • Thunder
              Comments: 3787
              Joined: 7/13/2015
              Dec 14, 2016 at 7:31 PM

              In order to be All-Big Ten, All-American, or high draft pick at WR, you generally have to put up good numbers. It doesn’t mean you can’t be a good player if you don’t, but generally, that’s the case. To be ranked in the 90s or above, you’re “likely to be All-American.” I don’t think that will be the case. Do you? Jim Harbaugh’s most productive receiver in his career was Anquan Boldin – one of the top WRs in the NFL for a while – who had about 85 catches for 1,100 yards and some change in 2013. That’s a good season, but it’s not wildly productive for a wideout in the NFL in a pass-happy league where top receivers frequently catch 100+ passes.

              Let’s put this in perspective using his ratings. First Team All-America means you’re one of the top two WRs in the country. Second Team All-America means you’re one of the top four WRs in the country. He’s #10 at his position to Rivals, #13 to Scout, #29 to 247 Sports, and #31 to ESPN. Naturally, those won’t line up with who actually gets picked as an All-American over the next four years, but NOBODY projects him as an All-American. Furthermore, the 10th wide receiver selected in the 2016 draft was Cincinnati’s Chris Moore (#107 overall). That’s if Rivals is accurate. There were 31 wide receivers taken in the 2016 draft, so if 247 Sports or ESPN are accurate, he’s the equivalent of a 7th round pick.

              Is it a modest take on his skills? Sure, I guess. But it’s right in line with his rankings, which (according to the draft) would put him as a 4th to 7th rounder. And his TTB Rating puts him 1 point away from the 80-89 range, which is where some mid-round picks (Denard Robinson, Mike Martin, and confusingly 2nd round Jonas Mouton) reside. I’m not exactly going out on a limb with this evaluation.

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6182
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Dec 14, 2016 at 11:43 PM

                Your initial rank for 4 of the 5 WR recruits last year was higher than Black, even though all of them rank lower than Black does in the 247 composite. So, I don’t think the ‘modest’ comment is unfair.

                Again, I’m not arguing with the ranking. Personally I think it’s high – if for no other reason than I like the other WRs we have (and DPJ hopefully) better.

                Disagree with the assumption that production equates to NFL draft position. I think this infused the comments above which is why I was a little confused.

                Calvin Johnson was All-ACC as a freshman with 43 catches and 837 yards. He was an all american the following year with 54 catches and 888 yards. 40th in the country.

                Julio Jones was an all conference selection and had 900, 500, and 1100 yard seasons in his 3 full years of college.

                Both got picked in the top few spots of the NFL draft because everyone knew they played in run-oriented offenses that wouldn’t post huge numbers. Didn’t matter much that they didn’t play for Baylor or OK St. The NFL drafts on potential, not production.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3787
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Dec 15, 2016 at 8:15 AM

                  Yes, Calvin Johnson was All-ACC when he averaged 17.4 yards/catch and scored 7 TDs as a freshman. And Julio Jones was a 5-star recruit who became a 1st round draft pick. You’re talking about one of the greatest NFL receivers of all time and Julio Jones, a 3-time Pro Bowler in a pretty short career so far. They received accolades and did good things.

                  They are/were better than Tarik Black.

                  There’s no hard-and-fast rule about the NFL draft. I can’t make one blanket statement to cover every possible scenario. However, I certainly do think production plays a big factor. You mentioned Julio Jones’s production in those three separate years, but if he had 500 receiving yards in each of his three years in college, then I don’t know if he would have earned as much respect. The fact is that he had 900 and 1,100 yards surrounding his 500-yard year. Even that lower number has only been topped by a Harbaugh receiver once (Whalen in 2009).

              • Lanknows
                Comments: 6182
                Joined: 8/11/2015
                Lanknows
                Dec 14, 2016 at 11:48 PM

                Michigan had the #4 WR in yardage this year and that was with a record setting tight end and an arguably more talented second WR, plus a new QB that presided over a mediocre offense as a whole.

                Harbaugh’s offense is very capable of producing 1,200 yard WR seasons and doing so will likely get them all-conference honors before a less talented WR who puts up volume stats.

                I think DPJ is as “likely to be an all conference player” and high NFL draft pick and I don’t think him choosing Michigan instead of Baylor will hurt him in either regard at all.

                • Thunder
                  Comments: 3787
                  Joined: 7/13/2015
                  Dec 15, 2016 at 8:18 AM

                  The #4 receiver in yardage in a conference earns you…Second Team All-Big Ten, apparently.

                  Your comments about DPJ are generally irrelevant to this conversation, considering he isn’t committed to Michigan and this discussion is regarding Tarik Black. I haven’t given a TTB Rating for DPJ yet, because he hasn’t announced his future college destination.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Dec 14, 2016 at 5:29 PM

        I was wondering if he might have the potential to be a Jeremy Clark-like corner.

        • Thunder
          Comments: 3787
          Joined: 7/13/2015
          Dec 14, 2016 at 5:34 PM

          I think his frame is too big to be a corner. I think he’ll be 215 lbs. or so. It’s not out of the question, but I doubt it.

      • Avatar
        Comments: 1863
        Joined: 1/19/2016
        je93
        Dec 14, 2016 at 11:01 PM

        What about 2015 Chesson? I think if JH has the talent within his arsenal, he’ll use it

        At Stanford, I don’t think a DPJ-type playmaker was even an option… don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the preference is to bully defenses with a grinding run game, but the explosive Receiver (DPJ), or talented possession type (Black, or even Darboh) WILL be put to good use
        I know we didn’t throw to our 2016 WR class much, but they were all Fall-enrolling Freshmen, and were behind established 5th year players. I think if we look at the guys JH brought in last year, and has chased hard this year, it’s obvious the intent is to take the top off of defenses (and keep that threat alive)

        GO BLUE

    • boliver46
      Comments: 31
      Joined: 8/13/2015
      boliver46
      Dec 14, 2016 at 3:13 PM

      Yeah – that offer list stands out in stark contrast to this assessment…I figured he’d be in the mid-80’s for TTB rating – but what do I know?

      • Thunder
        Comments: 3787
        Joined: 7/13/2015
        Dec 14, 2016 at 5:15 PM

        Well, he could reach that point, and it’s possible when I re-rank players after National Signing Day that I’ll bump him up (or down). The makeup of the class, roster changes, etc. can always cause fluctuations in the TTB Ratings.

  2. Lanknows
    Comments: 6182
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Lanknows
    Dec 14, 2016 at 5:28 PM

    Put me down as dubious. The slow big WRs rarely become impact players, no matter how skilled they are. Nothing wrong with being a possession receiver – Darboh was a deluxe version and very valuable for what he was, but he didn’t really come in from high school with a reputation for lacking speed.

    • Thunder
      Comments: 3787
      Joined: 7/13/2015
      Dec 14, 2016 at 5:36 PM

      I think you’re overstating my thoughts on his speed, or you’re making your own comments. I don’t think anyone is calling him slow. I did say that he doesn’t have elite speed, which I believe to be accurate. He’s fast enough to be successful.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Dec 14, 2016 at 6:10 PM

        I am stating my own opinion.

    • Avatar
      Comments: 290
      Joined: 12/19/2015
      Extrajuice
      Dec 14, 2016 at 5:48 PM

      I think it’s important to have players like Black. His ability to catch the ball with his hands is a welcoming sight. I’m kind of tired watching professional football players like Marvin Jones try to trap everything against his chest. Having a guy who can run a bit but catch everything around him is important, especially in Michigan’s offense. He’s not explosive but fast enough to get the first down!

      Thunder’s WR history with Harbaugh is worrisome. Either they get a stud RB, like Harris, soon, or they better get some bigger play receivers (DPJ) and include them in the offense more. I don’t have much faith in the current RB class and the returnees haven’t shown me much in terms of elite backs. Evans and Higdon are more complimentary. Don’t know much about Walker yet but his senior year highlights weren’t thrilling. Nor was his All Star Game performance.

      • Lanknows
        Comments: 6182
        Joined: 8/11/2015
        Lanknows
        Dec 14, 2016 at 6:16 PM

        Keep in mind Harbaugh was recruiting at Stanford when they were the west coast equivalent of Purdue. He didn’t have access to elite recruits. Yeah, he did pull Andrew Luck but that was a bit of a coup. Baldwin has proven to be a good player.

        Anyway, we saw what a Harbaugh WR can be the last half of 2015 when Chesson had his explosion. For whatever reasons that didn’t continue in 2016 but you can see that the ceiling in this offense is still quite high.

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 1332
    Joined: 8/13/2015
    Roanman
    Dec 15, 2016 at 7:30 AM

    Interesting that it’s Ben Mason who receives Gatorade’s Player of the year award in Connecticut over Black.

    Mason’s Sr vid from the award is funny to watch as kids just bounce off of him and collapse in a pile. He sure looks like a fullback, but maybe he’s that missing thumper in the middle.

    Finally, and speaking of moving guys from WR to Safety. I watched the Catholics vs. Criminals thing on 30/30 last night. Pat Terrell came to ND as a QB was immediately sent to WR where he dropped ball after ball and was finally sent to Safety where he made one of the huge plays ever on a 2 pt conversion to save a 31-30 ND win over defending National Champion and undefeated seemingly forever, Miami. The best part of the whole show was Terrell talking about the stuff Holtz said after drops. Including going to the QB and telling him, “That drop wasn’t his fault, it was your fault for throwing him the damn football” and “You’re the best wide receiver on this football team except for when it comes to catching the football. You’re going to Safety.”

    One of the great games in the history of college football is largely overlooked outside of south Bend because later that evening, Gibby limps up to the plate for the Dodgers in the World Series and made the Miami, Notre Dame game old news quick with one swing of the bat

    • Lanknows
      Comments: 6182
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Lanknows
      Dec 15, 2016 at 1:52 PM

      It’s always interesting to see if the expected position-switches come to be. A lot of it is idle speculation (like ahem a certain starting RB moving to FB), some of it dies when the player doesn’t want to move (e.g., Shallman), other times it simply doesn’t work or takes too long to be valuable.

      Then other times it’s exactly what you’d expect. We’ll see with Mason. I tend to view it as positional versatility – usually a good thing as long as they find their position within a couple years of arriving on campus.

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