Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Allen Gant, Wolverine

Sylvania, OH safety Allen Gant

Allen Gant, a safety from Southview High School in Sylvania, OH, committed to Michigan publicly on Tuesday morning.  He committed to Michigan's coaches last Wednesday.  Gant selected Michigan over offers from Ball State, Boston College, Cincinnati, Illinois, Kentucky, Stanford, Toledo, and West Virginia.

Recent measurements supposedly size Gant at 6'2", 210 lbs. and running in the 4.6-second range.  He's listed as a 3-star safety to Scout, but Rivals and ESPN each list him as a wide receiver.  247 Sports lists him as an "athlete" which isn't helpful at all.

Gant's father is former Michigan safety Tony Gant, who played in Ann Arbor from 1982-86, making 150 tackles, 11 pass breakups, and 3 interceptions for Bo Schembechler.  The elder Gant was 6'2" and 180 lbs. until his senior year, when he shrunk by two inches.

A few months ago, I was asked whether I thought Gant would get an offer from Michigan, and I said I thought he would be a guy the Wolverines might offer late in the process.  And although the class seems to filling up quickly - thus bringing the coaches closer to being "late in the process" than anytime in recent memory - I was still surprised when Michigan's offer came through in mid-May.

Gant isn't an elite athlete.  His biggest assets seem to be his size and strength, which is fine except Michigan seems to be rife with guys who have the size to play outside linebacker, but the speed to play . . . outside linebacker.  Each of Michigan's safeties has toyed with playing linebacker, and here's another one.  When you watch the film below, highlight #1 shows a kid who gets off the line like he's running in quicksand.  By the end of the play, he has failed to outrun a nondescript, short, white kid.  Play #2 is on the highlight film because Gant makes the interception, but that backpedal isn't smooth and he gets the pick because the ball is underthrown.  The bottom line for his high school team is that he made the play, which is kind of the point of playing football.  But when the receivers are faster and the quarterbacks are better, Gant won't be able to get away with plays like that.

As I said above, his size and strength are the aspects of his game that have garnered rave reviews.  He seems to have thickened up since his junior season ended, and one message board poster who claims to have intimate knowledge of Gant's training regimen relates news of 10-15 lbs. of added muscle this off-season and a 36" vertical jump.  Those numbers are all well and good, but it causes me a little bit of concern when it seems that Michigan's current safeties are lacking somewhat in speed, ball skills, etc.  Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison insists that his safeties must be able to play both safety positions, but I can't imagine Gant trying to cover the middle of the field without putting the defense in jeopardy.

The coaching staff has done an excellent job in recruiting so far in the 2012 cycle, but I can't help being a little wary of the pursuit of Gant.  Perhaps the fact that his father was a Wolverine played a part in his recruitment.  To put it another way, I don't see another safety on the offer board who's quite as limited athletically as Gant seems to be.  But perhaps it's just a coincidence that the least athletic safety on the board happens to be the son of a former Wolverine.

Gant is the 13th public commitment for Michigan in the class of 2012.  The Wolverines should have at least five remaining spots to fill before February, but that number is bound to swell like always.

TTB Rating: 59 (Click here for the rating system)


  1. I don’t see the point of accepting this commitment at this early date. He seems to be a mid-level three-star, the kind of kid that Michigan can get, pretty much, at any time. In baseball, you would call him “replacement level,” that is, the skill level at which comparable replacements are plentiful. It’s one thing to add kids like that when the class is winding down. But when it’s still May? I don’t get it.

  2. Longtime reader and fan. Request/suggestion: now that you are adding TTB Ratings, can you (at least for the first few) include a link to the post explaining your system, so that 59 gets some context? I suspect after a few ratings of commits, we'll get it fixed in our heads, but until then...

  3. I hate your new rating system already...a UM commit is only a 59! Blasphemy!

    Obviously, I am kidding.

    This certainly feels like a "well, we gotta offer him 'cause his Daddy played here" type of offer. Sometimes that is not the worst thing in the world, though. Remember the "family values" hissy-fit thrown by Justin Boren which was, in part, set off by UM not offering his little brother, Zach?

    Hoke seems like the kind of coach who values those relationships and would be prone to offer a kid just out of loyalty to a former Wolverine player. Especially with the current state of the "fractured" UM family and Hoke's efforts to "reunite" said family.

  4. @ Marc Shepherd 9:39 p.m.

    Yeah, I don't really get it, either. We're on the same page.

  5. I'm putting my happy face on for this one. Plus side is he's over 6'0" and really wants to play for Michigan. I hope he gets the chance someday.

  6. @ Anonymous 9:53 p.m.

    You're right that Hoke seems like "that type of guy." And if the safety position truly is as deep as he thinks (which I don't agree with, but whatever), then there might not be any harm in taking a flier on a kid who might be a career backup. It just seems like a bit of a reach this early.

  7. Hey Thunder, love the new rating system. I think one of the best ways to implement your system would be to come out with a 1 position at a time ranking of the "UM related" prospects. I initially thought only UM offered prospects would be a good idea, but truthfully I think many of us would love to see some of those non-offered guys like Will Mahone and Alden Hill thrown into the mix.

    Also, thanks for your input on these players. Clearly your expertise is highly valued, or else we wouldn't be bothering you for a ranking system!

  8. @ Anonymous 11:15 p.m.

    Thanks for the compliments. I'll probably get around to ranking more and more prospects as time goes on, but with the way things are going right now, I think the ratings might have to come out bit by bit. There's a ton of recruiting stuff going on right now, not to mention the OSU shenanigans and the 2011 season countdown. I'll take your suggestion into consideration, but this is kind of a new thing, so I'm not sure how quickly the ratings will expand.

  9. Thunder, thanks for considering my suggestion and linking the rating system. I greatly appreciate your willingness to accept ideas, and I hope others find it a useful little addition.

    Keep up the great work -- love reading your takes on recruits. Very eager to see how they stack up to your predictions over the course of their Michigan careers.

  10. A) Iowa, Illinois, Indiana
    B) Wisconsin, Boston College, Missouri
    C) WVU, Boston College, Arkansas
    D) WVU, Boston College, NC State
    E) Iowa, Missouri, Stanford
    F) WVU, Boston College, Stanford

    These are roughly/arguably the three highest profile offers for 6 of Michigan's recruits. You can't really call out Gant's offer list as inferior yet people seem uniquely critical of his commitment. For the record its a)Ringer b)Godin c)Williams d)Stacey e)Ojemudia f)Gant

    My point is that Michigan is offering a lot of guys who are sort of ho-hum recruits. Nothing wrong with that, but it seems that fan's reactions depend on three things: 1.do they have 4 stars on either scout or rivals and 2. do they have an MSU offer. 3. are they from michigan

    Thunder has been luke-warm at best about all of the guys and it seems like their offers sort of match that.

    I think people are just being WAY too optimistic about this recruiting class. I'll acknowledge that three players are very good catches: Ross, Jenkins-Stone, and Richardson. Those three are Detroit guys and Cass Tech guys (Ross technically not, but close enough). As for the rest - nothing to get really excited about yet.

    Things are better than they have been the last 2 years but we're still a long way from consistently beating OSU, PSU, Nebraska and ND in quality of recruits. Hoke's held home court pretty well so far (with the notable exception of Jake Fisher) but still hasn't pulled any unexpected stars away from anyone else.

    More importantly, the biggest needs have been OL and DT and that remains the case. So while 4 LB, 3 DE, and (soon) 4 DB is nice, we're still not addressing the needs on the roster and we're still not beating even the local elite, let alone national elite, nearly often enough to get real excited.


    PS Congratulations to Gant for getting the first ever TTB ranking. For the record, I think you deserve to be in the 60s, Allen.

  11. @Lankownia

    I agree with you. Many UM fans are overvauling this recruiting class thus far, primarily because UM has dominated recruiting in the state of Michigan and shut out MSU.

    For the record, I posted my opinions about Ringer and Godin on TTB (I didn't even bother with Stacey and Williams because nobody was particularly excited about them as far as I could tell) and my evaluations were pretty lukewarm but since I don't use a name/profile on here, you'll just have to take my word for it. ;-)

    Of the guys you listed, the only one I am even moderately "excited" about is Odjemudia and I think he will actually be playing SAM rather than WDE.

  12. One of the coaches at GBMW, who hails from the Toledo area and has had a lot of exposure to Gant over the years, says that Gant's junior video doesn't do him justice. Gant was one of those preseason-#1-in-(state)-after-stellar-junior-year types (a la Marvin Robinson, Chris Wormley) but had a significant dropoff during his junior season. He hasn't done any camps or combines, thus the lack of exposure and the low star ranking.

    If Gant has improved as much as the coaches at GBMW say he has (they are often tough sells... but maybe less so on Toledo-area kids), combined with being the son of a Wolverine, literally bleeding maize-n-blue, then I believe the benefits of taking him now (versus never... since our DB class is nearly full thus eliminating of offering him later down the line) I think far outweigh the costs. You're adding a player that can contribute on the field, add significantly to team chemistry, re-establishes the "family values" argument (a significant PR move that cannot be downplayed) and puts it's money where it's mouth is in its message to the Wolverine alumni network that Hoke means business when it comes to his commitment to Michigan past and present.

    Nice move by the coaching staff. Welcome Allen.

  13. Lankownia -

    I think you are undervaluing this class. Ross, RJS and Richardson are obviously very strong national recruits. However, don't forget that Bolden is a 4* top 150 guy with offers from PSU, Tenn & UNC. Also, Pharoah Brown is a 4* with offers from Oregon, UNC, and Nebraska. Add in Funchess as a 4* on most services (including Thunder's opinion) and Wayne Morgan a top 150 talent (Alabama, Miami, and PSU offers) as our silent commit.

    That gives you 7/14 recruits likely to end up with a 4* ranking. Not to mention leading outright for Jordan Diamond, Magnuson and possibly Thurston on the OL. That adds up to MUCH better recruiting than we have seen around here the last few years, period.

  14. If he literally bleeds maize and blue, it's probably a good idea to get that checked out.

    Good points Greg,

    All that off-the-field stuff does matter, as was made abundantly clear under RR. Have to agree with a few other people who've noted that Woolfolk was a 3-star legacy that worked out pretty well. Not everyone has to be an all-american to be a worthwhile recruit.


  15. @ Anon 10:04

    Michigan has always recruited good players. To me, this is a pretty typical Michigan class so far. I think Hoke is hitting (historical) par. Which, again, isn't bad and is an improvement over the last 2 classes, but people are talking about 'owning' the midwest and 'dominating' recruiting - which is only true if you're comparing to MSU. The only impressive thing Hoke has done regarding recruiting is how early they're signing on - which doesn't directly matter - though it may have some residual benefits.

    They're doing a fine job but not an excellent job IMO.


    P.S. Rivals doesn't list an Oregon offer for Brown. Bolden/Funchess/Brown are in that typical range for M recruits where they're 4 stars to some sites but not others. Morgan seems like a unanimous 4 star and would be the first out-of-region get for Hoke. If he drops as expected, I'll consider it a significant accomplishment for Hoke.

  16. I agree with the thought that this recruiting class, while exciting for many reasons, is being over-rated by just about everyone. Until I see two DT, an OT with a chance at making the NFL, and an outside WR that isn't just an athlete I won't be truly happy.

    However, it is a bit unrealistic to expect a 5-star recruit from half-way across the country to sign on this year with a new coach, new system, and coming off of three straight down years. The first step is to lock down all of the best guys close to home and fill needs. Hoke is doing that. The next step, with the help of on-field success, is to grab some top national talent.


  17. Gant doesnt make sense to me, should have camped to get an offer...this was not a good commit IMHO especially this early in the class