Friday, May 13, 2011

Matt Godin, Wolverine

Novi Catholic Central defensive end Matt Godin committed to Michigan

Novi, MI, defensive end/defensive tackle Matt Godin publicly committed to Michigan on Thursday morning. He had been a silent commit for a few weeks. If you missed the obvious, glaring hints that all pointed to Matt Godin as the silent verbal, then you ought to be ashamed of yourself. Scout ranks him as a 3-star and the #39 defensive end in the country. 247 Sports gives him 4 stars and puts him at #239, barely slipping him into their "top 247" list. Rivals and ESPN are non-committal.

Godin is 6'5" and 253 lbs., runs a 5.03-second forty, and runs a 4.66 shuttle. He picked the Wolverines over offers from Boston College, Buffalo, Cincinnati, Duke, Illinois, Michigan State, Missouri, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin. As a junior for Catholic Central, he had 66 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, and 2 sacks.

Defensive coordinator Greg Mattison told Godin to prepare for playing the 5-tech defensive end/defensive tackle position. The 5-tech lines up on the outside shoulder of the strongside offensive tackle, where he'll have to stand up against the run. In particular, he'll have to stand up to double-teams on power runs. His position will be occupied by Ryan Van Bergen in 2011, who was coincidentally almost Godin's exact same size as a recruit - 6'5", 260 lbs. Van Bergen was a quasi-linebacker in high school, playing virtually every position in the front seven for his Whitehall football team. And although I wasn't extremely high on Van Bergen - who has trumped me by turning into a solid player - I'm even less a fan of Godin's game.

Yep, this is one of those recruits about whom I dare to say . . . meh. I'm inclined to give Mattison (and Brady Hoke) the benefit of the doubt when recruiting defensive linemen, because they've coached good ones - great ones, even - and been a part of some great defenses. They're clearly good at what they do. But occasionally there's going to be a guy who doesn't excite me. Most of these 2012 guys get me excited about Michigan's future, but here's why I have serious questions about Godin:

His "highlight" reel includes several plays where he's a half step behind everybody else when getting off the ball. You can watch his (presumably less heralded) defensive line mates get out of their stances before him, and that's a concern for me. Defensive (and offensive) line coaches everywhere say that the first guy to get his second foot down will win the battle. I would guess that Godin only wins that race 50% of the time, although he wins the battle more often than that because, well, he's 6'5" and 253 lbs. and it's his highlight reel. I've played against Detroit Catholic Central enough - and seen them in enough state championship games - to know that the players they put on the field are as strong as oxen, and Godin does his fair share of pushing people around. But I see all kinds of fundamental issues that will get him beat at the next level: standing up too high, getting off balance, using a spin move against running plays, allowing himself to get reach blocked, etc. The litany of errors on a highlight film scares me a little bit.

Another concern for me is his production level, albeit against good competition. A good pass rush from a strongside end - who's essentially a 3-4 defensive end - should be considered gravy, because those guys aren't really put on the field for their ability to get to the quarterback. Getting sacks is the job of the 3-tech DT, the weakside end, and blitzing linebackers. But as an FBS prospect against high school competition, he ought to have more than 2 sacks. And he probably ought to have more than 66 tackles. There may have been some mitigating circumstances, but those numbers aren't spectacular. Some Michigan fans have suggested that Godin could grow into a 3-tech defensive tackle, but that 3-tech has to create a pass rush, whether by pure force (hopefully Will Campbell) or by quickness off the ball (think John Randle). I'm not sure if Godin posses the pure strength or quickness to give us anything from the 3-tech. Furthermore, CC has enough talent on its football team that Godin shouldn't necessarily be the focus of an offense; his highlight film doesn't suggest that he's facing constant double-teams.

Ending on a positive note, the last guy Michigan got from Catholic Central was Mike Martin, who has turned out to be a very good player. If Godin can take a page out of Martin's book and become a beast in the weight room, then some of Godin's fundamental problems and lack of athleticism may be mitigated. He doesn't have to be a superstar if he can hold his ground against the run. And with his size, he doesn't have to be a freak athlete. Hopefully, he can turn into a solid player in Ann Arbor.

Godin's commitment gives Michigan 11 players for the 2012 class, which is six short of its projected size of 17. That number will surely increase, but in the meantime, expect the coaches to pursue commitments from two or three more defensive linemen (one more strongside end, plus a couple defensive tackles).

TTB Rating: 65


  1. Thanks for your honest viewpoint. I always look forward to your reviews of players because I know that you'll "tell it like you see it."

    I have no foundation upon which to claim any football knowledge, but I, too, was very unimpressed with Godin's "highlight" reel. I also observed that he stands straight up most of the time (isn't that what is limiting Campbell's play?). It also appeared that most of his tackles were of the gang tackle variety where he was just one of several defenders at the ball rather than impressive solo tackles.

    However, if he can match RVB's production, I would be perfectly happy with that level of performance.

  2. Magnus, surely Mattison, Hoke and Montgomery see something in Godin, yes? I would venture to guess that few programs anywhere in the country are going to be able to better evaluate a position than Michigan does defensive lineman. Would agree with that statement? (You hint as much in your write-up.) If so, one of two things is true: 1) they see potential (if so, please speculate on that potential), or 2) they want to keep driving the State of Michigan recruiting train and are willing to take a flyer on a kid they'd otherwise pass on.

    Even as an old nemesis from Haloscan days, I admire your honest evaluations. You should coin your own ratings system for Michigan commits, something that lists the rating of the other services and then the TTB rating alongside.

  3. @ Anonymous 1:50 p.m.

    Yes, that has been limiting Campbell's playing time, and at least Campbell is 333 lbs. Godin won't have that same sort of size advantage.

    I agree that if he can be RVB, Jr., I would not have a problem with it. We'll see...

  4. @ Meeechigan Dan 3:04 p.m.

    If Godin were from Nowhereland, TN, I doubt Michigan would have recruited him. I don't think he's the type of talent you fly across the country to see. I think the fact that he's in Michigan's backyard just happens to coincide with the fact that Michigan needs strongside end types, so they figured they would take a shot. Maybe they think taking a "B-" kid from Novi is better than taking a "B" kid from Arizona or Massachusetts. And there might be something to be said for that, since Godin understands the rivalry, loves Michigan, won't get homesick, etc.

    As for Godin's potential...he's 6'5", 253 lbs. and more athletic than most dudes that size. Just like speed, you can't teach size. It's quite possible that Mattison, Hoke, and Montgomery have the mentality that "Give me any mildly athletic big kid and I'll turn him into a hell of a player." And for all I know, they would be right.

    Believe it or not, I have seriously considered giving out my own ratings. I would like to have something more easily understood than the whole "Well, I don't think he'll contribute early, but he could maybe play a backup role after his redshirt and then blah blah blah." There's something to be said for taking all those angles into account, but it gets unwieldy at times. I also thought it might be a little pretentious to create my own rankings, but it's under consideration...

  5. By the way, Meeechigan Dan...we were never at odds with each other, were we? I always thought I was the apple of your eye...

  6. It's possible that Godin may have forced the coaches' hand on his offer a little. He is obviously a hard nosed kid, local, die-hard UM fan - just what they want in terms of mindset. It would have been ideal to wait on him a little longer with the other prospects that are out there. But he was so incensed about not having a UM offer a couple months ago that the coaches had to offer quickly or lose him for good. At least he has good measurables and seems like a hard worker. Hopefully, he has a much better senior season.

  7. @ Painter Smurf 3:51 p.m.

    Recruiting is a strange dynamic, but I'm hoping a high school kid didn't strong-hand Michigan's coaching staff. I don't think that's the case, and that would be a bad sign.

  8. @ PainterSmurf

    I think there's a lot to what you're saying. I don't know if it's anyone's fault. After all, UM offered. Recruiting is complicated, especially with in-state kids. I would think it's more complicated to slowplay a local recruit when coaches might have been waiting for Ifeago (sp?) or Adulphous (sp?). I feel the same about Mario.

    This is not to say that I am sad that the players commited to UM; it's just that recruiting is complicated and all parties need to do it skillfully for the best overall result.

    And, I think becuase current coaches are pretty good at what they do, the in-state players that they are offering early are very good players.

    P.S., Because I have no special ability to evaluate players other than stars and ranking systems, I hope Godin and Mario take no offense if they're reading this. As a UM Football fan, I want success for them and I'll root for them fanatically.

  9. The readers of your recruiting ratings would obviously be coming to your site seeking that sort of information. You currently write several paragraphs about your opinions on commits, so I don't know how putting a hard number to your observations would be "pretentious."

  10. @ Andrew 7:07 p.m.

    I just meant pretentious as in, "Look at this guy - he thinks he can create his own Rivals/Scout/ESPN all by himself." But you're right...if I'm already writing up a scouting report, I guess adding a numerical value wouldn't be much different.

    Maybe I'll come up with something. The star rating thing doesn't make sense to me.

  11. You keep defending Cook's protracted hissy fit over at mgosnark and no more apple!

    Rate only players on the offer board and use a hybrid graphic sort of like a Venn Diagram that shows native ability, motor and drive, and contribution potential...something cool like that. No charge...

  12. My point about forcing the coaches' hand was that he would not allow UM to slow-play him. Some kids are willing to wait until late in the process for their cherished offer, but it was clear that Godin was not open to that. So Hoke did not have the luxury of waiting until summer or fall to make the offer. It was either offer him by March, or let him go to another team.

  13. Just for the record I'm Kman23 on MGoBlog and I was the one who asked about the 4-3 under being a 5-2 on Matt Godin's "Hello" page.

    First off, thanks for the response. I really appreciate it. I understand your concerns about Godin but I think the concern about his first step is over exaggerated if he's not expected to really rush the QB. I get that the first step is still important on run plays, especially since he'd be setting the line but I think it'd be more important that he can hold up a T & TE blocking him and not get pancaked like we've often seen from some d-lineman in recent years.

    I remember hearing on TV when I was younger that Michigan use to have their d-lineman eat up blockers allowing the linebackers to be unblocked on pass & run plays. I don't know if I remember this incorrectly because I must have been under 14 when I heard it or if TV over exaggerated or was wrong or whatever but Godin seems like a player that fits that older Michigan theme (if it was correct). The guy just seems like he's someone who can cancel out 1/5 of the opponents line.

  14. Just for the record I trust your opinion of a player over that of any pay site (that's why I don't pay) and even though I love MGoBlog Tim's predictions. Tim seems to always think every player will improve and eventually be drafted as long as they sign for Michigan. I love the work he does and I think often he's right but he doesn't seem willing to critique players as much and I think part of this is that many players read the site and it'd be hard to critique a 17 year old.

    I have an off-topic question about recruiting strategy. I realize this being Hoke's first recruiting year he needs to fill holes that he sees are there (whether overall holes left from RR or a different system requirement) but in the long run do coaches occasionally recruit players that don't fit their system just so they have options? Michigan will probably run the 4-3 under what 60% of the time? That leaves 40% of the time open to other formations. Maybe 5% of the time Michigan might run our a 3-4 so they'd need a big NT that wouldn't start in the 4-3 under. Or maybe they'd run a 4-2-5 and need a safety that can play on the LOS and dominate the run game that might be bad at pass coverage? This year they'd certainly not be critical recruits when we need to get the 2-deep set but eventually do colleges recruit those types or do they tend to occur by default when a player they recruited fails to develop a coverage game or get too heavy for a normal DT and only plays situational schemes? It seems risky to gamble extra spots on "specialists" but if a specialist is a 4 star would it be better than taking yet another WDE 3 star that wouldn't see any not ST playing time until their RS Junior year if nobody behind them skips over them? I'm sure the answer is a little of each but I was just wondering what you thoughts were about recruiting players that don't fit our 4-3 under scheme. Thanks.

  15. I agree with your assessment of Godin except that I think if he bulks up and gets some technique training, by his redshirt junior year or so he would be big enough and athletic enough to take on interior guards as a 3 tech DT.

    As far as you starting a star ranking or whatever, what I would do is have different categories such as athleticism, potential, technique, and maybe a couple more like bust-factor (5-star being that he won't be a bust), team need (which could hint at early impact) and then just average them for an overall rating. That way it's not as quasi-BS as the rating sites but gives a more informative breakdown.

  16. Also, just to add, I think you are underestimating the pass rush ability of the 5-tech just a bit. I think on first and second down you are right about the pressure usually coming from the weakside. But I think, especially on distance downs, the 5 tech is more important to the pass rush after the TE release than the 3 tech.

  17. @ Meeechigan Dan 8:17 p.m.

    Venn diagrams are definitely underused in football recruiting. Good idea.

  18. @ Painter Smurf 10:52 p.m.


  19. is throwing the ball a strange thing to see in michigan hs football? or in that league in particular? because hes 6'5 and only has one batted pass. would speak to his athleticism if he had more than 1. n i agree only 2 sacks is a problem. tho, i believe that that league doesnt throw the ball, hence 28 tfl. it would make sense if a kid that gets enough penetration for 28 tfl to only get 2 sacks if the other team doesnt throw. i suppose. also, he looks really slow. but i like his size


  20. @ KB 2:35 p.m.

    I still think that first and second step are very important, regardless of whether it's a run play or a pass play. If he can hold up despite not having a good first two steps, that's fine. I don't care if he does a somersault if that means he's going to hold the point of attack. But we all know somersaults aren't encouraged for a reason.

  21. @ KB 2:49 a.m.

    I don't think coaches necessarily recruit guys who don't fit their system in some way. To put it a different way, I think coaches recruit players who fit their scheme in one way or another. Defenses are so "multiple" these days that every team needs a nickel corner, an edge rusher, etc.

    Also, I think it's important to keep in mind that cookie-cutter players don't exist as much as we want them to. Sometimes a 6'2", 300 lb. nose tackle like Mike Martin is just as good as a 6'4", 330 lb. nose tackle. Ernest Shazor is a type of guy who would have been perfect for the Spur position in our 2010 defense, but Lloyd Carr used him as a SS. And Shazor was a solid player, but nobody else has really looked/played like him.

    Good football players will find their way onto the field in some capacity, and good coaches will find a way to use good players.

    Thanks very much for the compliments on the blog. It's good to know that the information I put on here are appreciated.

  22. A little insight that may help a bit. The CC staff is big on some very basic technique and it stops there. They don't get a lot of anything that would be technique heavy. They beat the crap out of each other each practice and condition like mad men. Old school. I would temper some of the impressions of Godin in that he hasn't had any measurable amount of technique emphasis at all at CC. Stats are done by a guy I swear is in his 70's. I think he will be a guy they "coach up" will take a few seasons but he'll come out the back end of this intro period much stronger, tougher, and with tons of actual technique. He's a big agile kid, just needs a year or two of Mattison TLC and he'll be productive.

  23. @ Anonymous 2:19 p.m.

    I'm not questioning the validity of what you say, but how do you know these things (if you don't mind divulging)? Are a former CC player or a parent or something? Just curious.

  24. Shall have to take the 5th on the above request. : ) Very familiar with the coaches and teams (and players) going back to the 2008 season. Don't get me wrong, they coach a lot but there are not a lot of details. My perception is that by the time you get to varsity you should pretty much know how to play. I don't see too much poor tackling/blocking by CC through the years and they are very good and aggressive tacklers with a lot of hustle. Good formula over the long run. Anyway, my take is that Matt just needs some dedicated training, college level lifting/conditioning, and emphasis on the "little stuff" that you get with 4 years of playing one position. I think he will get knocked around a bit year one but really learn and develop from it.

  25. @ Anonymous 3:35 p.m.

    Gotcha. Anonymity is what the internet is for.

    Thanks for the info. CC always has good teams, so they must be doing something right.