Friday, June 10, 2011

Tom Strobel, Wolverine

Tom Strobel.

Tom Strobel, a defensive end from Mentor, OH, committed to Michigan on Friday.  He's a 6'6", 245 lb. strongside end who picked the Wolverines over offers from Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Stanford, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, among others.

Is it a coincidence that Strobel plays for the Mentor Cardinals, which just so happens to be the same nickname of Brady Hoke's old team, the Ball State Cardinals . . . ?


His current rankings are as follows:

ESPN: 3-star, #56 DE
Rivals: 4-star, #36 DE, #231 overall
Scout: 4-star, #24 DE, #211 overall
24/7 Sports: 4-star, #14 WDE, #169 overall

When three out of four sites agree that he's a top-250 prospect, then I tend to think that ESPN doesn't know what it's talking about (Hint: They don't).  For someone that big who runs a reported 4.8 forty yard dash and has a 28" vertical leap, anything less than a 4-star rating seems a little foolish.  What's even more ridiculous is that the state of Ohio has several defensive ends who are on par or perhaps even better than Strobel, such as Adolphus Washington, Se'von Pittman, Ifeadi Odenigbo, Pharaoh Brown, and Greg McMullen.

While the majority of the sites agree that Strobel is an elite prospect, what they don't seem to agree on is his eventual position.  He has been projected as a strongside end, a weakside end, and a 3-tech defensive tackle by various scouts.  To me he looks like a strongside end all the way.  First of all, he has the bulk to play on the strong side without getting knocked off the ball.  Secondly, he doesn't have the athleticism to be an elite pass rusher and come off the edge from the weakside.  And third, if he's a true 6'6" tall, then I don't want him inside playing tackle.  Anytime tackles get over 6'5", I think their height becomes a disadvantage.

Strobel has a great motor.  There are plays when he gets completely turned around, finds the ball, and makes a beeline toward the ballcarrier.  There's no hesitation or thought of "Maybe I should give up" or "Maybe one of my teammates made the play by now."  He's also thick from head to toe, which means he should have sufficient upper and lower body strength to keep blockers off of him with his arms while also powering through blockers and ballcarriers with his legs.  He uses his hands very well and keeps separation from offensive tackles.

I am slightly concerned about Strobel's production thus far in his high school career, though.  In two seasons of varsity ball, he's only made 84 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, and 9 sacks.  He did miss a couple games due to injury as a junior, but for a guy with his tools to only make 37 tackles and 2 sacks as a junior in high school is a little bit curious.  I also have all kinds of issues with Strobel's technique.  While he uses his hands very well, his butt's too low in his stance and his right foot is too far back, which makes him cockeyed.  With his foot back that far, almost every one of his first steps makes him stand straight up.  I'm not too concerned that Michigan's coaches will notice his stance issues and make the necessary corrections.  The more pressing issue is how quickly Strobel will adjust to a new stance, whether he will be comfortable, and whether he can keep his balance once the tweaks are made.

Overall, Strobel seems like a high-floor/medium-ceiling type of player.  As a strongside end, perhaps the most important quality is to be relentlessly active, and he does have that quality.  However, he will get eaten alive if he doesn't play lower.  The track record of his future coaches speaks for itself as far as coaching up defensive linemen, but I can't really expect greatness from a kid who had 37 tackles and 2 sacks as a junior.  I will be interested to see how he does in the upcoming season, so the following number may change, but as for now . . .

TTB Rating: 79 (explanation here)


  1. Several scouts have him as being more like 6'5 so I'm hoping that he can beef up and move inside. I think it's logical to assume that some of these ends with more room to grow are being recruited as though the plan for them is to move inside. It's hard to imagine such a big group of DE's signing up otherwise.

  2. @ Paul 2:00 a.m.

    I agree about the high number of DE's, but if Ojemudia ends up at SAM and Godin ends up at 3-tech, things could work out. I see Godin as a 3-tech before Strobel. Strobel looks taller and I've read that he's a definite 6'6", but we'll see what happens.

  3. It will be very interesting to see how the DE situation plays out, especially since there are two highly coveted DE prospects that are still believed to have Michigan #1 (Wormley, A. Washington). Do we sign them all?

    That said, having this much incoming talent would have to be a good thing, I'd think. Or we'll have the most talented bench in America.

  4. @ GregGoBlue 9:31 a.m.

    I don't think we can sign them all. Not only is there not enough room to take all of them in this class, but I don't imagine that all six defensive ends would want to come to a team this stacked with talent. Wormley and/or Washington might not be scared off, but some of the currently committed guys might get a little apprehensive about fighting with so much talent.

    I've mentioned before that there's a possibility that Wormley could play offensive tackle, though, and a couple of these defensive ends MIGHT be able to slide inside to tackle. So if position changes are in order, then obviously the possibilities are pretty wide open.

  5. Ojemudia moving to SAM would just shift our overcrowding issue from DE to LB, since we'd be signing 5 LBs

  6. @ Lutha 9:49 a.m.

    I agree. I'm not a big fan of signing so many linebackers in the 2011/2012 classes. Unfortunately, I think there's some dead weight from the Rodriguez years, but it can't be "cut" unless we want Hoke to be a dirty dirtball like Nick Saban.

  7. I think there is a reasonable middle between the 'cuts' and laying out the cold hard facts to a marginal player and giving him his options and letting him draw his own conclusions. That said, I really doubt it comes to that.

    Expecting 'normal' attrition rates, the numbers shouldn't be a problem. Furthermore, some of these guys won't pan out for whatever reason. If you want to guarantee 2 quality DE starters, you better take at least 4 players.

    As for Strobel, I'm very excited by his commitment. I've been very unmoved by most of the commitments - downright stodgy compared to most of the M fans online - but this (and Manguson) are great news IMO. The first signs that Hoke might be raising the bar beyond what Carr/Rodriguez have done normally.

    To get an 'OSU lock' away from Ohio, in June no less, is pretty uncommon. Its nice to beat OSU for Richardson and Ross but they are local pipeline kids for Michigan. Hoke held homecourt with them; now he stole one on the road (though Cleveland really should be more neutral territory IMO...)

    And Manguson is obviously a national recruit. based on his offers. While he may not be a truly elite top 10 at his position, it's obvious he's a highly sought-after prospect.

    Finally, these positions are significant needs IMO. I know most people seem to think Roh or Black are going to slide over to SDE, but I'm concerned about a) that working and b) depth. Strobel seems like a smart kid and could be an instant contributor IMO at SDE. As for OL - the need remains significant, even with 3 commitments.

    Going forward - I'd like to see the pace of commitments slow down so that some of these elite guys have a chance to join the roster, even if they decide late. But obviously you take a high-end commitment whenever you can get it. Hopefully Diamond, Wilson, and Wormley see how the class is unfolding and sign up soon.

  8. He missed several games last year, which definitely had an impact on his stats.

  9. Considering the numerous talented DE options from Ohio and considering we already recruited a high energy/medium ceiling strongside DE (Godin) and a similar high energy/slightly higher ceiling weakside DE (Ojemudia) do you think taking Strobel was a mistake? I'd just HATE to have to say no to Washington (especially with Stanford) or Pittman.

  10. Godin's best offers were Wisconsin, Boston College and MSU. Strobel's are Ohio State, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Stanford, Wisconsin, MSU and many more. Strobel is much higher thought of as a prospect. If there was a mistake made it was in offering Godin and/or Ojemudia.

  11. If Ojemudia does indeed end up as a SAM, how would you slot the other LBs in the class? Who moves to fullback?