Monday, July 11, 2011

Kyle Kalis, Wolverine

Lakewood, OH offensive lineman Kyle Kalis (#67) committed to Michigan

Offensive lineman Kyle Kalis, from Lakewood, OH, committed to Michigan on Sunday.  He chose the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, LSU, Miami, Michigan State, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.  He had previously been committed to Ohio State.

Kalis is a 6'5", 302-pounder who would be Michigan's most touted recruit since 2009, when the Wolverines reeled in defensive tackle William Campbell.  Kalis' recruiting ratings from around the internet:

ESPN: 4-star, #20 OT, #140 overall
Rivals: 4-star, #4 OT, #18 overall
Scout: 5-star, #6 OT, #21 overall
24/7 Sports: 4-star, #8 OT, #52 overall

I can't help but find those recruiting rankings a little bit funny for several reasons.  First and foremost, I've been saying for weeks that Kalis looks like an offensive guard more than a tackle.  Furthermore, every scouting report you can find on Kalis says he lacks the body type of an offensive tackle.  Furtherfurthermore, ESPN has some dudes ranked as offensive tackles ahead of Kalis who are a) not nearly as good and b) not going to play OT in college, either.  You know what they say: if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it must be an iguana.

Why does he look like a guard?

  • He's 6'5".  The last time Michigan had a 6'5" starting tackle was Steve Schilling, who was a poor fit so he moved to guard for his final two seasons.  Before that it was Rueben Riley, who was clearly only playing tackle in 2006 because Alex Mitchell was an all-time fatty.  So the last legitimate 6'5" offensive tackle (i.e. one who wasn't playing awkwardly out of position) was Adam Stenavich in 2005, who was an All-Big Ten player. 
  • Look at him.  Kalis has the build of a guard.  Offensive tackles these days are long and lean, with the lower bodies of tight ends and the upper bodies of Greek gods who binged on carbs for the past week.  Guards look like Bob-ombs.
  • Skills.  Kalis has the footwork and upper body strength to be a great in-line drive blocker, and he has the ability to stay low and root out defensive tackles.  Additionally, he has the speed and quick feet to trap and pull, which will be important for Michigan's guards in the coming years.
Much like Jarrod Wilson, I firmly believe in Kalis' abilities translating to college.  His father, Todd, was an offensive lineman for the Vikings, Steelers, and Bengals.  The elder Kalis obviously taught the younger Kalis well.  Kyle comes out of his stance very well for such a big, young player.  He's quick off the ball, and his footwork is impeccable.  He rarely wastes any movement or gets his feet crossed up, and he keeps a wide base when blocking, which allows him to latch onto blocks and not let go; that's one major difference between Kalis and guys like Michigan commit Blake Bars and potential Michigan commit Jordan Diamond.  Kalis is also relentless when it comes to driving opponents into the ground.  He's not a big guy who gets one or two shots on a guy and then grabs a handful of popcorn; if you want to see that, take a look at the film of 2011 USC recruit Aundrey Walker.  Kalis would perhaps be more physically and technically ready to play as a freshman than any lineman (offensive or defensive) in recent memory.

And now I become a Debbie Downer.

I always preach not to get too excited about Michigan recruits until they sign a national letter of intent.  Kalis was committed to Ohio State until late June, and the main reasons for his decommitment were the pending sanctions and the departure of Jim Tressel.  I'm sure the Buckeyes will not stop contacting Kalis, and if they get only a slap on the wrist from the NCAA, I could foresee him going back to Ohio State.  There have been message board rumors that there are a few recruits who have picked other schools to save a scholarship elsewhere, but that those recruits might head to Columbus if the punishments aren't severe and if OSU seems headed in the right direction under new coach Luke Fickell.  Message board rumors should be taken with a grain of salt and are often fabricated by people with no inside knowledge, but keep in mind that nothing is official until February 2012.  Michigan isn't too far removed from the plethora of decommitments in the 2009 class or the saga of Jerimy Finch, who was "committed" to Michigan, Indiana, and Florida all in one recruiting cycle.  Kalis has a good future, but don't jump off a bridge if this story doesn't develop how you hope.

This brings Michigan's 2012 class to 19.  The coaches have said they're looking for six offensive linemen, and Kalis is number five.  He's also the ninth player from Ohio to pledge to the Wolverines in this recruiting cycle.

TTB Rating: 95


  1. I guess we should tell Kyle we decided to pull the offer.

  2. Magnus, a little inside information re: Kyle going back to the Buckeyes. I live in Ohio (near Lakewood) and was at a graduating party yesterday with a lot of St. Ed's kids and their sister high school girls (cheerleaders). They were truly stunned that Kyle had chosen Michigan. They were beside themselves and even angry.

    However, a couple in the know suggested that OSU was hinting to recruits on the recruiting trail that they were expecting some more pain from the NCAA - Fickell apparently is a straight shooter and is not hiding what the near future probably holds. He may even be painting a little grimmer picture on sanctions so that if they don't come true, there would be a recruiting bump.

    On the other hand, apparently Kyle was blown away by the Michigan experience. From someone who is on OSU's campus every week (for work), the Ann Arbor experience is vastly different than the Columbus one - college atmosphere vs. big city school. I don't think Kyle would bookmark a scholarship (which he really doesn't have to do - anyone would take him at any time) at Michigan if he was worried about Ohio State - he'd do it at Bama or Penn State or somewhere neutral. He is taking a lot of crap for this choice - no need to do that if your holding a spot while OSU shakes out. With Stroebel and soon Wormley and the other Ohio guys keeping him solid, I think we're OK with Kyle through NLOI day.

  3. Good discussion Magnus. Always good to hear from someone with experience. Anyway, I agree with Meeeechigan Dan that Kalis is in a different category than the kids you mentioned regarding shuffling from one commitment to another. I think that if Kalis doesn't sign with us in February, it will not be because he is signing with OSU. Due to the rivalry, I just dont see him going back to the buckeyes. He will always be tainted in their eyes, he will always be a traitor, and his experience there would suffer for it. He made one drastic move, best not to make the same in reverse.

  4. @anon 9:10am

    Indeed. The vitriol being poured out on Kyle is insane. Wishing for torn ACLs, questioning his character and intelligence, comparing him to the Taliban...this does not go unnoticed.

  5. I think your qualifier is well worth making. ANY kid can decommit, but one that has already done it has a heightened risk level. PLus, I think we're all still stung by Boren's defection.

    That said...woo!

    I've been extremely worried about OL in 2013 after the Rodriguez mega-OL class departs, but having a ready-to-play top 5 OL prospect makes me feel much better. Now I can see a best case scenario where Schofield/Lewan return for their senior years at OT and Bryant/Kalis make up a young but talented OG pair. That's potentially a very strong foundation.

    Now all these kids just have to do is pan out...

  6. @ Lank

    I think I see a difference in recruit with Hoke targets. Perhaps this is Hoke or Mattison, or the pervasive philosophy, but there seems to be a premium placed on motor and intensity.

    Look how many kids in this year's class about whom it's been said they have a relentless motor/aggression (just off the top of my head):

    Joe Bolden
    Ben Braden
    Pharaoh Brown
    Matthew Godin
    Royce Jenkins-Stone
    Kyle Kalis
    Erik Magnuson
    Mario Ojemudia
    Kaleb Ringer
    James Ross
    Tom Strobel
    Jarrod Wilson

    When I look back and see the kids who didn't pan out, like an O'Neill, Brandon Smith, Campbell (yet), Turner, Lalota, etc. it seems that the scholarship was given for other reasons besides motor/football savvy.

    May be cherrypicking data, but these guys have the feel of hungry, intense football players.

  7. @ Meeeeechigan Dan
    3 out of the 5 kids you listed were originally Carr recruits.

  8. @Meeechigan Dan

    Yea that vitriol on the OSU recruiting boards was insane. Hopefully Kalis will keep that in mind when he's plowing OSU's D-Line into the ground in the coming years.

  9. magnus,

    obviously this is too early to speculate with any confident, but if you had to make a prediction as to the starting Oline rotation in 2014 (based on the current roster, commits, and assuming diamond will commit) and how good do you think it will be?

    Based on your evaluations, I expect you'd have bryant and kalis as the starting guards. that would leave magnuson and diamond as the likely OTs. Do you see christian pace as the starting center?

  10. Obviously he's a big, athletic player. But given he already has college-level size and technique, does he have as much upside as his peers?

  11. @ Anonymous 11:00 a.m.

    That's a really tough question. That's a long way off, and like you said, a lot can happen between now and then.

    Ben Braden has received a lot of positive reviews lately, and he looks like he could be a solid right tackle in the future. Diamond is more of a LT, in my opinion, which means he would be fighting with Magnuson for the LT job.

    I liked Pace more for Rodriguez's system because he's quick, but Jack Miller seems like he might be a better fit for what Hoke wants to do. Frankly, I haven't seen either one enough to have a ton of confidence in choosing.

    But if I had to guess at 2014, I'd say...

    LT: Magnuson
    LG: Kalis
    C: Pace
    RG: Bryant
    RT: Braden

    But if Michigan gets Josh Garnett, Andrus Peat, or Zach Banner instead of Diamond, I might have to reshuffle.

  12. @ Anonymous 11:20 a.m.

    The "upside" thing doesn't really concern me. He might not "improve" by the same amount as the other guys, but he's already pretty polished.

    If we're looking at Kalis as an "NCAA Football 2013" freshman, he might come in as an 81 while the other guys come in at 74. So while several of these guys might get up to 91 and therefore improve a ton (+17), Kalis getting to 93 might be a better player overall and still have improved less (+12).

    I know that's a video game reference and not necessarily representative of real life, but hopefully you get the picture. As long as Kalis continues to work hard to get stronger, quicker, and refine his technique, then there's not much stopping him from being a very good player in college.

  13. I'm not Magnus, but I've thought of this up tp 2013 already so here goes:
    As things stand in 2014 the RT is the Weakside Tackle. That will be the hardest one to pick because noone has the ideal bodytype for it right now so it will either go to the most athletic Tackle or someone will grow into it. I'd guess by 2014 Either Magnuson with his current skills or Yerden with his basketball experience/size will be the RT and the 2nd best will be the LT. Right now the best is Magnuson, Kalis at RG, Pace at Center, Chris Bryant at LG, and the other best Tackle at LT, either Braden or Yerden again. We are in on some very highly talented top 100 linemen still this year and will take a few top linemen in 2013 who'd be ready to play either right away or after redshirting by 2014.
    Sidenote: Our Strongside Tackle question might need to be decided by 2012 if it looks like Lewan will leave early for the draft and vacate the LT spot for 2013.

  14. @ Michael:

    I'm confused. Who the hell is Yerden?

  15. @ Anon 10:42am

    So? I intended that. There was a malaise during the latter Lloyd Carr years, IMO.

  16. @Michael

    A walk-on beating out multiple classes of scholarship players is pretty unlikely unless you project serious attrition. I know there was some hype generated from his local paper, but that kind of talk should be taken with a grain of salt.

    There will likely be 6 OL in the 2012 class and probably 5 of them will be potential tackles (though half will probably move inside). Then you have the 2013 and maybe even 2014 classes, plus Tony Posada as well. The way recruiting is going 2013 (e.g.,Elmer) and 2014 will probably bring some strong talent as well. A guy with 1 year or whatever of football is facing an uphill battle to say the least.

  17. Gary Yerden is a bit of a wild card, though. He was last minute, but he's been a record setting power lifter since he was 14 and is a bit of a gym rat, so of all the linemen we have he's the most ready to excel in the college weight room. He's a long 6'6" and 330 lbs of nothing but muscle and even though he's likely very rough in his technique he played OT and DT in high school so his motor and stamina are VERY high and he playing varsity basketball as well he could have a solid foundation to improve his footwork off of. Since all our incoming Tackles will get some bench/development time he could end up having the highest ceiling even though he's staring a few steps back talent-wise.

  18. Maxpreps just bumped 2 more Wolverines into their top 100 along with Kalis. We now have 5 with Kalis, Magnuson, Richardson, Ojemudia, and Standifer interestingly enough. :o) This keeps us ranked as the #1 class that Kalis bumped us into with his commitment. Oh happy day.

  19. That is a strange top 100 without Ross or RJS