Monday, May 12, 2014

Alex Malzone, Wolverine

Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone committed to Michigan on Monday.
Bloomfield Hills (MI) Brother Rice quarterback Alex Malzone committed to Michigan on Monday. He chose the Wolverines over offers from Pitt, Wake Forest, and a number of MAC schools.

Malzone's 247 Sports profile indicates that he has grown to 6'3" and 200 lbs. after being listed previously at 6'2", 185 lbs. He claims a 5.13 forty. As a junior in 2013, he completed 190/281 passes (67.6%) for 2,785 yards and 25 touchdowns, along with 3 rushing touchdowns. His team went undefeated in 2013 on their way to a second consecutive state championship.

ESPN: 3-star pocket passer
Rivals: 3-star, #16 pro-style QB
Scout: 4-star, #15 QB, #236 overall
247 Sports: 3-star, #21 pro-style QB, #7 in-state

Malzone has been heavily interested in Michigan for a long time and has visited numerous times. I practically memorized his stats, physical attributes, and offer list from typing up visitor lists over the last year. Michigan's coaching staff kept holding off on offering him while they pursued more highly valued targets. Shunned by the likes of Jarrett Stidham and Josh Rosen, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier decided to do some spring evaluations and watch various players throw. After returning to Ann Arbor, Nussmeier met with the other coaches and they settled on Malzone, who was likely to commit whenever the coaches extended an offer. He was supposed to visit Ann Arbor early last week but had a scheduling conflict, so today's visit to campus, offer, and commitment likely would have occurred a week ago if not for that conflict.

I wrote a scouting report on Malzone back in January when trying to rank the quarterbacks on Michigan's radar (LINK). Excerpts on Malzone:
Malzone runs a somewhat multiple offense and has experience dropping back, from shotgun, or from the pistol formation. He has a slight build and is a little short at a listed 6'2". He runs his offense very well, is a good ball handler, and seems to be in command. He's a good athlete who can get on the edge a little bit and make some things happen with his feet, but he's not a blazer. Malzone gets the ball out on time and shows good accuracy and touch. His throws on skinny posts appear to be right on the money, but I question whether he has the arm strength to squeeze those in there against faster and longer defenders. He has a little bit of a hitch in his throwing motion where he brings the ball down to throw it, not totally unlike a right-handed version of Tim Tebow. Michigan's coaching staff has been somewhat erratic with the quarterbacks they've recruited (the 6'3" sorta dual-threat Russell Bellomy, the 6'3" Shane Morris with a rocket arm, the 6'6" Wilton Speight), but I look at Malzone and see him being too short and lacking the arm strength that Michigan likely wants.
As you can see, he was #6 on my list in January. After new names surfaced in the wake of Doug Nussmeier's hiring, he fell to #11 by March (LINK).

I have seen a lot of comparisons to A.J. McCarron, likely due to his relationship with Nussmeier. McCarron put up some good numbers at Alabama and became a 5th round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals, so most people in Ann Arbor would probably be happy with that kind of production.

Physically, Malzone does not have an impressive array of skills. He is a decent runner in high school but won't be a running threat in college. He will be able to move in the pocket and do some bootlegs, but designed runs are likely out the window. Arm strength is also an issue. I mentioned the hitch in his delivery, which might get cleaned up a little bit once he starts concentrating on football full-time. (Malzone is also a standout baseball player but will give it up in college.) Furthermore, he has to work on using his lower body to power through his throws.

Overall, Malzone looks like a game manager. His best asset seems to be his understanding of timing, coverages, and game situations, and he looks like a cerebral player. That can go a long way but it requires a running game, an offensive line, and a good defense if you want to be a championship-level team.

Malzone will arrive in 2015 when the presumed starter will be junior Shane Morris backed up by redshirt senior Russell Bellomy (if he sticks around that long) and sophomore Wilton Speight. A redshirt for Malzone will probably be in order so he can compete for the starting job in the post-Morris era, likely as a redshirt sophomore in 2017.

This is Michigan's sixth commitment in the 2015 class and the first from within the state. The Wolverines are probably done at quarterback in this recruiting cycle unless something unforeseen occurs. Currently, the class is scheduled to be roughly 13 members (LINK), but that number will certainly grow by February.

Michigan has not targeted many Brother Rice players in recent years, but several notable Wolverines have come from there, including long snapper Jareth Glanda, former punter Ross Ryan, and early 1990's linebacker Steve Morrison. Morris has coached at Western Michigan and Syracuse in recent years, although he left Syracuse prior to the 2013 season. The Brother Rice Warriors also have a couple other FBS prospects in the form of wide receiver Grant Perry and defensive tackle Marc Miller.

TTB Rating: 73 (ratings explanation)


  1. Looks like you had a similar ttb score for R. Bellomy as well. Their sizes are similar, both lack arm strength, both played baseball, and appear to be a lot like -- do you see some Bellomy on Malzone? What notable differences do you see?

    1. I think I overrated Bellomy, so that's one thing to note. I think Malzone has a stronger arm, but Bellomy is probably a better runner.

    2. No doubt Bellomy is faster. But Bellomy's film did not show him delivering the ball accurately under pressure to the extent that Malzone's does. IMO, accuracy under pressure and pocket awareness are the two foundational skills for college QB's that are toughest to develop through practice alone. I never felt that Bellomy had the potential to be a starter at UM, but Malzone should legitimately be in the mix.

      The wind-up in the delivery kind of comes and goes in his highlights, so I think he'll clean that up. Arm strength is TBD, but I assume that Nussmeier did due diligence here. He reminds me of Speight in that he throws well on the move and puts a nice touch on his passes. I like the fact that UM recruited two QB's in a row who have accuracy as a strength.

  2. What do you know about the wr #5 Alex was throwing to Thunder? he looked small, but like a gamer.

    1. His name is Corey Lacanaria. He's a 2-star kid headed to Ball State in the fall.

  3. 73 ... not bad. I was braced for 60-something after reading your scouting report.

    1. The way things look now, if both he and Speight redshirt, you're looking at a two-year window for Malzone to start. Granted, something could happen (a transfer, a 2016 guy surpassing him, etc.), but if you're starting at Michigan for a year or two, you're probably at least halfway decent by that point. He won't be Nick Sheridan.

  4. He makes me think of Brian Griese, similar in size compared with the ideal, successful in a very tough conference, accurate. I got to see him throw this winter without realizing who he was as i was focused on Morriss and Gio Rescigno, he throws a real nice tight spiral with some zip. i think this kid is a nice pickup.

    1. Somewhere I read someone compliment Malzone by writing that he doesn't look to his intended receiver until the last moment. So if I'm reading all the comments correctly, Malzone is shaping up to be a QB with some physical limitations which he makes up for by playing smart.

      I like those kinds of QBs ... because there's something really frustrating about physically brilliant play interspersed with drive-killing mistakes. I'd rather see drives executed really well with no 'wow' moments. Just methodical movement down the field.

      Desmond Howard took some flak for saying some athletic QBs forget they must *first* be a QB and second an athlete. I agree 100% with what Howard was getting at. Yeah, I'd love to have a really athletic guy who's also great at running the offense. But given the choice between a really athletic QB that makes mistakes and a less-gifted guy who's smart about being the QB ... I'll take the latter.