|Saginaw (MI) Heritage wide receiver Brian Cole|
Cole is a 6'2", 190 lb. prospect. Stats are nowhere to be found (EDIT: Cole had 1,200 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns on offense, plus 47 tackles and 5 interceptions on defense), and measurables are hard to come by because he has eschewed the camp circuit. For a highly touted recruit, he has kept mostly to himself and remained quiet on the trail.
ESPN: 4-star, 82 grade, #9 athlete, #139 overall, #1 in-state
Rivals: 4-star, #7 athlete, #107 overall, #2 in-state
Scout: 4-star, #5 wide receiver, #40 overall
247 Sports: 4-star, 97 grade, #2 athlete, #43 overall, #1 in-state
Back in January 2013, the Wolverines were the first to offer Cole, followed quickly by the Spartans and then Ohio State. Cole did not provide many interviews, and he didn't attend many camps where he might be in the spotlight, so it was hard for recruiting gurus to keep him in their sites. He made several unofficial visits to schools in the midwest, but it was thought that he would wait to sort through the process a little longer before making a selection. Word out of his "camp" suggested that he wanted to stay close to home, but neither the Wolverines or Spartans seemed to take a huge lead at any point. He finally pulled the trigger on his campus visit with 2015 quarterback commit Alex Malzone just prior to the BBQ at the Big House.
As far as strengths go, Cole has a lot of positive traits as an athlete (which is why he's ranked as an "athlete" by three of the four services). Cole plays running back, receiver, and safety for his high school team. He's a big kid who has some natural strength to glide through arm tackles. He has good speed and very good acceleration. His high school offense generally seems like a "Let's pitch it to Cole and watch him run" system, and Cole has a tendency to bounce everything outside. The competition at his level is not great, so his combination of speed and size makes him look like a man among boys. He also has very good feet and change of direction abilities in space, which will make him extremely difficult to corral in one-on-one situations.
On the negative side, Cole does not look like he has the ability to play running back (as some have suggested) because he bounces everything outside and tends not to drive his feet through contact. He will need to get better at powering through solid tackle attempts. I also do not see him as a defender due to a lack of tackling instincts; he just looks more comfortable being the prey rather than the predator. Perhaps the biggest adjustment needed will be the move to receiver, because while he shows some natural catching skills, he will have to familiarize himself with new stances, route running, coverages, etc.
Overall, I project Cole as a receiver, which is also where Michigan sees him playing. If he does end up playing defense, free safety looks like the strongest possibility due to his size and closing speed. The coaching staff plans to play him at slot receiver, and I think he could be very effective running after the catch. I also think he has some value as a kickoff returner due to his straight-line speed and even as a punt returner due to his impressive agility. It may take some time for him to adjust to the receiver position, but he has a very high ceiling.
Cole is Michigan's ninth commitment in the 2015 class and the first receiver. He follows a couple classes full of receivers, so he shouldn't be required to contribute extremely early. Michigan has zero senior receivers (although junior Devin Funchess is a possibility to enter the draft early), which means a redshirt may be available for him to transition to wideout. The Wolverines could conceivably be finished at the receiver position, though one more player is a possibility.
TTB Rating: 84 (ratings explanation)
Defensive highlights can be found on Hudl (LINK).