Saturday, January 24, 2015

Reuben Jones, Wolverine

Left to right: Reuben Jones, Greg Mattison, Jake Pickard
Lakeland (FL) Lake Gibson defensive end Reuben Jones committed to Michigan today. Jones was committed to Nebraska from mid-November until just a few days ago, but he did not report a good relationship with the Cornhunskers' new staff.

Jones is a 6'3", 223 lb. player with a 4.89 forty. As a senior in 2014, he made 71 tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and 10 sacks.

ESPN: 3-star, 78 grade, #58 defensive end
Rivals: 3-star, #27 strongside end
Scout: 3-star, #145 defensive end
247 Sports: 3-star, 83 grade, #64 strongside end

Jones started earning offers last spring, and those offers escalated to the level of programs like Louisville, Michigan State, Missouri, and Nebraska as his senior year wore on. He went ahead and committed to Nebraska in November, but that only lasted two months and he did not fit well with new head coach Mike Riley and his staff. When new Michigan defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin was hired out of Florida, he quickly convinced Jim Harbaugh to extend Jones an offer. That pre-existing relationship blossomed into scheduling an official visit, the de-commitment, and then picking the Wolverines during his official visit this weekend. It may have helped that one of Lake Gibson's assistant coaches is former Michigan offensive guard Ricky Barnum.

Jones is a high-effort player. If you watch his highlights below, the second clip shows him chasing down a wide receiver approximately 50 yards downfield after the guy catches a screen pass. He plays with some reckless abandon and at high speed, which can be a good thing. He plays with a good pad level and fires hard off the ball. He lacks prototypical height for a lineman, but he has a solid frame that should see him carry 260+ pounds eventually.

Speaking of reckless abandon, Jones can be a little undisciplined at times. He can overpursue and get too much depth on his pass rush. He does not use his hands well to shed blocks and tends to try to outmuscle offensive linemen, which will not work so well in college. The physical skills don't jump out, so he will have to clean up some of the weaknesses and maximize what he can. He also shows some excitability on the field, which can be a positive thing but can also be dangerous.

Overall, Jones is a solid pickup late in the recruiting cycle. I think his lack of physical skills will prevent him from becoming a top-notch player, but he could certainly works his way into being a viable backup or late-career starter. His frame reminds me of former Wolverine Ken Wilkins, although his play on the field is more reminiscent of Mario Ojemudia.

Jones is the seventh overall commit in the 2015 class but the first of the Jim Harbaugh era. He is also only the second defensive player in the class. With a decent number of players on the line, Jones should not be needed immediately, but there is the possibility of him serving as a backup immediately. Michigan lost both starting defensive ends (Brennen Beyer and Frank Clark) to graduation, which leaves junior Taco Charlton and senior Ojemudia penciled in as next year's starters. The 2014 class included just one defensive end (Lawrence Marshall), so it's not out of the question for Michigan to continue pursuing the position.

TTB Rating: 67 (ratings explanation)


  1. Do you think anyone gets moved to DE based on the numbers (or lack there of) at the position? Noah Furbush or someone similar?

    1. Whether anyone WILL move or not, I really can't say. We haven't really seen what Durkin is going to run, and it's not clear whether Michigan will get another defensive end type in the 2015 class. But I have always thought Furbush looked more like a defensive end than a linebacker to me, so that would not surprise me at all.

  2. He looks a little bigger than 6'3" 235 to me.

    I kind of liked the play where the wide receiver sacks his own QB. High school kids, who ever knows what they're gonna do?

  3. Jones looks like a 3-4 outside lb to me.

  4. You can't teach speed, so it will be interesting to see how Durkin shapes the raw material.

  5. He seems significantly undersized to be a SDE, as the recruiting sites project him.

    I think there is a decent chance he plays right away given the dearth of edge players. After Ojemudia and Marshall there aren't any WDE/RLB types on the roster. Charlton, Strobel, and Poggi all project to SDE and aren't anything like the OLB/DE hybrids most defenses want.

    Still, need or no need, it sounds like he may benefit from a red-shirt season. One to watch next year...

    His offers and rankings aren't too impressive but given the circumstances we should be expecting more Tamani Carters than Chris Barnetts at this stage.