|Detroit, MI linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone spits with such force that his helmet pops off
The Cass Tech pipeline continues to be good to Michigan. Linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone committed to the Wolverines over offers from Alabama, Arizona State, Cincinnati, Florida, Indiana, Iowa, Miami, Michigan State, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pittsburgh, Syracuse, and Tennessee. His talent and those offers have added up to a 4-star ranking from both Scout and 247 Sports, while Rivals and ESPN have yet to rank him.
Jenkins-Stone is listed at 6'2", 215 lbs. and is being recruited by Michigan to be a middle linebacker. He had long been considered to be a Michigan lean, but he raised a bit of a stink when he wasn't offered quite as early as he wanted. Then the offer came early in February, and that calmed the waters. Despite all the big-time schools that swooped in with recruiting pitches, Jenkins-Stone liked what was happening in Ann Arbor and finally pulled the trigger on Saturday.
He has the perfect frame to add weight proportionately and grow into a protypical MIKE. With his height and musculature, I expect Jenkins-Stone to bulk up to 245 lbs. or so within a few years. Speed and agility shouldn't be a problem as he adds bulk.
I have a lot of questions about Jenkins-Stone, though. Detroit prospects are difficult to gauge, and he's no exception. Too many Public School League players just kind of go out there, stand in the vicinity of where they should, and then take off running when the ball gets snapped. The athleticism is there, but his technique and on-field discipline are questionable. His stance is erratic, he leaves his feet and reaches too much when attempting to tackle, etc. These are things that can be taught, but they're also things that a player has to choose to learn. Once Jenkins-Stone adds a little bit of muscle, he should be able to compete for playing time whenever he chooses to refine his technique.
As I mentioned in the Kaleb Ringer commitment post, Michigan has a plethora of young inside linebackers. The 2012 season should have presumed starter Kenny Demens, redshirt junior Isaiah Bell, and sophomores or redshirt freshmen like Kellen Jones and Desmond Morgan. Ringer could compete at either WILL or MIKE. That means Jenkins-Stone could be pushing for time as early as 2013, although the competition will be stiff.
I think Jenkins-Stone has the potential to be a very good player. However, my guess is that he will take several years to develop. Cass Tech players like Boubacar Cissoko, Teric Jones, and William Campbell have been a little slow to develop at Michigan. The jury is still out on Thomas Gordon, who hasn't played much in his first two years, but exists on the border of starting. Brandon Graham took two or three years to realize his potential, depending on whether you think that happened in late 2007 or early 2008. Dior Mathis and Daniel Easterly went to Oregon and Missouri, respectively, as part of the 2010 class, and both redshirted this past season. Cortez Smith, who went to Indiana a few years back, was booted from the team for legal problems. Exceptions exist - Joseph Barksdale and Vernon Gholston both had pretty early success at LSU and Ohio State, respectively. It just seems that kids from the PSL take a little while to shake the bad habits. But I do see leadership and passion when I watch Jenkins-Stone play, so if he can avoid some common pitfalls of inner city players (legal trouble, bad technique, etc.) and channel that passion into being the best player he can be, this kid could be a sideline-to-sideline tackling machine for the Wolverines in a few years.
TTB Rating: 86