|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).
You might throw in a jet sweep or two for this kid as he's for sure comfortable catching the pitch. That tackling like he's blocking thing, a personal foul and a hit out of bounds I might have thrown a flag on make me think I'm glad he's a receiver.ReplyDelete
He's very hard to even get much of a touch on, even when he's hemmed in. He's pretty quick out of the hole and of course "he can go up and get it". But best of all, there are lots of real good athletes in from of him no matter where he lines up.
I just get the sense he has that incredible knack with the ball in his hand, the same one Denard and Devin have. I think he's going to have an incredible career as a Breaston type receiver, with maybe a higher upside because of his burlier frame.ReplyDelete
I like him. A lot of kids are big and fast, but when you throw nice running instincts/moves in, you have something there. Agree that it is offense all the way with Cole, and WR appears to be the most natural fit. Hoke has really gotten his WR recruiting back on track lately.ReplyDelete
How do you think he compares to George Campbell as a prospect, since he seems to have filled that spot? It seems like some of the services have him overtaking Campbell in the rankings.
The knock on Campbell has been his hands and if he can't learn to catch he won't be a great WR. Campbell does have the athleticism to be an amazing WR and far better than Cole, but he needs to show he can catch the ball consistently before that can happen. It sucks he's not going to Michigan, but out of Campbell and Harris, I think Harris was a much bigger loss.Delete
As Anonymous mentioned above, the knock on Campbell has always been his ability to catch the ball consistently. That's not a good thing for a receiver. It's very difficult to tell which one has better hands, since Cole mostly plays running back. Let's say their hands are equal, so which one would I rather have? I would probably say Campbell. He's faster and has better size, so I think he could translate to strong safety, outside linebacker, or even defensive end, depending on how his body fills out. But I don't think it's a huge gap at all.Delete
Another big difference is that Campbell has not done as much on the actual football field as you'd expect for a highly recruited guy. He has generated his hype largely based on measurables from camps. Personally, I have more confidence in Cole being a better college player.Delete
Cole seems like he could fill a Percy Harvin-type role in the offense. Really excited to see what the coaches can do with him.ReplyDelete
Is he just a 'larger' version of Hayes? I recall everyone was very high on Hayes when he decommitted from ND, yet he hasn't done much of anything.ReplyDelete
No, I don't think so. Cole is a better overall athlete, and he could project to several positions in college. Hayes was slower, not as tough, and kind of a RB/slot tweener, which was pretty standard for backs/slots during Rodriguez's tenure.Delete
Any way Michigan can win Harris back? If Michigan has a break out year, do you see Harris coming back to Blue?ReplyDelete
I think it's doubtful that Harris will re-commit to Michigan. If that were to happen, Michigan would need to put together a very strong 2014 season, in my opinion. They need to show that they can win and that they have improved their running game (with #2 being more important than #1), but some of it just comes down to personal feelings and such. Right now Ohio State seems to have momentum, and it's always tough to "admit you were wrong" by re-committing to a school. Those coaches and players know that you sort of bailed on them, so I think it's easier to start fresh somewhere else.Delete