SMSB: Day One Defensive Notes

Jashon Cornell

A loaded linebacker group highlighted the day one standouts on the defensive side of the ball at Sound Mind Sound Body and several Michigan targets stood out.

HARPER WOODS, Mich. -- A loaded linebacker group highlighted the day one standouts on the defensive side of the ball at Sound Mind Sound Body, with several Michigan targets performing well.

Sam Webb, Josh Newkirk and Kyle Bogenschutz contributed to this report.

DL

Jashon Cornell – DE, Cretin Durham Hall (Minn.) – 2015

Boasting a much bigger build than he had a year ago at Sound Mind Sound Body, Cornell appears to be learning how to utilize the added weight to his advantage. Primarily running through 1 on 1’s out of his defensive end spot, Cornell was very good using his hands and deceptive speed to beat offensive tackles off the edge. Without pads bull rushing is certainly frowned upon in 1 on 1’s but it was very obvious Cornell will be able to standup those opposing him on the offensive line, something he may not have been capable of in the past.

D’Andre Walker – DE, Fairburn (Ga.) Langston Hughes – 2015

A physical freak and one of the most well put together athletes in attendance, Walker is very smooth for his size and very quick off the edge. With the frame to add good weight at the next level Walker should have no problem adjusting to a pass rushing defensive end type. Taking very few reps in the 1 on 1’s, of the ones he did take he won, quickly beating the offensive tackle to the outside and racing to the dummy. Walker says he won’t be playing linebacker at the next level but with his feet it would certainly be possible.

Michael Owenu – DT, Detroit (Mich.) Cass Tech – 2016

Owenu was one of the most consistent performers of the day during 1 on 1’s. A very big human being for his age, Owenu uses his size well and has better burst off the line than most might think. 1 on 1’s isn’t usually the best gauge of talent for the defensive tackle spot but Owenu really did well with his hands and blew past the center on several occasions. Owenu even flipped over to the offensive side of the ball to play some guard and held his own against players even bigger than he is.

Luiji Villain – DE/LB, Ottawa (Can.) Lester B. Pearson - 2017

The buzz was palpable on this 6-4 231-pound speedster because of his pass rush potential. Numerous coaches were seen watching him intently, including Michigan. The big question mark on him is level of competition.  It’ll be interesting if he can repeat yesterday’s performance now that coaches and opposing players know who he is.

LB

Darrin Kirkland – LB, Indianapolis (Ind.) Lawrence Central - 2015

Just as he did at the Columbus Nike Football Training Camp a few weeks ago, the Michigan commitment impressed with his outstanding lateral quickness and change of direction.  He excelled in the redirect drill where he had to stop his momentum suddenly to chase a ball carrier the other way. Greg Mattison spent time coaching him up on his technique pass coverage. It’s an aspect of his game that should get stronger with good coaching. He isn’t a blazer in the forty, but he is fast enough to cover running backs and tight on short and intermediate routes.  Watching the Michigan coaches observe him it was clear they were pleased. This is a youngster that appears to have room to add muscle to his frame while keeping the speed and fluidity that made him such a coveted target.

Tyriq Thompson – LB, Detroit (Mich.) King – 2015

The first thing I noticed is he is the same height as Kirkland.  The second thing was his burst when he sees the football.  He drives on the football extremely well on passes in front of him.  Physically he is in outstanding shape and may be close to his peak in that regard, so packing on much more weight or muscle might slow him down.  As it stands he may have been the fastest linebacker in a straight line (Dele Harding being his primary competition). His change of direction is somewhere between Kirkland and Justin Hilliard.  All and all the Detroit King star was impressive. The scuttlebutt lately is he is a Michigan State lean, and that was certainly the word throughout the camp.

Dele Harding – LB, Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy – 2016

This talented youngster had the best combination of size, speed, and quickness in attendance.  He was the same height as Kirkland and Thompson, looked to be carrying more weight than both, but was as fast as Thompson and as fluid as Kirkland.  He is carrying a little extra weight in the midsection right now, which makes him all the more intriguing.  He clearly is no stranger to the weight room.  Once he sheds his baby fat he could be even more explosive.  He is slated to visit Michigan today, and don’t be shocked if the Wolverines offer the talented youngster the opportunity to join former teammates Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson in Ann arbor.  As a matter of fact, be shocked if they don’t.

Josh Ross – LB, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s – 2017

The sophomore-to-be seems to get taller every time we see him.  He already has a couple of inches on his big brother James Ross. He is extremely comfortable in coverage.  His charge is adding muscle to his frame.  While he is in great shape, he was the lightest of the BCS caliber guys, but he was also the youngest. There’s obviously plenty of time for him to get bigger.

Daelin Hayes – LB, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary’s – 2016

This kid has the frame to add so much more weight that one college coach could be heard talking about him as a possible rush end once he gets to college.  It was hard to get a great read on him because he appeared to be hobbled somewhat by an ankle injury.  That didn’t stop Cincinnati from offering him.

CB

Patrice Rene – The Canadian had such a strong showing he earned an Ohio State offer during his performance. He has more than ideal size at 6-foo-2, 190-pounds -- he also has long arms, too. He size is his greatest asset. It gives him the ability to recover and keep up with most receivers out there. He displays good hips and has good speed for a cornerback. He was easily one of the best defensive backs in attendance.

LaVert Hill – The Cass Tech standout had another solid camp showing. He shows flashes of a lockdown corner. He does get beat, but also has great recovery speed as well. But he will be a guy to watch moving forward.

Jonathan Sutherland – Only a 2017 prospect, Sutherland was easily the best player in his age group. He shows nice speed and burst. He also can play both corner and receiver. Right now he is playing mostly on the defensive side of the ball in camp. He showed good coverage in passing drills and rarely got beat on the day. He also wasn’t afraid to mix it up with the older players in attendance. He has all the abilities of a big time prospect.

Ray Buford – The Southfield standout came to play on Thursday. He seemed like he was in every other one-on-one drill. He has ideal heath at 6-foot-1, for a cornerback and used his size and speed in coverage all day. He currently holds a Boston College offer with MAC offers, and should see more offer coming his way in the future.

Renardo Pratt – CB, Bessemer (Ala.) City High – 2015

Good ball skills and hips on this kid. Michigan was seen watching him and will likely monitor him even closer today to see if he is a guy to track beyond the camp.  He looks/plays like a bigger Courtney Avery.

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