Looks Like University Of Illinois - Seth Coleman
It's rare that a college football coach gets to see a kid he's recruiting play football. Basketball coaches spend all spring and summer watching kids play in AAU tournaments (and even sneak away in the winter to watch high school games). College football coaches? Rarely do they every see a player hit one blocking sled or catch one pass. It's all based on film.
Yes, during the bye week in the fall, coaches will sometimes sneak away and take in a high school game. But for the most part, those coaches have a game on Saturday and they can't sneak away on a Friday night as their prepping for the game the next day. And during the open period in April and May where assistants can go out on the road, football isn't happening. When Brad Underwood lands Ayo Dosunmu, he's seen him play basketball dozens of times. When Lovie Smith lands Ricky Smalling, he's never once seen him play a single down.
That's why there's such a big deal about satellite camps the last few years. The only real chance to evaluate a player is during camp season in June. But kids have to pay their own way to get to camp, so really, you're mostly only going to get local kids. Satellite camps allowed for Jim Harbaugh to take his show on the road, setting up satellite camps at high schools across the country in order to watch certain players up close.
The NCAA changed the rules on those camps, the biggest change being banning all camps at high schools. Camps now have to be hosted by a local university. Which means Michigan can't really take their show on the road - they have to join up with some other university and observe the players who show up at their camp.
It's still worth it, though. Word gets out that coaches from Michigan, Oklahoma, and Oregon will be at Southeastern Northern State University and the players come out for camp. Oklahoma benefits because they get to watch players go through drills and Southeastern Northern State benefits because the not-headed-for-FBS players might consider SENSU.
I learned this morning on The Deuce that this is where the coaching staff discovered Seth Coleman. There was a camp at Mercer in early June, Illini coaches attended, Hardy Nickerson fell in love with Coleman, Illinois offered, he visited this past weekend, verbal. Easy peasy.
Coleman is an interesting case in that he didn't play high school football last year. Similar to Louis Dorsey last year, Coleman saw himself as a basketball player and spent his junior year running track and playing basketball. Dorsey, you may remember, got all the way to the point that he was considering an Illinois State basketball offer before playing football again, catching the eye of schools like Baylor and Illinois, and selecting Illinois. (And then making a few All Freshman teams.)
Someone on The Deuce also pointed me to this article which talks about why he skipped football as a junior and what camps he was planning on attending to get in front of the coaches. The Mercer camp worked, and he got offers from South Florida and Illinois, and now he's verballed to play for the Illini.
There's some sophomore film out there (hard to get a read on anything) plus a few shots from spring football this year, and I can see why Hardy Nickerson likes him. I should clarify that: I'm not really sure what he sees - Coleman looks like a basketball player trying out for the football team, which, you know, he was - but knowing what Nickerson looks for at weakside defensive end, I can see why this is the kid he focused on. I made the point when Isaiah Gay signed and when Ezekiel Holmes signed that this staff loves basketball-player-looking defensive ends. They all look like track kids - Holmes was a triple jumper, Coleman is a long jumper - and they all look way, way too skinny to play football, especially on the defensive line. But we've learned that skinny is what the staff is looking for at WDE, so skinny they shall have. Take that track athlete, add some weight and strength (but not too much weight), and then unleash that long-jumper who will hopefully out-quick the tackle and get to the quarterback.
Personally, I don't get it - I'm a "this is the Big Ten, and defensive ends have to hold up against the run, not get to the quarterback" guy myself - but I get why this is the kid they full-court-pressed. He's they type of athlete they've been adding at that position.
And I do like the "undiscovered gem" potential in this. It's possible this kid could have a big senior year (his first time back playing football), get all kinds of offers in December, and go to a blue blood. If we've discovered him now, offer him now, get the verbal now.
On the flipside, we weren't the only Power Five coaching staff in attendance at Mercer. Arkansas, Duke, Georgia Tech, Iowa, Oklahoma, Michigan, Syracuse, and Vanderbilt were all there, and none of those teams offered Coleman. "Undiscovered gem" falls apart when all of these other schools watched him... they just didn't offer. (Probably because they didn't want a long-jumper at defensive end, but I digress.)
So this one is hard to judge. On one hand, I'm a sucker for no-star players who the coaching staff discovered at a camp. Tony Adams was like that, and we were his first big offer (Mizzou offered a few days later), and I think he can be a star the next three years. The coaches had the opportunity to go watch players work out and found a defensive end who fits their mold.
On the other hand, after Marquez Beason and Isaiah Williams, we were all dreaming of a recruiting class a few rungs higher than the last few years. And with yet another project recruit, we keep sinking further and further away from that. I was hoping for one or two big verbals during this one-week recruiting period in late July, and instead, we've landed two projects. That's disappointing.
For Tom Cruises, I'll go a little higher than Casey Washington, but not much. This is a project recruit and he should get a project score.
Seth Coleman - Two Tom Cruises