Michael Ferns, 4-star inside linebacker, is one of Michigan's marquee 2014 commitments.
So, not only is he a big-time recruit nationally at his position, but he's also one of the top players from "that state down south."
If you're a true maize and blue Michigan fan, I shouldn't have to explain how significant that is.
Rankings aside though, what is Ferns bringing to the table for Michigan?
Here's a complete scouting report for the Michigan commitment.
|Hometown:||Saint Clairsville, Ohio|
|School:||Saint Clairsville High School|
|Height/Weight:||6'3'', 238 pounds (247Sports|
|Rankings:||Consensus 4-star among all major recruiting services|
247Sports.com, Scout.com, Rivals.com, ESPNRecruitingNation.com
Ferns is the definition of a downhill linebacker. He has a quick first step, plays with a forward lean and he truly doesn't seem afraid to fly down into a gap and meet the play at the point of attack. Whether that be taking on a blocker or going one-on-one with a ball-carrier in the line, Ferns will play physical football.
He really does play how an inside linebacker should.
Ferns will be strong at the line of scrimmage, but he also displays great athleticism and speed. He plays running back on offense in high school, and even though that position won't translate to Michigan, the skills and athleticism needed to thrive as a running back will.
He has quick feet, great speed and will be comfortable in open space. He'll be able to drop back into coverage and hold his own covering the deep middle of the field, and he should be able to run sideline to sideline as a run defender. His speed will allow him to scrape over and fill running lanes.
Simply put, Ferns is going to be a disruptor. He'll be able to get into the backfield and make plays, but he can also cause trouble for a quarterback in coverage. He'll be able to disrupt the offense in more ways than one.
Let's take a quick look at Ferns on film. Here's that quick first step and forward lean I'm talking about:
Notice that the ball isn't even out of the center's hands yet and Ferns has the snap timed up. This will allow him to shoot the gap and make a play.
Ferns then meets the center at the point of attack and jams him up. He's able to keep his gap responsibility, and he uses his quickness to get off the block and into the backfield:
From there, he simply wraps up the runner's feet to take the ball-carrier down for a loss:
That's simple, fundamental football, but those are the reasons Ferns has a chance to be a good college linebacker.
The only negative thing I can think of here is that Ferns may actually be too aggressive downfield. If I were an offensive coordinator playing against him, I would utilize the screen and play-action game to get him downfield and then throw it behind him.
That's just about discipline and understanding the flow of the game, and that will come with time and coaching, so there's not much to be worried about here if you're a Michigan fan.
Michigan is solid at inside linebacker. Ferns will be behind guys like Desmond Morgan, Joe Bolden and 2013 4-star linebacker commit Ben Gedeon.
With that said, Ferns is a talented player who has the skill to work his way into the rotation. He's just going to have to be patient and wait his turn. When his number is called though, Ferns has the potential to be a great player for the Wolverines.
Note: All scouting and analysis done by writer, via tape study of film provided on Fern's 247Sports profile page. Screen grabs via his Hudl film.