Earlier this week, Michigan picked up a commitment from Marshfield (Mass.) Noble and Greenough School three-star inside linebacker Casey Phinney. Michigan was by far his biggest offer, so it's not a surprise that he jumped at the opportunity to commit to the Wolverines.
Former Michigan linebacker Shawn Crable took a look at Phinney's film and gave Wolverine Digest a very full rundown of what U-M is getting in the 6-1, 225-pounder.
At linebacker, his lateral movement and quickness looks great. He's very aggressive and looks like a solid run stopper. He would fit in well in a blitzing style of defense and he's got a good body type for playing middle linebacker. I like the way he's built — he's compact with big thighs. He uses that build well and definitely doesn't run from contact. He does a good job of using his hat and his hands to take on blockers again, using that build. He also appears to read plays well, which speaks to fitting into an aggressive, blitzing scheme.
Areas of Improvement
I'm a little concerned with his speed. At linebacker it looks fine but at running back he can be ran down. He still shows good aggression there but he gets caught. I have some concerns with him covering man-to-man.
Phinney could grow to be 6-3 and I would project that he'll be around 250-260 pounds by his sophomore year. His body type is proportioned well and he's got a consistent build that is equally distributed from his legs through his torso. He's built like Lamarr Woodley, Shante Orr and Brandon Graham.
At MIKE linebacker, I worry about his arm length when it comes to taller, bigger guards coming at him. I would suggest placing him at SAM linebacker to the strong side as an overhang, tight 9-technique over the tight end. You could also have him as a loose 5-technique to the open side. I also worry a bit about him covering running backs out of the backfield. His highlights really don't show him in coverage all that much.
I can see why Michigan would be after him. His style of play is aggressive and appealing to a pressuring, blitzing coach like Don Brown.