When Michigan hosted, worked out, offered and landed Apple Valley (Calif.) High quarterback Jayden Denegal, the fanbase didn't exactly rejoice. Obviously his recruitment came together rather quickly, which means he wasn't exactly a must-land target at that point, and he wasn't billed as one of the bess passers in the country. However, Denegal looks the part and does a lot of nice things on the field.
SI All-American director of recruiting John Garcia Jr. has seen Denegal in person and recently got a chance to see him compete at the Elite 11 competition out in California. Garcia came away impressed and thinks that Michigan fans might just warm up to Denegal pretty quickly.
"Michigan finally landed its 2022 quarterback recruit and as it turns out, it could be a blessing in disguise," Garcia said. "He's big, he's sharp and he's a legitimate winner, as Apple Valley (Calif.) has only fallen twice under his watch as a starter since 2019. Throw in a strong offseason this year, including a stop at Michigan in which he picked up his offer while throwing for the staff recently, and it's been quite the ascent for the rising senior recruit.
"From a physical perspective, Denegal has some classic and modern quarterback traits to his name, from his 6-4, 215-pound frame, a big right arm and enough mobility for opposing high school defenses to remain honest in planning to stop him. The production at the prep level backs it up, helping to demonstrate a high floor given a 64% completion percentage and 200-plus yards per game average since taking over as the 'guy' on varsity. His 45 touchdown passes in that 17-game span may be Denegal's most impressive number to date."
Garcia has also watched a lot of film on Denegal and sees some of those traits shine through game after game.
"On tape, there is a lot to like beyond the numbers," Garcia said. "Denegal stands tall in the pocket and seems seldom afraid to push the ball down the field. His third level throws come with great timing, superb touch and launch after a quick motion. The decisions in some of these scenarios, particularly this spring, were incredibly quick for a prospect of his age. Intermediate velocity shined even brighter on occasion, showcasing tight window accuracy and drive in finding the holes in the middle of diverse defenses. Our staff got an up close look at him demonstrating as much at the Elite 11 Los Angeles in early June and came away just as impressed as we were on tape with those level-2 throws in particular."
Garcia had a lot of good things to say about Denegal, but also pointed out things that need to improve. High school quarterbacks are rarely ready to play at a high level in college, and Denegal is no different.
"From an improvement perspective, plenty should come with senior experience and Denegal's immersion into the college game," Garcia explained. "The physical tools and prep production are there, but the speed and competition level he will see daily in Ann Arbor is far removed from the Apple Valley opponent schedule for the most part. It creates curiosity around his overall athleticism, particularly in the pocket and in space, where he shows flashes of strong ability on Friday nights. With better long speed than short, the QB-run element may not be a priority at the next level, but any progression in that department would more closely mirror the modern signal caller. In that light it may take some time at Michigan before the game completely comes together for the young passer, perhaps something U-M could afford given a strong room at the position in 2021."