Name: Brian Cole
Brian Cole is in Ann Arbor as you read this, as an early enrollee who is rooming with Alex Malzone. Cole comes to us by the way of Saginaw Heritage High School. If you were to look up the term “Jack of all trades” in the dictionary, you will find Cole’s name next to it. Cole did it all for Heritage, playing primarily running back and free safety but he also moonlighted at receiver, quarterback and punter. I had the privilege of watching coaches tape on Cole this season, and at times he looks like a man amongst boys. Cole has played a high level of competition at Heritage, which plays in the tough and competitive Saginaw Valley League. Brian Cole is a 24/7 composite four-star, and is ranked as the number four ATH in the class of 2015. Cole held eight other offers that included Ohio State, Tennessee and MSU. He has been firmly committed since July of 2014. Cole is a true athlete and can legitimately play wherever he likes at the next level.
(Highlights courtesy of Scout/Hudl)
Projected Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Cole is a physical specimen. At 6’2 and 200lbs. Cole would have above average size to play the safety position at Michigan. If he were to play receiver, he would be somewhat of a tweener. Not quite the big 6’5 Mike Evans type but also not a small slot possession receiver. Wherever Cole chooses to line up at Michigan, he will be able to hold his own.
The fastest players on the field rarely look fast. You can’t see their effort, and by effort I mean arms pumping and knees chugging along. Cole looks like he’s on ice skates when he runs. He has a reported 40 time of 4.33, which I do not doubt. A long strider, Cole pulls away from defenders with ease. If he is even with a defender, he may as well be gone because there are not many people who can match his stride length and speed. His acceleration is very good for a player with such a long gait. He can start and stop on a dime, and it all looks effortless for him.
Cole can do it all. His range defensively is ridiculous; Cole can make it from A to B without breaking a sweat which makes it hard to scheme against him. On offense, Cole will beat you to the edge then beat you to the end zone. He will occasionally use his vision and acceleration to reverse field and take it to the house. Cole is also not afraid to hurdle a low tackling defender also, showing off his 32” vertical in the process. There isn’t a place on the field Cole cannot get to faster than you, and there isn’t a play I wouldn’t trust him to make with the ball in his hands.
Run Support: C-
Where to begin..Cole’s run support from the safety position is poor to say the least. On defense, Cole is lazy. He does not read his keys what so ever, and does not react to the play in front of him. After watching an entire game of defensive film on him, I can only conclude three possibilities for why his play is poor: A. Cole is lazy B. He is a product of poor coaching C. Cole is disinterested in playing defense. As I mentioned earlier, he does not read his keys. He does not fill any run alleys, nor come up into the box to help. If the play doesn’t get past the first or second level, Cole will barely move from his safety spot. Instead of coming up for support, Cole will wait and try to shoot a gap to make a tackle down field, often times attempting to line up a big hit he occasionally whiffs on. If Cole sees the opportunity to make a big play, he will take it. Routine tackles or doing what is normally asked of his position does not interest Cole. He has all the ability in the world, its just he is simply choosing not to do it or he hasn’t been taught how.
Pass Coverage: C+
Since Cole does not read his keys, it is difficult for him to execute his pass coverage responsibilities. He will bounce on his heels while backfield peeking, which is a worst-case offense for defensive backs. If Cole sees someone running a route past him, then he takes off in pursuit. There is little contact here, as Cole is such a great athlete he does not struggle to keep up with any receiver and he has no need to bump and run or hold at all. Having elite foot speed and quickness cannot be taught, and Cole has those attributes locked up. Cole completely relies on his athleticism in the defensive backfield and uses little to no technique. There will be a big learning curve at the next level for him on this side of the ball.
Brian Cole is a very exceptional athlete that has spent his last few off seasons training with Saginaw Heritage’s own, former Purdue and NFL stand out Stu Schweigert. Cole has great play making ability on offense that can stretch the field vertically. Cole Is very versatile and can line up at any position. His combination of ball skills and athleticism means defenses will have to know where he is lined up at all times. Coach Harbaugh has told John Kelly that the staff will not force him into any position his freshman year, and I expect it will be the same for Cole. If Cole were to go the defensive route, he could end up or free safety or corner where his athleticism would shine. Cole displays very little football IQ on the defensive side, and I would be surprised if he chooses to play there as a freshman. I believe that Cole could be a standout on special teams from the get go. Being a gunner on punt and kickoffs or returning kicks. Being enrolled early will give him a leg up in earning some playing time on whatever side of the ball he chooses. While Cole’s defensive grades were poor and ultimately brought down his overall grade, his potential is sky high and I expect him to do great things for the Maize and Blue. It is very important to recruit well in your own back yard, especially when there are gems like Cole there for the taking.