Huff is a Raider!!!

Rupert

The Long Wind
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Man that was the right selection considering who was on the board.
 
I was surprised Al didn't take Leniart.

I'm not disappointed with Huff, however.

Interesting. The rebuilding of the secondary is now complete.
 
Safety
Michael Huff
College: Texas
Year: Senior
Height: 6'0"
Weight: 200
Birthday: March 6, 1983


Versatility in one’s game can be a valuable asset for a college team, but in the NFL it can be code for “jack of all trades and master of none.” Fortunately for Texas’ Michael Huff, his versatility is code for “playmaker at wherever he plays, just get him on the darn field.” That’s preceisely what the Longhorns did with Huff, making him a four-year starter in a usually-deep secondary, one that has produced the likes of other versatile defensive backs such as Quentin Jammer and Nathan Vasher.

While Huff played corner frequently in his Lonhorn career, he spent most of his gamedays at safety. Quarterbacking a defense best suits his football I.Q., as Huff is a speed reader when it come to digesting what an offense is trying to accomplish. Huff's instincts at safety are the sort that not only make the rest of the secondary better, they also make up for many coverage deficiencies among the linebackers, too.

And Huff can cover. He plays taller than he looks and has track speed. Literally. Huff ran the first leg on the Longhorns' 400-meter relay team before his final season. Huff separates himself from other prospects because of his playmaking abilities. Of his seven interceptions at Texas, he returned four for touchdowns. He scored a fifth time when he ran back a fumble as a senior. He also played well against the Trojans in the National Championship, recovering an errant lateral from Reggie Bush and helping stuff LenDale White on the game's biggest fourth down.

The 2005 Thorpe Award recipient has progressed since those freshman days when he shied from contact and played a little too much centerfield in zone coverage. Having improved his strength, Huff is now a much more aggressive tackler, but his physicality will be nothing special as an NFL safety. The progress Huff has shown over his stellar career at Texas though suggests that no one should underestimate what he can do on Sundays.
 
Scouting Report

Michael Huff played football and ran track for Nimitz HS in Irving, Texas. After redshirting his first year, Michael has been a fixture in the Texas secondary. He has played at both corner and safety and excelled at both. He holds the school record for most interceptions returned for touchdowns with four. Huff lead an exceptional Texas secondary as a fourth year starter, and became Texas' first Thorpe Award winner.

Huff's best attribute is his versitility. He has played at corner and strong safety at a high level and could play either in the NFL, but more likely will be a safety. He has a knack for playing in the box and getting into the backfield. He is a solid tackler and he can deliver the big hit. Michael is a very rangy defender with solid acceleration and change of direction abilities, allowing him to play deep zones or cover wideouts man to man in blitz situations. He can also blitz effectively off the edge, and closes on the quarterback well. His insticts are very good, and he uses them to make plays. He could work on staying in better position and not overrunning the play. He is a great overall athlete and a solid citizen.

2006 NFL Draft Outlook

Versitility can cut both ways. Some teams see it as a positive, because it allows them to open up an extra roster spot. Some teams view versitile players as "tweeners" who may never find a true position on the next level. I feel that Michael Huff will be a strong safety in the Ed Reed mold. His speed and athletisicm will make him a playmaker from the safety spot and a strong asset to an NFL team. I expect to see Michael Huff drafted in the first round next spring after a Thorpe Award winning senior campaign in Austin.

NFL Comparison

Ed Reed
 
Background:

Michael Huff has two step-brothers who have played college football. Marcus King played safety for Missouri and Terrence Holmes played for Texas Southern. Michael grew up in Irving, Texas where he attended Nimitz High School. Huff ran track and played football at Nimitz and was a playmaker from the beginning. In his first varsity game, Huff who played safety, cornerback, and receiver, caught the game winning touchdown pass in overtime of a playoff game. In his final two years of high school, Huff recorded 238 tackles and 9 interceptions, two of which he returned for touchdowns. After his high school career was over, the talented Huff considered Oklahoma, Michigan, and Alabama, but ultimately decided to stay close to home and attend the University of Texas to play football and run track. Upon his arrival in Austin, Huff was more of a track star who played football than the other way around. He took a redshirt in 2001 and spent most of his time studying film and learning the Longhorn defense. His hard work and patience paid off in 2002. Michael recorded 70 tackles and intercepted two passes, running both of them back for touchdowns playing strong safety and cornerback for the Longhorns. For his efforts, Huff was named to the freshman All-American team. Michael had another great season as a sophomore with 66 tackles and 2 interceptions. Once again he returned both of his interceptions for touchdowns, making him the schools all-time leader for career interceptions returned for touchdowns, and leaving him one shy of the NCAA career mark. Huff continued to play well as a junior, totaling 73 tackles and two interceptions on the year. By his senior season Huff had become one of the best defensive players in college football and one of the top defensive back prospects for the 2006 NFL draft.

Analysis:

Michael Huff has a good combination of size and athleticism for a defensive back. He is one of the most versatile players available in the draft with the ability to play both cornerback and safety at a high level. He is an extremely intelligent player who has been the “quarterback” of the Longhorn secondary the past few seasons. Michael is a very hard worker and a true “student of the game” who spends a lot of time studying film, always knows not only his assignments, but his teammates assignments as well and is extremely quick when it comes to reading and reacting to what the offense is doing. He is a very good tackler and is effective on the blitz with good closing speed getting to the quarterback. He breaks on the ball well, has excellent instincts, and possesses the speed to run with most receivers when needed. He is a true “ballhawk” who set a school record for interceptions returned for touchdowns and is a threat to take it the distance everytime he touches the football. He does tend to take too many risks in coverage at times, opting to go for the big play which can result in a big play going the other way. His speed can be a liability at times since it will cause him to overrun plays. Since he did flip flop between corner and safety at Texas, Michael needs to settle into one position in the NFL and refine his technique at that position. In addition to being an excellent defensive back, Huff can also contribute on special teams where he has been effective in the past when it comes to blocking field goals and punts. Michael Huff is an extremely versatile player with a ton of upside. He has all the tools to play either corner or safety at the professional level. I see him being better prepared to play safety in the NFL where he can be an immediate impact player for the team that drafts him.
 
Michael Huff
Height: 6-0
Weight: 203
40 Speed: 4.35*
Position: Strong Safety
College: Texas
Final Grade: I 6.3 CB





SUMMARY

Huff was tough to evaluate because so few of the teams in the Big 12 throw the ball a lot that it takes a lot of time and energy to figure out his coverage skills. He is a very good athlete with the playing speed to cover down the field in man-to-man and can make plays outside vs. the run before the ball carrier can turn the corner. He has good size for a safety, but usually plays bigger than his size -- aggressive playing style helps him make some hard, violent hits/tackles when he stays under control. He is a versatile safety who is used in a lot of different alignments on defense because of his smarts, competitiveness, athleticism and playing speed. He was a very good special teams player at Texas -- both flying down the field on coverage units and exploding through the line of scrimmage to block punts. Overall, Huff is going to be drafted higher than he's rated, but his evaluation is dead on the money. Huff will be a very good starting safety in the NFL with the versatility to line up at both safety spots and can come down and cover receivers in man-to-man coverage. An added bonus is that he will be a very good special teams player in the NFL. Additionally, because of his experience playing cornerback at Texas and his size and athleticism, he can be a very good starting cornerback in the NFL if the team he is chosen by wants to play him there.

CRITICAL FACTORS

Athletic Ability Coverage Tackling Competes Play Speed Instincts
6.5 6.5 6.0 6.5 6.5 6.0



STRONG POINTS

Huff is a very good athlete with the playing speed and closing burst to make plays all over the field. He plays bigger than his size, comes up quickly in run support and makes hard, physical hits. When he stays under control and over his feet, he is a very good tackler out in space. He does a very good job of reading passes in front of him, breaking and closing quickly and makes hard hits right after the ball arrives to break up passes. He can cover tight ends all over the field in tight man-to-man and is surprisingly effective covering slot receivers in man-to-man.



WEAKNESSES

Huff does not consistently tackle with good technique -- he gets over aggressive and ends up lunging/diving, which leads to some missed tackles. His aggressiveness also causes him to bite on play action fakes and allows his man to get separation behind him in man-to-man coverage. Despite consistently chasing hard after the ball in pursuit, he does not always fight through blocks well and can be blocked out of the play by aggressive blockers at times. More than anything, his production tends to vary during games and his plays seem to come in bunches.



POSITIONAL FACTORS

Grade Category Comments/Description

6.0 Read & React Nearly always reads and reacts quickly to the play and has good closing burst, but will miss read at times.

6.5 M/M Coverage He has the acceleration, athleticism and playing speed to cover wide receivers/tight ends well in man-to-man coverage.

6.0 Zone Coverage Reads quarterback pass well, breaks and closes fast and makes hard hits right after the ball arrives.

6.5 Break and Close He has an explosive closing burst to break up passes in front of him and to make plays in run support.

6.5 Hips/Turn Ability He has the hips to turn and run with receiver and can stay on wide receiver's/tight end's hip down the field.

6.0 Tackling Usually is a very good and physical tackler, but will get out of control and misses some tackles at times.

6.0 Hitting Ability Not always a polished hitter, but when he stays over feet he can make violent hits on ball carriers.

6.0 Hands - Interception He has shown ability to make the interception when he gets a chance to step in front of receiver.

5.5 Hands - Fight Blocker He has the ability to defeat blockers easily to get back into the play, but does not fight through blocks consistently.

6.5 Deep Speed Huff has very good playing speed for a safety, which allows him to cover deep downfield easily.

NA Return Ability In the games he was graded, Huff did not return kickoffs or punts.

5.5 Errors Needs to stay under control when he tackles out in space better and cannot bite on play action fakes.



ATHLETIC ABILITY Section Grade: 6.5

Huff is a very good athlete, which has allowed him to consistently make plays from sideline to sideline. His very quick feet allows him to accelerate to full speed fast to chase down plays in pursuit easily. His athleticism and playing speed give him the ability to come up and line up over the slot receiver when the offense goes to three receiver sets and he can cover surprisingly well in tight man-to-man. He has a burst to catch running backs in pursuit before they can get around the corner. His combination of foot quickness, agility and flexibility help him to adjust and tackle well out in space when he stays over his feet and under control. Huff's coordination and balance show up most in his ability to move smoothly through traffic without getting tripped up or bounced around.

Q.A.B. Quick Feet C.O.D. Flexibility Coordination

6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5 6.5



COMPETITIVENESS Section Grade: 6.5

Huff has shown toughness coming up aggressively and tackling big running backs in run support and throwing his body into blockers to slow up plays so his teammates can make the plays. He has been a very productive safety at Texas, doing a very good job of stepping up and making big plays (especially hits) on important downs -- he seems to come up much more aggressively in run support on important downs. His overall production varies between excellent and adequate and the main reasons for his not being ideally consistent is that he stops feet and lunges on tackles when he gets out of control and sometimes steps forward on pass plays and allows the receiver to get behind him too easily. He is definitely a team player who competes hard and consistently hustles and chases from snap to whistle and never quits trying to make tackles.

Toughness Clutch Play Production Consistency Team Player Pride/Quit
6.0 6.5 6.5 6.0 6.5 6.5



MENTAL ALERTNESS Section Grade: 5.5

Huff is a smart safety and it shows in his ability to line up in a variety of different spots on defense without making mistakes and in his man-to-man technique. He has good instincts and usually is able to react quickly to the play -- he reads passes in front of him fast, closes quickly and can get there as the ball arrives to try and break up the pass. However, he will at times bite on fakes when he is supposed to pick up the tight end in man-to-man and ends up allowing the tight end to get separation behind him. He usually does a good job of maintaing his concentration, which is what helps him to consistently compete and chase hard on every snap. But he does lose focus at times when tackling and it leads to some missed tackles.

Learn/Retain Instincts/Reactions Concentration
6.0 6.0 5.5



STRENGTH/EXPLOSION Section Grade: 6.0

Huff has good size for a safety at over 6-foot-0 and nearly 200 pounds, but he could definitely use an extra 10-15 pounds on his frame. He was a durable player in 2005 and with his athleticism, flexibility, toughness and competitiveness, he has the ability to be a durable NFL safety. He has good natural explosiveness, which helps him to close quickly to finish plays in pursuit and really shows an explosive closing burst to the quarterback when he blitzes and makes explosive hits on the quarterback. He has very good natural strength and when he stays over feet and under control he is a very strong tackler, but when he does not maintain his concentration and lunges/dives to make tackles he is not strong at point of attack and can be dragged for extra yards.

Body Type Durability Explosion Play Strength
6.0 6.0 6.0 6.0
 
Well, you saw in our draft poll (I guessed right BTW, first time in history, and yes it was a guess), that i thought he was the right pick at #7.

Walter had demonstrated the same decision-making skills a Leinart while in college. The difference? Walter has the killer arm.

Al knows that a QB controversy will tear apart an offense. Was there a question about Collins or Tui? Not really. Plenty of guys wanted to see Tui get a shot last season, and you saw the offense get worse when Collins came back. Why? Because they knew there was no shot at getting better. With Tui, I think they would have played harder.

But with Leinart, a 1st rounder, and Walter, the annointed one (otherwise why do you send Collins packing - not for Brooks) the competition would be beteween two styles of young QB. The belief that Tui has dropped down the depth chart because of his style, Leinart would be the lower guy because of style (lack of arm strength). So why do you draft a guy in the 1st round to be #2 on the depth chart? I wouldn't.
 
Raiders take Texas defensive back with first pick

By Jim Jenkins -- Bee Staff Writer
Published 10:38 am PDT Saturday, April 29, 2006



OAKLAND - Michael Huff, a versatile cornerback-safety from the University of Texas, was the Raiders' first-round pick with the seventh overall selection in today's NFL draft.


The Raiders had their choice of USC quarterback Matt Leinhart when their turn came up, once quarterback Vince Young of Texas had been chosen by Tennessee with the third pick, but chose to go for defense instead of offense. In Huff, the highest rated player at either of the secondary positions, the Raiders have now chosen a defensive back in five of their last six drafts.

"All I can tell you is Al was in love with this guy,'' a Raiders official said of owner Al Davis' admiration of Huff, who a week ago visited the team complex in Alameda along with Young.

Huff, 6-foot-0, 204 pounds, is a punishing tackler who can play anywhere in defensive backfield.
 
Congrats guys!! NO Vince Young!! :p
 
Can't complain when people are comparing Huff to Ed Reed. That's a very good thing!
 
Posted on Wed, Apr. 26, 2006

Texas' Huff boasts all the right stuff heading into NFL Draft

Nation's top defensive back likens his skills to those of Polamalu, Reed

By Marla Ridenour
Beacon Journal sportswriter

For the past four seasons, when the University of Texas coaching staff drew up its defensive game plan, the starting point was simple: Pick the opponent's best receiver or running back and assign defensive back Michael Huff to him.

Huff's assignments read like a who's who of college and professional football: Oklahoma/Baltimore Ravens receiver Mark Clayton, Ohio State flanker Ted Ginn Jr., Heisman Trophy-winning running back Reggie Bush of USC, Colorado tight end Joe Klopfenstein, Oklahoma State/San Francisco 49ers receiver Rashaun Woods.

Because of his athleticism and versatility, Huff probably will be chosen before the Browns pick No. 12 in Saturday's NFL Draft. But if he falls, he might be a temptation that General Manager Phil Savage can't resist. Huff, a 6-foot-1, 205-pound playmaker, scored five career touchdowns, four on interception returns, and blocked three kicks.

Huff said the best of the bunch that he faced was Clayton in 2004. He remembered that he limited Clayton to three catches for 19 yards.

``When you cover the best, you want to keep the stats to know how you did against them,'' Huff said at the NFL scouting combine.

As for Ginn, who managed just two receptions for nine yards in 2005, Huff said, ``Ginn's more of an athlete than a polished receiver, so I'd probably say Clayton was better.''

``I've never had a player who had that kind of range,'' Texas co-defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach Duane Akina said of Huff. ``He can handle the best tight end, wide receiver or running back.''

Akina has coached more than one winner of the Jim Thorpe Award, which Huff earned last season as the nation's best defensive back. At Arizona, Akina tutored 1990 winner Darryll Lewis, who became a Pro Bowl player while playing eight seasons for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans. Akina also has coached first-round draft picks Chris McAlister, a two-time Pro Bowl player with the Ravens, and Quentin Jammer of the San Diego Chargers. But Huff, who capped his time in Austin with a national championship, is in a special category.

``Mike is probably the best one I've ever had,'' Akina said. ``He has got everything. I tell these scouts, `I don't know what else is out there, but he's the best corner and the best safety coming out in the draft.' To have the mental ability to cover and play both positions is very unique.''

Huff's mental approach to the game includes a drive to get in the end zone.

``That's probably my offensive mind-set. I played receiver in high school and love getting the ball in my hands and scoring.''

While he spent most of his time at strong safety with the Longhorns, draft analysts think Huff has the size, closing speed, instincts and confidence to be a shutdown corner in the NFL.

Akina has seen Huff play deep safety, strong safety and cover in the slot or outside. In its 2006 Draft Guide, Pro Football Weekly cites few negatives about Huff, saying ``his footwork and technique could use some refinement'' and he ``comes from an undisciplined program with a history of producing underachievers.'' As for those teams hoping he'll play cornerback, the biggest rap that publication found is that he hasn't done it in two years.

Akina wouldn't believe any of that.

``He's the total package, mentally and physically,'' Akina said. ``He's a phenomenal athlete, much like Ronnie Lott.''

Huff's confidence emerged when he compared himself with some of the league's best young safeties.

``I think it's kind of a new breed of safety with myself, (Troy) Polamalu (of the Steelers) and Ed Reed of the Ravens,'' Huff said. ``Safeties have to do more than just stay in the middle of the field and hit now. They have to cover and blitz and do it all. That's what I like to do.''
 
Do you think Art Shell had Texas safety Michael Huff on the brain Saturday morning? When he addressed the media after the Raiders had taken Huff with their first-round pick, Shell referred to USC quarterback Matt Leinart as “Mike Leinart,” and to Trojans tailback Reggie Bush as “Michael Bush.” Not to be outdone, one of the beat writers, on a conference call with Huff, referred to Chiefs tight end Tony Gonzalez as “Fernandez.”

Writer Phil Barber
 
From Pat Kirwan...

Michael Huff, DB, Texas: Probably the best interview I did all year was with the senior defensive back from Texas. If there was ever a "blue chip" guy in a draft, it's Mike Huff. He has it all -- the intangibles, the production and the athleticism to be a great pro. Heck, I felt like I was talking to a 10-year veteran. There are not many John Lynch-type guys who come into the NFL with the whole package, but Huff is such a man. Talk about guys I would love to have on my team, Huff would be the captain!
 
Some words by Huff..


Raiders add defensive back Huff

By Steve Corkran



The Raiders bypassed a shot at selecting Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart in the first round of the NFL draft Saturday morning and, instead, filled a glaring need by taking University of Texas defensive back Michael Huff.

Huff, 23, is considered by many the most talented prospect available in the two-day, seven-round draft which concludes Sunday. He is versatile enough to play cornerback, safety or a hybrid role.

That bodes well for a Raiders defense that struggled for most of last season and lost cornerback Charles Woodson and strong safety Renaldo Hill to free agency. Huff is expected to compete against veteran Derrick Gibson for the starting spot at strong safety.

"I feel like I can play anything, play anywhere," Huff said in a conference call with Bay Area media, minutes after learning he had been snagged by the Raiders.

Leinart was considered one of the top-rated quarterbacks available in this year's draft. He won the Heisman Trophy in 2004 and guided Southern Cal to back-to-back national championship appearances.

Coincidentally, Leinart likely would have been the No. 1 selection had he opted for the NFL draft after his junior season last year. Instead, he dropped to No. 10 and the Arizona Cardinals.

Raiders coach Art Shell said his team considered Leinart, but "right now, we feel good about our quarterback position."

Veteran Aaron Brooks is the projected starter, with sixth-year player Marques Tuiasosopo and second-year player Andrew Walter the backups.

Huff starred for a Texas team that defeated Leinart and Southern Cal in the Rose Bowl for the national championship. He started all four years and developed into a consistent playmaker against the run and pass.

Shell said Huff's speed is the first thing that jumped out at him in watching videotape of Huff's college games.

"He can get there in a hurry," Shell said. "That's where the range comes from. He can get to it, from point A to point B, in a hurry. He's sudden. He can close. He can close the doggone lane.

"If a receiver gets by him, you got to talk about catch-up speed. He might get fooled initially but it's the catch-up speed that he has.

He's an outstanding tackler. When you put the tape on and you watch him tackle over and over again, very seldom do you see him miss."
 
Raiders select Texas safety Michael Huff with seventh pick

JANIE McCAULEY
Associated Press

ALAMEDA, Calif. - Michael Huff grew up a big fan of Charles Woodson, dating to the star cornerback's days at Michigan. Now, Huff will be called upon to help fill the shoes of the departed four-time Pro Bowler.

The Oakland Raiders showed they are serious about continuing to upgrade their improving defense, selecting Huff out of national champion Texas with the seventh overall pick in the NFL Draft on Saturday.

"I grew up watching him," Huff said of Woodson, who signed Wednesday with the Green Bay Packers after eight seasons in silver and black and the last two as the team's franchise player. "It looks like I get to wear No. 24 next year. Hopefully I can take over where he left off and hopefully it will be great for the Raiders' secondary."

Southern Cal quarterback Matt Leinart was still available for Oakland, but the Raiders went with the speedy, athletic Huff a year after using their top two picks on cornerbacks: Fabian Washington and Stanford Routt.

The 6-foot, 198-pound Huff played every position in the Longhorns' secondary and Raiders coach Art Shell envisions him getting plenty of opportunities as a rookie - though in what position is the question.

"We really feel good about this kid," said Shell, back for his first draft with the Raiders in more than a decade after being fired following a 9-7 season in '94 and then rehired in February to replace the fired Norv Turner.

"He's an outstanding football player, he's an aggressive football player. He's a kid that can play in the box. He's a kid that has outstanding range, coverage ability. We just feel that he's going to come in and make an impact on our football team this year."

Huff, who will join the team for its first minicamp next weekend, recorded 318 tackles in his Texas career that ended with a 41-38 victory over unbeaten USC in the Rose Bowl.

Shell didn't waste any time comparing Huff to Woodson, either.

"He has that kind of ability, versatility," Shell said. "Charles Woodson was an outstanding player for the Raiders for a number of years with the ability to play the safety position as well as the corner position. Michael Huff has those kinds of qualities also."

The Raiders, coming off three straight losing seasons and a winless record against the AFC West last year, are eager to see how quickly Huff picks up the complicated defensive schemes in the NFL.

Huff started every game the past two seasons at strong safety and recorded a career-high 109 tackles in 2005 - including 10 for loss. He caused four fumbles, recovered two and ran one of those back for a touchdown. He also deflected 14 passes and made two interceptions.

Despite his impressive resume, the Raiders also appreciated Huff's ability to discuss subjects other than football, such as his studies and his days growing up in Texas.

"Very confident young man. Very assuring of himself as to who he is and what he's about," Shell said. "Very articulate. ... You just feel good. He has a presence about him, a real calming presence about him."

While many speculated the Raiders might try for a quarterback - either Huff's Texas teammate Vince Young or Leinart if one was still available with the seventh pick - Shell said the Raiders "feel good about our quarterback situation."

Oakland released Kerry Collins last month in an expected salary-cap move after the 33-year-old quarterback went 7-21 in two years as Oakland's starter. That left Shell with backup Marques Tuiasosopo and Andrew Walter before the Raiders signed Aaron Brooks to a two-year contract in March to compete for the starting job.
 
Keeping score....

Watch out for: Michael Huff

Mike O'Hara


 Texas safety Michael Huff is the best defensive back in the draft. He's athletic and versatile enough to line up deep at free safety, move up near the line at strong safety or split out to cover a receiver.

 He can bump, he can run, he can tackle -- and he would be a great choice for the Lions with the ninth pick in the first round.

 Huff reminds some of Ronnie Lott, a Hall of Fame defensive back drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 1981.

 Huff also has an excellent memory for names and numbers that are important to him.

 When asked at the NFL Combine in February to name the best receiver he faced during his career at Texas, he didn't hesitate -- Oklahoma's Mark Clayton in 2004.

 "I held him to 3 for 19, so I guess I had a pretty good day," Huff said.

 Huff's memory was perfect. Clayton caught three passes for 19 yards, but Oklahoma won, 12-0.

 How could Huff recall the statistics almost 17 months later?

 "When you cover the best, you want to keep the stats to know how you did against them," Huff said.

 Clayton, now with the Ravens, no doubt remembers Huff, too.
 
Michael Huff Draft Profile

MICHAEL HUFF

Strong Safety/Cornerback
University of Texas Longhorns
#7
6:00.0-198
Irving, Texas
Nimitz High School


OVERVIEW

Regarded by many as the hardest-hitting tackler of any secondary player in college football, Huff has drawn comparisons to Hall of Fame member Ronnie Lott for his ability as a playmaker to change the tide of a game. The versatile, athletic and speedy fifth-year defensive back became the first player in school history to win the Thorpe Award. Blessed with outstanding range and tremendous instincts, Huff has the ability to play any position in the secondary, having started 50 of 51 games during his career.

Versatility is nothing new for Huff, who excelled as a safety, cornerback and wide receiver during his three-year career at Nimitz High School. He recorded 238 tackles and returned three of his nine interceptions for scores during his final two seasons. Huff posted 127 tackles and five interceptions (two returned for scores) as a senior. He registered a career-high 18 tackles and an interception against South Grand Prairie High and also scored on a 69-yard run and a 40-yard catch in that contest.

Huff collected 111 tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) as a junior. He had 12 receptions for 220 yards as a sophomore receiver. Huff was also a four-year letterman in track. He finished seventh in the 100 meters (10.46 seconds) at the 2000 USATF Junior Nationals.

Huff redshirted in 2001 at Texas, but made a big impact in 2002 as the Longhorns ranked eighth in the nation in pass defense. The Freshman All-American third-team pick started every game, lining up at strong safety in ten contests and at field cornerback in three others. He recorded 70 tackles (43 solos) while his ten stops behind the line of scrimmage was the fifth-best season total by a Texas freshman (four ahead of him were all defensive linemen). He also had two interceptions and ten pass deflections.

Huff opened the 2003 season as a reserve before returning to the starting lineup in the second game. He continued to see action at cornerback while lining up mostly at strong safety. Huff totaled 66 tackles (45 solos) with four stops for losses. He blocked two kicks, batted away six passes and also intercepted two others.

The consensus All-Big Twelve Conference choice started every game at strong safety in 2004. He collected 73 tackles (50 solos) with fourteen pass deflections and a pair of interceptions. "Huff Daddy," as his teammates call him, became Texas' first-ever Thorpe Award (nation's best defensive back) recipient in 2005. The unanimous All-American led the team to the national title as the secondary ranked fifth nationally in pass defense.

Huff ranked second on the team with 109 tackles (53 solos), including two sacks and ten stops behind the line of scrimmage. He recovered two fumbles, returning one for a touchdown and also caused four fumbles. He intercepted two passes, deflected fourteen others and blocked a kick.

In 51 games with the Longhorns, Huff registered 318 tackles (191 solos) with two sacks for minus-18 yards and 26 stops for losses of 75 yards. He recovered three fumbles for 21 yards in returns with a touchdown and also caused six fumbles. He ranks sixth on the school's all-time record list with 44 pass deflections and had eight interceptions for 162 yards in returns and a school-record four touchdowns. He ranks fourth in school annals with three blocked kicks and also generated seven quarterback pressures.

ANALYSIS

Positives: Has a lean, angular frame, but shows good overall muscle definition and the ability to carry additional weight...Shows above average initial burst and range...Smooth, fluid mover with very good hand/eye coordination...Smart, instinctive player with superb route awareness...Makes all the defensive calls and does a good job of reading the quarterback and locating the ball...Does a good job of avoiding trash and has the range to pursue long distances...Has valid foot speed and an explosive closing burst, taking on ballcarriers with good pop on contact...Despite giving up bulk, he will not hesitate to face up to larger blockers at the point of attack, but is best when allowed to roam the field...Has the range to make plays in space and does a very good job of tracking the ball in flight... Has the leaping ability to get to the ball at its high point...His foot speed allows him to maintain cushion on deep routes and shows the closing burst to make plays in front of him...Takes good angles in pursuit and has the quickness to maintain mirror on receivers going long...Gets a good jump on the ball and has the speed to recover when beaten... Shows natural hands for the interception, doing a good job of reaching and plucking away from his frame.

Negatives: Has the speed to play cornerback, but gathers some in his breaks and gets too tall in his backpedal, as he appears to stay up on his heels a bit, allowing receivers to separate coming out of their breaks...Does not have the bulk to face up to blockers working in the box, relying more on his quickness to avoid and slip into the backfield to make the play...Struggles some to pick up zone concepts and will bite on play-action...Has to compensate with his speed in order to recover when he rounds his cuts vs. outside routes...Has the range to close in pursuit, but has a little hip stiffness when changing direction.

Huff is a physical playmaker with a knack for being in position to deliver the crunching hit. He lacks the bulk you look for in a safety playing inside the box, and will get rag-dolled when offensive linemen latch on to him. He is best when given a free lane in backside pursuit, as he has the burst to close. He can locate the ball working through trash and has the speed to stay tight on the receiver in long routes.

Huff's acceleration compensates for his adequate backpedal skills. Despite his timed speed, he is choppy in transition and gathers on his breaks, lacking the hip flexibility to turn smoothly. He compensates with above average acceleration, but just seems to show better man coverage skills at safety rather than at cornerback.

Huff is a good contact tackler. He wraps and hits with good pop on contact, but will revert to arm tackles when working in closed quarters. He is a willing downhill player who comes up to the rush lanes quickly, staying low in his pads and driving with his legs to attack the lead blocker. He has excellent speed to break on the ball and maintains balance on the run.

For a player with his speed and acceleration, you would hope to see more suppleness and flexibility in his backpedal. He can keep cushion and stay on top of the route, doing a nice job of attacking backs and tight ends with his hands in attempts to reroute, but just lacks the hip snap and low pedal to plant and drive on the ball.

Huff has a good feel for the ball in flight and shows adequate hands to reach and pluck the ball, but will double catch at times, resulting in more deflections than picks. While he has decent hands, they are just not natural enough to consider him a ball thief. He does show a good burst and running stride to gain valid yardage on the interception return.

Like Brian Dawkins (Eagles), Huff has excellent speed and range to make plays in front of him. He hits hard for a player his size, but does not have the loose hips needed to mirror at cornerback. He lacks the bulk of an ideal strong safety and is better when allowed to roam the field. Put him at free safety and you will get much better value in return than at strong safety or cornerback. His athletic ability and instincts make him the best defensive back prospect in the 2006 draft.

cont'd...
 
cont'd...

INJURY REPORT

No injuries reported.

CAREER NOTES

Huff holds the school career-record with four interceptions returned for touchdowns, topping the previous mark of three by both Rod Babers (1999-2002) and Greg Brown (1998-2000)...Only player to return two interceptions for scores in a season twice (2002-03)...Only Greg Brown (2000) and Alan Lowry (1971) had two interceptions returned for scores in a season for the Longhorns previously...His 162 yards on interception returns rank fifth on the Longhorns' all-time record list behind Chris Carter (261, 1993-96), Derrick Johnson (195, 2001-04), Bobby Dillon (190, 1949-51) and Derrick Hatchett (166, 1977-80)...Ranks fourth in school history with three blocked kicks, topped only by Brian Robison (5, 2003-present), Marcus Tubbs (4, 2000-03) and Shane Dronett (4, 1989-91)...His 44 pass deflections rank sixth in Texas annals behind Nathan Vasher (64, 2000-03), Quentin Jammer (57, 1997-2001), Hatchett (55, 1977-80), Babers (49, 1999-2002) and Vance Bedford (47, 1977-81).

AGILITY TESTS

Combine: 4.35 in the 40-yard dash...1.51 10-yard dash...2.56 20-yard dash...Bench presses 225 pounds 21 times...40.5-inch vertical jump...10'5" broad jump...31 3/8-inch arm length...8 3/4-inch hands.

HIGH SCHOOL

Attended Nimitz (Irving, Tex.) High School, playing football for head coach Huff Farda... Excelled as a safety, cornerback and wide receiver during his three-year career...Made 238 tackles and returned three of his nine interceptions for scores during his final two seasons...Posted 127 tackles and five interceptions (two returned for scores) as a senior... Registered a career-high 18 tackles and an interception against South Grand Prairie High and also scored on a 69-yard run and a 40-yard catch in that contest...Had 111 tackles and four interceptions (one returned for a touchdown) as a junior...Added 12 receptions for 220 yards as a sophomore receiver...Also a four-year letterman in track...Finished seventh in the 100 meters (10.46) at the 2000 USATF Junior Nationals.

PERSONAL


Youth and Community Studies major...Earned a spot on UT's Athletics Director's Academic Honor Roll in spring and fall 2003...Named to the Big Twelve Commissioner's Honor Roll in Fall 2003...Active in UT's community service program...Step-brother, Marcus King, is a senior safety at Missouri...Another step-brother, Terrence Holmes, played at Texas Southern...Born Michael Wayne Huff, II on 3/06/83 in Irving, Texas.
 
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