West Coach Awed by Eugene & Mouton

Jonas Mouton's punishing hits and Jai Eugene's sheer athleticism have been on full display at the West team practices this week. Their position coach in San Antonio sat down to talk with GoBlueWolverine about what makes these two players so special.

The starting defensive backfield for the West All-American team consists of names that should be very familiar to Michigan fans. The Maize and Blue recruited free safety Taylor Mays and corner Devon Ross before falling out of contention late in the summer, and are still right in the thick of it for the remaining two players in the quartet.

Michigan defensive backs coach Ron English has been hot on the trails of Venice high safety Jonas Mouton and Destrehan High corner Jai Eugene for quite some time. After being around them now for an entire week, their position coach in San Antonio can see why.

Jonas Mouton
“Jonas is a great kid,” said West defensive backs coach Rick Rhoades. "He comes in and works very hard. When we’re teaching and things like that, he is very focused in and is learning what we’re trying to do. He’s got good concentration. He is a big safety, but for a big safety he covers very very well. He is a very physical kid. He is a kid that you’ll see in short yardage situations at linebacker. He’s very coachable and I’ve really enjoyed working with him.”

Many scouts have projected Mouton as a linebacker at the next level, but Rhoades, who coaches locally at Converse Judson high, feels differently. “With the way the game is going and the way people are playing a lot of cover 2 and cover 4, if I was coaching, I would leave him at safety,” he said. “Jonas will have to keep working on his man coverage technique a little bit. You’ll see why in the game. We can only run certain coverages so he is going to be matched up on the inside receiver at times. That means it’s going to be a little bitty speed guy against Jonas. That’s the scenario he is probably going to have to work on at the next level, but I’m sure that he’ll do fine and I’m sure he’ll do fine for us in the game on Saturday.”

Jai Eugene
One player Rhoades feels won’t have any issues covering any receiver on the filed is his five-star cornerback Jai Eugene. The Bayou State star’s talents left Rhoades virtually speechless. “Boy he….Jai is…I was impressed with Jai from the first day we came out and did one on one drills against the receivers,” he said. “He gets in there and isn’t afraid to mix it up with the receivers. He‘s got great speed, great footwork., and he can flat out cover. I love Jai!”

At 5-10.5, 185-pounds Eugene isn’t the biggest corner, but Rhoades doesn’t see that affecting his pupil’s coverage ability. However, he does wonder if it might be an issue when defending the run. “The thing Jai can do is he can get up and play press and he can be physical and that can kind of equalize some of those bigger taller receivers,” said Rhoades. “The one thing I want to see what he can do against the run. To me that’s probably the biggest battle a guy of his size has to fight. But with the way that kid plays and with his athletic ability I think he’ll be fine. He could be a very special player in college.”

If the Wolverines have anything to say about, both Eugene and Mouton will be showing just how special they are in Ann Arbor next fall.

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