I did not make this headline up
As expected, Michigan got their second receiver for the 2012 class today when Ladue (MO) Horton Watkins WR Jehu Chesson committed to the Wolverines, according to multiple outlets. Michigan was in desperate need of two receivers in this recruiting class, and with the addition of Chesson and Amara Darboh, Brady Hoke and Co. can focus on landing some big-name targets at other positions. Here's the skinny on Chesson.
Chesson (in blue) with the stiff-arm [Photo credit: Doug Miner/Patch.com]
|3*, #82 WR||3*, #89 WR||
The four services agree that Chesson is 6'3" and around 180 pounds—he's a little skinny but has a very solid frame for a wideout. As for Chesson's skills, they're mostly in agreement as well, pegging him as a middle-of-the-road three-star. ESPN and 247Sports are a little higher on Chesson than Rivals and Scout, listing him around the 50th-best WR in the class instead of down below 80. Considering the other receivers this staff has pursued, it's safe to say they consider Chesson to be a sleeper.
Let's start with Allen Trieu's evaluation over on Chesson's Scout profile page:
Tall, lanky receiver who can go up and get the ball. Snatches it easily out of the air, but lets too many underneath passes get into his body. Great natural athlete with good leaping ability and straight line speed, but is not an elusive guy after the catch. Must add some bulk and strength, but is tough and willing to go over the middle and make catches.
The added bulk and strength stuff is standard fare for a high school recruit, especially one with Chesson's lanky frame. "Great natural athlete" is always nice to see. Here's what ESPN—who rated him the highest of the four services—has to say ($):
Comes off the ball with explosion and a nice stride. Gets into routes quickly and can eat up cushion with an imposing charge upfield. He has some value as a vertical target due to his frame/speed combination, but we are not convinced he is a great speed guy rather a competitive one. He can really elevate and adjust to the jump ball. Positions himself nicely and will high point the ball with good extension. Has flashed the ability to make the spectacular grab look easy and can make the acrobatic grab in a crowd. He consistently catches the ball well and wastes little time getting upfield to make things happen. Can adjust and pluck on the move on poorly thrown balls. He is pretty sharp as a route runner underneath ... Chesson is not quite as crisp at the intermediate levels ... He has the skill set and fluidity to be sharper. After the catch Chesson shows strength and some wiggle to not only make you miss, but also stiff arm and lower his shoulder to power through would be tacklers. He is not a huge homerun threat in space, but given his size he is pretty nifty and can gain valuable YAC and move the chains.
It's interesting that ESPN questions his speed considering his track exploits, more on which later, but the rest of this is quite promising. There seems to be general agreement that he's got good hands, needs a little work on technique, and is more of jump-ball threat than a guy who's going to break a big play on a short pass. As for that track stuff, here's a nice tidbit from a recent article by Tim Sullivan ($):
The physical abilities are certainly there. The 6-3, 185-pound Chesson has the size to outmatch defensive backs, though he will add weight and strength before contributing at the college level. He also possesses great speed as a high school receiver. He was the state champion in the 300 meter hurdles as a junior, and has run a time of 37.44 seconds - good for No. 34 in the country among high schoolers in 2011.
"I think the thing at our level that he does is before you even line up, he creates some matchup problems because of his height and length," Tarpey said. "He's got real long arms, he does a great job of catching the ball away from his body. I think that's a nice thing so teams planning for us definitely had to account for him."
Despite flying low on the recruiting radar, Chesson has had good showings at summer camps in Coral Gables, Gainesville, and St. Louis. Here's Rivals national analyst Keith Niebuhr after seeing Chesson perform at the Nike camp in Miami ($):
STRENGTHS: Chesson made a splash Sunday in Coral Gables by running crisp routes and catching seemingly every pass thrown in his vicinity. He's tall and lean, was quicker than most receivers on hand, and got in and out of his breaks quite well. A hurdler in high school, his leaping ability showed up often during position drills.
WEAKNESSES: Because Chesson is a bit wiry, getting stronger is a must so college corners can't push him around at the line of scrimmage.
So, it seems we've got a tall wide receiver with good-to-great speed and solid hands who needs some work on strength and fundamentals. Chesson sounds like a player who could really excel with some good coaching and conditioning. To be honest—and I say this without trying to sound like I'm wildly biased towards Michigan, as I haven't been afraid to be critical of recruits in the past—I'm having a hard time figuring out why he's rated so low when reading these evaluations.
Chesson's offer list, outside of Michigan, falls in line with his recruiting rankings. The other two finalists for his services were Iowa and Northwestern, and he also held offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Cincinnati, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Purdue, according to Rivals. Scout also lists a UCLA offer and interest from Florida. Oklahoma State and Iowa have had a lot of success with receiver recruiting, so it's nice to see those teams on his offer list, but Michigan obviously stands out as his best offer.
In his junior season, Chesson caught 53 passes for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns. I can't seem to track down any senior year stats, but I'll update this if I can find them.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals lists Chesson as running a 4.5, and he claims he ran a 4.54 while camping at Florida ($). Considering his ability on the track, I'll give that a two FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights (if you're at work, might want to turn your sound off):
If you have a Scout subscription, they have senior year highlights stuck behind a paywall.
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Chesson is a tough recruit to figure out, and I haven't had the benefit of seeing him play live. He looks promising on film, he's got great size (with the expectation that he adds some weight), he's fast, and he can catch—to me, he seems like at least a high three-star or four-star recruit. His rankings and offer list, however, say otherwise, and it's not as if he's never set foot at a camp or played in an area where there's no media exposure.
I'm going to go ahead and presume, with a more polished receiver in Darboh also arriving in 2012, that Chesson takes a redshirt year. As a redshirt freshman, he'll then be battling for playing time with Jeremy Gallon, Jeremy Jackson, Drew Dileo, Jerald Robinson, and Darboh (along with the freshmen in the class of 2013). Only Gallon has really proven that he can be a starter, and he's a better fit in the slot, so it's certainly conceivable that Chesson starts contributing in just a couple years.
That all depends on his development, and it's tough to project a player based on highlight reels. I could see Chesson becoming a great deep threat, and I hate to make such a lofty comparison, but the closest player in terms of style that I can think of is Braylon Edwards after watching his film. At the same time, Chesson obviously needs development, and with Michigan in on some talented receivers in the class of 2013 he could get buried on the depth chart if that doesn't happen quickly. This statement is full of duh, but really anything is possible here. I will go so far as to say I expect him to see the field at receiver if for no other reason than that he possesses a skill set unlike anyone on the roster and the team is so thin at receiver after next season.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now down to four remaining open spots in the 2012 class, and things are starting to come into focus for those final spots. It's very clear that Michigan is looking to add at least one offensive lineman and one cornerback—and it's possible at both those positions that they'll take two players if the opportunity arises—and they'll likely take a tight end as well. The last spot will likely be a 'best player available' situation out of the recruits at O-line and DB unless a running back jumps into the mix.
As for who those players will be, that's an entirely different matter. The Wolverines are after several high-profile offensive linemen, including Josh Garnett, Jordan Diamond, Alex Kozan, Evan Boehm, Zach Banner, and Jeremiah Poutasi. It seemingly changes by the day which one or two of those prospects Michigan has the best shot at, so venturing a guess at this point is likely an exercise in futility. As for corner, Michigan is in good shape with Yuri Wright and appear to have a decent shot at flipping Armani Reeves from Penn State if he decommits. Options appear limited at tight end, but chances look to be solid with Sam Grant, high school teammate of Kyle Kalis. At running back, Bri'onte Dunn is no longer an option, nor is Greg Garmon or Wes Brown, but the coaching staff is taking a strong look at former Notre Dame commit David Perkins, a four-star whom most teams are recruiting as a linebacker. As always, there's a chance the coaches unearth an as-of-yet undiscussed recruit to fill the final spot or two—we'll just have to see. At the very least, the need at receiver has been filled.
I Will Avoid Making a Dunn Pun (Rhyme, On the Other Hand...)
So... that happened:
Five-star tailback Brionte Dunn will honor his commitment to Ohio State and sign with the Buckeyes on National Signing Day.
Bummer, dudes. Dunn wasn't the biggest need on the board, but it would've been really fun to Kalis another recruit from the Buckeyes, especially in slow, painful fashion. Instead, we'll have to live with Team 132's victory while looking for alternatives at running back.
Yes, it appears there's at least one potential alternative, as four-star LB David Perkins was recently contacted ($, info in header)—and offered, according to his player page on Scout—by Michigan as a running back. The 6'2", 210-pound prospect from South Bend is a Notre Dame decommit who had a top five of Ohio State, Tennessee, Missouri, Michigan State, and LSU before the new-found interest from Michigan—this is one to keep an eye on.
The Wolverines did host official visitors last weekend, and while most were commits (covered in the next section), they did have a couple targets on campus. Guard Alex Kozan was one of those visitors, and he enjoyed hanging out with guys like Kyle Kalis, Tom Strobel, Caleb Stacey, and A.J. Williams ($, info in header):
"It was a good trip,” Kozan began. “It was good to see everyone. I liked just seeing everyone, meeting the people in person and spending time with some of their commits and players.”
Kozan has also visited Iowa and Ohio State officially and has another visit set for Auburn this weekend—Michigan looks to be right in the thick of things here. The other main target on campus was current Boston College commit Sam Grant, a three-star tight end and also a high school teammate of Kalis ($):
“I had a good time on my visit,” Grant said after leaving. “There’s a good opportunity there. I have a lot to think about.”
Grant wants to make a decision "soon," but also said he's going to take more visits. Again, Michigan looks to be in good position, and the ample playing time available at tight end will likely play a factor. Having Kalis on board helps, and Grant also goes "way back" with A.J. Williams from competing in AAU basketball ($, info in header).
Yuri Wright recently stated that Michigan and Colorado were his two leaders, and he took a visit to Boulder last weekend. Glowing quotes? Not so much ($):
“We didn’t really do too much because they had finals week,” Wright said. “We met up with a few people and hung out and went to the basketball game. That was it, really.
“I wish they would have picked a different weekend for me to come out there, but I still had a good time for the most part. I know it’s a good school.”
Wright also sent out some tweets while on the trip that indicated that he wasn't having a Real Good Time. He'll be in Ann Arbor for his official visit January 13-15, and the Wolverines could really establish themselves as the team to beat for the nation's top corner if Wright enjoys his time on campus.
Meanwhile, West Roxbury (MA) Catholic Memorial CB Armani Reeves is back on the radar. The four-star is currently a Penn State commit, but he's monitoring their situation closely and keeping in contact with Michigan and Notre Dame in case he decides to go elsewhere ($, info in header). Curt Mallory is his main recruiter, and Reeves noted that Michigan has done things the right way, not pushing him to decommit but instead just trying to sell him on the program:
“[Mallory] was telling me I’m pretty much the guy if I want to commit there now,” Reeves continued. “He said he’ll be happy if they won’t take anymore guys. They feel like I’m a top corner and they expressed to me I could definitely play early and that’s an option there, and how much the school and coaches really want me.”
Michigan is hoping to get Reeves to schedule an official visit soon.
Quickly: Pharaoh Brown has narrowed his list to Michigan, MSU, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Oregon ($, info in header), and apparently Greg Mattison visited him recently ($), so that door may not be entirely closed; Jordan Diamond really enjoyed his official to Ohio State ($, info in header); Cincinnati Moeller WR Monty Madaris is also down to five schools ($, info in header), with Michigan included along with MSU, Cinci, Kentucky, and FSU; Jordan Payton enjoyed his official to Cal ($, info in header); and happy trails to four-star receiver Darius Powe, who committed to Cal over the weekend ($).
Mario Ojemudia: Deathbacker
Michigan had several commits on campus last week for their official visits, including Mario Ojemudia, who got some clarification about what position he'll play at the collegiate level ($):
With a chance to spend one on one time with his future defensive coordinator, Ojemudia gained a much greater understanding of where he’ll fit into the gameplan.
“I talked to Mattison a lot and he really emphasized what I was going to do,” Ojemudia said. “He told me that I would just be like, he would send me on blitzes like everywhere throughout the defense as a stand-up guy.”
Having watched Ojemudia—an undersized DE with fantastic pass-rushing skills—a couple times this fall, I can't wait to see what he can do as a QB-destroying specialist. [Ed-Seth: If you just thought to yourself "Shawn Crable" you just gained an imaginary MGoLevel.]
Also getting a bit of role clarification was Ojemudia's high school teammate, tight end Devin Funchess ($):
“I talked to them all [the coaches],” said Funchess. “They said I have a high chance of playing early, I just need to come in, get settled in fast, get used to the speed and will have to prove myself on the field. They just told me that in the red zone I would probably be split out and I’ll mostly be at the H back my first year.”
Funchess spent much of his time this season split out as a receiver, so while he'll have to adjust to the H-back role, he should be pretty comfortable in the red zone.
Matt Godin has been one of many commits to take on a role as recruiter, as well, and he gave his guesses on the odds of Michigan's targets who were on campus last weekend eventually committing to the Wolverines ($):
With just a few spots left in the 2012 class, Godin delivers his own percentages in regards to how he see’s things shaking out with the two weekend visitors.
“70 percent (chance he commits) for Alex [Kozan] and 90 percent (chance he commits) for Sam [Grant],” Godin said convincingly.
I'll take those odds.
I Don't Make Taco Jokes to Anyone Who Stands at 6'7", 245 pounds
Sam Webb's latest feature at the DetNews profiled Pickerington (OH) Central standout DE/OLB Taco Charlton, who grew up a "diehard" Ohio State fan but was rooting for Michigan in The Game because of their recruiting efforts and early offer. The Wolverines currently stand out along with Notre Dame as early favorites to land Charlton, with Ohio State also a possibility if they come through with an offer. As for his game, here's Taco on Taco:
"Right now I'm real good at pass rushing," Charlton said confidently. "I can get on the quarterback fast. My run (defense) is coming along. I'm starting to do good against that, too. … Whatever I can do to get better, I'm going to do it. I'm just trying to be a great player and do the best I can."
Another big-time junior on Michigan's radar is Crete-Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, who was named area Offensive Player of the Year by the NWI Times after amassing 75 catches for 1,391 yards and 18 touchdowns:
"Quon is a special player, the type that is physically gifted, loves to compete, and has a solid understanding of the game," Crete coach Jerry Verde said. "Quon is a game changer, not only on offense, but also on the defensive side of the ball. His toughness and athleticism allow him to play any position."
Treadwell also had 46 total tackles, 10 TFLs, and eight sacks on defense. That's an athlete, people.
There have been some worries that Michigan could lose safety commit Dymonte Thomas to Ohio State after his cousin, the aforementioned Bri'onte Dunn, reaffirmed with the Buckeyes, but he's doing his best to put that talk to rest ($, info in header):
“Ohio State just offered me,” Thomas told his 1500+ followers on twitter. “Haha, but it’s too late now. I’m Blue Nation now!"
“I’m Blue,” Thomas later reiterated to GoBlueWolverine. “I’m staying committed. I already gave (Michigan) my word.”
With over a year to go until signing day 2013, this is far from over, but for now there's no reason to be concerned.
A few new offers went out this week, I'll run them down quickly below:
- Seffner (FL) Armwood DB Leon McQuay III, who's already taken unofficial visits to Georgia Tech, Florida, Ohio State, and Vanderbilt ($, info in header).
- Ashburn (VA) Stone Bridge DE Jonathan Allen, who was also offered by Tennessee last week. After recording 20 sacks and eight(!) forced fumbles as a sophomore, Allen had 120 tackles, 15 sacks, two forced fumbles, and seven(!!) blocked kicks this year.
- Olney (MD) Good Counsel teammates Dorian O'Daniel ($), an OLB/DE, and Kendall Fuller, a cornerback, were both offered on the same trip that saw the Wolverines miss paths with Stefon Diggs.
- Warren (OH) Howland RB Deveon Smith, who grew up as a Michigan fan ($, info in header).
- Reported on here yesterday, Peoria (IL) Manual OL Logan Tuley-Tillman got his much-coveted Michigan offer and immediately named them as his leader. My full interview with Logan is here.
Quickly: Blue-chip linebacker Peter Kalambayi has Michigan in his top five with Clemson, Florida, Duke, and Stanford ($, info in header); Jeff Hecklinski made an in-school visit to Damascus (MD) WR Zach Bradshaw; Michigan has interest from Cincinnati Moeller OL Alex Gall ($, info in header) and Solon (OH) DB Darian Hicks ($, info in header).
Dunn Visiting OSU First, Michigan Close to Wrapping Up Receiver Recruiting?
If you're a big recruiting follower, you likely already know this news, but Bri'onte Dunn is taking his first official visit this weekend ($, info in header), and disappointingly it's to Ohio State. He might visit Ann Arbor next weekend, but that isn't set in stone, and it appears that the tide has shifted back in the Buckeyes's favor in Dunn's recruitment. Brady Hoke and Fred Jackson have an in-home visit with Dunn scheduled for today, so by no means are the Wolverines out of it, but it looks like there's a good chance the blue-chip running back stays committed to Ohio State.
Meanwhile, things are moving very quickly on the receiver front after Amara Darboh committed last weekend. Michigan will take one more wideout in the class, and the leader in the clubhouse for that spot appears to be St. Louis (MO) Ladue Watkins standout Jehu Chesson, who has narrowed his list to Michigan, Iowa, and Northwestern and will announce his commitment on either December 21st or 22nd ($). The Wolverines appear to be the leader here, and a commitment from Chesson would make the rest of what I'm about to write rather irrelevant, but oh well.
Stefon Diggs, the Good Counsel five-star, is probably not happening—he made an official visit to Cal last weekend and will be at (sigh) Ohio State on an official this weekend, according to the Washington Post, which also had this quote:
“I was going to go to Michigan, but as of now, I’m not sure,” he said. “Maybe Auburn or Florida. I’ve got four left, so we’ll see how it goes.”
With the accelerated timeline of Chesson, it's time to give up the pipe dream of landing Diggs. Jordan Payton has narrowed his list to Michigan, Notre Dame, and Cal ($)—things have been quiet on that front from the Michigan end, and much like with Diggs, there may not be an opportunity for Payton to commit before Michigan is full at receiver. Cincinnati Moeller receiver Monty Madaris is planning an official visit to Michigan after Christmas break—he'll be taking visits to MSU and Cincinnati as well. Upland (CA) High receiver Kenny Lawler recently decommitted from Arizona State and has expressed interset in Michigan ($, info in header), but it's unclear if much will happen on that front. Darius Powe has Michigan in his top five ($). In all likelihood, Chesson is going to take the final receiver spot, and all of the above will be moot. If he surprises and commits elsewhere, however, Michigan still has a lot of strong options.
Yuri Wright Names Favorites, Old Names Popping Back Up on M's Radar
Well, hello there, top-ranked cornerback (from Rivals.com's Mike Farrell):
Wright is working on setting up a visit, and from everything he's saying, Michigan has a great shot at landing a commitment once he makes it to campus, though they might have to wait a little bit ($):
Finally, when it comes to the official visit targets Wright discussed, there is Michigan.
“I love Michigan. I can honestly say that,” Wright said. “That’s a school I’ve loved my whole life. I just loved it my whole life. I was definitely happy with that. They came away with the victory.”
Wright was hoping to announce at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan 7, 2012, in San Antonio, but he is no longer planning it because of timing.
Not a bad quote, that. Even if Michigan can't ultimately land Wright, they may have another option at corner if they want one in Penn State commit Armani Reeves, who could be taking a visit this weekend (again, Farrell):
Farrell also claims that Michigan has interest in Williams, which would be interesting and possibly disconcerting, since the Wolverines should be set at linebacker barring a decommit or academic issues among the 2012 commits.
Some quick hitters on O-line recruiting:
- Jordan Diamond has set two official visits ($, info in header), one to Auburn and the other for this weekend at Ohio State (sigh). My hated for Urban Meyer is growing at a rapid pace.
- Josh Garnett was "wowed" by his official visit to Michigan ($, info in header).
- Michigan is once again recruiting soft Mizzou verbal Evan Boehm, the top-ranked center in the country ($, info in header). He'd be a great fit in this O-line class and has a Michigan connection in friend Ondre Pipkins.
- Alex Kozan hosted several in-home visitors this week, including Michigan ($, info in header). He's still considering the Wolverines for an official visit. [EDIT: And by considering, I mean he's visiting this weekend ($). That's good news, obviously.]
- Tom has a good overview of offensive line recruiting for both 2012 and 2013 over at WolverineNation ($).
One more name to keep an eye on is J.P. Holtz, a tight end from Pittsburgh who recently decommitted from Penn State. Michigan has been in contact and could become a big factor in his recruitment:
“Coach Mattison came and saw me last week,” Holtz said. “He told me that I would fit in perfectly in their offense as a tight-end and that they want me to come visit soon.”
The 6-foot-4, 240 pound Holtz has already visited Purdue and Pittsburgh, and says he would like to visit Michigan before he makes his final decision.
“Michigan’s coaching staff and their stadium really sticks out to me,” Holtz said. “It would be nice to play in the biggest stadium in the country every week.”
Holtz is also considering Purdue, Pitt, Arkansas, and Michigan State.
Happy trails to Good Counsel running back Wes Brown, teammate of Stefon Diggs, who cut Michigan from his list this week ($).
Michigan finally has a wide receiver in the class, as West Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic's Amara Darboh committed to the Wolverines today. He becomes the first of what should be two receivers in the 2012 class, and is Michigan's 24th commitment overall.
Amara Darboh (Photo credit: Public Paul & Media)
4*, #33 WR,
4*, #31 WR,
4*, 93, #19 WR,
The four services essentially agree on Darboh's size, listing him at 6'2" and between 190 and 205 pounds—he's got solid size for a receiver. Scout, Rivals, and 24/7 are eerily close in their evaluation of his talents, all ranking him as a four-star and right around the #200 player in the country, though 24/7 has him well higher than Scout or Rivals in their positional rankings. ESPN is the outlier, and a significant one, rating him as a middling three-star and the #77 receiver in the nation, 44 spots below any other recruiting outlet. Boo, WWL. Boo.
We'll start with the most critical evaluation, from ESPN ($):
Darboh is a combination of strength and quickness as a big receiver with a sturdy build, long arms and nice height. He is part playmaker and part possession player and against this level of competition he can really stand out. He can be an imposing player off the line and shows some physicality when pressed at the line ... Not afraid to go over the middle and will make the tough catch in traffic. Shows good leaping ability and can catch the ball thrown over his head. Tracks the ball well, and does an excellent job of adjusting to the poorly thrown ball or ball thrown to his opposite shoulder on down field throws along the sideline. Can be a body catcher at times, but secures the ball consistently. Has some wiggle in the open field after the catch for a bigger player and displays some natural open field run skills ... We are somewhat concerned about Darboh's top end speed. He does not play as fast as his listed forty times would indicate nor does he possess sudden change-of-direction after the catch.
Sounds like a solid possession receiver without game-breaking athleticism. Also, a decent ability to make big plays despite not being a major deep threat. What say you, Tim Prister of IrishIllustrated ($)?
Excellent size and length help accentuate his deer-like athleticism with the football in the air. Shows nice balance maintaining his feet and running after catches for which he leaves the ground to make. Very fast - probably in the low-to-mid 4.4s - with an effortless running motion. Shows a consistent ability to run away from the crowd in pursuit.
So Prister says he has great speed, and meanwhile lists vision when running after the catch as an area for improvement. It doesn't even sound like ESPN and Prister are scouting the same player, let alone individual game. Can I get some sort of tiebreaker, Clint Brewster of 247Sports ($)?
Darboh shows exceptional speed as a bigger receiver and has another gear once he gets free from a defensive back. Quickness is another aspect that separates Darboh from his competition, as he consistently picks up big gains from short screens or pass patterns. Darboh shows excellent strength and athleticism by breaking tackles from smaller corners and staying up-right. Darboh has a natural feel for the game already by knowing where to sit in zone coverage and also working with his quarterback to find open space when he scrambles. One thing Darboh caught on to quickly was the importance of blocking at the position as he relentlessly blocks until the whistle.
Athleticism: Yes? Yes. Meanwhile, blocking comes up in multiple evaluations as being a strength, while Darboh's route-running and stance—he seems to stand a little high off the snap, leaving himself susceptible to getting jammed—are cited by multiple outlets as relative weaknesses.
Finally, here's his own high school coach on what Darboh brings to the team:
"He's a big, physical player," Dowling coach Tom Wilson said of his 6-2, 200-pounder. "I've seen him compared to Roddy White of the Falcons — a bigger guy that can run very well. He ran 4.42. He's a kid that's had an awful lot of big plays for us in his three years as a starter, and we don't have many three-year starters here. Amara is a special talent."
Roddy White, you say? Why yes, I'd like one of those.
Darboh had a lengthy offer list, with finalists Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa, and Wisconsin joined by Iowa State, Kansas State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, and Vanderbilt. Rivals also shows interest but no offer from Oregon and USC. Not bad for a player who missed a large portion of his senior season with a shoulder injury.
Despite playing in only seven games this season, Darboh amassed 48 catches for 765 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a junior, he had 49 receptions for 646 yards and 6 TDs, and in his sophomore year he posted 25 for 371 and a TD.
FAKE 40 TIME
Darboh ran a hand-timed 4.42 40 at an Iowa State camp last summer. There are some questions about Darboh's top-end speed, and you usually need to mentally add on a couple tenths of a second for any hand-timed run, so I'll give this one three FAKEs out of five.
Junior year highlights:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Darboh is going to get a shot at immediate playing time thanks to Michigan's severe lack of depth at receiver. Junior Hemingway and Martavious Odoms graduate after this season, leaving a solid starting trio of Darryl Stonum—assuming his return after an indefinite suspension due to off-field issues—Roy Roundtree, and Jeremy Gallon. Beyond those three, there isn't a proven wideout on the roster: remaining receivers Jeremy Jackson, Drew Dileo, and Jerald Robinson have a combined 17 career receptions (this is assuming that Terrence Robinson doesn't get a fifth year, but even if he does, he hasn't been a factor as a WR).
Could Darboh come in and play right away? Absolutely, given his great natural size and athleticism, but it's also possible that there's just enough depth on the squad for him to take his time and develop during a redshirt year—it's going to be a question of whether or not Darboh is a clear upgrade from any of the backup options. After 2012, regardless of his role as a true freshman, Darboh should compete for a starting spot, and he's got a chance to be a multi-year starter with all-conference upside.
No matter what, Darboh should be a great person to have on the team. The original Des Moines Register story is now stuck behind an archive paywall, but here's a sample of what Darboh went through just to survive a turbulent childhood and make it to America, via The Survivors Club:
The civil unrest that erupted in the Republic of Sierra Leone in 1991 initiated the near eleven year war that swept through the country, threatening the lives of residents. In the capital, Freetown, Amara Darboh was just 2-years-old when his father and mother, Solimon and Kadita, were killed during a surge of violence. His father was a member in the military and after his parents’ deaths, he had few options.
Left in the care of surviving family members, their only choice was to flee. Amara spent the next several years living in Gambia and Senegal as a refugee. Life looked bleak for little Amara who had lost his parents and was unable to return home because of the ongoing civil war. Where was he to go if not back home?
The first seven years of his life were spent surviving life and death situations, education seemed impossible, and the hope for a better future was non-existent.
But when Amara was 7-years-old, an unexpected and seemingly impossible event happened. “It was a refugee program. We randomly got picked to come to Des Moines,” he told the Des Moines Register.
Darboh ended up in the care of Dan and Mary Schaefer, whose son Max introduced him to the sport of football. You're strongly encouraged to read the whole article—Darboh is clearly mature beyond his years, and he should be a great presence in the locker room regardless of on-field impact.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Michigan is now down to four remaining open spots in the 2012 class, and besides a definite need for one more receiver—with Jehu Chesson being the most likely to end up in the class at this point—things are up in the air. Offensive linemen like Josh Garnett, Zach Banner, and Jordan Diamond all have Michigan very much in the mix, and it looks probable that the Wolverines will add one last lineman. Cornerback Yuri Wright has listed Michigan in his top group for a long time, but still needs to make it onto campus. The coaching staff may look to add a tight end to replace Pharaoh Brown, with Taylor McNamara and J.P. Holtz both getting in-home visits in recent days. And of course, there's running back Bri'onte Dunn, who the Wolverines are still trying to wrest from the grasp of Ohio State.
If you asked me right now to predict the final four spots, in order of confidence, I'd say Chesson, Dunn, Wright, and Diamond, but past Dunn there's not a prospect on the board where Michigan looks to have better than a 50-50 shot. That's not to say Michigan won't finish out the class strong—I'd expect they fill it with at least three four-star players when all is said and done—just that it's difficult to project who will jump on those final few open spots at this moment.
Argh, I'm getting this up as quickly as possible after forgetting to save and having half the post eaten the first time around. Apparently I need a not-so-friendly reminder to use the save button more often. Duly noted.
Bri'onte Dunn Update: Fred Jackson Deployed
Bri'onte Dunn thoroughly enjoyed his Michigan visit last weekend ($, info in header), telling this to Sam Webb:
“It was a good atmosphere,” Dunn said regarding the Saturday afternoon spectacle at the Big House. “That was first time going to an Ohio State - Michigan game at Michigan, and it was a good experience. I think it was more intense (than last week's game versus Nebraska). It was a more important game, the game was close, and it was more fun. The coaches were very happy about winning and they were talking about how they wanted me to come down there. They were all hugging me and just very happy about me coming down two weeks in row.”
With Dunn being on Michigan's sideline as they faced the arch-rival school he's currently committed to, Dunn's stated disdain for playing in the spread, and Ohio State hiring noted spread guru Urban Meyer as their head coach, this is a done deal, right? Not so fast, my friend ($):
"Coach (Urban) Meyer called me tonight, and it was great speaking with him," Dunn stated. "I was told he was going to call me tonight, but it was still pretty awesome hearing him call. We talked for a while, and he also talked to my dad, and it went great."
"Coach Meyer said he's going to stop by my school and see me soon," he added. "I had a few questions I wanted to ask him, but I got kind of nervous and I never asked them. I will definitely look forward to talking to him face to face."
The big question that must be asked: How is Dunn going to fit into the offense when Urban Meyer has never produced a 1,000-yard rusher as a head coach, despite (contrary to his claims) having a couple Dunn-sized backs at Florida and Utah? That one could be tough to answer—at least honestly—for Meyer if he hopes to keep Dunn in the fold at OSU. Meanwhile, Michigan sent in Fred Jackson for an in-home visit, and while the conversation focused on academics ($, info in header), I'm sure Dunn was reminded he'd be like Tom Harmon but faster, with more Heismans, and a better post-playing acting career if he came to Ann Arbor. Dunn has confirmed that he'll be an early enrollee, so his decision will be coming in the relatively near future.
Another player who will be deciding soon is wideout Amara Darboh, who also had a real good time at the Ohio State game and has set a concrete timetable for his annoucement ($):
Sam Webb: As far as your recruitment goes, your coach did an interview last week and said a decision could come from you this week. Is that accurate for you?
Amara Darboh: “Yeah, I think I need to talk to my guardian and people that are close to me and stuff, but yeah. I’m at that point where I think it could come soon. I think it’s going to be no later than before Christmas. I just want to get it done with and go into (shoulder) surgery knowing where I’m going to go.”
Darboh could take one last visit to Florida, but he's unsure if he'll do so—either way, the decision will come by Christmas and quite possibly sooner than that. Another wideout with a similar timetable is Jehu Chesson, who has Michigan in his top three and will announce by Christmas, according to TomVH ($). Chesson struck up a friendship with Darboh, and the two could even be a package deal ($, info in header), which would be a great sign for the Wolverines.
Also impressed with his visit, and for good reason, was Puyallup (WA) OL Josh Garnett, pictured at right with Jake Long and 2012 commit Erik Magnuson. Tim Sullivan has a feature on Garnett in the Free Press, and the signs look good for Michigan:
Over the weekend, Garnett visited Ann Arbor to take in the experience at Michigan for the first time. While in town, he met up with his friend, Calrsbad (Calif.) La Costa Canyon offensive lineman Erik Magnuson, who is already committed to Michigan. Thanks in part to Magnuson’s presence, Garnett enjoyed the visit, and has moved Michigan into the top group of schools on his list.
“Thank you to Michigan football for showing me a great time,” he said on his Twitter account Sunday. “I love it in Michigan can't wait to be back! Go Blue!”
The Wolverines are now in his top two along with Stanford ($). There's still a long way to go with Garnett's recruitment, as he'll be taking official visits to Notre Dame and Miami in December and January before making his final decision (he could visit Oklahoma, as well). Also in that free update: Michigan will make an in-home visit with Zach Banner tomorrow, and the Wolverines are in his top five with Notre Dame, Oklahoma, USC, and Washington.
Garnett and Banner aren't the only options for the final O-line spot in the class, as Michigan improved their standing with Chicago Simeon OL Jordan Diamond over the weekend ($, info in header):
“I loved it,” Diamond said regarding his time in Ann Arbor Saturday. “I Ioved everything about it. I loved the atmosphere, the fans, the crowd…it was absolutely crazy today! I really enjoyed myself. The game was crazy. I absolutely loved it. It was a different experience from the UMASS game I went to earlier in my career. It moved (the Wolverines) up, definitely. Definitely it did.”
How far up? We'll have to wait to find out, as Diamond plans on trimming his list down to 5-10 schools within the next couple of weeks—he's stated throughout the process that he's taking things slow, and that's exactly what he's doing. The Wolverines will almost certainly be a factor until the end, however.
Quickly: Urban Meyer's hiring isn't exactly good news for Michigan despite Dunn's spread hatred, as Yuri Wright said "heck yeah" when asked if he was now interested in the Buckeyes (free article); Stefon Diggs has narrowed his list to eight schools—Michigan, Cal, USC, Oklahoma, Florida, Auburn, Virginia, and Virginia Tech, who was a late replacement for Maryland on the list; another wideout to keep an eye on ($, info in header) is Upland (CA) four-star Kenny Lawler, who just decommitted from Arizona State; according to TomVH, Michigan is back to hotly pursuing TE Taylor McNamara ($), who's being recruited hard by fellow Californian Magnuson right now and is also friends with Garnett.
Pee-Wee Loves His Visit and Kalis Gets His Fifth Star
Ondre "Pee-Wee" Pipkins is the subject of a free article by Sam Webb, and you are strongly encouraged to read the whole thing:
“Aww man, that right there was like witnessing history,” Pipkins exclaimed. “Michigan hadn’t beaten them in seven years. I was just sitting back watching like, ‘wow, they actually did it!’ Everybody had a different outlook on Brady Hoke, saying he wasn’t going to win over eight games. Some said he wouldn’t even win eight games. He proved a lot of people wrong. I feel like he had the same team that Rich Rodriguez had and he basically took those kids and taught them how to play football instead of just telling them to play. He actually broke it down and was teaching them. That’s what (the players) were telling me on my visit. ‘We actually learned how to play football.’ I was sitting in the stands and I was just happy for them. They’d been working hard all season.”
Okay, mild gut-punch for the remaining Rodriguez zealots out there, but man, that kid is excited to be a Wolverine. Pipkins also walked into Greg Mattison's office wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers shirt—to which the former Ravens DC responded, "Get out of here!"—and spent time with Shane Morris recruiting Jordan Diamond. Fan favorite in the making? I think so.
Meanwhile, Rivals has released their new Rivals100 and Rivals250—Touch the Banner has you covered on all the changes (100, 250) for Michigan commits and targets—but the big news is that Kyle Kalis moved up and got his coveted fifth star:
"In 10 years of covering recruiting, Kalis is one of the most college-ready offensive linemen I have seen. Physically he appears able to step on a college field right now, and his technique is advanced beyond his years," said Rivals.com Midwest Recruiting Analyst Josh Helmholdt. "The other thing that sets Kalis apart is that he is a very versatile lineman. He can play right or left tackle but also bump down to guard if his college team needs him there."
National recruiting analyst Mike Farrell added that Kalis looked great in pass protection in his game against Don Bosco Prep, which helped him earn that fifth star as that opens up the opportunity for him to play pretty much anywhere on the line. In non-surprising news, considering the reaction to his commitment switch from Ohio Sate to Michigan, Kalis reitereated that he will not be going back to the Buckeyes now that Urban Meyer is their coach ($, info in header).
Holy [Bleep], Ty Isaac
DO WANT [emphasis mine]:
Following a record-setting game in which he displayed why he is – if not the best college prospect in Illinois – on a very short list of premier players in the state, Isaac could do nothing more than politely summon some soft-spoken words to reporters looking for him to put one of the most surreal games in state history in perspective. But that’s what happens when you rush for a state-title game record 515 yards and six touchdowns, yet still lose 70-45 to nemesis Lombard Montini, which was exactly what Isaac did Saturday in the Class 5A championship.
That effort came on just 26 carries, for a solid 19.8 yards per carry, and Isaac's TD runs covered 71, 63, 56, 66, 2 and 69 yards. His defense should probably apologize profusely, as I'm not quite sure how it's possible to lose when your running back RUNS FOR 515 YARDS AND SIX TOUCHDOWNS. Isaac hasn't gotten too deep into the recruiting process yet, but is "high on Michigan" ($, info in header) according to 247Sports, who also have a free feature on the junior from Joliet (IL) Catholic:
Some of the schools that have offered have made an impression on both of Isaac’s parents.
“Notre Dame and Michigan,” Tyrone said. “Not to say they’re at the top of Ty’s list, but I’d have to say those two, and I can see Ty has a high-level of interest in those schools. I ask him and he says Dad, I don’t know yet. I just want him to be as informed as he can. Most of the schools in the Midwest we’ve seen and we’re going to see a lot more places.”
“We have met phenomenal people,” Karen said. “I can’t say there is anyone we met we haven’t liked. People say recruiting is so much fun, and it’s fun, but it can also be overwhelming. I loved the Michigan staff. I love the Notre Dame staff. We had a great visit with the people from Wisconsin. Coach (DeAndre) Smith at Illinois is a great guy. Lester Erb from Iowa is very nice.”
Read the rest and try to figure out how this guy isn't a five-star across the board yet. I can't.
Quickly: WR Laquon Treadwell enjoyed his visit and may be closer to a decision ($, info in header); ditto DB Shaq Wiggins ($, info in header); paywalled articles on 2013 recruits who visited (and of course, liked their visits): Brother Rice LB Jon Reshke, Owensboro (KY) Apollo OL Hunter Bivin, Youngstown (OH) Cardinal Mooney S Marcus McWilson, Dayton (OH) Huber Heights Wayne OL Lovell Peterson, and Hudson (OH) LB Ben Gedeon, who could be making an early decision this summer.
This week, three future Wolverines take home state titles, Erik Magnuson's squad advances to the semifinals, and the season ends in disappointment for Matt Godin and Chris Wormley.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin contributed four tackles, but Catholic Central lost a shocker to Cass Tech in the Division 1 state finals, 49-13. The Shamrocks finished the season with a 12-2 record.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Jenkins-Stone had a monster game for Cass Tech, rushing for 65 yards and a 32-yard TD run on nine carries, hauling in a three-yard TD pass, and leading the Technician defense with seven tackles while adding another TD on a 36-yard interception return. You can see highlights and Jenkins-Stone's post-game comments in the above video. He also had this to say to the Free Press:
"I told everybody on defense to keep it up because they're a second-half team," Jenkins-Stone said. "We had to keep the pressure on them and not let up. Everybody stepped up and kept the pressure on. I got my interception and I was happy about it. The hard work and determination will get you far."
Cass Tech finishes the season at 11-3 and took home the school's first-ever state football championship.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson had two sacks on the defensive line as La Costa Canyon defeated Westview—featuring 2012 TE recruit Taylor McNamara, who had a 75-yard TD catch—13-6 in a Division 2 quarterfinal matchup.
This week: The Mavericks play Oceanside on Thursday night in the semifinals.
MI CB Terry Richardson
Richardson tallied two tackles and hauled in a 36-yard TD pass—one of five thrown by Cass Tech freshman QB Jayru Campbell, tying a state title game record—as the Technician defense held Catholic Central to just 226 yards of total offense.
MI LB James Ross
After finishing as runner-ups the past two seasons, Orchard Lake St. Mary's finally took home a state title of their own, crushing Mount Pleasant 45-7 in the Division 3 championship game. Ross was his usual productive self, making ten tackles and scoring on a 32-yard touchdown run, and he was suitably proud of finally reaching the ultimate goal in high school football:
Ross, one of the state's top players, is committed to Michigan and as happy as Ross was that U-M finally beat Ohio State on Saturday, the joy he felt a few hours after U-M's important victory had everything to do with his team winning a state title.
"It's a great feeling," Ross said about U-M's victory. "But honestly, I'm not a Wolverine yet. This (state championship) is a great accomplishment. It's a great feeling to have that state championship."
To the Free Press, he added:
"It's better than I thought it would feel," Ross said. "I never thought it would feel like this: something that's as amazing as this and something we've been working for four months now. It's a great accomplishment -- one of the best accomplishments of my life."
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Whitmer's dreams on an undefeated season were dashed in the state semifinals, as St. Ignatius eked out a 17-6 victory thanks to five Panther turnovers, which were just enough to overcome the Whitmer defense holding St. Ignatius to a mere 135 yards of total offense. Wormley had three tackles and a sack in the losing effort, and here's Mason's weekly report on the game:
Whitmer's defense played their best game of the season, giving up just 135 yards (!) in a Division 1 state semifinal against a program that has won 10 state championships since 1988. That's pretty damn good. The offense - outside of a 90-yard touchdown run - really struggled to get going and turned the ball over five times, which is, of course, a recipe for disaster.
Chris had, officially, three assisted tackles and a sack in his final HS football game. He was really impressive all year despite being the focal point of everyone else's offense. He's a great, intelligent kid who's going to be a real credit to the Michigan family. He does have some things to work on - he does tend to play a little high, I think, and he needs to work on "finishing" tackles - but I see absolutely no reason why he can't be a star at Michigan. He's been a real pleasure to watch these last couple of years, and I'm thrilled that he'll be making the transition from maize and blue to Maize and Blue next fall.
A huge thanks to Mason for contributing these all season—if you're looking to hear more of his work, he'll be calling Whitmer basketball games (Wormley plays center, and the team is a state title contender) for WRSCSports.com.
After the jump, see the season records of the players whose teams have been eliminated, as well as a link to their season stats, compiled by Touch the Banner.