It was a marathon opening weekend of high school football; Shane Morris and Warren De La Salle overcame early struggles to soundly defeat Pioneer on Friday night, then Saturday featured four marquee matchups in the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State headlined by a heavyweight tilt between Division I state champs Cass Tech and Division II state champs Brother Rice.
A note before I move along to the scouting portion: Yes, there was a shooting scare on Saturday night. It's remarkably unfortunate that a fight between a couple of idiots—
in which someone threatened to pull a gun and caused a panic, though the police say no gun was present—has marred what was otherwise a stellar event. Kurt Kosmowski, Marty Dobek, and the whole Detroit Sports Commission crew put a ton of effort into pulling together 12 high school teams over two days, giving these young athletes a chance to play at a college stadium in front of nearly 10,000 people. The DSC has announced that they'll once again hold the Prep Kickoff Classic at Wayne State next year; while I hope they beef up security a bit, I'm also confident that they'll once again put together a first-rate football showcase.
[UPDATE: I got clarification of what actually went on from Tim. There was an argument that caused the first rush of people running to avoid the confrontation, and officials stopped the game since people ran onto the field. The fight continued in another area of the concourse soon after, and this unfortunately coincided with fireworks at nearby Comerica Park, which people mistook for gunshots. There was no gun present. Apologies if there was any misunderstanding about the situation.]
With that out of the way, let's get to the recap of all the action after THE JUMP.
Today's recruiting roundup is football. Football!
After going to five games in two days over the weekend, I can officially declare it to be football season, not that I'm in a position to declare such things. But seriously: football is here, and a bunch of future Wolverines are playing it. This is not quite as exciting as current Wolverines taking the field on Saturday, but it's exciting nonetheless.
I'll have much, more more coming tomorrow, but Shane Morris opened his senior season in the shadow of the Big House at Ann Arbor Pioneer. After struggling early, throwing a pick on his first pass and starting just 2-for-9, he bounced back to finish 14-for-26 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that could've been better if not for several drops. He'll have to work on starting as strong as he finishes; he still looks like a five-star prospect. My brother and roommate each saw Morris for the first time on Friday, and all it took was one effortless launch of the football in warmups to convince them both that the hype is warranted. Morris makes throwing a football 60 yards look as easy and routine as brushing your teeth.
Cass Tech's tilt with Brother Rice—when not interrupted by shooting scares, again more on which tomorrow—was a classic battle that went down to the wire. The Technicians pulled out a 25-18 victory thanks to two Damon Webb touchdown catches—one on an end-around pass by Jourdan Lewis(!)—and a late 74-yard touchdown run by junior Gary Hosey. Lewis had an uneven performance at corner but had a big punt return on the only time Brother Rice didn't actively avoid him. David Dawson gave his usual stellar effort at left tackle, paving the way for big rushing efforts from Hosey and Deon Drake.
In the other game I saw this weekend featuring a Michigan commit, Khalid Hill caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown—coming on an impressive 65-yard catch-and-run—but it wasn't quite enough to lead East Lake Village over Oak Park. Hill looked impressive in the passing game but left a lot to be desired as a run blocker.
[After the jump, more football(!)]
Today's recruiting roundup features highlights and stats from DeVeon Smith and other 2013 commits, Logan Tuley-Tillman's revolutionary scholarship-earning tactic, the latest on Laquon Treadwell and Devon Allen, and more.
Presented Without Comment
Presented With Comment
The Freep's Mick McCabe released his annual list of the top 25 high school players in the state; unsurprisingly, Shane "Pearly Whites" Morris sits atop the list. Notre Dame commit Steve Elmer, Michigan commit Jourdan Lewis, and MSU commits Jon Reschke and Gerald Holmes round out the top five; other Wolverine pledges include Wyatt Shallman (#7), David Dawson (#8), Khalid Hill (#12), and C'sonte York (#14). When remembering that this list is put together not to project college success but high school ability, I don't take much issue with how the rankings shook out.
In other rankings news, Scout's Allen Trieu compiled a top 150 for the entire Midwest region, topped by (sigh) Notre Dame commit Jaylon Smith and USC commit Ty Isaac. Morris slots in at #4—interestingly one spot behind uncommitted four-star WR James Quick—and eight Michigan pledges find a place in the top 30. Seventeen Wolverines in all made the list, each falling within the top 81; if you're looking for a surprise placement, it's probably Mike McCray down at #53, which is approaching three-star territory.
[Hit THE JUMP to see DeVeon Smith and Dymonte Thomas in action, and more]
YMRMFSPA: [404 File Not Found]
The recruiting news isn't coming as fast and furious as earlier this summer, but that doesn't mean there's nothing to discuss. This week's Recruitin' Mailbag covers the biggest needs in the 2014 class, the 2013 recruit with the best player comparison, potential switches in the 2012 class, and why Shane Morris's high school stats don't match the hype. If you'd like to ask a question for the next mailbag, email me or tag your question with #mgomailbag on Twitter.
What are the three biggest priorities for the 2014 class in terms of positions? — @browngalaga
Two position groups immediately stand out to me as top priorities for the 2014 class: quarterback and running back. While Michigan appears to have their quarterback of the future in Shane Morris, they didn't take a QB in 2012; if Devin Gardner doesn't get his medical redshirt, Morris and Russell Bellomy will be the only scholarship QBs on the roster in 2014. With Morris in the fold, it's not imperative that Michigan takes a top-100 type, but they'll need a solid prospect who's a good bet to start as an upperclassman.
At running back, Michigan isn't lacking in pure numbers—barring attrition, six scholarship RBs will be around in 2014, plus fullback Sione Houma—but they're still missing that workhorse, every-down back that Wolverine fans are accustomed to seeing. Instead, there's currently a variety of situational backs—Hayes and Norfleet as slot types, Rawls and Shallman as battering rams—plus DeVeon Smith and Drake Johnson. I don't see Johnson as a threat to crack the two-deep at running back, putting a lot of pressure on Smith to pan out. If Michigan whiffs on Derrick Green, they'll need a big-time prospect to come through in 2014.
As for the third position of need, that's a little tougher to pick, which says a lot about the job Hoke and Co. have done filling the holes in the roster. I'd go with nose tackle; unless Willie Henry and Maurice Hurst Jr. both land there and develop into rotation guys, there will be a huge need for depth behind Ondre Pipkins. At a position where you need a solid rotation of players to keep everyone fresh, getting at least one guy who can clog the middle certainly wouldn't hurt.
[HIT THE JUMP FOR DYMONTE THOMAS YMRMFSPA AND MORE]
Today's recruiting roundup covers the updated Rivals100 and Rivals250, the latest on Derrick Green and Leon McQuay III, Channing Stribling's first game of the season, and a creepily overzealous UGA fan.
Shane Morris Up, Everybody Else Down, Basically
The Rivals100 and Rivals250 were updated this week, and the big news is that Shane Morris has been bumped up to a five-star and the #17 overall player in the country. The rest of the changes weren't as positive for Michigan, however, as every other commit who was previously in the Rivals250 dropped save for David Dawson. Here's the whole list of commits:
- QB Shane Morris up to #17 (previously #22)
- DT Henry Poggi down to #58 (#52)
- LB Mike McCray down to #81 (#55)
- OL Patrick Kugler down to #88 (#73)
- OL Kyle Bosch down to #92 (#77)
- S Dymonte Thomas down to #102 (#95)
- OL Chris Fox down to #112 (#57)
- TE Jake Butt down to #132 (#118)
- CB Jourdan Lewis down to #150 (#147)
- OL David Dawson up to #165 (#171)
- RB Wyatt Shallman down to #206 (#182)
- CB Ross Douglas down to #232 (#222)
- DE Taco Charlton debuts at #233
- OL Logan Tuley-Tillman down to #241 (#235)
- LB Ben Gedeon drops out of Rivals250 (#237)
Most of the drops were minor, a result of prospects making their way onto the list or moving up significantly as opposed to an actual drop in performance; this is the case for anyone who stayed within 15 or so spots of their last ranking. Mike McCray and Chris Fox had mixed reviews at The Opening and other camp appearances, which likely contributed to their respective falls.
As for prospects of interest, VA RB Derrick Green fell one spot to #13 overall, FL DB Leon McQuay III jumped to five stars and one place behind Morris overall, and WR Laquon Treadwell is the first four-star and top-ranked receiver at #23.
"Good Feeling" = Bad Sign?
VA RB Derrick Green visited Georgia and Auburn over the weekend; while Georgia isn't thought to be a contender, Auburn represents Michigan's stiffest competition, and rumors swirled after the visit that Green was strongly considering a commitment. Much like the last time that happened nothing came to fruition, though that doesn't mean the Tigers didn't make a big impression:
— Mike Farrell (@rivalsmike) August 21, 2012
Green told Farrell($) after the visit, "I got the same feeling I got the first time I was there, a really good feeling," and mentioned that Auburn and Tennessee will get official visits; he's already set up an official to Michigan for the Michigan State game. Green doesn't claim a leader at the moment and it appears that his decision will largely ride on how his official visits go; he doesn't give off the impression that he's made a decision. That said, there's a good chance Auburn holds an edge at the moment.
In more encouraging news, newly-minted five-star FL DB Leon McQuay III told Tremendous that he plans to make it to a Michigan game this fall, likely against Michigan State. While the Wolverines are still outside of his top three, they were at or near the top of his list before taking Ross Douglas; if the coaches convince McQuay that he's still a top priority I believe they still have a good shot of landing him.
As for McQuay's teammate, WR Alvin Bailey, he's officially eliminated Michigan after excluding them from his top five. This shouldn't affect McQuay, as Bailey appears ticketed for Florida or UCF; neither of those teams are serious contenders for McQuay.
While Laquon Treadwell is still the leader in the clubhouse for Michigan's final receiver spot, it's too early to rule out AZ WR Devon Allen, who told Scout's Dave Berk that the Wolverines are in the running for an official visit ($):
“It’s not really final yet, other than I have an official set up with Arkansas. But I’m writing down a few games like Texas, UCLA, Notre Dame and Michigan, some of the games they’re playing when I hope to have a free weekend. I’m not 100 percent sure on my high school football schedule so I’m working on that.”
There's some stiff competition there, though given the list it looks likely that Allen leaves the Southwest. As always, Michigan has a shot if they can get him on campus.
Happy trails go out to VA DE Wyatt Teller, who chose Virginia Tech over Virginia last week. He mentioned Michigan among his leaders a few times but always appeared destined to stay in-state.
Channing Stribling Playing Well(-ing)
Stribling's interception, via his Instagram
When NC CB Channing Stribling committed to Michigan he was an unknown, unranked prospect who'd seemingly earned an offer on the basis of one strong camp performance. Many were concerned he didn't merit an offer over higher-ranked prospects like Delano Hill; if Stribling's first game of the season is any indication, those concerns will be dispelled quickly. ESPN's Kipp Adams led off his weekend impressions($) with the header "Wolverines pull off grand larceny":
He made several impressive plays Friday, opening the game by showing great leaping ability on an interception, making a shoestring catch on the sideline and sticking the wide receiver at the line of scrimmage. With offers going out to underclassmen across the nation without colleges ever seeing them in person, the story of Stribling earning his offer by impressing the Wolverines staff at camp is refreshing.
In this humble writer’s opinion, Brady Hoke and his staff should be wearing ski masks when discussing Stribling on signing day, as they have stolen a gem from the Tar Heel State.
Scout's Chad Simmons named Stribling his top performer of the weekend($), an impressive feat considering he played alongside four-star WR Uriah LeMay and matched up against Mallard Creek's four-star WR Marquez North:
On the first play of the game Stribling went up on a pass that was underthrown and picked it off. That set the tone for this big game and Stribling continued to play at a high level for four quarters.
His play will reflect on Scout when we update his ranking later this week. Look for this Michigan commitment to make a move in the position rankings and to add a star.
He has great length, he plays the ball well, and he has the body to really add significant weight. His best football is ahead of him.
Stribling is only a two-star on Scout at the moment so that bump doesn't get him into four-star territory, though with a few more games like that against top competition he could make a push for that distinction. Tremendous caught up with Stribling to talk about his performance and he largely credited what he learned from Michigan's camp:
Improvements: "One thing I learned at the Michigan camp that was huge for me last night was switching up my stance. I was able to watch the quarterback while covering the receiver last night because I kept myself square with the quarterback off the line of scrimmage. While I'm turning and running with my receiver and I can see where the quarterback is looking. It's something I had never really done before to be honest. It changes my entire outlook because it allows me to play the run a lot quicker as well and I made a couple big hits early".
You can see video of Stribling making a couple of catches, laying a big hit at the line, and, er, not being involved in a play at his Hudl page.
None of Michigan's other commits played official games last weekend, though OH CB Gareon Conley had a touchdown catch and a one-handed grab in Massillon's scrimmage against South.
Your Moment Of Zen
If I told you a college football fan called a recruit's cellphone to ask him about decommitment rumors, would you believe me if I also mentioned said fan is from the SEC? Of course you would.
Last Thursday, [Georgia commit Steven] Nelson was contacted by a person who wanted to know if he had indeed switched his commitment from UGA to Texas Tech. They talked for about 5-10 minutes.
“I get phone calls almost every day from college recruiters and reporters,” Nelson said. “He called me up, and I forgot what his name was. The way he was talking, I thought he was a reporter, so I stayed on the phone. He was just trying to convince me to stay with Georgia, told me how good of a player I was, and wished me a good year.”
A fan then took credit at Georgia's Rivals board, attempted to blackmail said Georgia site, then defended his actions by posting, "Why are you so conditioned to think you have to have a press pass to talk to an American citizen?" There are no words, only exasperated Bunk gifs.
Slick Segue, Ahoy
Speaking of illegal recruiting contact, the invaluable John Infante of the Bylaw Blog details a potentially game-changing NCAA rule proposal that would allow non-coaches to scout and contact recruits, something that happens all the time anyway but behind the scenes. This would ultimately result in programs largely recruiting through designated directors of player personnel (think the college equivalent of an NFL GM) and recruiting coordinators while moving the burden of recruiting away from coaches, according to Infante:
The potential model of recruiting that develops is very clear. A general manager/director of player personnel will have a staff of recruiting coordinators who do much of the early grunt work in recruiting. They’ll watch film, gauge interest, rank prospects, and evaluate needs. The coaching staff will go see top targets in person, invite prospects on visits, and go see recruits at home or at school. The player personnel staff and the coaching staff will then meet to make decisions and send offers.
That would free coaches from much of the busy work of recruiting and let them focus on coaching their current teams. Player personnel will become the major track for aspiring coaches as well as a career path in its own right. Recruits may see more sophisticated and intense recruiting from a dedicated staff.
Infante mentions the possibility of staff limits to keep this from becoming a recruiting staff arms race; I think limits would have to be in place to prevent recruits from being completely inundated by calls/texts/etc. from an army of recruiting specialists. I actually like the proposal, however; it would likely give the up-and-coming Trooper Taylors a more fitting job description, make things easier on coaches and compliance offices, and lend more transparency to the recruiting process.
Today's recruiting roundup features the initial 2014 Top247, the inspiring story of Dareian Watkins, Shane Morris's strange celebratory dance, and more.
I See Your Raekwon And Raise You A Draequan
Swagger advantage: Suleiman, barely
Given that it's the August before their junior year, it's way too early for a 2014 Top247, but I'll be damned if there isn't one. Michigan commit Michael Ferns* lands at #98, a four-spot drop from his placement in 247's early top 100. Other prospects with Wolverine offers:
- VA DE Da'Shawn Hand — #1 overall
- NJ CB Jabrill Peppers — #3
- LA OT Cameron Robinson — #4
- LA RB Leonard Fournette — #5
- TX S Edward Paris — #11
- KS OT Braden Smith — #12
- AL ATH Bo Scarbrough — #13
- MD OT Damian Prince — #14
- NC OT Bentley Spain — #18
- CA TE Tyler Luatua — #19
- OH LB Dante Booker — #20
- DC CB Jalen Tabor — #21
- MI DE Malik McDowell — #24
- TX CB Nick Watkins — #30
- FL OT Kc McDermott — #38
- FL DT Khairi Clark — #43
- FL OT Mason Cole — #44
- TX OT Demetrius Knox — #47
- TN ATH Jalen Hurd — #48
- TN WR Josh Malone — #60
- AT OT Casey Tucker (USC commit) — #63
- MO OT Andy Bauer (Mizzou commit) — #68
- IL OG Jamarco Jones — #82
- AZ TE Mark Andrews — #85
- MI WR Drake Harris (MSU commit) — #89
- MO OT Roderick Johnson — #91
- OH LB Michael Ferns — #98
- SC DT Dexter Wideman — #103
- TX S T'Kevian Rockwell — #115
- NJ ATH Kiy Hester — #128
- NC TE Jeb Blazevich — #164
- IL CB Parrker Westphal — #165
- TN OT Alex Bars — #168
- DC CB D'Andre Payne — #171
- SC TE Kevin Crosby — #181
- MI CB Damon Webb — #192
- IL TE Nic Weishar — #205
- PA S Montae Nicholson — #212
- MI OT Tommy Doles — #219
- TX S Brandon Simmons — #226
- OH DE Joe Henderson — #241
- GA OT Orlando Brown Jr. — #242
By my count, Michigan has offered 27 of the top 100 prospects and 42 of the top 247. That's... a lot. In case it hasn't been made abundantly clear, the coaching staff is focusing on getting offers out to the top national prospects before focusing on evaluating and offering regional talent.
Of course, there are more important matters at hand. Namely, who are the Name of the Year (NOTY for short) candidates in the 2014 class? The class of 2013 had a very strong group, but I think it's surpassed by their younger counterparts. There is GA LB Raekwon McMillian for the Wu-Tang fans, though he may be one-upped by AL S Draequan Murphy. CA CB Adoree' Jackson tacks on not only the extra 'e', but a completely unnecessary apostrophe. LA WR Speedy Noil is an early leader for best nickname. LA WR Malachi Dupree easily beats out NC ATH Elijah Hood for best biblical moniker. The aforementioned T'Kevian Rockwell can't quite match FL LB D'ronzjiah Mathews(!) in the "let's come up with a name before my epidural wears off" category. I'm not sure what an Aggadoria Bowers is, but such a thing exists.
For my money, however, none of those can match the power of CA ATH Sulaiman Hameed, potential lost heir to the Ottoman Empire. If his nickname isn't "The Magnificent," I'll lose all faith in humanity.
*Great tidbit on Ferns: As pointed out in the comments of yesterday's FBO primer, he is not only Michigan's first recruit from Southeastern Ohio, but the only four-star prospect from the region in the Rivals era. This makes Michigan the only school to pull in a four-star recruit from each region in Ohio.
Now Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back, Lean Back
Part 2 of Shane Morris's Elite11 camp experience has been posted by MGoVideo. I would like to draw your attention to the 1:06 mark:
Fat Joe appreciates your support for the Terror Squad, but thinks you should dial it back a little.
Alvin Bailey: Still Probably Not Happening
Tuesday's update included a story on FL WR Alvin Bailey, who's looking to make his decision soon and has UCF as his stated leader. Things didn't look good for Michigan then, and they certainly don't now that he's picked up a Florida offer ($):
"Alvin was offered by Florida today and no he's not committing tonight and he's not going to commit tomorrow either," [Bailey's HS coach Sean] Callahan said. "He said he'd like to make his decision before September 1 and I expect he'll be a man of his word and get it done before then."
Callahan had said that Bailey was excited about the Florida offer but has a lot of thinking to do.
Any time such a vehement denial of an imminent commitment is required, it's usually a sign that one could very well happen. Even if Bailey still waits until September, it seems very unlikely that he'll leave the state, let alone go all the way up north.
OH ATH Dareian Watkins is a 2014 Michigan target and a freshly-minted member of the Top247. He also has a remarkable backstory, featured in this must-read article from Allen Trieu:
The story begins painfully, but through years of struggle, persistence and faith, and with the help of good people, it is headed full speed towards a happy ending. Dareian was adopted at 11 years old by Heath and Cheryl Watkins. He calls it the second biggest day of his life. The biggest is the day he was taken from his biological mother.
“I was at school and I got called down to the office,” Dareian said. “Thinking I was in trouble, I took my time. I saw a lady walk out of the office towards me and I didn't know what was going on. They had told me to go straight home after school and say bye to my mom. I didn't think anything of it. I got there and my mom was crying and I hugged her, then they pulled me away and said we had to go.”
The whole thing, obviously, is well worth your time. Watkins is one of those recruits you'll root for regardless of where he ends up.
Michigan sent out an offer this week to three-star PA LB Brenon Thrift, according to 247's Clint Brewster ($). Thrift also has scholarship offers from West Virginia and Pittsburgh and says he'll look to visit sometime in the future.
IL DL Brian Allen, who has yet to earn an offer from the Wolverines, has Michigan in his top five with Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Ohio State, according to 247's Evan Flood.
Matt Pargoff continues his look at the 2014 class with a rundown of ten cornerback prospects to watch.