"Though I received no official response to these sophisticated and elegant tweets to the Illini Athletic Department, I would like to think that Beckman spent the evening prank calling everyone in Illinois named George McLellan and then ordering an absurd amount of hats off an internet haberdashery to hoard in his home's hat annex."
In the aftermath of yesterday's absurd, mind-blowing, incredible victory, it appeared inevitable that one of the several uncommitted recruits in attendance would get caught up in the excitement and commit to Michigan. That recruit turned out to be 2013 athlete Dymonte Thomas, who hails from Alliance (OH) Marlington and happens to be cousins with one Bri'onte Dunn. Thomas joins Shane Morris in Michigan's class of 2013.
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Player rankings for the 2013 class have yet to be released, but Thomas looks like he'll be at least a four-star when they are, and he's on early watch lists by both ESPN and 247Sports.
Thomas excels on both sides of the ball for Marlington, but it appears he'll be a safety at the next level—Scout, Rivals, and ESPN all list him there, while 24/7 has him as a RB/S prospect. There's a fair amount of disparity in terms of his measurables, where he's listed as big as 6'1", 180 pounds (Scout), and as small as 5'11", 167 (Rivals), with the two other services falling in between, though somewhat closer to the former numbers. At that size, he seems to project better as a safety to me.
Sam Webb talked to his high school coach for a Detroit News article in June, and he had this to say about his junior athlete:
"The thing about Dymonte is that he has two more seasons of high school left," Marlington head coach Ed Miley told Scout.com. "If he keeps on going the way he has so far, he could end up as both the leading rusher and tackler in Stark County history. Dymonte does great in the classroom and is very popular with his teammates. I see him as a safety at the next level, but he could do about anything really. (During the spring) he ran a 4.57 electronic 40-yard dash at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, so that tells you about his speed. He is a very physical player and a leader on this team."
Thomas not only plays running back and safety at Marlington, but linebacker, defensive end, and even nose tackle(!). This article from Friday Night Ohio highlights his love of defense:
“(Dymonte) is pretty special,” Miley said. “What’s different about him for a skilled kid is how physical he is. People see him and they expect a speed guy. They expect a finesse guy. That’s not him.”
Thomas gets noticed on offense because once he gets into the open field, he’s capable of taking it to the end zone every time. It’s opposing running backs and quarterbacks who should be taking notice.
There may not be a harder hitter in Stark County. If he had to pick one side of the ball to play, and only one, Thomas wouldn’t be a star scoring touchdowns.
“I love defense,” he said. “I just like going out there and hitting people. You see people on ESPN getting hit real hard. Those plays make the highlights. I’d like to be on ESPN one day hitting somebody.”
Meanwhile, Ohio State partisan Duane Long just couldn't figure out in August why Ohio State hadn't extended an offer (and never did, as it turns out):
There is a great deal of talk about the 2013 class. I thought I would get out a few more names and I want to do it by position. I just happened to notice a couple of running backs so I decided to look at them first. Who is number one is pretty obvious. Dymonte Thomas is the number one back in the class. He is also the number one safety in the class. I have said this before and I will say it again, the most puzzling lack of an offer out there is Dymonte Thomas. Look at this film and tell me what I am missing that makes Thomas a player who does not have an early offer.
His offer list is better than most seniors to be and he has not even stepped on the field as a junior. His grades are outstanding. He is know to be a high character kid. His measurables are legit. The argument that the Buckeyes are so deep at running back carries no weight. Thomas may be a better safety than he is a running back. I think he is, and he could not care less which position he plays. Baffling non-offer.
When discussing potential 2013 five-star recruits, Scout's Allen Trieu described Thomas as "a big hitter who can cover as well."
So, the consensus on Thomas is that he's a fantastic athlete with great speed who can also bring the wood. Who wants that as a safety? Everyone. He's a big-time prospect who should garner consideration for five-star status, and when you look at the stats and the highlights below, it'll be pretty clear why.
Michigan was joined by Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Pitt, Tennessee, UCLA, and West Virginia in offering Thomas early. He also had interest, but no offer, from Ohio State (much to the chagrin of Duane Long), Alabama, Florida, Cincinnati, and Northwestern. That's an extremely impressive list this early on in the process. The lack of a Buckeye offer is puzzling, and would be mildly disconcerting if Ohio State recruiting gurus weren't baffled by the lack of an offer.
Prepare to be thorougly impressed. As a freshman, Thomas rushed for 801 yards and eight touchdowns on 91 carries (8.8 yards per carry) while amassing 56 tackles, three sacks, and two fumble recoveries. That earned him first-team All-Stark County and all-district honorable mention honors. In 2010, as a sophomore, he broke out with 186 rushes for 1,641 yards and 17 touchdowns as well as 132 tackles, six sacks, two interceptions, and a fumble recovery. He was again named first-team all-county, and added second-team All-Ohio Associated Press Division III, All-Northeast Inland first-team, and All-NBC first-team honors. Not bad. Not bad at all.
FAKE 40 TIME
Thomas has been electronically timed running a 4.57 at the Nike Combine in Pittsburgh, and he looks every bit that fast on film (plus, you know, that's an electronic time, which is obviously far more accurate than your trigger-happy scout with a stopwatch). One FAKE out of five. ESPN also lists Thomas with a 4.47 shuttle time and a 29.5-inch vertical leap.
ScoutingOhio has extensive highlights from Thomas's sophomore season, featuring him playing both offense and defense:
There's also a shorter set of highlights from both his sophomore and freshman seasons. A mute is recommended for each of those videos. Also: Watch him run a very long way in a very short period of time as some unnamed female fan screams, "That's my man, baby."
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
I'm going to go ahead and discuss Thomas's prospects as a safety, because it appears at this point that he's a better player at that position and he really likes hitting people. Marvin Robinson, Thomas Gordon, and Carvin Johnson will all be seniors when Thomas begins his freshman season, and Josh Furman (redshirt junior), Tamani Carter (junior/redshirt sophomore), and Jarrod Wilson and Allen Gant (2012 commits) will be on the roster as well, so there isn't a need for Thomas to immediately step in and contribute.
The next year, however, he should be right in the thick of things when it comes to a starting job—Furman has yet to show anything in his career, while Carter and Gant were both three-star-level recruits. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see Wilson and Thomas as Michigan's two starting safeties come 2014. Thomas has all the physical tools to be an all-conference safety and more, and I expect the recruiting rankings, when released, will back that up.
If Thomas were to play running back, his path to early playing time could be even more clear. Unless Michigan picks up a running back commit in 2012 (perhaps Dymonte's cousin?), only Fitzgerald Toussaint, Stephen Hopkins, Thomas Rawls, and Justice Hayes will be on the roster as scholarship tailbacks. Toussaint has shown the most promise, but is also made of glass. Hopkins is fumble-prone and has been in and out of two different coaching staffs's doghouses. Rawls is an interesting prospect, but was a middling three-star recruit, while Hayes seems like a better fit at slot receiver or as a third-down specialist than an every-down back. If he plays running back, Thomas could see the field as early as his true freshman season, and he's got the same high-ceiling potential there as he does at safety.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
It's far too early to discuss the ramifications for the class of 2013, but the elephant in the room is the potential impact on recruits in Thomas's own family. From Webb's DetNews article:
One way that comfort could be enhanced is if Thomas' cousin, Canton Glen Oak five-star senior tailback Brionte Dunn, winds up at the school he picks.
"We talk about it a lot — going to the same school," said Thomas. "We thought it would be pretty cool to go to the same school and play with each other like we used to when we were young."
Though Dunn has remained steadfast in his Ohio State commitment, he's still taking visits, taking one to Penn State for their loss to Alabama yesterday. In Webb's commitment post from last night ($), Thomas says he believes that he'll convince his cousin to join him in Ann Arbor. We'll have to wait and see how that shakes out, as Dunn has played things close to the vest so far, but Thomas committing can only help Michigan's cause in trying to pull in the four-star running back.
It's time for another Thursday Recruitin' post, and this week includes more rankings, a lot of visit news, and a very interesting tidbit off the 24/7 message boards. Please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Justin Hopkins Goes to the TomVH School of Cryptic Messages
247Sports recruiting analyst Justin Hopkins posted this on Tuesday in the Michigan-Notre Dame thread on The Blue Board, 24/7's U-M message board:
'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play out their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email. This week, Ondre Pipkins racks up some ridiculous numbers, Mario Ojemudia impresses once again, and Jeremy Clark continues to scare me with his good play (not because I don't want him to be good, but because I want him to stick with his grayshirt commitment).
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-2 on the season after a 41-17 loss to Brentwood Academy. No stats for Bars, being an offensive lineman and all.
This week: The Big Red look to bounce back at home against Baylor on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden had a fumble recovery in Colarain's 37-0 thrashing of Ryle. The Cardinals are now 2-0 on the season after beating nationally-ranked Cocoa (FL) last week on ESPN.
This week: Colerain looks to extend their 61-game home winning streak on Friday at 7:30 vs. St. Xavier.
MI OL Ben Braden
Rockford bounced back from their week one loss with a 42-7 blowout win against Holt. Braden
helped pave the way sat out due to a concussion as Rockford rushed for 273 yards on 33 carries.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Though defensive stats are unavailable at this time, Brown did record a 21-yard touchdown reception in Brush's 42-35 loss to Madison. The Arcs fell to 0-2 on the season with the defeat.
This week: Rockford hosts Grand Haven on Friday at 7.
MI TE Devin Funchess
According to Touch the Banner, Funchess hauled in two receptions for 29 yards in Farmington Hills Harrison's 28-14 victory over Southfield. The defending Division 2 state champs are now 2-0 on the year after last week's evisceration of Cass Tech.
This week: The Hawks will try to continue their in-state dominance in their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant scored on a three-yard touchdown run to help Southview defeat Toledo Rogers 18-0, with the defense forcing two safeties. He left the game early with an apparent ankle injury, so I might have to change plans for this week's Creeper Van Original. Stay tuned...
This week: Southview (2-0) plays at Toledo Start on Friday at 7. Depending on Gant's status, I may or may not be there.
MI DT Matt Godin
Godin battled illness before Detroit Catholic Central's 14-7 victory over Delphos (OH) St. John's, but you wouldn't know that based on his play. A report from MGoUser Denarded:
Today went down to Delphos, OH to witness future Michigan Wolverine Matt Godin. Had a great day 2 sacks, around 3-4 TFLs, while also knocking out the DSJ quarterback. Maybe the best part after the game Godin rushes to the fence to two guys with Buckeye apparel on, and says "I hope you'll enjoy me doing that to Braxton Miller for 4 years" and walked away. Loved seeing the Buckeye fans faces after that. Wyatt Shallman also looked impressive at RB, scored a touchdown probably ran for 70-80 yards.
TTB adds that Godin recorded ten tackles on top of the two sacks, handful of TFLs, and one awesome bit of trash talkin'.
This week: The Shamrocks play Inkster at home on Friday at 7.
UT FB Sione Houma
Houma had another outstanding performance, rushing for 147 yards and two touchdowns on 13 carries in Highland's 42-6 victory over Provo. MGoUser Spishak was on hand for the first half, and had this to report (thanks to MichFan1997 for posting it as a new thread):
The home announcer pronounces his name, Say-own-ee Hoo-ma. They have quite a few polynesian players on the team, so I would imagine his pronunciation is correct. Who knows?
Sione plays OLB and FB/RB. He almost always is the soul back and lines up in a 3-point stance about 2 yards behind the QB. Their offense is NOT fancy. They did not once line up with more than two wideouts; they ran 80% of the time; mostly QB keepers. Houma runs between the tackles and right at the defense. Very fullback-ish. Didn't get to see his speed on display, if he has any. He is definitely a thumper; solidly built. He is 6', 6'1" in cleats. The program had him listed as 6'1", 210(!). Probably 195, IMO. He played only 1/3 of the defensive plays and they nearly always lined him up right on the DE's ass. (As a strange sidenote, their program had 22 players listed as RB's. Highland played onlyHouma in the backfield, though he didn't get many touches.)
His stats (for one half): 2.5 tackles (one tfl); 40 yds rushing, TD, on only 5 carries. His longest carry was 15 yards. They simply didn't need him much tonight as they had their opponent (Provo) very outmatched.
Best "Sione Houma: Soul Back" photoshop wins the undying admiration of your internet peers, which has to count for something.
This week: The Rams look to move to 4-0 on the season when they host Lone Peak on Friday at 7.
MI LB Royce Jenkins-Stone
Cass Tech took out their frustrations from last week's FHH loss on Detroit Central, coming away with a 62-6 victory as RJS contributed three touchdowns, including a blocked punt return. More on this game later in the post.
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Kalis sat out St. Edward's 47-6 victory over Penn Hills, missing his second straight game to start the year due to a (not serious) knee injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage.
This week: The Eagles host Cardinal Mooney on Saturday at 7:30.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson's La Costa Canyon squad won their season debut 48-0 over Huntington Beach Marina in a battle of schools whose names make me want to move to California. The Mavericks had two different running backs break 80 yards rushing as they dominated up front, I'm sure in large part due to Magnuson's rather large presence.
This week: LCC plays Poway at home on Friday at 7.
MI DE Mario Ojemudia
Did you know Farmington Hills Harrison is ranked as the number six team in the country by SI.com? Well, they are, and in this week's rundown Ojemudia came in for some high praise from Ben Glicksman:
Despite a loaded receiving corps (see: Aaron Burbridge, Devin Funchess, Gairus Coleman) defensive end Mario Ojemudia might be the Hawks' best player. The Michigan commit collected another two sacks against the Bluejays, building off a terrific 127-tackle, 12-sack junior year campaign.
You can see one of those two sacks in the following video from Fox 2:
Fox's local sports guy might want to work on that pronunciation.
This week: The Hawks play their home opener against Stoney Creek on Friday at 7.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
Pipkins led off The Wolverine's commitment updates ($) due to recording five tackles, three pass deflections, and three forced fumbles in Park Hill's 23-0 shutout of Ruskin. Park Hill is now 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Trojans travel (not far, I imagine) to Park Hill South on Friday at 7.
MI CB Terry Richardson
Richardson added to Cass Tech's onslaught with a touchdown reception, which you can see in these local highlights (he's #9 in white).
This week: The Technicians play at 4 on Friday afternoon at Detroit Southeastern.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped to 0-2 on the season with a 32-21 loss to Princeton as Ringer sat out his second straight game with a broken wrist. Based on his Twitter feed, it sounds like Ringer is hopeful for a return this week against Archbishop Moeller.
This week: Northmont travels to Archbishop Moeller for a Saturday night game at 7.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's fell to Toledo St. John's Jesuit, 34-14, in their home opener. No stats are available for Ross at this time.
This week: St. Mary's hosts Highland Park on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills improved to 1-1 with a 21-17 road win at Harrison.
This week: The Highlanders open their home slate on Friday at 7:30 against Loveland.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
According to his Twitter account (highlight the text to see the white type), Standifer recorded his first interception of the season–and 10th of his career–in Crete-Monee's 35-0 victory over Lincoln-Way West. The Warriors improved to 2-0 as 2013 WR Laquon Treadwell had a huge game, pulling in five catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns, including an 80-yarder.
This week: Crete-Monee travels to Moline on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
According to TTB, Strobel had one solo tackle and five assists in Mentor's 38-27 victory over defending Division V state champ Youngstown Ursuline.
This week: The Cardinals host St. Ignatius on Friday at 7:30.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Williams didn't record a catch as Sycamore pulled out a 28-21 win over Springboro to improve to 2-0 on the season.
This week: The Aviators look to stay undefeated at Springfield on Friday night at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
No stats to report for Wilson as Akron Buchtel fell to Steubenville, 22-6, dropping to 0-2 in 2011.
This week: The Griffins look to record their first win on the road against Solon on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley:
Wormley had three tackles (I've seen it reported as high as eight, which means someone was doing some very generous stat-taking), two QB hurries, two TFLs, and a sack to help Toledo Whitmer beat A.B. Lucas Secondary School, 41-0, in this week's Creeper Van Original:
This week: The Panthers host another Canadian squad as they look to improve to 3-0 against Brantford (Ontario) Collegiate on Friday at 7.
KY S Jeremy Clark
Clark had another great game as North Hopkins defeated Hardin, 34-21, as the Michigan commit recorded six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown.
This week: The Maroons (2-1) travel to Hopkinsville on Friday at 7.
MI QB Shane Morris
Although, for some reason, HighSchoolSports.net thinks Warren De La Salle's quarterback is named Zach Bihary, it was Shane Morris who completed 10-of-16 passes for 159 yards and three touchdowns with one interception in their 34-6 win over Flint Carmen-Ainsworth.
This week: De La Salle plays at Fordson on Friday at 7.
This is my first time doing a [day of the week] Recruitin' post, so please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Drop Everything and Read This
Most Michigan fans who follow recruiting know that Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic senior Amara Darboh is one of the class of 2012's best wide receiver prospects, but I personally had no idea what it took for him to get to that point. As it turns out, he is by no means your typical four-star football prospect — to reach Des Moines, Darboh had to flee Sierra Leone at age seven and landed in Iowa as an orphan in a refugee program before being adopted by the family that would eventually introduce him to football. His incredible story is detailed in the Des Moines Register, and I can't encourage you enough to read the whole thing:
Though Darboh was too young to remember details, his father, Solimon, and mother, Kadita, were slain during Sierra Leone’s civil war that started in 1991. Darboh and other family members were left without any recourse but to flee.
He first went to Gambia, then to Senegal, before eventually ending up in the United States — and finally in the Des Moines home of Dan and Mary Schaefer.
Darboh has grown into a young man, a senior at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. He has become such a good football player that big-time coaches throughout the country, including those from the two major programs in Iowa, have offered scholarships.
From his initial Who’s Who list, Darboh narrowed down finalists to Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
That's as small a chunk as I could bring myself to block-quote, and like I said, seriously read the whole thing. Wherever Darboh ends up playing out his collegiate career, I'll be rooting for him.
Awesome Fluff-like Substance
Scout released an online portion of Allen Trieu's magazine profile of defensive tackle commit Ondre Pipkins, who was apparently quite the Herculean child:
Al knew his son just had something, but it was even before he coached him at Central Middle School in Saginaw. He says the moment he knew his son may someday be a great football player came even earlier.
“When he benched pressed 80-lbs at six years old on a stationary weight machine.”
Good lord. When I was six, I needed help opening jars of apple sauce. Ondre, not so much.
Tom Strobel sought the advice of an NFL star who ultimately helped him decide upon Michigan, and of course that NFL star was Drew Brees. Wait, what?
"Drew Brees is such a great guy," Stroble [sic] said. "I was fortunate to talk to him on the phone when I needed advice about choosing a school. He called me and he just gave me great advice with his main point being to take football completely out of the equation and at the end of the day just choose a place you want to be if you were not playing football. For me, that place was Michigan."
Please tell me Danny Hope read this and had his mustache spontaneously combust as he screamed "Damn you, snake oil!" to the heavens. Thanks, Drew!
Also filed under 'things that make little sense': Ben Braden, behemoth offensive lineman, finally turned his full focus to football in his sophomore year of high school after giving up his first sporting love... hockey. Obvious quote is obvious [emphasis mine]:
"I played hockey from fifth grade until my sophomore year," Braden said. "I started out as a defenseman and moved to left wing and right wing. I played football once in fourth grade, and again in eighth grade, but I loved hockey.
"There aren’t too many 6-7, 320-pound hockey players."
If former Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig was nicknamed "Godzilla" while standing at 6'3", 221 lbs., I can't even imagine what Braden's hockey nickname would've been (maybe just "Sir," as in, "please don't leave me broken in a thousand places, Mr. Braden, Sir."). In article bits that are actually useful, Braden does say that playing hockey did help him with his flexibility, footwork, and ankle strength, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Tight end A.J. Williams may hail from Cincinnati, but a local newspaper feature reveals that he has "a little bit of country" in him:
"I love to fish, said Williams, who orally committed to Michigan April 22. "I try to do it all. I try to be a well-rounded person."
Williams said his grandfather is from Georgia and that helped influence his love of the outdoors. Williams said he also likes to ride a four-wheeler while he is with his family.
1) Please don't crash that four-wheeler, A.J., and 2) He says he plans on trying to catch catfish with his bare hands (a technique called "noodling"), which is pretty badass.
MaxPreps profiles Terry Richardson as part of their "Top 50 recruits in 50 days" feature (T-Rich is #33).
When driving to a photoshoot featuring Northeast Ohio's top offensive linemen, always call shotgun. Also, Tom Strobel's feet aren't the same size, which is kinda strange and gives me a probably-irrational fear of future injury, though at least he isn't the player in the article whose feet are compared to Yao Ming's.
The Seattle Times has a piece profiling blue-chip offensive linemen Zach Banner and Josh Garnett, who are part of a pretty outstanding class of O-lineman in the state of Washington. They say they'd love to form a "Dream Team" of the top five guys in the state, but that appears pretty unlikely, especially since even two-man package deals always seem to fall through.
Actual, You Know, Recruiting News
Rivals released its updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 rankings this week, and you can track the movement of Michigan's commits in two posts at Touch the Banner. While several Michigan commits fell in the new rankings, Pipkins made a huge leap from #246 all the way up to #53:
"Pipkins was impressive when we saw him at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January, but he had trimmed some of the bad weight by the time he showed up at the Ohio State NIKE Camp and looked to be in much better shape," said Helmholdt of the 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill who is committed to Michigan. "He is explosive off the snap and once he gets that big frame moving up field offensive linemen have trouble slowing him down. Pipkins uses his hands well and is a potent combination of quickness, power and technique."
"Pipkins has added some muscle since the U.S. Army Combine in January," Perroni agreed. "He has an extremely strong lower body and uses it to overpower most opposing offensive linemen. He proved that he can play the pass just as well as he stuffs the run on film."
Another defensive tackle of great interest made a similar jump, as Danny O'Brien moved up 68 spots to #154:
"O'Brien has always had an explosive first step, but what was holding him back from a higher ranking early in the process was that he did not play with the power of other elite defensive tackles," Helmholdt said.
"Over the course of the spring, however, O'Brien added 25 pounds to his frame and with the weight gain came the needed strength. He was impressive at the Ohio State NIKE Camp in May, then went out and had increasingly better performances at college camps and The Opening over the summer."
Speaking of O'Brien, Sam Webb's latest DetNews column focuses on his recruitment. O'Brien plans on taking an official visit for the Notre Dame game, and had this illuminating quote about being recruited by Michigan [emphasis mine]:
"Hoke said to me, 'Take your time. I know you're one of those guys that is really making a decision in cutting them down.' He said, 'Take your time and we will take you whenever.' That stood out to me. I was never the guy that had a dream school picked out. That was big for me because I've been down to Tennessee a few times and that's what I liked about them. They said, 'Take your time. It's your decision. You are your own man and you have to make your own decision.' When Coach Hoke finally said that (also), that was big for me with Michigan."
The Flint Powers standout says he's considering announcing his college decision on October 7, during his high school's homecoming week. He has an official visit planned for Michigan State for October 15, when they coincidentally play Michigan. You do the math there.
Lakewood (CA) wide receiver Darius Powe plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game ($, info in header).
Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford will take official visits together to Michigan, USC, Alabama, and Arizona State, but Tim Sullivan (yes, that one) says not to expect these guys to become Wolverines, in so many words. All signs, especially with Washington, point to Ohio State at this time.
Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep cornerback Yuri Wright, who is now Rivals's #51 overall prospect, is keeping his options open ($, info in header). He recently said Rutgers and Cal stood out among his leaders, which also include Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, but he has backed off that statement and claims he doesn't have any favorites or a timeline. Wright plans on taking all five official visits.
Defensive lineman Aziz Shittu claims to be down to a top three, and it doesn't include Michigan ($, info in header). I'm not sure if the coaches would take him at this point regardless.
Josh Garnett is still figuring out where to take his official visits ($, info in header), and the Wolverines appear to be in the mix.
Offensive lineman Jordan Diamond was one of the standouts at the Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports in a free article.
Happy trails to defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who somewhat surprisingly committed to Notre Dame on Monday. Many experts expected he'd end up at Penn State. He teams up with Sheldon Day to give the Irish a really good pair of DTs in the class — their defensive line is going to be scary good in a few years. Blergh.
The Detroit News names Terry Richardson the top prospect in the state. There's a disappointing lack of actual scouting reports throughout the entire countdown, but here's a quote from Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher:
"He's one of the biggest recruits we've had," Wilcher said. "People asked me why Terry is so good. He's a great cover guy and he's fast."
Other players of interest in the countdown: James Ross (2), Mario Ojemudia (3), Royce Jenkins-Stone (4), Ron Thompson (5), Aaron Burbridge (6), Matt Godin (8), Devin Funchess (9), Danny O'Brien (10), Ben Braden (12), and LEVITICUS PAYNE (19).
Meanwhile, Duane Long has rated 11-50 of his top 50 prospects in Ohio [parts 1, 2, 3, and 4], and here's the Michigan commits included so far: Tom Strobel (12), Pharaoh Brown (17), Jarrod Wilson (18), Joe Bolden (26), A.J. Williams (31), and Caleb Stacey (48). That means Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley are almost assuredly in his top ten, but it'll be interesting to see if Kaleb Ringer and Allen Gant make the cut or are (unjustifiably, in my somewhat-biased opinion) left off the list entirely. For context, the #50 prospect, Mason Monheim, is unrated on Rivals and holds offers from Illinois and a handful of MAC schools.
Dave Berk, who covers Ohio high schools for Scout, tweets that Joe Bolden is the "top pure linebacker" in the state in the 2012 class.
Scout released their initial list of five-star recruits for the class of 2013, and Shane Morris is one of them. Analyst Bill Greene on the future Wolverine quarterback:
"I've never seen him play in pads yet, but I've seen him at Pittsburgh, seen him in Florida, saw him in Cleveland, NIKE, four or five times. The thing that sticks out is arm strength, one of the strongest arms you'll ever see, especially on a kid that young. He's still developing. What I got to see in the 7 on 7s, is competitiveness. His team had been on road a lot. He hadn't been home in awhile, and it was about 100 degrees in Florida, and I think a lot of kids mailed it in that day, and that kid wasn't going to mail it in. He wanted to win, and they did. He couldn't just gun it into windows down there either, he had to show touch. There was speed all over the field, and he had to throw over linebackers, underneath safeties, and he did it. You saw how much he loved to compete. It meant a lot to me too, that, at NIKE, Elite 11, they made them do a lot of things they don't do at any other event, with throwing on the run, the targets they have to hit, and his accuracy was impressive. I didn't know he had that type of accuracy. He's as good as it gets as a quarterback prospect. I like what he does with footwork, release, and he'll only get better, bigger, and stronger."
Scott Kennedy piles on with more hype, saying, "I don't know where he'll be ranked overall in the Class of 2013, but he'd easily be a Top 10 guy in the Class of 2012." It's not clear whether he means overall or among quarterbacks, but regardless... word.
Scout also posted a breakdown of recruits in the Midwest who could earn the coveted five-star rating or at least crack the Scout 300, and those players include:
- Fort Wayne (IN) ATH Jaylon Smith (not offered yet)
- Midland OL Steven Elmer (offered)
- Marlington (OH) ATH Dymonte Thomas (offered)
- Trotwood-Madison (OH) S Cameron Burrows (interest, no offer)
- Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon (offered)
- Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OL Lovell Peterson (interest, no offer)
- Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy RB Ty Isaac (interest, no offer)
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel (interest, no offer)
- Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman (offered)
- Brother Rice DE Jon Reschke (interest, no offer)
- Grand Blanc Community DE Luke Maclean (interest, no offer).
Got all that? There will be a quiz next week.
The Saginaw News prominently features Steven Elmer in a preview of Midland's season, and despite drawing interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Mississippi State, it sounds like he'll be holding off on a decision for the near future:
"Steven's been recruited heavily, while Wylie, Vieau, Alek Swiercz have been going to some MAC and GLIAC schools," [Midland head coach Eric] Methner said. "I'm not worried about it being a distraction because their focus is on Midland High School right now. The recruiting stuff was for the spring and winter. They are absolutely focused on their role as Chemic football players. Our coaches are doing a good job of keeping them focused."
Lake City (FL) OL Laremy Tunsil was named one of 24/7's first five-stars in the class of 2013 ($, info in header). He's been hearing from the Michigan coaches, and I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later. The 6'6", 275-pound junior already holds scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, USC, Arkansas, and South Florida.
Finally, Farmington Hills Harrison sophomore running back Lorenzo Collins is profiled by 24/7's Steve Wiltfong. Collins talks about attending Michigan's camp with teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia:
“[Fred Jackson] told me a lot of speed things and things that would help me with my footwork,” Collins said. “He was just telling me and actually motivating me. He told me he’d be looking at me. I’ve never been a big fan of Michigan, but I’m really starting to like it. It’s a fun school. I like the coaches. The coaches are real motivating.”
Unfortunately, no glowing Fred Jackson quotes comparing Collins to a young Bo Jackson with more speed were readily available.
Yes, we're officially calling this feature, formerly part of Tim's 'Friday Night Lights' coverage, the weekly 'Creeper Van Original' installment. Embrace it, I guess. This week, there was really only one choice for the featured game, and that was the mega-showdown between Farmington Hills Harrison and Detroit Cass Tech, which featured four Michigan commits in the class of 2012 and a host of other D-1 prospects. The contest itself was a bit of a letdown, as Harrison ran away with the victory, 43-7, but there were plenty of highlights from the Wolverine commits and a couple other prospects of interest:
General Game Impressions: Obviously, FHH was dominant from start to finish, and a lot of that had to do with the coaching. The Hawks were a well-oiled machine, moving the ball on the ground and through the air at will while holding the Technicians to just 155 yards of total offense. Cass Tech, on the other hand, looked disorganized on the sideline and out-of-sorts on the field; there were even a few plays where their defensive players were still scrambling to get in position while the ball was being snapped. Another potential issue here is that Harrison had senior or junior starters at all but two positions, giving them a decided experience advantage that showed through on the field, especially as the game got out of hand.
The player who showed the most promise, in my opinion (and much to the chagrin of the partisans on this blog, I'm sure), was Harrison wide receiver and Michigan State commit Aaron Burbridge. He caught three passes for 54 yards despite the lopsided score – FHH barely threw the ball at all in the second half – and displayed great route-running, nice hands, and very good athleticism for a player his size (6'2", 180 pounds). Terry Richardson and 2013 athlete Jourdan Lewis couldn't match up with him physically, and Burbridge was able to get to any spot on the field if he so pleased. If Burbridge sticks with the Spartans, and I have no reason to believe he won't, he should be a force to be reckoned with in the Big Ten – the only thing he lacks is elite speed, and his size and route-running more than make up for it.
Mario Ojemudia: The good news for Michigan fans is that if there was one player who impressed as much as Burbridge, it was defensive end Mario Ojemudia. According to Mike Rothstein's count, which looks right to me, Ojemudia tallied four tackles, three for a loss, 1/2 sack, six QB hurries, and a fumble recovery on a blocked punt. This was in essentially three quarters of work, and Ojemudia played practically every snap in that span, lining up at offensive tackle as well as defensive end. Cass Tech simply couldn't stop him on the pass rush, and he brought it on every play, showing an excellent motor and a great nose for the football.
Ojemudia stood up well to double-teams, flashed a nice swim move a couple times, and made sure to finish every play, including chasing down Cass's running back from behind on one occasion. To me, Ojemudia looks like a perfect fit for rush end, and he appears to have the frame to add some pounds without losing athleticism. I was very impressed with him on Saturday.
Devin Funchess: Funchess didn't get too many opportunities on offense, thanks to the blowout score and Burbridge clearly being the focal point of the Harrison offense, but when he got the chance he showed he could turn into a very good tight end at the next level. Funchess displayed great hands and concentration, making his first reception on a tipped pass, and he finished with three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown by my count (I'm pretty sure the Detroit News recap omits his first catch). Unfortunately for those who missed the game, I was tweeting when Funchess recorded his touchdown catch, so you'll have to believe me when I say he ran a great route up the seam, plucked the ball out of the air, and showed nice speed getting into the end zone on the 31-yard scoring play. His other catch also came when he found a hole in the middle of the defense – from limited viewing, I like what I see in his route-running, hands, and athleticism.
Funchess also recorded an interception on a play where Ojemudia pressured the quarterback into a poor throw, which was very nice to see as a Michigan fan. On a side note, for those of you who think that Michigan should try to convert Funchess into a wide receiver, I don't see that happening – he already weighs around 215 pounds, and looks like he could easily add another 20-30 before he gets to Ann Arbor. If Saturday was any indication, he could see the field immediately at tight end for Michigan, especially with the lack of depth at the position for the Wolverines.
Royce Jenkins-Stone: My initial impression from watching the game was that RJS had a relatively quiet night, but looking at the tape he had a better performance than I initially thought. Jenkins-Stone finished with four tackles, according to Rothstein again, and FHH clearly made it a point to run away from him – this seemed to frustrate him, especially since he wasn't getting much help at all from the rest of the defense. There were a few plays where RJS allowed himself to get taken out of the play too easily, getting a little passive, but for the most part he was very aggressive in pursuit and always seemed to end the play around the ballcarrier, even if he was 25 yards downfield.
Jenkins-Stone's best defensive play of the game actually came on offense when, lined up at fullback, he forced a fumble by a Harrison defender after Cass Tech's QB threw an interception on a screen pass, though FHH managed to recover the loose ball. I thought RJS showed good instincts, especially against the run, but unfortunately his team was up against a juggernaut and the front four couldn't get any pressure or stop holes from opening up. It certainly wasn't a great performance from RJS, but I still really like his combination of size, athleticism, and instincts – he should be good once he has a solid (and Mattison-coached) defense around him. He was also the clear leader of the defense, receiving all the play-calls from the sidelines and rallying his teammates, whether that meant being the first to congratulate one for a good play or giving one an earful if they'd blown an assignment – I liked what I saw there.
Terry Richardson: T-Rich had a relatively quiet night defensively, though he did have one great pass breakup on a slightly-underthrown jump ball to Burbridge in the end zone – he timed his jump perfectly and knocked the ball away from a much larger player, which is encouraging since Richardson will be giving up some size to pretty much anyone he's going to line up against in college. Burbridge got the better of him on at least one catch when he lined up in the slot and Richardson completely whiffed trying to play bump-and-run (on the film, that's the first play in Richardson's section).
Those were the only two plays where I got a clear view of Richardson playing corner – I had to focus on three different players when Harrison had the ball, and T-Rich was the toughest to keep track of – so I won't pass much judgment in terms of his abilities based on a pair of plays in one game. He also played offense and returned kicks, recording one first-down reception and returning three kickoffs for 70 yards, and he definitely showed promise as a returner – he's got very good speed and accelerates quickly once he gets the ball, and he proved quite elusive even with a full head of steam. Richardson is going to need to bulk up at the next level, but his athleticism is elite.
Jourdan Lewis (2013 athlete): Lewis, Cass Tech's other corner/wideout/returner, was their best player on the field on Saturday, in my opinion. The junior is listed by Rivals at 5'11", 170, and his size allows him to be much more physical – he had a couple big hits on both receivers and ballcarriers and was generally solid in his tackling, and he certainly wasn't afraid to step up and hit somebody. Lewis is not quite as fast or quick as Richardson, but he still has very good speed and agility and was able to show that off in all three phases of the game. Lewis had the best play of the night for Cass Tech's defense, coming up with a diving interception on their own goal line. He already has an offer from Toledo, and I expect he'll get offers from much more prominent programs – including Michigan – in the near future. He has the look of a BCS-level athlete and I like his potential as a bigger cornerback who can make plays against the pass or the run.
Jayru Campbell (2015 quarterback): Yes, that's 2015, as in this kid is a freshman. Cass Tech's senior starting quarterback was injured in the second half, forcing Campbell into duty, and he displayed a cannon arm, decent accuracy, and very good scrambling ability. He's already about 6'3", 170 pounds as a freshman, and on one scramble he shook off two tackles (including a huge hit from Funchess) and left three FHH defenders – including Ojemudia – down on the field, though luckily none were major injuries and Ojemudia later said on Twitter that all three guys cramped up (I believe him, since it was a warm night and several players had similar issues, though it was quite interesting timing). This caused the entire Cass Tech side of the field to go bananas, and was by far their biggest highlight of the game even though the play only went for a few yards.
Campbell showed great pocket presence for a freshman and led Cass Tech to their only touchdown of the night, slinging a 26-yard touchdown pass late in the fourth quarter. His mechanics need work, but again, we're talking about a high school freshman here. He's one to watch (far) down the road, but it appears he'll see a lot of action this year as the word is Cass Tech's starter will be out for the season with a knee injury – it certainly didn't look good at first glance.
Photo Gallery: A huge thanks to Eric (aka Chewer D on the MGoBoard) for making the drive up from Toledo and taking a whole bunch of pictures, as well as providing the video camera I used from the press box. Highlights include a montage of the Funchess touchdown and some great close-up shots of the commits, including RJS, who was sporting a Michigan skull cap under his helmet. Awesome.
Other MGoScouting: If you haven't yet, definitely check out NStank's report from the Glen Oak/Firestone game in Canton, which featured OSU commit Bri'onte Dunn. Dunn finished with 130 yards on 27 carries – more on that game in tomorrow's roundup, which is now called 'Weekday Warriors'. Kellen Winslow Jr. approves.
If you have any suggestions to help improve future Creeper Van Originals, please leave them in the comments or email me.
The van travels to Toledo Rogers to catch safety and U-M commit Allen Gant of Sylvania Southview HS. Change of plans, heading to see Gant in two weeks; next week I'll be at Toledo Whitmer to see Chris Wormley and the Panthers face off against A.B. Lucas Secondary School.
Summer recruiting has wound down with the arrival of fall camp, especially for teams with a commit list as close to full as Michigan's. There's still information to go around, but unofficial/official visits (starting with the Western Michigan game) should see the return of action.
IA WR Amara Darboh (pictured at right) will be visiting Ann Arbor for the Western Michigan game, after a strong visit a couple weeks ago.
CA WR Jordan Payton will be in attendance for the Notre Dame game.
IL OL Jordan Diamond is in no hurry to commit, so it's possible that Michigan's class fills up before he wants to commit. There's only one spot available along the offensive line, and WA OLs Josh Garnett and Zach Banner are planning early-season visits. Garnett is trying to arrange his Michigan visit for the Notre Dame game, the same as Banner.
For all the talk of those other linemen, don't forget about PA OL Adam Bisnowaty, who is still considering Michigan. He's the other primary option for that final OL spot in the 2012 crop.
Saginaw fluff on expatriate MO DT Commit Ondre Pipkins, who grew up in the area:
In the end, it was one of those Saginaw High connections that helped cement Ondre Pipkins’ commitment to Michigan. [Roy] Manning, the former Saginaw High star who played at Michigan before a three-year NFL career, is back in Ann Arbor as a first-year graduate assistant on Hoke’s staff.
Manning is friends with Ondre's dad Al, who still lives in Saginaw.
Pipkins's commitment left MI DT Danny O'Brien wondering where he stands with the Wolverines. He planned to call Michigan's coaches on Monday, but no word on how it went.
IL CB Anthony Standifer is solid in his commitment, in case you were worried about his status.
ESPN Rise has released their All-Midwest team, and though I'm more apt to ignore a squad with three(!!!) first-team QBs, it's kind to Michigan, so linky, here we go. Commits in bold; other targets in regular.
- OH RB (OSU Commit) Bri'onte Dunn
- OH WR Dwayne Stanford
- OH OL Commit Kyle Kalis
- IL OL Jordan Diamond
- OH DE Adolphus Washington
- MI LB Commit Royce Jenkins-Stone
- MI LB Commit James Ross
- OH S Bam Bradley
- MI CB Commit Terry Richardson
- IL CB Commit Anthony Standifer
- OH WR Monty Madaris
- MI DT Danny O'Brien
- MI DE Commit Mario Ojemudia
- OH DE/DT Commit Chris Wormley
- OH LB Commit Joe Bolden
- OH S Commit Jarrod Wilson
Happy Trails, MA CB Armani Reeves, who picked Penn State. That brings Michigan's DB hotboard back down to one uncommitted prospect, NJ CB Yuri Wright.
With the 2012 class mostly complete, it's no surprise that focus shifts more heavily to rising juniors.
MI OL Cameron Dillard may receive a Michigan offer after sending coaches early-season junior film.
MI OL Steven Elmer has set up a few visits this fall, including two to Notre Dame (and one to Michigan for the Notre Dame contest). It seems like the Irish are going to be one of the strongest contenders for his services.
Tom talked with MD DT/DE Henry Poggi following a visit to Ann Arbor last week:
I've taken a few visits down south and decided to go to Ann Arbor before camp starts for us... I would say Michigan is up there, I really like the people down there and the education they have.
I would rather not prolong my commitment. I don't know the exact date, but I'd like to take a couple official visits. If I know before I can take visits then I would just commit, I don't really have to take the officials.
Poggi's offer list already includes the likes of Alabama and Ohio State, so building a favorable impression of Michigan early is a strong start with one of 2013's top prospects.
Keep an eye on IL DE Devante Lee ($, info in header). He's a teammate of IL OL Jordan Diamond (and former teammate of Wolverine freshman Chris Bryant).
Michigan is "turning up the heat" on MI DE/LB Luke MacLean.
Sam Webb's Detroit News column this week focuses on OH LB Ben Gedeon, primarily explaining why he's called "the freak":
"I was just always a little bit bigger than everybody, so my family called me that."
That's... not as interesting as I was expecting. Gedeon does a little bit of everything on both sides of the ball in high school, and Allen Trieu talks about his physical skills:
"He was excellent when we saw him in camp settings and his film verified what we had seen in shorts and T-shirts," Scout.com midwest regional manager Allen Trieu said. "He is a well built kid at 6-foot-3, 215 pounds and moves very well at that size."
Gedeon says Michigan is currently atop his list, but he plans to evaluate all of his options before making a decision. He attended the BBQ at the Big House, where he connected with Michigan commits like James Ross and Kyle Kalis. He tells Tom that Michigan was his first offer - a big deal - and he'll try to visit campus for the Notre Dame game this fall.
GA CB Shaquille Wiggins is trying to visit Michigan for an early-season game.