rundown of Michigan's riser
Though the senior season for Michigan's 2011 signees is long-gone, and we've moved our recruiting focus to 2012 (and even 2013), A few of Michigan's incoming freshmen participated in their last games as high schoolers over the past two weekends.
Three Michigan commits played in this game - all on the Ohio side, so you should be (kinda) glad to see that Team Ohio won by a lopsided 50-14 score.
According to Eugene Hankerson of GoBlueWolverine, LB Antonio Poole finished with 6 tackles and a sack, DE Keith Heitzman had 3 tackles and a sack, and DE/LB Frank Clark made 2 tackles (though the highlights embedded below certainly show Clark with a big sack at 4:40, and Heitzman scoring a rushing touchdown, so don't take Gene's numbers as gospel truth).
Keith Heitzman fluff.
Heitzman helped set the tone early as his pressure on Pennsylvania quarterback Matt Johnson led to Gabe Gilbert's interception on the game's first possession. Heitzman sacked Johnson in the second quarter, leading to a Pennsylvania punt from its end zone.
"Playing against the best I'm hoping will prepare me a little bit more for what's to come at (the University of) Michigan," Heitzman said.
Duane Long talks Big 33, and no surprise, he spends much of the time fawning over Ohio State commits (both because he's a slappy, and because OSU's players played very well in the game). However, he did manage to mention a couple future Wolverines:
A couple of Michigan kids were outstanding last night. Antonio Poole was the best linebacker in the game. He is a great fit for the hybrid position. Late offer Keith Heitzman from Hilliard Davidson was a major problem off the edge. If [OSU's Steve] Miller didn't have the quarterback dialed in, Heitzman did. It is hard to pick a best lineman in the game out of this lot. You could have picked Miller, [future Kent State running back Trayion] Durham or Heitzman.
Thanks to Eastern PA Football, we have highlights on the internet. You're looking at #2 (Heitzman), #15 (Cark), and #18 (Poole) in red.
There are a couple plays with a better view in this highlight as well.
MHSFCA All-Star Game
This is an East v. West battle in the state of Michigan, and this year, East reigned supreme by a 30-13 score.
LB Desmond Morgan (#48 for the West) was the only Michigan signee who participated, but a few former targets, including Penn State signee Anthony Zettel, also took part. Following the game, Morgan talked to the press:
“Overall, I thought we played pretty solid,” Morgan said. “We came in with a lot of heart and we held that up. We had three or four breakdowns on long balls and that hurt us. There are a lot of great players out here, and it was fun to play with them.”
The game aired on Detroit Public TV (and was streamed online), so video of it may turn up on the internet sometime soon, but I haven't found any yet.
With the coaching situation unsettled as it is, covering the day-to-day of the 2011 recruiting class is a little... short-sighted at this point. Instead, let's talk about the prospects already in the class, what the coaching change means for them, and the prospects whose interest in Michigan hasn't changed (or has dropped off completely) with the change. Hopefully, things will be back to normal next week. First things first:
Goodbye, Dee Hart
The writing's been on the wall for a while in this recruitment. As Michigan's season stumbled along to 7-6 after a 5-0 start, FL RB Demetrius Hart seemed to be looking elsewhere, especially to play with his buddy Ha'Sean Clinton-Dix at Alabama. Although Hart says his mind isn't yet made up, it appears that he is indeed Crimson Tide-bound - he announces a decision at the Army All-American Game on Saturday. With Rodriguez out the door, chances are nil that he recommits to the Wolverines.
Keeping it Together
Since the coaching situation is in such a serious state of flux, it's hard to know where to go from here. Among the current commits, OH CB Greg Brown is 100% to land in the class, because he's already enrolled in Ann Arbor.
Prospects who have committed since the turmoil began (MI LB Desmond Morgan, MD CB Blake Countess - strong with Michigan ($) - and CA K Matt Goudis) knew what they were possibly getting into at the time, and are also likely to be solid.
After that, most of the local-ish commits are solid, including OH DE/OL Jack Miller, OH DT Chris Rock, MI DE Brennen Beyer, and MI CB Delonte Hollowell. Though he's located in Texas, LB Kellen Jones is also a longtime Michigan fan who's likely to stick no matter what. MI OL Jake Fisher will look around a little bit, but plans to talk to the new head coach before considering a decommitment.
That leaves FL CB Dallas Crawford and FL OL Tony Posada as the largest question marks. People close to Crawford told Tom that he plans to stick with Michigan, but later opened up his recruitment, and he's told local source that he no longer considers himself a Michigan commit. Posada will wait to see who the new headman is before making any decisions. He's getting interest from Oregon, Notre Dame, and other schools.
OH LB Antonio Kinard's status with Michigan is still a question mark, regardless of who the coach is. At this time, it looks like Hart is likely to be the only defection in the class (coaching change-related, at least).
Michigan is in very good position with NC WR/LB Kris Frost (firing Rodriguez will only affect him a bit because he's made his decision based on school, not coach) and IL OL Chris Bryant (down to Michigan and Arizona, January 21st decision). I think those two are likely to end up in Michigan's class no matter who the coach is.
FL S Wayne Lyons also likes Michigan, but committing to a coach-less school might be too much for him, as he plans to announce at Saturday's Army All-American Game. CA WR Devin Lucien may be in the same boat, but with a decision further in the future - late January ($, info in header), which Tom nails down as the 30th.
Unfortunately, until a coach is hired, most of the news we hear from individual prospects is going to be about dropping the Wolverines from consideration, such as KY LB Lamar Dawson eliminating the Wolverines ($, info in header),
Michigan has a couple prospects of interest in Saturday's Army All-American Game (Noon on NBC) - including some who are deciding live during the game, such as Frost and Lyons - and Sam Webb brings the latest info on those guys.
Note: 2012 updates will be on hiatus until after Signing Day.
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the Friday Night Lights series.
Desmond Morgan Goes Blue
Read the Hello: Desmond Morgan post for full details on the kid. He almost never smiles in pictures (at least ones on the internet), and more often looks ominous:
Fluff on Morgan's move to quarterback after only playing linebacker for his first three years. He's a well-rounded athlete, also playing hockey and lacrosse. The best part:
“Anything less than the playoffs would be very disappointing,” said Morgan, who has a 3.97 grade-point average. “There are a lot of great schools in the OK Red. I think the hard work in the offseason is going to pay off.”
Following the season, he was named to the All-Area First-Team defense, and captained it as Defensive Player of the Year:
“He knows where everybody is supposed to be. He makes the calls on defense and just his presence out there makes other guys around him better as well,” [West Ottawa Coach Jim] Caserta said. “… When you gameplan against us, you have to put at least a couple guys on him, and it makes the guys around him better.”
Opposing coaches were equally impressed:
“Desmond Morgan playing sideline to sideline, that kid can play at any college right now and I’ve admired that kid,” [Muskegon Coach Shane] Fairfield said after his team won 28-14. “That kid has inspired our defense, just watching him on film. He comes out here and runs like he’s Ironman. I’m glad our linebackers had a chance to play against him, because he made us grow up and realize how to play linebacker.”
Congratulations and welcome, Desmond.
Elsewhere in last weekend's visitors...
OH WR Darius Patton was "impressed" ($, info in header).
Though he visited last weekend, don't expect PA DT Rob Trudo to decommit from Syracuse ($, info in header).
MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel is ready to start thinking about a decision ($, info in header). Expect him to make his choice in early January.
Tom's Weekly Update has full reactions from OH WR Darius Patton, IL OL Chris Bryant, and LA CB James Richardson.
Prince Holloway, Come on Down?
FL Slot WR Prince Holloway is receiving an in-home visit from OL Coach Greg Frey later this month (the contact period ends next Monday), at which time his commitment status will be clarified. To recap, Holloway has said he's ready to commit to Michigan, joining his cousin, FL CB Commit Dallas Crawford, in the class.
Howeva, with MI RB/Slot Justice Hayes already in the class, I'm not sure if Holloway holds a committable offer at this time. Though MI WR Shawn Conway won't be a Wolverine next fall, Holloway, at 5-9, isn't really the prototype to fill the outside receiver position. He also has yet to achieve a qualifying score, and though it's possible for him to keep working toward that, Michigan's staff is probably leery of the risks after cases like Adrian Witty, Demar Dorsey, and Davion Rogers.
Within a week, we should have a much better idea of where Holloway stands with this coaching staff. Sam says on WTKA that he would already be committed to Michigan is not for a bit of a "slow-play."
Coaching Carousel Reopens Doors
PA CB Kyshoen Jarrett says he'll see who Pitt hires as a replacement before making any sudden decisions. If the new coach brings along a whole new, staff, it's more likely he'll decommit ($, info in header). However, he wants other coaches to know that he's available if they just wanna, you know, have a chat.
MI CB Valdez Showers remains committed to Florida for now. Now that the Gators have hired Will Muschamp, he'll likely come to a decision on his commitment soon.
FL DT Tim Jernigan eliminated Michigan and USC last week (HT: Dreisbach1817), but with Meyer resigning at Florida and the Wolverines playing in a bowl game just an hour away from his hometown of Lake City, Florida, might MIchigan have a chance to change his mind?
LA DT/OL Gregory Robinson commits to Auburn.
MD DT Darian Cooper has eliminated Michigan from consideration.
PA DE Myles Jackson committed to Rutgers.
OH LB Steven Daniels committed to Boston College.
GA S Avery Walls committed to Cal in the only painful recruiting loss in this week's update. Walls was actively recruiting for Michigan in the summer, but coaching uncertainty made it tough for him to pick the Wolverines, as he wants to enroll in January. (I'm not sure how it makes more sense to pick a school that went 5-7 and will be looking for a new coach soon, but whateva).
OH CB/Ath Tyler Williams committed to Akron.
MI RB Thomas Rawls is serious with his recruitment.
He’ll take an official visit to Central Michigan — the school that first expressed interest — next weekend. Then it’s off to the University of Michigan the following week, with a stop due in Toledo sometime in January. Cincinnati is in the process of setting up a date as well, said Rawls.
When he reaches a decision, he'll hold a low-key press conference at his school. And should he receive a qualifying test score, don't be surprised if that choice is Michigan. More local fluff.
OH QB Cardale Jones and his teammate, OH WR Shane Wynn, didn't make it to Ann Arbor for the Big Chill. Jones, at least, will try to reschedule for later this winter.
NJ TE/QB Tanner McEvoy has a final four ($, info in header). Spoiler alert: Michigan is in it.
Michigan has offered OH TE/Ath Frank Clark, and they're now a co-favorite for the Cleveland Glenville prospect ($, info in headers). Perhaps his recruitment will have an effect on his teammate Cardale Jones.
NC WR/LB Kris Frost still wants to start out at wide receiver at whichever school he chooses. His coach says he'll be excellent at either:
[Butler Coach Mike] Newsome said, "He's great on both sides of the ball. He thinks he's a better receiver than linebacker. I think he's a better linebacker than receiver, but the thing that makes him so much better a football player is he's just got 'it.' He's got the other factor to him that I can't coach into him, and that factor that takes his game to a whole 'nother level. He's just got an intensity level that helps him be better than folks he faces."
That intensity and his physical gifts - Frost has a 35-inch vertical leap and has been timed at slightly less than 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, for example - are what led more than 30 Division I colleges to offer him a scholarship.
Opposing coaches give the same level of praise:
South Mecklenburg coach James Martin said, "From a defensive standpoint, he completely understands the game. He understands formations. I've seen him make so many checks. He's one of the best linebackers I've seen since I've been coaching in Charlotte. On offense, when he gets out on the open with his hands and speed, he's a true threat."
Michigan can probably offer him much more opportunity at the wideout position, since Shawn Conway won't be in the class.
FL S Roderick Ryles, a teammate of FL RB Commit Dee Hart, will not attend Arkansas, because they don't need safeties. Michigan may be interested, though they didn't offer Ryles prior to his commitment to the Razorbacks.
JC defensive back Anthony Baskin visited Michigan last week.
PA LB/FB Nicholas Klass may walk on at Michigan ($, info in header).
MD CB Blake Countess is close to a decision ($, info in header).
Local fluff on an offer to CA K Connor Loftus.
IL QB Robert Gregory was named First-Team All-State as an athlete.
Michigan is in the top five for MI RB Juwan Lewis.
MI CB Terry Richardson was named an Under Armour All-American.
Sam Webb's recruiting column last week covered a junior combine that took place over the weekend. Once the 2011 class is wrapped up, the Wolverines will start to show serious interest in some of these guys.
For live updates of the games I'm attending, follow me on Twitter @varsityblue. If you can help out finding articles on any of the commits, @reply me on Twitter or e-mail me, and I'll try to include your contribution.
New Commit MI LB Desmond Morgan
Game 1. West Ottawa defeated Jackson 45-9. Video (Desmond is QB/LB #3 in White):
The Grand Rapids Press has a very brief rundown of his stats:
Desmond Morgan added 57 rushing yards and a touchdown.
Game 2. West Ottawa pasted Holland Christian 54-0. Stats:
Zac Boersema and Desmond Morgan scored two rushing touchdowns for West Ottawa.
Game 3. West Ottawa beat Grand Haven 29-15. Morgan features heavily in the article:
Desmond Morgan wasn't worried about his team's sloppy start. He knew his West Ottawa football team had the fight in it to claw its way back against Grand Haven...
"We believe in ourselves," said Morgan, West Ottawa's senior quarterback and linebacker. "We never got down on ourselves, and that helped us a lot. Everybody stayed positive, and that really impressed me." ...
But West Ottawa blocked a punt that led to a 1-yard touchdown run by Morgan near the end of the first quarter and got the Panthers going.
From there, Morgan hit sophomore wide receiver Ryan Verhelst on a 23-yard touchdown pass, then hit senior running back Zac Boersema on a 4-yard scoring strike that gave West Ottawa a 21-15 lead just before the half...
Morgan finished the game with 79 yards on 20 carries, and Boersema had 73 rushing yards on 22 carries.
"Our goal this year is to have everybody's back and make sure we stay together as a team no matter what happens," Morgan said. "I thought we did that tonight."
Badass picture above courtesy of the Holland Sentinel.
Game 4. West Ottawa beat Jenison 31-14.
Desmond Morgan threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Josh Wisbang and later ran in a 3-yard score of his own. Morgan finished with 196 total yards.
Game 5. Desmond missed the game with injury as West Ottawa fell to Rockford, 7-14.
Game 6. West Ottawa defeated Grandville 23-13.
West Ottawa is 5-1 for the first time since 2003. The Panthers bounced back from last week's loss to Rockford, and Morgan returned to West Ottawa's lineup after missing that game with an ankle injury. Morgan engineered scoring drives on West Ottawa's first two possessions Friday. Zac Boersema capped both drives with short touchdown runs...
Quarterback Desmond Morgan's 3-yard run capped the game's scoring.
Game 7. West Ottawa beat Hudsonville 38-20, clinching a playoff berth:
"It has been a letdown the past few years, but our goal at the beginning of the season was to make the playoffs," said senior quarterback Desmond Morgan, who threw a pair of touchdown passes. "And to get that sixth win feels great." ...
West Ottawa answered at the end of the first quarter as Morgan pushed his way over the goal line on third down and inches. Morgan hit Josh Wisbang with a 17-yard touchdown pass on third and long to put the Panthers ahead 14-7 in the second quarter.
Per the video, Morgan didn't play on defense, as he was coming off a shoulder injury and the team needed their quarterback too much to risk it.
Morgan finished with 55 yards rushing on nine attempts and Boersema had 57 on 16 carries...
[Muskegon Coach Shane] Fairfield was impressed with one West Ottawa slugger in particular — Morgan, who started his first game at middle linebacker in three weeks. “That kid can play at any college right now, and I’ve admired that kid,” he said. “That kid has inspired our defense, just watching him on film.”
He also had 22 tackles.
Game 9. West Ottawa pasted East Kentwood 50-14. Desmond ran for 34-, 15-, and 7-yard touchdowns.
Facing a third-and-10 from their own 32-yard line, coach Jim Caserta reached into his bag of tricks and dialed up a reverse to Spencer Olson, who then turned and threw the ball back to Morgan, who was wide open on the sideline. He rumbled 22 yards for a momentum-changing first down.
Morgan later hit receiver Josh Wisbang on a big third-down conversion to the Bucs' 26-yard line. The Panthers got as far as Grand Haven's 14, but could get no farther, setting up Holmes' game-winning kick...
Grand Haven actually did a solid job slowing down Morgan, holding him to just 47 yards [and one TD] on 22 carries. He was more effective through the air, completing 7-of-13 passes for 73 yards.
"Both teams had their opportunities to win the game," [Grand Haven Coach Mike] Farley said. "Desmond Morgan is a great football player. These were two great football teams battling it out."
Article 2 is responsible for the Baby Rhino photo above.
Game 11. Pregame fluff on Desmond's presence in the lineup, after missing the first game against Rockford:
“Sometimes you’ve just got to take doc’s orders and take one on the chin on the sideline and root your guys on,” Morgan said of missing just his third game in four years as a varsity starter. “I had full confidence that they (could) win that game, and I have full confidence in them this time. It’s not about one guy, it takes the whole team.”
West Ottawa fell to Rockford, 13-35, ending their season in the second round of the playoffs.
FL RB Demetrius Hart
Last Week: Local fluff about Hart's prolific season. He entered Friday one touchdown short of the single-season state record. Game preview. Opponent gameplan and vice versa . Dr. Phillips beat Sanford Seminole 37-13.
Demetrius Hart became the leading scorer in state history with two touchdowns as undefeated Dr. Phillips unleashed its high-powered offense again and won 37-13 over host Seminole in a Class 6A football semifinal Friday night... Hart, a 5-9, 185-pound all-purpose running back, carried 17 times for 159 yards.
Hart spent most of the second half resting on the sidelines without pads, as the Panthers were in no risk of losing the game. Defensive fluff. Official stats below come from the Dr. Phillips website. Video:
|Demetrius Hart 2010|
|Cypress Creek||W 52-0||14||168||4||12.00||1||7||0||7.00||3||24||0||8.00|
|Oak Ridge||W 56-28||21||126||3||6.00||4||37||1||9.25||1||5||0||5.00|
|West Orange||W 49-6||11||121||4||11.00||4||24||0||6.00||2||69||1||34.50|
|Oak Ridge||W 45-0||18||129||4||7.17||2||71||1||35.50||2||86||1||43.00|
|Seminole Ridge||W 38-28||21||218||2||10.38||2||40||0||20.00||3||66||0||22.00|
This week: Dr. Phillips will face Miami Central in the 6A State Championship game Saturday at 7 in the Citrus Bowl.
FL OL Tony Posada
This week: Plant will face St. Thomas Aquinas in the 5A State Championship game Friday at 7 in the Citrus Bowl.
FL CB Dallas Crawford
Crawford, the Wolfpack quarterback who is Lee County’s all-time leading passer, struggled under pressure from Norland’s athletic defense. Crawford entered Friday completing 73 percent of his passes on the season but was 12-of-26 for 196 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings.
“That kid — Sammy Watkins is a beast. Dallas Crawford is a beast,” said Norland defensive back Quincy Casimir. “They’ve got a great team. It was a great game.”
Based on the photos and video, Crawford wasn't helped by his wideouts, who dropped at least a couple passes (one of which was intercepted), and committed a pair of fumbles.
|Dallas Crawford 2010|
|Cypress Lake||W 39-0||9||10||90.00||118||11.80||1||0||6||24||4.00||2||0||0|
|Bishop Verot||W 35-3||18||23||78.26||299||13.00||4||0||9||12||1.33||1||0||0|
|Gulf Coast||W 49-7||12||16||75.00||277||17.31||3||1||11||34||3.09||1||0||0|
|North Fort Myers||W 34-0||7||13||53.85||88||6.77||2||0||5||38||7.60||0||2||1|
|Fort Myers||W 43-10||10||13||76.92||144||11.08||1||0||12||38||3.17||2||0||0|
|Barron Collier||W 33-2||11||14||78.57||163||11.64||1||0||7||-21||-3.00||0||0||0|
|Bradenton Southeast||W 28-21||12||17||70.59||219||12.88||3||1||8||2||0.25||0||0||0|
This week: South Fort Myers's season ends in the 3A State Semifinals.
Seasons Complete After the Jump
Instate linebacker burst onto the scene near the end of October, receiving an official offer from the Wolverines. Just a couple months later, he's committed to wearing the winged helmet next fall. Tom has some commitment quotes from the kid.
|3*, #43 MLB||3*, 5.5, NR ILB||3*, 78, #24 ILB|
The three sites are unanimous in Morgan's 6-1, 225-pound size, and his mid-level ranking as an overall prospect. ESPN is the outlier, ranking him in the top 25 of inside linebackers, whereas he's outside the top 40 on the other two sites (Rivals stops ranking them at #45). For a breakdown of his game, let's start with ESPN's evaluation:
Morgan is a very tough run stopper; displays dominant playing strength at the point of attack. Has the size and athleticism for the inside linebacker position at the major level of competition... We like his hand use, showing the physical playing strength to take on and defeat blockers at the point; demonstrates the ability to play low and keep his feet free when moving laterally vs. the outside run.
So, excellent run-stopper, something that Michigan has lacked since David Harris left town (though, in fairness, Kenny Demens seems to be performing well in that role).
Flashes good underneath screen recognition ability however all area of coverage will need refinement; man coverage assignments must be carefully evaluated. This guy plays with the intensity and motor we look for when evaluating the ILB position... Morgan may need some time to polish coverage skills. If a red shirt year is not deemed necessary he could see early playing time on special teams.
A little weak in coverage, as you'd expect from most linebackers at the high school level. Tom interviewed him shortly after he received the Michigan offer, and Desmond divulged what the coaches like about his game:
They said they're looking for kids that knew how to hit, and that aren't afraid to get after it. They want guys that have a nose for the ball, and smart kids. I learn from my coaches, and I give 110% no matter what. Even if I'm doing something wrong, I'm going to go 100 MPH doing it.
That sounds like an "effort guy" - and the last part sounds so much like Jonas Mouton that it's not even funny.
One thing that's important to note - especially given that ESPN questions his physical ability to play in coverage at an elite level - is that he's a high school quarterback, in addition to his responsibilities on the other side of the ball. That may help his instincts and reads in pass coverage, helping cover for any physical limitations.
The Holland Sentinel says he's "fast enough to help the U-M defense now," though that should obviously be taken with a grain of salt. An opposing coach says he's "a great football player," but that's not terribly descriptive.
As mentioned above, Morgan's recruitment really took off a bit later in the fall, unsurprising for a guy whose primary job in high school is as a Tebow-style (or Chris Relf-style, if you require a more timely reference) Rhinoback. Only a host of MAC schools had offered him in the summer.
Northwestern and Michigan were his final two.
Scout's very brief blurb:
Recorded 120 tackles as a junior.
That earned him 1st-team All-Area and All-State Honorable Mention. I couldn't find exact senior-season stats on the internet. I'll scour the tubes once more, and hopefully have more detail for tomorrow's Friday Night Lights post.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals: 4.7. Scout: 4.65. Those are pretty darn good times for a middle linebacker, especially one that ESPN basically calls "slow." I'll give it three FAKES out of five.
Here's his junior year:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
Part of ESPN's breakdown says that he looks like a spectacular special teamer, as he loves to hit and has good athleticism. That ability may help Desmond get onto the field as a true freshman. However, with kenny Demens and Mike Jones seemingly solid at linebacker spots for the next couple years (assuming a full recovery from Jones's broken leg), Michigan will more likely try to redshirt him, then give him that redshirt freshman year on special teams before being thrown strongly into the mix.
He probably wouldn't become a full-time starter until redshirt junior or redshirt senior seasons, and with Kellen Jones also in the class, there's some flexibility as to where each of them will play. If you held a gun to my head, I'd say Jones is more able to play inside and outside, whereas Morgan is more of a true inside 'backer.
He seems like an instinctual player, even if his physical attributes aren't the greatest. That's the sort of guy that Iowa and Wisconsin regularly turn into All-conference performers, and I think that's also the ceiling for Desmond.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
What is... defensive... recruit?
Michigan is starting to fill in the defensive side of the ball a little bit. There's still a need for more bodies there (safeties and defensive tackles, please), but Morgan shores up a big area of need in linebacker.
I hesitate to predict too far into the future of this recruiting class, as several commits and interested prospects are likely to look elsewhere should Rich Rodriguez be dismissed as Michigan's head coach. That said, another offensive lineman, a wide receiver or two, possibly a quarterback, and a host of defensive linemen and safeties will fill out the class.
Remember, all-time updates can be found on the 2011 Michigan Football Recruiting Board. If you have any recruiting tips or questions, you can e-mail them to me at email@example.com or tweet @varsityblue. For game updates on Wolverine commits, check out the Friday Night Lights series.
Assume The Position(s): Offense
MI RB Thomas Rawls was the subject of last week's Sam Webb recruiting column in The Detroit News. He was super-productive in his senior year:
Despite sitting out two games with a high ankle sprain Rawls rushed for 1,585 yards and 19 touchdowns. His year was highlighted by a 344-yard rushing effort against Saginaw Heritage in Week 4 and a 396-yard rushing effort against Bay City Central in Week 5.
Scout's Allen Trieu breaks down his game:
"He is one of the toughest runners I've seen. He's very compact -- a bowling ball kind of kid who can break tackles and has a good burst. While most people see him as just an inside battering ram, I think he proved to me over the summer and the course of this year that he has legit breakaway speed. He's also very underrated as a receiver out of the backfield."
As long as he can nail a qualifying score on his standardized tests, it's likely he'll land a Michigan offer - and soon ($, info in header). It sounds like the Wolverines are a heavy favorite to land him should that happen:
Even if new suitors do come calling, they clearly will have a steep hill to climb. "I'm going to wink my eye a couple of times about this, but let's just say I'm thinking about staying close to home (to play college football)," he said.
With Justice Hayes coming in as a slot receiver, the Wolverines still have a bit of room in the class for another true running back - the "big back" complement to slashing Dee Hart - and Rawls could be that guy.
Elsewhere in running backs, FL RB DeVondrick Nealy still favors Michigan ($, info in header). His skill set is more on the Hart/Hayes end of the spectrum, so I'd be surprised if Michigan's coaches accepted a commitment from him.
Also on offense, Michigan is looking for a tight end. NJ TE Jack Tabb has narrowed his list to 6 ($, info in header), and will take just a couple more visits before coming to a decision, hopefully by Christmas. If he doesn't commit to the Wolverines, recent offeree OH TE Darien Bryant might get increased heat.
The Wolverines are also seeking another offensive lineman, with IL OL Chris Bryant the most likely option. Bryant is on the verge of an offer from Ohio State ($, info in header), and will announce a commitment in early January. Can the Buckeyes catch up to his current favorites?
Rivals has started rolling out their Position Superlative rankings (they've done the offense, and have only done D-line thus far on the other side of the ball). Michigan commits and targets feature:
- FL RB Commit Demetrius Hart is the #3 Home Run Threat and #2 Best in Space among running backs.
- FL WR Sammy Watkins (who has committed to Clemson, but might consider Michigan if his teammate Dallas Crawford has any say in the matter) is the #1 Deep Threat and #2 Best After Catch (MI WR DeAnthony Arnett is #4 in that category) among wideouts.
- Since OH OL Commit Jack Miller is rated as a DE, he's not eligible for Best Run Blocker among offensive linemen, but from what I've seen him do against some of the best competition in Ohio, he might belong there.
- FL DT Tim Jernigan is the #3 Athlete, #3 Best Pass Rusher, #3 Best Run-Stuffer, #3 Quickest, and #5 Strongest among defensive tackles. LA DT Mickey Johnson, a fringe Michigan target, is #2 Strongest.
- MI DE/OL Anthony Zettel is the #4 Strongest D-End (GA DE Ray Drew is #5), and #2(!) Pass-Rusher. Zettel has also been named the Golden Helmet Winner as the Class B Area Player of the Year.
I'll recap once more if Michigan targets and/or commits are ranked in the defensive back 7.
Elsewhere in evaluations, Poole1Dan passed along a first-hand report on MI RB Commit Justice Hayes:
Hayes is not a Big Ten caliber running back, at least not from what I saw in the Milford game. But as a slot receiver, he's pretty good. He displayed excellent body control on the 21 yard TD catch and could be dangerous in a Steve Breaston way on bubble screens. He could motion into the backfield and be a poor mans Percy Harvin (something Michigan has yet to deploy with any of their slots in the RichRod era). With his agility and vision, he might be Michigan's answer at punt returner, which has been a disaster ever since Breaston graduated.
As always, take one-game scouting reports with a grain of salt, but as this seems to corroborate a lot of what we've heard about Justice so far, it's worth paying attention to.
Josh Helmholdt talks about the visit weekends coming up over the next two weeks, including a group of five this weekend:
Michigan will kick off its December official visit period with five official visitors this weekend. Commitments like Cass Tech cornerback Delonte Hollowell, Plymouth defensive end Brennen Beyer and Fremont (Ohio) Ross cornerback Greg Brown will be joined by uncommitted prospects Wayne Lyons of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard and Blake Countess of Owings Mills (Md.) Good Counsel.
Tom's weekly update touches on Lyons's visit. Helmholdt also mentions a host of prospects for the Big Chill:
Recruits who have already scheduled their official visits to coincide with the Big Chill include Chicago Simeon offensive lineman Chris Bryant; Cleveland Glenville teammates Cardale Jones and Shane Wynn; Holland West Ottawa linebacker Desmond Morgan; Winter Springs, Fla.; linebacker Ryan Petro, and West Branch Ogemaw Heights defensive end Anthony Zettel.
Tom will keep us updated on the latest as the weeks go on (including a January visit from top KY LB Lamar Dawson), so stay tuned.
Josh Helmholdt says that OH CB Greg Brown and FL RB Dee Hart are the only currently-committed recruits planning to enroll early. Brown tells him:
"I'm just focusing on finishing my high school education next month and in those following couple weeks, I will be enrolling at Michigan to play ball for the Wolverines," Brown said. "I just can't wait to get in the Big House in front of those 110,000 fans and play some football."
As mentioned in yesterday's Friday Night Lights post, Hart will be formally invited to the US Army All-American Bowl tomorrow, so I'll have full coverage of the announcement next week.
There are several other prospects considering Michigan who are looking into early enrollment, including NC WR/LB Kris Frost and GA S Avery Walls, both participants in the Army All-American Game, who plan to announce their commitments at that time.
Tom's Weekly Update has a few pictures of TX LB Commit Kellen Jones alongside some former Michigan greats.
We've been wondering is NC QB Marquise Williams would decommit from North Carolina, but if he does, it seems like Virginia Tech, not Michigan, will be his destination. He remains an unhappy-face on the recruiting board, but I won't remove him quite yet.
GA DE Ray Drew has narrowed to a final 6, not including Michigan.
OH LB Percy Johnson, an ex-pat from Michigan, has committed to Cincinnati.
MD WR/S Deontay McManus has received a Michigan offer.