national champs baby
My latest foray into the world of high school football took me deep into the heart of Buckeye country to see the cross-town rivalry between Pickerington North and Pickerington Central. Before I get into the game recap and scouting, a few words on the atmosphere: this was the most enjoyable experience I've had at a high school game, and it isn't particularly close.
It started at the church next to the football stadium, where I got paid a dollar to park. The stands at Central were packed on both sides well before kickoff, everyone decked out in their school colors. The game ball was flown in via skydiver (seriously—I have photographic proof). It was louder than a lot of college venues. Best of all, despite this being a heated rivalry, the fans were civil—there was trash talk, to be sure, but nothing that went beyond that. At one point, the Central mascot walked up to me on the sideline and asked if I was enjoying the game.
The game itself wasn't the expected tight contest, as North—0-5 to that point against Central, including a playoff loss—broke it open in the second half and ran away with a 37-0 victory. It was a very emotional experience for both Michigan commits. North's Jake Butt embraced teammate and Northwestern commit Godwin Igwebuike in the waning minutes, triumphant in a long-awaited victory. On the opposite sideline, Central's Taco Charlton sat alone, head buried in his hands, barely acknowledging those that came up to console him.
This is how rivalry games should be, and it was a pleasure to be there to witness it.
[Video, photos, and scouting report after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses a pair of new 2014 offers, Leon McQuay III's finalized official visit date, and more.
2014 Recruiting Ramps Up
The 2014 recruiting cycle in still in the early stages, but the process is quickly ramping up over the course of the bye week as Michigan's coaching staff finally has (some) free time to review film and visit schools. Two new offers have already gone out this week to a pair of five-star recruits, VA DB Quin Blanding (#6 overall on the 2014 Top247) and VA DT Andrew Brown (#2).
At 6'2", 200 pounds, Blanding has the size and athleticism to play either corner or safety at the collegiate level, though he probably fits best as a safety. He's already garnered offers from Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Miami, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, UCLA, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia, among several others.
Brown—already listed at 6'4", 282 pounds—has a similarly outstanding offer list featuring Alabama, Auburn, Clemson, Florida, FSU, Georgia, Georgia Tech, Miami, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State, Tennessee, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and West Virginia. The arrow is probably not necessary in his sophomore highlight tape, because he's the one MURDERING SMALL CHILDREN:
Michigan should pursue Brown heavily assuming he isn't imprisoned for any of the above.
Perhaps the top in-state priority for the Wolverines is Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell, who received a visit from Brady Hoke on Monday. While NCAA rules prevented Hoke from speaking directly with McDowell, he still managed to make a "huge impression" on both the junior lineman and his coach, according to 247's Steve Wiltfong ($). He did this, of course, by being Brady Hoke [emphasis mine]:
“Spent about an hour or so,” Loyola head coach John Callahan said. “Real good visit. Very impressive. I’ll tell you why. I was extremely impressed with how he, we talked a little about their loss (to Notre Dame on Saturday), and he said his only concern was his quarterback was feeling bad and responsible and he felt really bad for the kid. Really genuine. No excuses or no nothing. He was just worried about his kids. That’s the kind of coach you want taking care of your kids. I was real impressed with his demeanor and he said they had to get better.”
If Hoke ever gets tired of this coaching thing, he's got a surefire fallback career as the world's greatest babysitter.
Curt Mallory, meanwhile, is making the rounds on the Atlantic coast, visiting Baltimore Gilman($)—home of 2013 commit Henry Poggi and 2014 CB offer Troy Vincent Jr.—and 2014 Washington D.C. four-star CB Jalen Tabor, who lumped the Wolverines in with Tennessee, Alabama, and Florida as the schools going after him the hardest.
This is also a time for new prospects to hit the radar, including 2014 Orchard Lake St. Mary's DB Jalen Watts-Jackson, who was outstanding at both cornerback and wide receiver in last Friday's victory over Cass Tech. TomVH scored an interview with the junior prospect, who said that he's hearing from Michigan, MSU, and Purdue, and wants to hear more from the Wolverines—his top school and childhood favorite ($).
[The rest of the recruiting roundup, including the lastest on McQuay/Green/Treadwell, after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup discusses last weekend's high school football action, the latest on Leon McQuay III, and the inspiring story of David Dawson.
Warning: Dust Storm Ahead
At Cass Tech's game against Detroit Renaissance a couple weeks ago, Technician lineman and Michigan commit David Dawson received his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony. As you can see above, it was an emotional moment for Dawson and his family, for reasons that went far beyond the football field; it's been a tumultuous year for Dawson, who lost his father in a car accident in April.
Your must-read article of today, then, is Mick McCabe's tear-jerker of a profile on Dawson—it's hard to imagine going through such a difficult situation as a high school senior:
"One day, a few days before the accident, I got in the car and he was staring at me for 5 minutes," Dawson said. "I asked him why he was staring at me. He said: 'I'm extremely proud of what you're doing now.' When I thought about that, it sent me into an emotional wreck."
When his father died, nothing seemed important to Dawson anymore. Not football, not school, not anything.
"He's still dealing with it," said his mother. "He's a little better. He's getting through it. I let him talk about it. If he has to cry, he cries; if he has to talk, he'll talk.["]
There's much more in the full article, from similarly heartbreaking reflections on Dawson's father to more lighthearted anecdotes about his football career. You root for every commit to excel at Michigan, of course, but you root extra hard for David Dawson.
[Commitment stat roundup and much more after THE JUMP.]
Today's recruiting roundup has the latest on Laquon Treadwell, a roundup of last weekend's commit stats, and more.
Treadwell: New Top Six
Rivals's Josh Helmholdt caught up with IL WR Laquon Treadwell following his unofficial visit to Ole Miss—new home of former Crete-Monee teammate and one-time Michigan commit Anthony Standifer—and he revealed a new top six($): Florida, Michigan, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Ole Miss, in no particular order. This is pretty close to previous top groups of Treadwell's, though Auburn is notably absent. He's also scheduled his first official visit to Oklahoma on October 27th, when they face off against Notre Dame.
I still believe Treadwell is a Michigan lean until he says they're out of the running, though it's worth noting that this was his second visit to Ole Miss, and this time around he brought his mother along to meet the coaches. That's a sign of genuine interest; we've known all along that Treadwell would do his due diligence, and Wolverine fans should expect to have to sweat out at least a few more of these visits.
On the field, Treadwell continues to show why he's so coveted as a prospect, earning top weekend performer honors from Helmholdt after recording seven catches for 181 yards and two touchdowns on Friday night ($).
Subpar Stats: Explained
Shane Morris turned in another underwhelming statistical performance in a blowout loss to Brother Rice, and how can he be a five-star rabblerabblerabble oh wait:
DeLaSalle quarterback Shane Morris, who was diagnosed with mononucleosis earlier this week, played just the first half and completed eight of 17 attempts for 87 yards and one interception.
DeLaSalle coach Paul Verska said Morris likely would be out for the next 10 days, perhaps longer.
"They deserved to win," Verska said. "They're quick on defense. Real quick. (Shane) is sick. He's been sick."
During my bout with mono I ate chicken broth for Thanksgiving dinner while zonked out on Vicodin. I certainly made no attempt to play football, or even move, really. Get well soon, Shane.
Healthier players turning in healthier stats over the weekend included Dymonte Thomas—who rushed for 309 yards and four touchdowns on 16 carries and added "around 12 tackles," according to Tremendous—and Gareon Conley, who caught four passes for 103 yards and three touchdowns and also had a 78-yard pick six. Highlights of both performances are in the video above starting at the 1:05 mark.
[More recruit stats plus Malik McDowell's visit reaction after THE JUMP.]
Previously: In-State Primer
Yesterday, I went over the schedules of Michigan's in-state commits, highlighting certain matchups for this fall's Future Blue Originals. Today's out-of-state primer is going to look a little different, mostly because I didn't want to embed 20-something tables into this post. Last year we got some great reader submissions of scouting reports, photos, and even video of Michigan commits for games I could not attend. We'd love to get even more of those this year, so I've compiled a couple of handy resources that should make this easy to organize.
View Future Blue Originals Commit/Target Map in a larger map
Say you live in—to take a completely random example—eastern Ohio, and you're wondering how you could help the blog. Well, wonder no more. The map above features the high school locations for each of Michigan's 23 senior commits, as well as Detroit Loyola (Malik McDowell) and St. Clairsville (Michael Ferns). If you live close to any of the above locations and think you could contribute a passable scouting report, mark it down on the...
Handy Master Schedule
...master schedule for each of Michigan's commits and select targets. It's a Google Doc that I've made editable by the public (please use this privilege wisely); as you can see, games I'll be attending are in bold, followed by my name. If you plan to attend a game and submit a report, photos, or video, mark it down in the same fashion. If you're willing, please also include your email; if you (understandably) don't want it on a public document, just shoot me an email, but please make sure to still mark the game you're attending so others know what's covered as well.
If you're one of those people who watches a lot of football but you aren't sure you've got the chops to do a detailed report, please contact me anyway; I'm happy to give a few pointers about what to watch for a particular position or prospect. If we get enough user-submitted reports, I'll either include them in each week's FBO post or compile them in a weekly feature.
Now, on to the primer itself, broken down by region.
Eastern Ohio/Western Pennsylvania
CB Ross Douglas (2013 Commit), Avon High School, Avon (OH): Avon is coming off a 13-2 season that ended at the hands of Mike McCray, Cam Burrows, and their Trotwood-Madison squad in the Division II state title game. Douglas plays running back as well as corner for the Eagles, so there will be plenty to scout if you check him out.
LB Ben Gedeon (2013 Commit), Hudson High School, Hudson (OH): Hudson finished 10-2 in 2011, bowing out in the second round of the OHSAA playoffs. Gedeon does a little bit of everything, playing tight end, H-back, wide receiver, kick returner, and even quarterback. He might be the recruit I most wish lived three hours closer to Ann Arbor.
CB Gareon Conley (2013 Commit), Washington High School, Massillon (OH): Perennial powerhouse Massillon Washington had a down year by their standards in 2011, going 7-3 and missing the state playoffs. Conley managed to record four interceptions and nine PBUs last year despite playing much of the season in a cast; there's a good chance he'll be making big plays if you decide to head to a game.
RB DeVeon Smith (2013 Commit), Howland High School, Warren (OH): Howland's perfect 9-0 regular season in 2011 was spoiled with a first-round exit from the Division II playoffs. Smith has combined for just under 4,000 rushing yards over the last two seasons; if you're looking for a prospect that's easy to scout and will have plenty of opportunities to show his stuff, it's probably Smith.
S Dymonte Thomas (2013 Commit), Marlington High School, Alliance (OH): Marlington posted an 8-2 record in 2011, which wasn't quite good enough to earn them a spot in the state playoffs. Thomas rushed for 875 yards and 13 TDs as a running back while tallying 102 tackles and an interception on defense. In fact, I'd say he's the best guy to scout over Smith, but safety play is a little tougher to evaluate than a running back.
LB Michael Ferns (2014 Commit), St. Clairsville High School, St. Clairsville (OH): St. Clairsville finished 10-2 last season, going down in the second round of the Division IV playoffs. Ferns tallied 136 tackles at linebacker and also was a very dangerous weapon at both running back and tight end.
OL Patrick Kugler (2013 Commit), North Allegheny High School, Wexford (PA): North Allegheny advanced all the way to the state semifinals before suffering their first loss of the season in 2011.
TE Jake Butt (2013 Commit), Pickerington North High School, Pickerington (OH): Despite an 8-2 record, Pickerington North failed to make the playoffs last season. Butt starred at both tight end and defensive end, tallying 427 yards and seven TDs on offense and ten sacks on defense. I'm planning to watch North take on their cross-town rivals, who feature...
DE Taco Charlton (2013 Commit), Pickerington Central High School, Pickerington (OH): Central not only defeated North last season, they made it all the way to the Division I title game before falling to St. Ignatius. Charlton had 60 tackles and seven TFL as a situational player last year and should see his role expand this season.
WR Jaron Dukes (2013 Commit), Marion-Franklin High School, Columbus (OH): The Red Devils went 13-1 in 2011, losing only to Trotwood-Madison in the Division I state semifinals. Dukes contribted 36 catches for 673 yards and seven touchdowns last season. Marion-Franklin faces off against Pickerington Central on August 31st at 7:30 pm; I'll be in Dallas, so if someone could cover that game it would be a huge help.
Definitely Not The Columbus Area*
LB Mike McCray (2013 Commit), Trotwood-Madison High School, Trotwood (OH): Trotwood-Madison captured the Division II state title last season over Douglas's Avon squad to cap off a perfect 15-0 season. McCray had a big year statistically at linebacker—88 tackles, two forced fumbles, five interceptions, and three defensive touchdowns—and also contributed heavily at tight end. They open on August 26th with a televised game against Ft. Lauderdale University School.
*Apologies, Trotwood natives.
OL Kyle Bosch (2013 Commit), St. Francis High School, Wheaton (IL): St. Francis went 8-3 last season, falling in the second round of the Class 5A state playoffs. Bosch earned all-area and all-state honors and should do the same this season.
OL Logan Tuley-Tillman (2013 Commit), Manual High School, Peoria (IL): Manual struggled to a 3-6 record last season. Tuley-Tillman will once again start at left tackle; his development is one to watch closely given his raw talent.
LS Scott Sypniewski (2013 Commit), Marquette High School, Ottawa (IL): Marquette finished just 2-7 last fall. Scouting the long snapper is probably quite unnecessary, but if you'd like to, it's a free country.
OL Chris Fox (2013 Commit), Ponderosa High School, Parker (CO): Ponderosa finished just 4-6 last season. Fox starred on both the offensive and defensive lines.
DT Maurice Hurst Jr. (2013 Commit), Xaverian Brothers High School, Westwood (MA): Xaverian Brothers went 6-5 in 2011. Hurst was a first-team all-state defensive tackle, and perhaps more impressively also toted the rock as a massive running back. Fat guy touchdowns, ahoy!
DT Henry Poggi (2013 Commit), Gilman School, Baltimore (MD): Gilman, coached by Poggi's father Biff, finished 10-1 in 2011 against an impressive schedule, with Henry posting ten sacks. This year Gilman opens against three powerhouse programs: Cincinnati Archbishop Moeller (8/26), Our Lady of Good Counsel (8/31), and Don Bosco Prep (9/8). Any one of those games would be great to attend and scout.
CB Channing Stribling (2013 Commit), Butler High School, Matthews (NC): Butler capped off an 11-2 season with a run to the Class 4AA state quarterfinals in 2011. Stribling excelled on both sides of the ball, catching eight touchdowns as a receiver and intercepting six passes at corner. As one of Michigan's least-scouted prospects, I'd love to hear reports on him, as well.
If you're able to attend any games for the above players—or the in-state recruits, as well—update the Google doc and send me an email. I'll be in contact with those who express interest in scouting as the season approaches.
Today's recruiting roundup discusses planned early enrollees for 2013, summer standouts on the camp circuit, the latest on Laquon Treadwell, and more.
Early Enrollees: Three, But No QB
Class of 2013 early enrollees Logan Tuley-Tillman and Kyle Bosch protect a blue-chip 2022 recruit
WolverineNation's Chantel Jennings is the latest to cover the accelerated timeline of recruiting, focusing on the increasing trend of early enrollees. Surprisingly, despite the obvious benefits of players hitting campus a semester early, Brady Hoke doesn't support the practice ($):
"I'm really not in favor of kids coming in January," Hoke said. "Now, three of them wanted to come and got it done and it was good for them, good for us. But to be honest with you, go to your senior prom. Play baseball if you play baseball."
I understand the sentiment from Hoke, who at least acknowledges that enrolling early has worked out well for 2012 recruits Joe Bolden, Kaleb Ringer, and Jarrod Wilson, but it may be outdated in today's climate of specialization even among high school athletes; far fewer top-flight athletes go the multi-sport route these days, and you're more likely to find high school football prospects spending extra time in the weight room than on the baseball diamond. Former Michigan running back Ricky Powers, who coached Wilson at Akron Buchtel, brings up another strong counterpoint to Hoke:
"For kids coming from the inner city, if they've done everything they need to do in high school, and they have the opportunity to go early then they should go," Powers said. "I've talked to him a couple times and he has had the opportunity to check school out and get a leg up on the other freshmen. There's no downside for him."
For many recruits, the allure of a final semester at high school just isn't there—prom or not—as college/football serves as an avenue to escape that very environment. Take Logan Tuley-Tillman, whose will to get himself and his family out of Peoria, IL, is well-documented; it's not a surprise that he plans to enroll early, and thankfully the coaches have no issue with that:
"I brought it up to the Michigan coaches, said I wanted to do it, and they said, 'Yeah, it would be a tremendous idea,' " Tuley-Tillman said. "They never pushed me either way, they just gave me the facts."
There may be a serious disparity between Hoke's words and his actions, which in this case would be a positive. He's obviously not discouraging players too much from getting a head start, as Tuley-Tillman, Kyle Bosch, and Taco Charlton are all slated to start classes in January.
One commit who won't get that jump-start is Shane Morris, since Warren De La Salle—a private school—requires more credits for graduation than public schools and won't let Morris use online classes to accelerate the process. Ideally, Morris would redshirt in 2013 regardless, so this shouldn't be a big deal.
While an early enrollment does provide an early leg up on the competition, look no further than the 2009 class to see that it's no guarantee of future success. Of Michigan's seven early enrollees in that class—Tate Forcier, Vincent Smith, Will Campbell, Brandin Hawthorne, Mike Jones, Anthony LaLota, and Vlad Emilien—four remain on the roster, and only Smith has had sustained success at the collegiate level.
Excuse To Post Fresh Prince Video: Check
Optional but highly recommended soundtrack; old-school Michigan hat sighting at 0:45
Fall two-a-days are getting under way, which means the summer camp season is officially over. The staff of Rivals is compiling position-by-position lists of the standouts from the camp circuit, and let's just start with the quarterbacks because Shane Morris, obviously:
Shane Morris, Warren (Mich.) De La Salle: Morris has a cannon of an arm and showed flashes of brilliance at The Opening, was very good on the field at the Elite 11 and had some great moments at Gridiron Kings. He was also one of the best on the field at the IMG 7-on-7 finals. His development is evident each time he hits the field.
While you probably expected to see Morris mentioned, one current commit who's flown under the radar a bit is Jake Butt, who made the tight end list on the strength of his performance at The Opening ($):
Jake Butt, Pickerington (Ohio) North Pickerington: While it will be tough for the highly rated Butt to move up in the rankings, he justified his already lofty status with a terrific summer. Up against the best players in the nation at The Opening, the Michigan commit more than held his own, drawing strong reviews from observers and fellow campers.
Given the depth chart at tight end, Butt may be under the most pressure to contribute early at Michigan, and his summer performance indicates he can do just that. Another player who could make his mark as a freshman, if he chooses the Wolverines, is Laquon Treadwell, who could be in line for a move up the rankings after an outstanding summer:
Laquon Treadwell, Crete-Monee (Ill.): The wide receiver rankings are likely to see as much shakeup as any position when they're updated later this month, and the potential for a new No. 1 exists. After a consistently impressive summer, Treadwell has put himself in the conversation for the top spot. The 6-foot-3, 197-pound receiver wowed scouts at the Rivals100 Five-Star Challenge, The Opening, Gridiron Kings and the Illinois NIKE Camp.
Yes, before you ask, the next section is about...
Treadwell, Of Course
Laquon Treadwell has the nerve to visit other schools before making his final, life-changing college decision, and his latest trip was to Ole Miss, where high school teammate Anthony Standifer eventually landed after parting ways with Michigan. EVERYBODY PANIC:
"It was better than I was expecting," Treadwell said. "I didn't know what to really expect, to be honest. I'd never been to a SEC school before, but I loved it. I can see why Anthony Standifer signed with them now."
BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES:
"I'm coming back to Ole Miss for the Texas game. That's all I know for sure. I want to get over to Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Auburn before too long. I just have to check my calender now that practice is starting. I'll probably just wait until the season starts and go see them play."
Treadwell was thinking about giving an early commitment to Michigan at The Opening but those plans have been put on hold.
"They're still at the top of my list, but I've pretty much decided not to commit anywhere this summer. I want to take my official visits first and go from there."
OH WAIT THAT'S PRETTY POSITIVE NEVER MIND YOU CAN GET OUT OF THE LIFEBOAT NOW.
So yeah, Treadwell visited an SEC school and liked it, and plans on more visits, but even in the immediate aftermath of a very positive visit elsewhere Michigan is the clear-cut number one school. As I've said previously, I'll worry about Treadwell ending up elsewhere when he actually says that another school is on top.
Speaking of Treadwell, I contributed my thoughts on how Michigan should finish out the 2013 class for a roundtable posted at Tremendous. Check it out to see who several Michigan bloggers think should fill those final two spots.
Michigan hosted a couple of visitors last weekend. WI OL Jaden Gault already holds offers from Michigan State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin, and though he didn't pick up an offer from the Wolverines on his visit, he told Tremendous that the Wolverines "are up there" among his leaders. Gault is listed at 6'7", 285 pounds on 247, which, like, damn. He big.
IL WR/TE Nic Weishar swung by Ann Arbor and East Lansing over the weekend and told Scout's Beth Long he had a "really great experience" at both ($). The 6'5", 210-pound rising junior already holds a Michigan offer.
Four-star TN RB Jalen Hurd named a top five of Alabama, Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Ole Miss, and Michigan. That list is in order, so the Wolverines have some ground to cover.