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 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 covers last weekend's high school action, bids farewell to a couple wide receiver targets, and looks forward to a big visit weekend for... basketball?
Get That Man A Square-Toed Shoe
Michigan commits Jaron Dukes (Marion-Franklin) and Taco Charlton (Pickerington Central) faced off against each other this past weekend; Central came away with a 45-24 victory, and MGoUser Dubs was there to take in the action. If you're looking to submit a scouting report for Future Blue Originals, this is how it's done:
DE/LB Taco Charlton, 2013: Despite Marion-Frankin running away from Taco (about 80% of the time), he managed to rack up 8 tackles, and a tackle for loss (zero sacks). It was about 50/50 as to whether he had his hand down as a DE, or whether he was lined up as an OLB. Pickerington Central did show multiple fronts, ranging from a 3-3-5(!), 3-4, and a 4-3 (with Taco as DE). He even saw around 5 snaps on offense, and caught a nice PA-pass for a 15 yard touchdown in the 3rd quarter. He did leave early in the 4th quarter after an apparent shoulder injury (possibly a stinger). But after being checked with a trainer, Taco was out there after a couple of plays, only to be banned to the sideline for the rest of the game after the game was well in hand. Pickerington Central won 45-24.
As far as the "eyeball test," I must admit I was a little disappointed at Taco's lack of aggression. There were moments when a sure passing down approached, and I expected to see that pass-rushing prowess we all read about in 7 on 7's this summer, but I did not see it. The tackle guarding him was very large (some may say "fat," but I don't want to personally attack a kid), and VERY slow, so I was expecting Taco to beat him off the line, lower his shoulder, and destroy the QB. Instead, he relied more on his inside spin more than anything. I will suspect that perhaps, it was because the QB was a very good athlete, Taco was in charge of contain more than anything. Marion-Franklin sent a back to chip Taco's outside pass-rush, as well, which also would limit his opportunities. However, I feel there were times where Taco could have taken over the game but did not. I do not know if it is a motor issue, or the coaches playing him conservatively against a dual threat QB.
WR Jaron Dukes, 2013: It was very difficult for Dukes to get involved, mostly because the Marion-Franklin QB relied more on his feet than anything. The throws the QB did make were hitches, outs, slants, and screens of all sorts. That being said, Dukes still managed to haul in 5 passes (out of 8 targets) for about 42 yards. He was targeted for a TD jump-ball thrown to him early in the 1st quarter, in which he had a height advantage of at least 6 inches over the opposing defender, however, the ball was vastly under-thrown, and was broken up. Dukes also dropped a possible TD pass (at least a very large gain) during the hurry-up in the waning seconds of the 2nd. Dukes also handled the kickoff duties, which, if Michigan is looking for some sort of "Tom Dempsey style" kicker/WR hybrid, they got their man.
As far as the eyeball test goes, Dukes did not seem to show a lot of explosiveness, either off the line or to create separation against the defenders (it was kind of a soggy/muggy night, so the field may have been less-than-pristine). There were many times in which the QB was scrambling and, rather than hit that extra gear, he seemed to simply jog. Perhaps he is not used to getting much "love," as most of the passing offense derived from the slot receivers (which if true, why not put Dukes in slot?). I will say this, he did look strong after the catch, breaking a few arm tackles and showing of a pretty solid stiff-arm.
Overall, I felt that these two looked the part of a D-1 prospect. However, it is hard to tell their true potential based on their supporting cast: obviously you'll run away from Taco because his supporting DE looked half his size. And it's hard to get any love as an outside receiver when your QB cannot make the throws. So, I had to remind myself: these kids are prospects. And with that, I have great faith in the Michigan coaches that they can mold these kids into serviceable players or, hopefully, even stars.
A huge thanks to Dubs for sending this in, as well as bringing up the possibility of a Michigan wide receiver also handling kicks "Tom Dempsey style."
[Hit THE JUMP for the full recruiting roundup, including info on what could be a huge visit weekend for the basketball program.]
Today's recruiting roundup is football. Football!
After going to five games in two days over the weekend, I can officially declare it to be football season, not that I'm in a position to declare such things. But seriously: football is here, and a bunch of future Wolverines are playing it. This is not quite as exciting as current Wolverines taking the field on Saturday, but it's exciting nonetheless.
I'll have much, more more coming tomorrow, but Shane Morris opened his senior season in the shadow of the Big House at Ann Arbor Pioneer. After struggling early, throwing a pick on his first pass and starting just 2-for-9, he bounced back to finish 14-for-26 for 177 yards and two touchdowns, numbers that could've been better if not for several drops. He'll have to work on starting as strong as he finishes; he still looks like a five-star prospect. My brother and roommate each saw Morris for the first time on Friday, and all it took was one effortless launch of the football in warmups to convince them both that the hype is warranted. Morris makes throwing a football 60 yards look as easy and routine as brushing your teeth.
Cass Tech's tilt with Brother Rice—when not interrupted by shooting scares, again more on which tomorrow—was a classic battle that went down to the wire. The Technicians pulled out a 25-18 victory thanks to two Damon Webb touchdown catches—one on an end-around pass by Jourdan Lewis(!)—and a late 74-yard touchdown run by junior Gary Hosey. Lewis had an uneven performance at corner but had a big punt return on the only time Brother Rice didn't actively avoid him. David Dawson gave his usual stellar effort at left tackle, paving the way for big rushing efforts from Hosey and Deon Drake.
In the other game I saw this weekend featuring a Michigan commit, Khalid Hill caught three passes for 83 yards and a touchdown—coming on an impressive 65-yard catch-and-run—but it wasn't quite enough to lead East Lake Village over Oak Park. Hill looked impressive in the passing game but left a lot to be desired as a run blocker.
[After the jump, more football(!)]
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 rankings updates from three recruiting services, a few more tidbits from The Opening, a potential surprise five-star visitor, and more.
In the wake of The Opening, three recruiting sites—Scout, 247, and ESPN—have updated their top lists. Instead of going over each update individually, I've jammed the results into a (chart?) chart below. The number in parentheses is the change from each site's last update; a positive means a rise and a negative means a drop, just to be clear. Notable stuff in bold.
|Shane Morris||29 (-1)||19 (+2)||26 (+6)|
|Patrick Kugler||30 (+1)||158 (-4)||116 (-4)|
|Dymonte Thomas||35 (—)||52 (-1)||94 (+4)|
|Kyle Bosch||48 (+1)||75 (-23)||126 (-6)|
|Deveon Smith||60 (-7)||222 (+4)||NR|
|Chris Fox||134 (+5)||100 (-27)||112 (-4)|
|Henry Poggi||136 (-1)||107 (-2)||259 (-9)|
|Jake Butt||137 (+15)||NR||171 (+61)|
|Ben Gedeon||155 (-2)||177 (-2)||278 (-8)|
|Jourdan Lewis||168 (+5)||NR||92 (—)|
|David Dawson||179 (-1)||138 (+19)||89 (—)|
|Logan Tuley-Tillman||194 (-4)||95 (-6)||102 (-8)|
|Maurice Hurst Jr.||215 (-2)||NR||NR|
|Mike McCray||216 (-2)||178 (-2)||108 (-4)|
|Gareon Conley||233 (-1)||229 (-7)||63 (+1)|
|Taco Charlton||269 (NR)||90 (—)||120 (-6)|
|Wyatt Shallman||268 (-5)||NR||NR|
|Jaron Dukes||296 (-1)||NR||222 (-6)|
Starting from the top, Shane Morris may have only moved up two spots on 247, but that was enough to earn him a fifth star:
Michigan quarterback commit Shane Morris displayed consistency and his trademark big left arm at The Opening. Morris was a top two quarterback at the event for its entirety and continues to be one of the most important recruits in the history of Wolverines football considering his leadership in helping the nation’s current No. 2 overall class come together. Morris was on the verge of five-star status for most of this cycle and his showing last week put him over the top.
Morris also rose six spots on ESPN, but the Worldwide Leader has only handed out seven five-stars in the class thus far, decidedly fewer than any other service.
Kyle Bosch rather surprisingly dropped 23 places on 247; he gave it a go at The Opening on day one before leaving the camp due to an illness, which may have affected his ranking (whether fairly or unfairly is up to you). Less surprising was Chris Fox's 27-spot plunge on 247, as he's had an up-and-down camp season.
The biggest beneficiary of an outstanding performance at The Opening was Jake Butt, who ascended 15 spots on Scout and a whopping 61 on ESPN. Strangely, 247 still doesn't have him ranked in their Top 247, which stands out as they normally seem to have big swings in rankings (see: Bosch, Fox, Dawson) after camps. Butt and Jourdan Lewis both have very legitimate cases for entering 247's list, yet neither makes an appearance.
David Dawson saw his stock rise on 247 to the tune of 19 spots as he continues to impress with every camp appearance. Fellow lineman Logan Tuley-Tillman saw slight drops across the board, however, as his camp showings have revealed a need to get in better shape and improve technically.
The subject of much debate since The Opening, Taco Charlton went from an unranked three-star to a four-star and the #269 overall player on Scout. 247 and ESPN think very highly of him, even with a slight ding in the rankings from ESPN, but we'll see where he ends up on Rivals after Mike Farrell's disappointing review.
If someone could please come to a consensus on the relative abilities of Deveon Smith, it would be much appreciated.
Closing The Opening
I'm as sick of coverage of The Opening as I'm sure you are, but a few more nuggets of info have trickled out since Tuesday's roundup. IL WR Laquon Treadwell earned mention on Scout in both their top ten offensive performers and their five offensive surprises ($):
While Treadwell came into the weekend ranked #9 at his position and 4-stars overall, his performance still caught us by surprise. Almost all of the top ranked receivers in the country were at The Opening and few played as well as Treadwell. He showed a great ability to go up and get the ball, easily pulling it down over defenders. Treadwell was also consistent and found success in every drill and game throughout the weekend.
On the other side of the ball, commit Jourdan Lewis make the cut for the top ten defensive performers:
Lewis was one of the top cornerbacks at The Opening in 2012. He broke on the ball very well, he locked up his man much of the time, and he showed the ability to open up his hips and run with the wide receivers. He had some picks and those were nice, but his coverage stood out the most.
Lastly, 247's Barton Simmons tabbed a surprise performer who could end up on your radar soon:
Delano Hill, DB- I’ve seen Delano Hill on a couple of different occasions and he’s always been a steady performer, always one of the better safeties in attendance. With his performance this weekend, he was once again one of the best safeties in attendance but among a much stronger field. Not only does Hill have great size but he really popped for us early in the weekend when he added one of the fastest 40-yard dash times of the event with a 4.42. Iowa is getting a star.
Hill is currently committed to Iowa, but he goes to uber-pipeline Cass Tech. If Michigan misses out on their blue-chip targets at defensive back, Hill could merit a late offer to fill the last spot in the class.
Priest Willis: An Option?
Tremendous dropped a very interesting tidbit in their recruiting notes yesterday, revealing that five-star CA CB Priest Willis could be more of an option than previously thought (previous thought was "not an option at all") [emphasis mine]:
I was able to talk with Priest the other day, who recently named a top 16. He said he was going to cut it to 8 pretty soon. My assumption was Michigan would not make this second cut, but I was wrong. Priest gave me the following schools (again, huge grain of salt, as I was shocked Michigan was in his group): USC, LSU, Arizona State, UCLA, Florida, Florida State, Notre Dame and Michigan. He also said he wants to set up an official visit to Michigan because of its distance from his hometown of Tempe, Arizona. Priest told me this even after he acknowledged that he hadn't heard from the Michigan coaches in a while.
We'll see if there's still interest from the coaches, though I'd have to believe they'd be happy to host a five-star defensive back. If Willis still maintains interest even though he's not hearing much from the school, that sounds like a pretty good sign; that said, I'm still considering him a longshot until further developments.
Also in the above post is clarification from MD WR Paul Harris, who says his purported cut to USC and Tennessee was misreported. Harris maintains a top five of USC, Tennessee, Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State, according to the Washington Post. Odds of landing him still appear slim due to the presence of Treadwell.
Sam Webb's latest DetNews offering profiles Cass Tech CB Damon Webb, the breakout star of the summer circuit. Damon claims that Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State stand out among his offers, and though he won't name a leader at this time he does mention the Wolverines as a childhood favorite while also noting the presence of so many Technicians as a positive. Allen Trieu gives a very positive scouting report and an idea of where Webb stands among players in the state:
"In-state, it's him, (Grand Rapids Christian's) Drake Harris and (Detroit Loyola's) Malik McDowell as the top three right now. With it being as early as it is, I could see that ending up in any order, or new guys moving in. What I've learned is early rankings and hype don't always hold until signing day. McDowell is considered the top dog right now, but that can change.
With Webb now focused more on cornerback—he also plays wide receiver—we could see him continue to rise as he learns the position.
FL OL Mason Cole will be at July 29's BBQ at the Big House with wide receiver teammate Artavis Scott, according to Tim Sullivan ($).
IN WR Austin Roberts also plans to be at the BBQ, via 247's Clint Brewster ($).
Tremendous enlists the help of a couple of the 11W recruiting guys to put together an early Midwest hot list for the class of 2014. This is a great starting point if you're looking to get familiar with the prospects who will be targets of the top Big Ten programs, including Michigan.