a terrible blight on our fine country
In a game that matched the weather, Orchard Lake St. Mary's ground out a 13-6 victory over Cass Tech in a driving rainstorm on Friday, handing the Technicians their first loss of the season. OLSM dominated the line of scrimmage, rushing for over 200 yards, and Cass Tech couldn't overcome a third-quarter muffed punt by Jourdan Lewis that led to the final St. Mary's score.
Due to the constant rain, I wasn't able to take video last weekend, so unfortunately there are no highlights in this post. I did, however, spend the game talking to a Detroit-area high school coach who's been coaching in the region for over 40 years. He unequivocally stated that Cass Tech junior CB/WR Damon Webb was the best player on the field for either team—overall, not just in that single game—and in fact he'd tried to get Webb to transfer to his school when he left U-D Jesuit last year. I also asked him about RB commit Wyatt Shallman; the coach is convinced Shallman's best position is running back and compared his combination of size and athleticism to NFL Hall of Fame back John Riggins.
[After THE JUMP, full scouting reports on the Michigan commits, Webb, and more.]
David Dawson receives his Under Armour All-American jersey in a halftime ceremony
Last weekend, the definitely-not-a-van made its way to Cass Tech for their matchup against Detroit Renaissance. For the second straight week, the Technicians came away with a blowout victory, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter en route to a 44-0 final. With the win, Cass Tech starts their title defense with a 3-0 record, including a season-opening triumph over defending Division II state champion Brother Rice.
Soundtrack: "Detroit Twice" — El Michels Affair
2013 CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (Michigan commit): Lewis focused largely on wide receiver in this game, rotating in on defense after the first couple possessions. He showed his shiftiness on offense, taking a tunnel screen 15 yards for a touchdown, then making a Braylon-esque leaping grab on a fade for the subsequent two-point conversion. Lewis recorded another receiving touchdown in the second half and also made an impact on special teams, breaking into the second level on a punt return.
Defensively, Lewis more than held his own in coverage and was not targeted by Renaissance, who chose to take their chances with Damon Webb and DaQuan Pace. This wasn't a great showcase for Lewis as a cornerback prospect; he continued to show that he's a viable candidate for either side of the ball at the next level, however, and he should also contribute as a return man. Lewis did record a late interception to preserve the shutout.
[Hit THE JUMP for the rest of the scouting report plus photos from Dawson's jersey ceremony.]
Today's recruiting roundup covers Cass Tech's Hell Week, the latest on the Technician juniors, Maurice Hurst's surprising versatility, and more.
All Cass Tech Everything
Dick's Sporting Goods was on hand during Cass Tech's "Hell Week" to chronicle their preparation for the season. Part one is above and you can find the rest of the videos at their YouTube page. Jourdan Lewis features briefly in episode one. Head coach Thomas Wilcher does not seem like the type you'd want to cross, to say the least.
The star of Cass Tech's opening week victory, junior corner Damon Webb, currently has a top four of LSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Ohio State (no order), according to ESPN's Jared Shanker ($). Webb will check out the Michigan State-Boise State matchup this weekend and plans to head to games at each of his top schools; expect him to visit the Big House multiple times this year.
Matt Pargoff continues to compile highlights from last weekend's action, and junior LB William White's tape is well worth a watch. White is #6 in, er, white, though you won't have to look hard find him—he's the heat-seeking missile:
White got a little too focused on laying big hits in the middle there, trying to lay guys out with his shoulder instead of wrapping up, but that's an easy fix. If he can learn to play more controlled, Big Ten offers await. According to Tim Sullivan, White is already hearing from Michigan State and Ohio State ($)
Pargoff also has highlights of junior LB/RB Deon Drake from Saturday; he did most of his work on offense and was a load to bring down, even for MSU commit Jon Reschke.
[Hit THE JUMP for Maurice Hurst Jr. doing things no 300-pound man should be able to do.]
2013 OL commits Logan Tuley-Tillman (left) and David Dawson
Yesterday's Adidas Sound Mind/Sound Body camp at Southfield High School featured some of the Midwest's best talent, including five of Michigan's 2013 commits (actually, six, but Csont'e York showed up late and I didn't get a good look at him). It also provided a rare chance for players to get instructed by coaches from Michigan, Ohio State, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan, and several other schools; U-M, OSU, and MSU each sent their full staff, save Mark Dantonio, who had a speaking engagement.
This was my first camp experience, so I mostly focused on the Michigan commits; at these camps, there's so much going on that it's difficult to focus on more than a handful of players. Here are my impressions of the Wolverine commits as well as a couple other standouts:
I didn't spend a ton of time watching Morris in the passing drills, mostly because I was more focused on the receivers and defensive backs, but he was excellent as usual on Wednesday. Morris threw harder than anyone else there, displayed great accuracy, and could make all of the throws. He's also improved from what I saw of him last fall in terms of knowing when to change up speeds and when to just unleash.
As you can see above, Al Borges kept a very close eye on Morris. UAB head coach Garrick McGee was running quarterback drills, but Borges made it clear that he would be the one coaching Morris. As Brian pointed out in today's UV, the running theme of the camp was coaches in disbelief that this was all legal; it was, thanks to SMSB's status as a charitable event.
Dawson was easily the most impressive lineman present, both from a physical and technical standpoint. He looks like he's in the 280-290 pound range but doesn't appear to be carrying much bad weight at all. He shows an advanced understanding of technique for a high school player; Coach Funk was presiding over the offensive line drills, and when he needed to give an example of what he was looking for, he had Dawson give the demonstration. Dawson displayed very quick feet, shuffled well in pass protection while keeping a solid base, and showed a very strong initial punch.
In one-on-ones, Dawson excelled in a drill that gives a clear edge to the pass-rusher. He got great depth with his initial step and had three or four pancakes (not all of his reps are on my film above). When Dawson did get beat, it was usually when he let the defender get into his body instead of keeping the rusher at bay with his arm punch. The proverbial mean streak was also on full display. On one rep, Dawson got beat off the edge, and the defender went back to his side screaming "Let's go!" and "I'm hungry!"* Dawson didn't appreciate the woofing, asked for an immediate rematch, and buried the guy into the turf.
Dawson is expected to end up at guard in college and after seeing him yesterday I think that's the best place for him. While his strength allows him to dominate high school competition, he isn't the longest lineman out there, which makes it harder to keep edge-rushers at bay. As you can see above, when Dawson slid inside to take a rep at guard, he dispatched his man with ease.
Tuley-Tillman didn't quite perform at Dawson's level but still showed off the potential that earned him an offer in the first place. When I talked to Logan, he told me he weighs about 315 pounds, a 15-pound drop from where he was at the Columbus NFTC last month. He's still carrying bad weight, however, and is going to have to turn a significant amount of fat into muscle before he's ready to play at the next level.
I was initially down on Tuley-Tillman when watching the one-on-ones, but after watching the tape he did better than I thought. When he gets his hands on a guy it's tough to escape and he finishes his blocks with authority. He did struggle some against the speed rush; Funk pulled LTT aside during drills to work on getting better depth in his drop when pass blocking, and there's still work to be done there. When he got his footwork right, defenders had little chance of getting past him.
Despite the technique issues, Tuley-Tillman has great feet; when he's coached up, he should have every opportunity to play tackle at the Big Ten level. He's definitely got some conditioning work to do, though it sounds like he's on the right track. Multiple experts who saw Tuley-Tillman in Columbus, where he reportedly struggled significantly, said his performance yesterday was a vast improvement.
Lewis continues to look impressive on both sides of the ball. While I thought he looked better at corner when playing for Cass Tech last fall, there may be a battle royale between the offensive and defensive coaches over where he'll play at Michigan; the offensive coaches have made it clear that they covet Lewis as a wide receiver. They'll have to fight Greg Mattison for him, however, and that may be a losing battle.
Lewis is never going to wow you from a purely physical standpoint—he's 5'11" and pretty skinny—but his athleticism is just a notch below elite. He showed off great closing speed at cornerback, though he sometimes relies too much on his ability to recover; he's not quite at his 2012 teammate Terry Richardson's level when it comes to staying in a receiver's hip pocket. His ball skills, however, are exemplary; he tracks the ball in the air extremely well and knows exactly when to go for the catch. If a quarterback threw a 50-50 ball in his direction, whether on offense or defense, he came down with it or at least broke up the pass.
At receiver, Lewis put those ball skills to good use, coming up with a couple of spectacular catches including one diving effort against 2014 Cass Tech teammate Damon Webb (much more on him below). I still like Lewis's upside more at corner, where his size plays better, but he's convinced me that he could contribute on either side of the ball at the next level.
Hill looked very good in the reps I saw him taking, running crisp routes and catching almost everything thrown his way, including the pass pictured above. He nearly pulled in a ridiculous one-hander early in the morning session, but couldn't quite haul it on; otherwise, any pass in his direction resulted in a catch. Hill isn't the fastest tight end out there, nor the biggest, but he finds a way to get space from defenders and then shield them off with his body.
Given that he's being recruited for a very specific, not-always-used position—H-back—he's got a more limited ceiling than most of the commits; at around 6'2", he doesn't have the size to play much on the line. That said, if he can run routes and catch like he did yesterday, he could be a solid piece to the offensive puzzle.
DAMON WEBB (2014)
Webb turned heads a couple weeks ago when he blanketed Laquon Treadwell at the IMG 7-on-7 and he built on that with an MVP-worthy performance yesterday. Despite being a year younger, Webb has more bulk on his 5'11" frame than his teammate Jourdan Lewis, and like Lewis he's an outstanding athlete.
Also like Lewis, Webb can play either wide receiver or cornerback at the next level, though his size suggests that corner is his optimal position. He was fantastic playing corner in the one-on-one drills, staying step-for-step with Lewis—though Jourdan managed to bring in a diving catch—and 2013 Notre Dame commit James Onwualu, who was torching the less-heralded prospects. Webb faced Onwualu three times, and aside from slipping on a hitch route, he came out on top. Webb doesn't rely as much on recovery speed as Lewis, instead playing a more physical style; he's not at all afraid to come up and jam the receiver, and he flips his hips well when transitioning from his backpedal.
Allen Trieu reported this afternoon that Webb earned a Michigan offer, which comes as little surprise after he performed so well in front of the entire staff. While they're targeting him as an athlete for now, I'm guessing he'll be the next in a long line of Cass Tech corners to play at the BCS level. The Wolverines appear to be his clear leader at the moment and there's a chance his recruitment wraps up early. He'll be in Ann Arbor next week for Michigan's camp.
*"I'm hungry" guy was one of the highlights of the camp, as he repeatedly—and loudly—proclaimed his hunger after just about every rep. When Hoke spoke to the campers after the morning session, he singled the kid out for his enthusiasm, then had this exchange:
Hoke: "Did you have lunch yet?"
I'm Hungry Kid: "Yes, sir."
Hoke: "Well, I guess you're not hungry anymore."
- 2014 MI DE Malik McDowell wasn't listed on the roster—he wasn't alone in that regard—and only took a couple reps in the morning, so I didn't get a chance to evaluate him. I did head over to where the linemen were gathered in the afternoon, however, and I can say he certainly passes the eye test. That is one huge rising junior.
- Two other 2014 kids who caught my eye were Cass Tech linebackers William White and Gary Hosey, who both stood out physically among the linebackers. White appeared to have an inch or two on Hosey, but both looked solidly built with the frame to add more bulk. I was busy watching the linemen while they were going through drills, however, so I'll have to catch them play another time.
- A friend who was helping instuct the linebackers at the camp raved about Michigan State linebacker commit Jon Reschke. I thought Reschke was a no-brainer four-star when I saw him play against Farmington Hills Harrison in the playoffs last year; State got a good one there.
- Urban Meyer, from the morning presser: "The problem with intercollegiate athletics is that it's almost anti-student-athlete." All the coaches talked about how great it was to be able to instruct recruits at an event outside the usual team camps. There was also discussion about finding ways for recruits to be able to take visits to campus without the cost becoming prohibitive; there definitely seems to be support for summer official visits if the NCAA decides to look in that direction.
- Yes, Brady Hoke uttered the words "Ohio" and "State" in succession during an impromptu on-field Q&A session with reporters. Yes, there was a subsequent race between the Michigan beat reporters to tweet that bit of news. I believe the winner was AnnArbor.com's Nick Baumgartner.
- Terry Richardson, James Ross, and Oregon CB (and former Cass Tech Technician) Dior Mathis all were present. Richardson was walking around eating ribs while the Michigan coaches teased him about getting his weight up.
- After watching them in a camp setting, it's very easy to see why Michigan's coaching staff has so much success both on the field and in recruiting. I kept forgetting to film the OL/DL one-on-ones because I was so intent on listening to Coach Funk give technique pointers to individual guys after their reps; I learned more about blocking technique in five minutes of standing near him than I have in the rest of my life put together. They're all great with the players, as well; you could tell the kids were hanging on every word of instruction.
- Former Michigan lineman and current EMU OL coach Kurt Anderson, who was running drills with Funk: "You're protecting your family, your food, your quarterback." [via Mike Rothstein]
Pictured coaches, in order of appearance, are UAB HC Garrick McGee, OSU HC Urban Meyer, MSU DC Pat Narduzzi, EMU HC Ron English, Hoke, Mattison, EMU's Mike Hart, Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley, and Michigan's Darrell Funk and Jeff Hecklinski.
Jayru Campbell's hair did not disappoint:
Neither did Shane Morris's afternoon attire:
That's all for now. Interviews with Morris, Dawson, and Tuley-Tillman coming later this afternoon.
Today's recruiting roundup goes over spring game visitors, discusses E.J. Levenberry's timeline, and much more. Update will be a bit brief, since I have to finish my Notre Dame preview for HTTV (still time to donate --------->) and aw hamburgers I need to rewrite most of it.
Spring Game Visitors, More 2013 Stuff
E.J. Levenberry is one of this weekend's high-profile visitors.
There will be several current commits on campus for tomorrow's Spring Game—including Shane Morris, of course—and you can see the whole list of those guys over at Tremendous. I know most people are interseted in the uncommitted 2013 prospects who will be making the trip, and here's the list as it stands right now:
- Fort Lauderdale (FL) St. Thomas Aquinas DE Joey Bosa, one of the top players left on the board, is coming off a reportedly solid visit to Ohio State.
- District Heights (MD) Bishop McNamara DT Darius Commissiong doesn't yet hold an offer, but with the need for depth at the nose the 6'2", 285-pounder could be in line for one in the near future.
- College Station (TX) A&M Consolidated DE Christian LaCouture is a former Texas A&M commit (surprise!) who could be a tough pull from SEC country—LSU is a major player—but Michigan has a chance to impress in his first trip to campus.
- Woodbridge (VA) C.D. Hylton LB E.J. Levenberry, whose father recently revealed that he'll make his decision in mid-August ($, info in header). Levenberry recently spent a week at Florida State and is already on campus in Ann Arbor; Oklahoma is also in the mix, and this one could come down to the wire.
- Olney (MD) Good Counsel CB Kendall Fuller is the top corner in the country and a former teammate of current Michigan CB Blake Countess. If Michigan wants to pull an upset—Fuller has strong family ties to Virginia Tech—the connection with Countess will be key. Fuller recently named Michigan in his top six along with VT, Alabama, Clemson, Maryland, and Tennessee ($).
Crete (IL) Monee WR Laquon Treadwell, who had to cancel his visit to Oklahoma due to HOLY CRAP TORNADO, is dropping hints—and flat-out telling Shane Morris—that he'll be at the spring game as well.
I'm working on getting in touch with Treadwell to confirm.While I was writing this post, Treadwell texted me to confirm. He'll be at the Big House tomorrow.
There will also be several 2014 prospects on campus, including Detroit Loyola DE Malik McDowell (more on him below) and the Cass Tech crew of LB Gary Hosey, DB Johnny Miggins, WR Damon Webb, and LB William White.
In other 2013 news, Ben Gedeon committed this week, and Allen Trieu has a free breakdown of his game over at Scout:
He's an athletic kid who has played all over the field. His ability to run with the ball in the open field and catch the ball on offense show what kind of athlete the Wolverines are getting. He's going to be able to run to the football and drop into coverage. His team made a nice playoff run last year, but he does not consistently play against top level competition, so he will have more of an adjustment at the college level. That said, he has all of the tools you look for and given the Wolverines' previous linebacker class, he is not a kid who is likely to be pressed into service right away.
Tremendous caught up with Gedeon for a post-commitment interview, where he reveals that he was not a silent commitment this last month, instead waiting to see how a visit to Stanford would go before making his final decision. Also, he says that Dymonte Thomas played a big role in selling Michigan to him. Speaking of Thomas, Ohio State just offered Cleveland Glenville safety Christopher Worley, which could be a sign that they're moving on from the hope of flipping Thomas, since they already have a safety commit in Jayme Thompson and their class is projected to be only around 18 recruits.
Future roommates Thomas and Morris aren't the only Wolverine commits doing a little recruiting of their own, as Kyle Bosch came up to Ann Arbor last weekend to check out the Adidas Invitational and chat up some fellow recruits. He gave Sam Webb an update about the status of Joliet (IL) Catholic RB Ty Isaac ($):
“I think (Isaac) loves (Michigan),” added Bosch. “I don’t know what he is waiting for to be honest. But I know he went out to USC. I heard he liked it. I still think he likes Michigan, and I think it is a great fit for him.”
Signs continue to be positive on the Isaac front, though there isn't much coming from his camp right now. It's still a waiting game.
There's one recent offer to report: Honolulu (HI) Moanalua DT Scott Pagano picked up offers from Michigan and Cal last week ($, info in header). He's a four-star to Scout and holds offers from most of the Pac-12, among several others.
Elsewhere, Black Shoe Diaries continues their look into enemy recruiting, interviewing Alex Gleitman of 11W.
Sam Webb's latest at the DetNews is a profile of McDowell, who earns a glowing review from Trieu:
"Right now if I had to choose, he'd be the top kid in the state for the 2014 class," Trieu said. "He'll have to fend off some competition to hang onto that, but he's a special talent. He is a rare blend of size and athleticism. He moves with the quickness and fluidity of a smaller player. He also has great overall coordination and balance and he bends well — all of which allows him to play with good leverage. As a defender he has a great spin move and swim move, both of which he uses effectively. He needs to keep getting stronger and filling out, though, as he is still a lean 270. Although it's early, I believe he will be in contention for top player in the Midwest, as well."
McDowell isn't revealing much about his recruitment, save that he liked Michigan, MSU, and OSU growing up (I know, I know), and his coach seems to want him to take his time. There are rumblings that he's a potential commit, however, possibly as soon as this weekend, so we'll see if that holds true. Picking up the top rising junior in the state this early would obviously be huge.
A couple sophomores visited campus this past week. Mequon (WI) Homestead DT Brandon Hines called his visit "pretty incredible" but left without an offer ($, info in header); the coaches want to see him in a camp setting before they do anything else. Zeeland (MI) West TE Jordan Van Dort was on campus Monday, and also departed sans offer until further evaluation ($, info in header). At 6'5", 280 pounds, Van Dort won't be a tight end for long; he seems destined for the interior of the offensive line.
One of the emerging prospects at the Adidas Invitational has a familiar name: Warren (MI) De La Salle WR Jack Wangler, son of former Michigan quarterback John Wangler. Young Wangler will be catching passes from Shane Morris this fall after transferring from Royal Oak Shrine, and he'd like to keep that connection going in the future ($):
Wangler says his affinity for Michigan is actually so strong, that he would consider a walk-on offer from the Wolverines even if other schools offered full scholarships.
"My first choice would always be Michigan regardless. I'd rather walk on than take a scholarship anywhere else, but we'll see. Whatever suits me the best, I'm fine with."
Thus far, Wangler is mostly hearing from MAC schools, but his combine performance last weekend could earn him attention from bigger schools.
Quickly: Michigan is showing interest in two 2014 receivers from Canada. Orleans (ONT) St. Peter's Tyrone Pierre, who seems to be an early Oklahoma State lean after patterning his game after Justin Blackmon, and Montreal Buerling's Jaylan Grandison, who plans to camp at Michigan in the summer.
Today's recruiting roundup recaps Shane Morris's Elite11 regional camp appearance, talks Ty Isaac (what else is new?), and goes over past and future visits.
Shane's Bad Day > Your Bad Day
Shane Morris attended the Dallas Elite11 regional camp last weekend, getting tips from guys like Trent Dilfer and Tony Romo while hoping to lock up one of the coveted invitations to the Elite11 finals. Review of Morris were mixed but mostly positive, and this clearly wasn't good enough for Michigan's quarterback commit, who told ESPN he needs to work on "everything" (also, any idea why Morris is randomly wearing stunner shades for the second throw in this clip?):
While Morris was disappointed to not earn the finals invitation (more quotes in a free ESPN article here), he'll get another crack in Columbus on May 4th, and he still flashed the ability that has made him a potential five-star. Rivals.com's Brian Perroni listed Morris at #5 among his top performers, noting arm strength as his biggest positive ($):
The Michigan pledge made his presence known early by coming in decked out in Wolverine gear. There was a lot of anticipation as people wanted to see the nation's No. 16 overall prospect in person after he traveled a long way to compete. A lefty, the 6-foot-3, 185-pound Morris had the best velocity on his ball of any quarterback in attendance and made some very good deep throws as well. His accuracy was a bit off at times but nothing too concerning.
Scout's Greg Powers had a similar take, saying Morris had some great throws and not-so-great throws but "definitely [had] his wow moments," in turning in a "very solid showing" ($). Morris was disappointed, yes, but he also has very high standards for himself. That's by no means a bad thing.
Morris didn't provide the only recruiting action of the weekend, as Michigan hosted several prospects for unofficial visits. The top 2013 target on campus was Washington (DC) Gonzaga CB Devin Butler, who's in the midst of a long string of Midwest visits but took the time to tell 247 that Michigan "seemed like a great place to be as a football player, as a student and a young man" ($). Several Cass Tech targets spanning three classes also made the trip. '13 DT Kenton Gibbs caught up with Will Campbell and also said that Michigan's coaches want to see him at their summer camp before extending an offer ($). '14 LB William White was impressed by what he saw from the linebackers in spring drills ($), while '14 RB/DB Johnny Miggins and '15 QB Jayru Campbell also enjoyed the visit ($). '14 WR Damon Webb was also on campus along with several other Cass Tech players.
Isaac Watch, Future Visits, Etc.
Ty Isaac has returned from his trip to USC, the school that poses perhaps the biggest threat to Michigan in his recruitment, so it's time to read far too much into some post-trip quotes. They are... meh ($):
"There were really no set expectations, it was just a good visit," Isaac said. "It was nothing that I wasn't expecting. I got to see things and talk to coaches."
"I got to see things," is my new favorite non-answer from a recruit. It certainly doesn't sound like Isaac, who was accompanied by his father, was blown away by the trip. He says he's now going to "chill for awhile" before making any kind of decision about his future, and he's not tipping his hand, though he said his top schools "know who they are."
Phoenix (AZ) Brophy Prep WR Devon Allen is one of the top receivers on the board for Michigan, and his recent athletic exploits reveal a major reason why that is the case: Allen just broke a 32-year-old Arizona state record in the 110-meter hurdles, running a 13.62 to edge out the old mark by .07 seconds. He was also just three-hundreths of a second from breaking the 300-meter hurdles state record, as well. Allen starts his spring break next week, and he plans on taking a trip to the Midwest, where Michigan is one of several schools in the running for a visit ($).
One player taking a visit this weekend is Solon (OH) CB Darian Hicks, who already holds 11 offers but is hoping to add Michigan to the list when he comes to campus on Friday ($). Brookfield (WI) Central DE Chikwe Obasih will swing by Ann Arbor between April 12th and 14th—he'll also visit MSU and Illinois during those days, and hasn't set the order yet ($).
Two players have stated their intention to take one of their official visits to Ann Arbor. Petaluma (CA) Casa Grande ATH Elijah Qualls—at 6'5", 265 lbs., likely a DT/SDE recruit for Michigan—is one, having built a strong relationship with coach Dan Ferrigno ($). The other is Dadeville (AL) DT Rod Crayton, whose coach says Michigan "might be recruiting Rod the hardest out of anyone" ($). Crayton plans to take a second unofficial visit for a game this fall, then use an official visit after his season.
Happy trails to two offensive linemen, Colin McGovern and Hunter Bivin, who both committed to Notre Dame over the weekend. Both held Michigan offers but were told, like all uncommitted OL, that the Wolverines are full along the O-line.
Quickly: Taco Charlton's Pickerington Central squad defeated Chris Wormley and Toledo Whitmer, 45-40, in the Ohio Division I basketball state title game. Chantel Jennings gives a progress report on the 2013 class, including quotes from current commits on what the coaches like about them ($).