I think I speak for all on MGoBlog when I say that I look forward to next week's Butt Taco.
"Jim's a tough guy and you can see his personality is all over this football team," Fitzgerald said.
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.]
CB/WR Jourdan Lewis (2013 commit): Lewis had an up-and-down performance on both sides of the ball while spending about equal time on offense and defense—a slight change from previous Cass Tech games I've attended in which he spent the majority of the game as a receiver. On the positive side, Lewis hauled in a 12-yard TD pass for Cass Tech's only score, returned a fumble deep into OLSM territory, and showed off some impressive moves as a punt returner—while he didn't break a big return, he consistently made the first couple defenders miss, often in spectacular fashion. On defense, he showed off his signature recovery skills in making a nice pass breakup on a deep hitch, and was only beaten once in man coverage all night.
There are a couple major concerns I have with Lewis, however, that were on display on Friday night. He does rely on that recovery speed far too much in man coverage—if OLSM's quarterback had thrown that hitch on time, for example, I don't think Lewis would've been able to break up the pass. Then there's run support, where Lewis is very limited by his small frame; at his size, he has to be completely committed to throwing his weight around and tackling with proper technique, and I don't see that at this point. He tends to dive for an ankle-tackle and shies away from major contact—there's a stark contrast between him and Webb, who's both bigger and more willing to lay a hit.
Size and tackling form should come with time, of course, but I don't see Lewis ever becoming a stellar corner in run support. As a cover man and returner—and possibly as a receiver, too—he's still a very good prospect.
As a returner, Lewis needs to be more careful with the football. His muffed punt came when he should have called a fair catch or not fielded the punt entirely—seeing him sprint up to the football only to drop it was reminiscent of 2010 Jeremy Gallon. He's an electric returner when he fields the ball cleanly and just has to learn that he can't break a big return on every punt opportunity.
OL David Dawson (2013 commit): Dawson has reached the point where I almost assume that he'll dominate. While the Cass Tech line as a whole struggled, Dawson was a bright spot, getting huge push in the run game and holding up well on the edge in pass protection. His mean streak was once again on full display as he consistently played to—and through—the whistle, and it was obvious that OLSM defenders were frustrated going up against him.
There are times where Dawson relies too much on his hand punch in pass protection and stops moving his feet, which is something he'll need to work on, though shouldn't be as much of a concern at guard than if he was slated to play tackle at the next level. Otherwise, I still see a rock-solid lineman who should be a multi-year starter down the road.
CB/WR Damon Webb (2014 offer): Webb was simply stellar on Friday, and at this point I agree with the coach I talked to during the game: he's the best prospect on Cass Tech, period. OLSM couldn't get anything going against him in the passing game, and he was outstanding in run support. One play really stood out; Webb was playing about eight yards off the line on the field side, came up to the line as OLSM's running back cut back to his side, and managed to both keep contain and corral the back for a one-yard loss—his closing speed surprised the back, and once he got his hands on the ballcarrier it was over. I counted one play when Webb lost contain, and otherwise he was rock-solid in all aspects on defense.
Webb wasn't a big part of the offense, but still managed to make the best offensive play of the game for Cass Tech, bringing in a 17-yard pass over his head while toe-tapping the sideline to set up Lewis's touchdown. When the Technicians need a big play, they look to him, sometimes to a fault—Jayru Campbell threw a late interception in the end zone trying to force a fade to Webb in double-coverage. While Webb doesn't quite have the speed and agility of Lewis, he's bigger, more technically sound, and a more well-rounded player, even though he's a year younger. He's already getting national attention, including an LSU offer, and I expect he'll get much more before his recruitment is over.
RB/LB Gary Hosey (2014 target)—LB/RB Deon Drake (2014 MSU commit)—LB William White (2014 target): Hosey wasn't able to get much going on offense and didn't get as many touches as usual, so it was tough to evaluate him on offense. Defensively, however, I thought he was Cass Tech's most consistent linebacker; he's learning to play under control instead of just headhunting. Hosey ends up around the football more than Drake or White at this point.
Drake didn't get nearly as much time on defense as I expected and sat out the critical fourth-quarter drives for OLSM, which surprised me—not sure what's going on there. While Drake didn't have too many chances to show of his skills, he did have the best run of the night for CT, taking a shotgun handoff and bursting down the sideline—at his size, his athleticism really stands out.
While White really jumped out at me in the season opener, there are too many holes in his game right now to think that he'll get serious consideration for a Michigan offer. He's extremely aggressive, and while that creates some big plays, it also takes him out of position at times, and he displays very poor tackling form—White tries to lay his shoulder into the ballcarrier instead of wrapping up, and as a result misses far more tackles than he should.
QB Jayru Campbell (2015 target): I lost my sheet of notes from Friday, so I don't have stats for Campbell, but this wasn't his best performance. In fairness to Campbell, he was under heavy pressure for much of the night, which caused a lot of his problems—he hasn't developed the pocket presence to make sound decisions under fire, and nearly threw a couple of ugly picks when he just put the ball up for grabs, ultimately finishing with two interceptions.
Compared to last year, however, Campbell has really developed, especially in terms of his arm strength. He does a great job of keeping plays alive with his feet, and while he doesn't look to scramble much, he's got the ability to pick up a first down and more when he escapes the pocket. For a sophomore, he's well ahead of the curve, and if he can calm down under pressure and develop a little more touch on his passes he could really garner some major national interest.
I'll be heading down to Pickerington on Friday night to catch the North (Jake Butt) vs. Central (Taco Charlton) rivalry game.
I think I speak for all on MGoBlog when I say that I look forward to next week's Butt Taco.
I'll ask him when I'm down there—guess is he's around 255-260 at this point. Was listed around 250 but that's probably outdated.
If he's really a solid 260 then that's big enough already for WDE.
Sounds like you and Coach Fracassa had a nice chat.
Not surprising Cass had a tough time moving the ball. OLSM has been pumping out defensive talent for years. Good to hear Dawson was able to get a push against a great defense.
Just for the record, it wasn't Coach Fracassa that I was talking to. It was an assistant coach for a completely different high school.
Eh, it was worth a shot. Based on your response that scratches off my only other guess: Tom Mach.
Seeing as how Shallman is like HOFer John Riggins, only faster . . . .
It wasn't Putnam was it? I know he was at U of D and left recently.
The fact that he tried to get Webb to transfer totally fits Putnam's mold too.
I've got an idea: Whenever Ace or Brian says he was told something anonymously or off the record, we should ask him endlessly who it was. That seems like a productive use of time and space.
Ace, what did you think of Finley?
I don't want to read too much into your comment about the CT line's struggles -- and the absence of praise for Finely. (well, actually I *DO* want to ... but figure I should ask)
There are only so many players I can watch at a time, so I didn't focus on Finley given the number of Michigan commits and prospects out there. I can only say that the line as a whole wasn't very good and Dawson had a strong game.
Wilcher benched Drake because he committed to MSU.
Cass Tech got misted.
Same thing true of delano hill as finley? (didnt pay much attention because of Michigan commits and targets) or did you get a gauge on him at all. I guess I will throw kenton gibbs in my question as well
Basically, yes, but it's easier to notice when defenders are making plays than for O-linemen. Hill made some nice tackles and had a decent day in coverage—think he's a pretty solid player deserving of being on that 3/4-star borderline. Gibbs was pretty active but also had a few plays where he got knocked off the ball—don't think he'll get a major look from Michigan even if a spot opens up late.
Grant Niemiec was the best player on the field on friday night, IMO.
Jalen Watts-Jackson wasn't half-bad either.
Central is 5-0 against North but North comes into the game higher rated and with a better record. Should be a great game. Get there early; parking will be a challenge. Could be first game this season Butt plays whole game (i.e. no garbage time).