Life After Hand
It goes on, believe it or not. Michigan responded to missing out on Da'Shawn Hand by immediately offering Berrian Springs (MI) DE Jhonny Williams, a Missouri commit since September, and judging by his comments to Brandon he's taking his new opportunity very seriously:
Williams wasn’t shy about being excited to hear from Michigan for the first time just recently when we first spoke. After receiving his offer, Jhonny texted me last night with a very respectful message as he sorts through his options.
"I’m not ready to comment on the recent events. I’ll let you know my thoughts when I gather them. I need time. Thank you."
He didn’t hide the fact that he’s juggling some thoughts now that Michigan has offered and I expect the Wolverines to get some consideration.
Williams is a three-star, #42 strongside DE, and #15 prospect in the state according to the 247 Composite; while the rankings are middling, interest in him has picked up of late, as Notre Dame offered him last week. He looks impressive, albeit against relatively low-level competition, in his senior highlights on Hudl.
Shooting Down ALL THE RUMORS
Lose out on a top prospect in the midst of a very ugly stretch for the football team and now even the most outwardly faithful commits have to deny rumors of jumping ship. Rivals posted clickbait so obviously clickbait that I refuse to link it in which they suggest that Jabrill Peppers could join Hand at Alabama despite acknowledging in the very same article that Peppers hasn't spoken with the Tide in months. It even features speculation by a certain national analyst with the quote "I have nothing to back that up."
Meanwhile, Scout's Brian Dohn actually talked to Jabrill Peppers—a novel concept—and Peppers shot down the notion that he's looking around at all ($):
“I’m going to try to go out there for the game against that down south team,” Peppers said. “Everybody is worried about all of the recruits because of the losses, but that is why it’s called rebuilding. We have a new coach (Brady Hoke). He’s bringing in the talent.
“I’m not going anywhere. I’m going to make sure we bring Michigan back to the Michigan we knew before.”
Not only is Peppers remaining a part of the class, he's planning to head to Ann Arbor for The Game. He's even giving quotes to the Daily about his future role on the team:
“I love (playing both ways),” Peppers said. “I love being able to have as many big-impact plays on the game as I possibly can. I definitely would love doing that, but first I want make sure that I’m fully committed and understand the defense and what coach Mattison is trying to do before they start moving me around to the offensive side of the ball.
“I’m all for it and want to do it and try to make as many plays as I possibly can.”
Decommitment pending, I'm sure.
As for Mason Cole and George Campbell, Sam Webb caught up with them after their regular season finale a week ago; they seem solid, as well ($):
Before departing the field both future Wolverines posed for photos that demonstrated their Maize & Blue pride in the form of Michigan caps and ‘M’ gestures with their hands. Upon putting on his hat, Campbell offered up an emphatic ‘Go Blue!’ When asked if that meant his commitment is solid, he didn’t hesitate.
“Yes,” he responded. “I am not listening to the calls (from other schools).”
Another "Go Blue", this time in tandem with Cole, hammered that point home.
Various tweets from other commits over the past couple weeks have driven this point home—the 2014 class is remaining firm in their commitments, at least for the time being, and there's nothing but pure speculation to suggest otherwise.
[Hit THE JUMP for a roundup of commit performances from last weekend.]
Let's start with the commits that moved on in their respective playoff brackets. I'll give you zero guesses as to who rushed for six touchdowns. Yes, you still somehow got it:
Damien Harris had a monster game for the Eagles, blitzing the Black Bears defense for 354 yards and six touchdowns.
Thanks to that performance, Madison Southern moved on to the Kentucky Class 5A quarterfinals for the first time in school history, avenging last year's playoff defeat against Harlan County for good measure. Harris had touchdown runs of 38, 25, 42, 70, 32, and 58 yards, which... I be like dang. While he's put up monster numbers against poor competition for much of his career, that wasn't quite the case this time around:
I be like dang.
Paramus Catholic scored five touchdowns in five different ways in the first six minutes(!) of their playoff opener against Notre Dame en route to a 55-14 victory. Peppers had two of those early scores, taking a sweep in from nine yards out on their opening offensive play (set up by a fumble recovery), then returning a punt 50 yards for a touchdown to put the Paladins up 34-0; at that point, they'd run precisely two offensive plays. Mercifully, the starters sat out for most of the contest after that.
Shaun Crawford rushed for 79 yards and a touchdown and was part of a St. Edward pass defense that allowed just one first-half completion in a 42-7 thumping of Cleveland Heights to help them move on to the regional semifinals.
Undefeated East Lake received a much tougher test than expected from a 5-5 Palmetto squad, eking out a 13-12 victory in the first round of the playoffs; George Campbell had one carry for ten yards and caught five passes for 86, including a 50-yard gain.
Tyree Kinnel had a critical 41-yard kickoff return to set up a four-play scoring drive for Huber Heights Wayne, extending a seven-point lead to 14; the Warriors didn't look back, defeating Dublin Coffman 31-10 in the second round of the state playoffs.
Top-seeded Kenton (Noah Furbush) routed Triway 46-6 to move on to the regional final.
In non-playoff action, Eastern Christian Academy (Freddy Canteen, Brandon Watson) defeated Calvert Hall 48-19; stats from the game aren't available at this time.
Moe Ways and Detroit Country Day had their season end in brutal fashion, as this play with just 45 seconds to go was ruled a catch for the go-ahead, ultimately game-winning touchdown for Marine City:
That... is not a catch. Ways hauled in a 48-yard touchdown in the second quarter and otherwise had a quiet night in the 33-28 heartbreaker.
Wilton Speight's senior season also ended on an ugly note; while he threw three touchdown passes, he also tossed five interceptions in a 31-19 loss to Liberty Christian in the VISAA Division I title game.
The M Block breaks down film of ECA's game against St. Edward from a couple weeks ago. The whole thing is recommended reading; here's a sample:
[Brandon] Watson was a thorn in St. Edwards' side all game, shadowing receivers with blanket coverage and providing excellent support in the running game. While he is giving up some size at 6'0" and 185 lbs according to 247, Watson makes up for it with his tight coverage and sound technique when defending passes. This was evident on several occasions as Watson broke up at least 5 different St. Edwards passes on the day and allowed only a handful of catches no matter who he was matched up with. Watson has a great back pedal and was pleasantly surprising with good footwork and quick acceleration in coverage.
Freddy Canteen also impressed on both sides of the ball.
Brandon caught up with 2015 ATH Anthony Rush, who said he has "a lot of interest" in Michigan.