will be michigan's highest pick in a while
Monday Recruitin' Welcomes Back Football
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(!)]
I already covered DeVeon Smith's 311-yard effort in last Friday's post, but I'll note that Allen Trieu listed him fourth among his top Midwest performers from the weekend. Damon Webb earned the #3 spot on that list and Laquon Treadwell recorded six catches for 155 yards and a touchdown to land at #9. The video below features his first catch of the season, a leaping grab over two defenders that resulted in a 65-yard touchdown:
Not a bad start, that.
I can't find where Touch The Banner found these stats (link to sources, plz) but Channing Stribling continued to show why he earned a camp offer, recording three receptions for 34 yards, three tackles, an interception—his second in two games—and a kickoff return for a touchdown to help Matthews Butler crush Olympic, 69-7.
Gareon Conley showed off his speed with a few big catches, and end-around, and a couple nice returns during Massillon's 52-21 victory over Akron Buchtel. Thanks to MGoVideo for compiling these highlights:
Conley also excelled defensively according to Scout's Bill Greene, though Conley was more critical of his own play ($):
The Michigan commit starred on both sides of the football, at wide receiver and at defensive back, but his coverage stood out the most. Conley blanketed Buchtel star receiver Elijah Bell most of the game.
"I thought my play was alright, and I think I was better at wide receiver than at defensive back," [Conley] added. "I gave up a completion that still makes me mad, because I was out of position. I have this week of practice to work on those things before we play GlenOak."
Via TomVH, we get stat lines for two other Michigan commits: Csont'e York hauled in five catches for 73 yards and a TD while also contributing an interception on defense; Wyatt Shallman rushed for 50 yards and a TD on just five carries and chipped in eight tackles (three TFL) on the defensive line in a blowout victory for Catholic Central.
Tim Sullivan traveled all the way down to Wheeling, West Virginia, to catch 2014 commit Michael Ferns in his opener. Ferns had seven tackles (two TFL), seven carries for 30 yards and a score, and two receptions for 37 yards and another touchdown while playing all over the field in St. Clairsville's 47-27 victory, according to Tim ($). It wasn't all smooth sailing for Ferns however, who came out of the gate a little slow:
On defense [in the first half], he would scream through the line of scrimmage, but with the ball carrier still in the backfield, he didn't keep his feet moving quickly enough to change directions and make the play. That left him either chasing down from the backfield (where he didn't show a high level of effort) or lunging to make tackles, few of which landed.
He came out of the locker room in the second half a different player, with much more energy on defense, without sacrificing anything on the offensive side of the ball. He continued to blitz, but was able to make the plays that he had been just missing in the first half.
Ferns was apparently limited in practice by a finger injury and often faced double- or triple-blocking, so take that for what it's worth.
Derrick Green's season got off to a great start as the big back rushed for 135 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries in Hermitage's nationally-televised 38-0 shutout of Fork Union, a team quarterbacked by Penn State commit Christian Hackenberg, who could only manage 140 yards on 13-of-27 passing.
In his postgame interview (above), Green said that he'd like to make his college decision in October. ESPN's Dave Hooker handicapped the chances for each school in Green's top six, putting Michigan just behind Auburn at the top ($):
Auburn: The Tigers are getting hot in recruiting (no, not as hot as Michigan, but hot). Also, the timing of Green's decision to announce right after a visit to the Plains seems interesting.
Michigan: Great shot, but I put the Wolverines just behind Auburn. However, there's been so much Wolverine chatter, I think it's close.
This one is still tight, but the general consensus is that Auburn holds the edge; too bad, since the highlights above show why Green is so coveted as a power back with some wheels.
GBW's Josh Newkirk caught up with Dymonte Thomas to discuss, among other things, the possibility that he enrolls early. Thomas, an outstanding baseball player, should decide this week whether to graduate a semester early or stick around for his senior season on the diamond ($):
“I mean I was really thinking about it,” Thomas said regarding his baseball future. “I may just graduate early and go play football—which is my passion—and try to make it to the NFL. While at the same time, I always want to have a backup plan in case one doesn’t work. And I was talking to my dad about graduating early to get up at Michigan. He said if you want to do that, then you really got to think about not getting drafted for baseball. So now I am in a debate of, if I should leave? Or if I should go? I am really going back and forth with it.”
As far as a decision timeline, Thomas said he will make a decision on his baseball future in the next week.
That's a tough call to make for anyone, but especially a kid who could have a future in professional baseball should he decide to go that route. Football is clearly his top priority, however, so there's no need to worry about a Drew Henson situation at this point.
The Rivals250 roundtable didn't include any discussion of current Michigan commits; when it came time to pick a team that has the best chance of making an early impression on recruits, however, the Wolverines featured heavily:
Mike Farrell: I'll go with Michigan State and Michigan as both have tough tests. Michigan State recruiting has been overshadowed by Michigan and Ohio State and others in the Big Ten, but a big win over Boise State would go a long way in attracting some more remaining recruits in 2013 and getting a head start on 2014. Michigan plays Alabama and needs to show that Brady Hoke has taken the team to the next level and hang with an SEC power.
Woody Wommack: Brady Hoke and the Michigan coaching staff have done a great job restoring the program's stature in the college football world. But to truly be considered elite again, the Wolverines need a signature win. They'll get that chance against Alabama in Week 1, and if they're able to knock off the defending national champions, recruits all across the nation will take notice.
BREAKING: Beating Alabama would help recruiting.
Speaking of helping recruiting, Rivals also detailed the high schools that have produced the most four-star talent since 2006; Cass Tech tied for sixth, producing six four-stars-or-better—Will Campbell (Michigan), Boubacar Cissoko (Michigan), Joseph Barksdale (LSU), Royce Jenkins-Stone (Michigan), Dior Mathis (Oregon), and Terry Richardson (Michigan)—during that span. Traditional Buckeye pipeline Cleveland Glenville came in fourth with nine; Ohio State landed five of those, with the four they missed out on all coming in the last three recruiting classes (none ended up at Michigan).
How does Cass Tech produce so much talent? Chantel Jennings asked several current Technicians, and the number one answer was constant competition ($):
Michigan commit David Dawson, who played his junior season in Texas, said that kind of competition is what fueled the top teams in the Southwest, and he was glad to return to a school that had the same sentiment.
"We have a lot of high-caliber guys on our team that if they played for someone else, maybe some people wouldn't go as hard as they do with Coach Wilcher," Dawson said. "Playing for Coach Wilcher, you know your spot is up every time that ball snaps, so you have to go 110 percent. If you don't, you'll be standing right next to him on the sidelines."
Anyone who's seen Cass Tech rotate through a seemingly-endless group of BCS prospects knows that this isn't just talk; Wilcher has compiled so much talent that no one player holds the key to victory, and he knows it.
With football season comes the inevitable preseason fluff. MLive discusses the importance of family for Shane Morris; after reading this, Michigan fans will very much want to thank his father:
Shane didn’t start out as the quarterback in the family however. His younger brother Brent, a junior who caught a 19-yard pass from Shane on Friday, was their team’s quarterback in pee-wee football and Shane played wide receiver. One day their father, who was coaching the team, switched them pair.
It was a good decision.
WXYZ uses Shane's 15,000+ Twitter following to show the remarkable amount of pressure he faces before ever playing a snap for Michigan. He's famous, yo:
When the Pilots quarterback opens up his Twitter account, it's not all negativity. Since he became part of the Michigan family in what he calls "a dream come true," his public persona has taken on a level past that of local celebrity.
"I get tweets from Indonesia, Australia. Some crazy people. It's awesome," he laughs.
If you look at his mentions, you'll get exactly what he means by "crazy people."
Ben Gedeon, meanwhile, was something of a schoolyard legend:
“He was so big and so much stronger than all the kids in middle school,” [Hudson coach Ron] Wright said at school last month. “He was like a legend down here.”
Sam said Ben could dunk in the seventh grade and even then was “strong as an ox.”
“When I was a junior or senior and he was in seventh grade, Sam and I were in the basement lifting, we’ve got so much on the bench,” [Gedeon's brother] Alex said. “Ben comes down and says, ‘Can I try it?’ and we say, ‘No, you’re too young. You won’t be able to do it.’ He gets under there and he did like 10 reps; he did more than we did. We were like, ‘Where did that come from?’ ”
He also earned the nickname "Gentle Ben" for being so humble and calm as a kid, according to his brother Alex. The whole article is definitely worth a read.
Finally, MGoUser Rescue_Dawn put together a very informative set of maps of Michigan's commits and offers for 2013; it gives you a great idea of just how much work this staff has done in the Midwest.