“I’m way more comfortable,” Gardner said. “Last year was my first year starting, and it was rough, a lot of ups and downs, a lot of adversity. A lot of adversity I fought through, and I feel like I did a really good job of never giving up, never giving up on myself and my teammates. I feel my teammates recognized that, and my coaches recognized that, and I feel like that will help me.”
Southfield (MI) High School WR Brandon Bean has yet to pull in any Division I offers, but he's been in contact with both in-state powers and several other schools as his recruitment begins to gain steam. The 6'2", 200-pound junior is a Michigan legacy; his father, Vince, played receiver under Bo Schembecher, amassing over 1,500 yards from 1981-84, and Brandon wears the same #25 for Southfield that Vince sported as a Wolverine. The younger Bean has already visited Michigan unofficially for the Nebraska and Ohio State games, and he also took in Michigan State's last-second win over Wisconsin. I had the opportunity to talk to Brandon earlier this week, and he brought me up to date on his recruitment:
ACE: How is everything going with your recruitment, and which teams are going after you the hardest right now?
BRANDON: The recruiting is going pretty well right now. I'm getting a lot of mail from a lot of different schools in a lot of different conferences. Mostly, I've been a lot from Big Ten schools like Michigan and Michigan State—I've been to some of their games, and a couple of Michigan games. I get a lot of mail every day from a lot of people and I keep in touch with a lot of coaches through Facebook, some coaches come to the school. I meet a lot of people and I also keep in touch with some coaches, too.
ACE: Specifically regarding Michigan, who are you in touch with from the school and what's your general impression of Michigan as a school and a program?
BRANDON: I've always loved Michigan, even as a little kid. I've always been familiar with their program and I've been familiar with their facilities as well. I've been talking to a lot of their coaches as well, I've been talking to their receivers coach [Jeff Hecklinski], and I met a lot of coaches this year at games when they invited me down. I got the chance to talk to the offensive coordinator, Al Borges, he came to the school to talk with me, and the receiver coach and the recruiting coach ... I mostly remember talking to Coach Borges when he came to the school.
ACE: What did Coach Borges have to tell you about recruiting you and your possible role as a part of the offense?
BRANDON: He was telling me a lot of good things. He told me he liked my size, he liked my aggressiveness as a receiver going to get the ball, and he started telling me about the future of the program and he thinks I fit in well. That made me feel really special and really good, and it definitely pushed me as being recruited by the school because I got a chance to talk to him, he made me feel like I could be a part of the program. He likes to talk about some of the other recruits and how I fit in well.
ACE: Coming from Southfield, did you grow up as a particular fan of Michigan or Michigan State?
BRANDON: You know, I've always been a fan of Michigan, but I've also been a fan of Michigan State too. My dad played under Bo Schembechler, so I've always grown up watching Michigan play and I've always been dreaming of continuing the legacy of being a Wolverine. I've always had a passion for the Maize and Blue.
ACE: I was going to ask, with your dad playing for Coach Schembechler, does that affect your recruitment at all in terms of where you'd consider going?
BRANDON: As of right now, I'm interested in a lot of schools, a lot of them are saying good things to me, but that definitely helps. I've always said since I was a little kid that I wanted to play in the Big House and everything, so my dad playing there definitely helps me, but I haven't made up my mind about anything.
ACE: Going back to your junior season, how'd everything go for you during the season and what kind of numbers did you put up?
BRANDON: I don't really remember the numbers any more off the top of my head. I have a highlight tape I can send you [see above]—I was all-league, All-OAA. The season went pretty well for me. We had two other D-I recruits that went to different schools, so I had to share the ball with them but overall it was a pretty good season for me. I was happy and I'm definitely excited for my senior year to do bigger and better things.
ACE: Coming from a school where you guys have had some Division I prospects recently, have you been keeping in contact with prospects—I know Ron Thompson was coming out of Southfield—do you talk to those guys at all about what it's like to go through the whole recruiting process?
BRANDON: All the time. Ron [Thompson], Leviticus [Payne], Brandon Watkins, I talk to them a lot. They always give me pointers about what to listen and what to watch for, stuff like that, especially in 7-on-7, can really help me out. Ron, being recruited by Syracuse, being in touch with Coach [Tyrone] Wheatley, I keep in touch with him a lot. I met him through Ron and Coach Wheatley talks to me a lot, we email and I sent him my highlight tape, so he asks for stuff like that. I talk to Coach [Steve] Stripling from Cincinnati. I've actually talked to some great coaches at schools where [my teammates] have already committed to, and also they put me on the map through 7-on-7 and getting in touch with other people that can help me in my recruiting process, too. They always give me pointers and tips and I always listen to them.
ACE: Looking ahead to the summer, do you have any idea in terms of junior days or camps or schools visits that you'd like to go on?
BRANDON: I'm planning on participating in a 7-on-7 team for Maximum Exposure, we're doing a lot traveling—we go to Dallas, we go to Canada, we do a lot of traveling there. We also do some camps locally like Sound Mind Sound Body that I've been participating in, and I'll be doing some other visits to schools when I can get down to junior days, stuff like that, so I can showcase my skills, so I'll definitely be participating in a lot of camps.
ACE: When it comes down to wrapping up your recruitment and making a decision, what are going to be the main factors that you're looking for when you're trying to pick a school?
BRANDON: Before I make a decision I'll just have to take into consideration my future, my major, and that's very important to me. Going to school to play football is definitely a main factor for me, but school is important to me and I always put school first. The other thing is family, I always have to take into consideration what my family thinks and where I'll be happy.
ACE: Any specific timeline for when you'd want to get your recruitment wrapped up, or is that still to be seen?
BRANDON: I don't know. Right now I'm playing basketball. Basketball is going really well for me so I've been doing a lot of stuff, so I don't know when I'll be able to wrap that up, but right now I'm very busy with school and basketball. Then I'm doing track to improve my skills some more, then I'm doing 7-on-7, so I'll definitely be coming across more people, especially through 7-on-7, so I'm not really sure when I'm going to wrap that up.
ACE: To go away from football for a second, what's one thing that you want people to know about you that happens away from the field?
BRANDON: I've always had a great work ethic. I'm a hard worker on and off the field. You can see it through my grades that I'm a hard worker. I'm a Christian. I represent my family, my school, my community, I'm a person who cares about what other people have to think, too. I'm a hard worker and I want people to remember me by that, not just what I did but what I can do.
Why haven't we offered him yet? I really hope Dukes commits and I think Treadwell's the most important receiver we're going after, but this kid seems to molded in that 'Braylon/Manningham corner of the end zone/jump ball' type of WR I loved us having.
a) He wouldn't be able to get open against Big Ten corners. The ceiling for him is probably as a possession receiver like Jeremy Jackson.
b) Manningham wasn't a guy you would throw the ball up to in the corner of the endzone. He was only about 6'0" tall. He got open by blowing past cornerbacks or cutting too sharply for corners to keep up.
I know that you have to walk a fine line between taking up a lot of a kid's time, getting the information you want, and not being too pushy. I think you did a great job in this one. You asked your basic recruiting questions, but you also were able to get more out of him. Probably your best interview yet.
Also, he sounds like a great kid and we've had some good recent history with Michigan legacies, sign him up!
"Over? Did you say, over? Nothing is over until we decide it is!"
Never heard of him before this article, but I like this kid a lot. Level headed, talented, local. All the things we want in a recruit. And he is a legacy name, which definitely helps U of M a lot. Thanks Ace!
I keep in touch as much as I can, though right now I'm still in the process of getting in touch with as many players as possible. There will be follow-ups; in fact, I've got an interview done with James Onwualu that will go up this weekend now that he's got his Michigan offer.
I hate to be a Debbie Downer, but if you're watching his film and wondering why we haven't offered, he's pretty slow off the line. I just don't think you offer kids like this in February with a full year for them to decide. Michigan's other offerees are much more athletic and explosive. If Bean does get an offer, it will probably be down the road if Michigan is near to the end of the class but needs numbers at the WR position.
On the positive side, I really liked the interview and the answer to his final question was fantastic. I hope things turn out well for him.
He has good enough hands, but just doesn't really look athletic enough to get much more than MAC offers. He struggles to get seperation from High School corners, which means he would probably really struggle at the college level. He seems to make good plays with the ball in the air, but against college level kids those will become tougher to come by as well. Not saying he isn't good, just that there seem to be prospects that can make similar plays but have a bit more speed and quickness.
It's really too bad he isn't bigger by a couple inches and about 20 lbs heavier, he could make a good project H-back or TE (if he was even a little bigger) for a higher level team, but he is kind of caught in a tough spot with a skill set that translates better to H-back but the size of a possession WR.
Did you guys see the Umpire at 2:34 of the video? How does he keep up with the pace of play?
"It would be a travesty, it would be ridiculous to all of a sudden come back and get the feeling back, get the health back, feel good again and then all of a sudden go throw some other colors on my shirt and go coach."