This is my first time doing a [day of the week] Recruitin' post, so please let me know if you have any comments, criticism, suggestions, etc. — as always, I'll be reading the comments, and you can also reach me on Twitter or via email, where I'll also encourage you to send any recruiting articles of interest that you think I should include for the next week's edition.
Drop Everything and Read This
Most Michigan fans who follow recruiting know that Des Moines (IA) Dowling Catholic senior Amara Darboh is one of the class of 2012's best wide receiver prospects, but I personally had no idea what it took for him to get to that point. As it turns out, he is by no means your typical four-star football prospect — to reach Des Moines, Darboh had to flee Sierra Leone at age seven and landed in Iowa as an orphan in a refugee program before being adopted by the family that would eventually introduce him to football. His incredible story is detailed in the Des Moines Register, and I can't encourage you enough to read the whole thing:
Though Darboh was too young to remember details, his father, Solimon, and mother, Kadita, were slain during Sierra Leone’s civil war that started in 1991. Darboh and other family members were left without any recourse but to flee.
He first went to Gambia, then to Senegal, before eventually ending up in the United States — and finally in the Des Moines home of Dan and Mary Schaefer.
Darboh has grown into a young man, a senior at Dowling Catholic High School in West Des Moines. He has become such a good football player that big-time coaches throughout the country, including those from the two major programs in Iowa, have offered scholarships.
From his initial Who’s Who list, Darboh narrowed down finalists to Iowa, Florida, Michigan, Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
That's as small a chunk as I could bring myself to block-quote, and like I said, seriously read the whole thing. Wherever Darboh ends up playing out his collegiate career, I'll be rooting for him.
Awesome Fluff-like Substance
Scout released an online portion of Allen Trieu's magazine profile of defensive tackle commit Ondre Pipkins, who was apparently quite the Herculean child:
Al knew his son just had something, but it was even before he coached him at Central Middle School in Saginaw. He says the moment he knew his son may someday be a great football player came even earlier.
“When he benched pressed 80-lbs at six years old on a stationary weight machine.”
Good lord. When I was six, I needed help opening jars of apple sauce. Ondre, not so much.
Tom Strobel sought the advice of an NFL star who ultimately helped him decide upon Michigan, and of course that NFL star was Drew Brees. Wait, what?
"Drew Brees is such a great guy," Stroble [sic] said. "I was fortunate to talk to him on the phone when I needed advice about choosing a school. He called me and he just gave me great advice with his main point being to take football completely out of the equation and at the end of the day just choose a place you want to be if you were not playing football. For me, that place was Michigan."
Please tell me Danny Hope read this and had his mustache spontaneously combust as he screamed "Damn you, snake oil!" to the heavens. Thanks, Drew!
Also filed under 'things that make little sense': Ben Braden, behemoth offensive lineman, finally turned his full focus to football in his sophomore year of high school after giving up his first sporting love... hockey. Obvious quote is obvious [emphasis mine]:
"I played hockey from fifth grade until my sophomore year," Braden said. "I started out as a defenseman and moved to left wing and right wing. I played football once in fourth grade, and again in eighth grade, but I loved hockey.
"There aren’t too many 6-7, 320-pound hockey players."
If former Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig was nicknamed "Godzilla" while standing at 6'3", 221 lbs., I can't even imagine what Braden's hockey nickname would've been (maybe just "Sir," as in, "please don't leave me broken in a thousand places, Mr. Braden, Sir."). In article bits that are actually useful, Braden does say that playing hockey did help him with his flexibility, footwork, and ankle strength, so he's got that going for him, which is nice.
Tight end A.J. Williams may hail from Cincinnati, but a local newspaper feature reveals that he has "a little bit of country" in him:
"I love to fish, said Williams, who orally committed to Michigan April 22. "I try to do it all. I try to be a well-rounded person."
Williams said his grandfather is from Georgia and that helped influence his love of the outdoors. Williams said he also likes to ride a four-wheeler while he is with his family.
1) Please don't crash that four-wheeler, A.J., and 2) He says he plans on trying to catch catfish with his bare hands (a technique called "noodling"), which is pretty badass.
MaxPreps profiles Terry Richardson as part of their "Top 50 recruits in 50 days" feature (T-Rich is #33).
When driving to a photoshoot featuring Northeast Ohio's top offensive linemen, always call shotgun. Also, Tom Strobel's feet aren't the same size, which is kinda strange and gives me a probably-irrational fear of future injury, though at least he isn't the player in the article whose feet are compared to Yao Ming's.
The Seattle Times has a piece profiling blue-chip offensive linemen Zach Banner and Josh Garnett, who are part of a pretty outstanding class of O-lineman in the state of Washington. They say they'd love to form a "Dream Team" of the top five guys in the state, but that appears pretty unlikely, especially since even two-man package deals always seem to fall through.
Actual, You Know, Recruiting News
Rivals released its updated Rivals100 and Rivals250 rankings this week, and you can track the movement of Michigan's commits in two posts at Touch the Banner. While several Michigan commits fell in the new rankings, Pipkins made a huge leap from #246 all the way up to #53:
"Pipkins was impressive when we saw him at the U.S. Army Junior Combine in January, but he had trimmed some of the bad weight by the time he showed up at the Ohio State NIKE Camp and looked to be in much better shape," said Helmholdt of the 6-foot-3, 325-pounder from Kansas City (Mo.) Park Hill who is committed to Michigan. "He is explosive off the snap and once he gets that big frame moving up field offensive linemen have trouble slowing him down. Pipkins uses his hands well and is a potent combination of quickness, power and technique."
"Pipkins has added some muscle since the U.S. Army Combine in January," Perroni agreed. "He has an extremely strong lower body and uses it to overpower most opposing offensive linemen. He proved that he can play the pass just as well as he stuffs the run on film."
Another defensive tackle of great interest made a similar jump, as Danny O'Brien moved up 68 spots to #154:
"O'Brien has always had an explosive first step, but what was holding him back from a higher ranking early in the process was that he did not play with the power of other elite defensive tackles," Helmholdt said.
"Over the course of the spring, however, O'Brien added 25 pounds to his frame and with the weight gain came the needed strength. He was impressive at the Ohio State NIKE Camp in May, then went out and had increasingly better performances at college camps and The Opening over the summer."
Speaking of O'Brien, Sam Webb's latest DetNews column focuses on his recruitment. O'Brien plans on taking an official visit for the Notre Dame game, and had this illuminating quote about being recruited by Michigan [emphasis mine]:
"Hoke said to me, 'Take your time. I know you're one of those guys that is really making a decision in cutting them down.' He said, 'Take your time and we will take you whenever.' That stood out to me. I was never the guy that had a dream school picked out. That was big for me because I've been down to Tennessee a few times and that's what I liked about them. They said, 'Take your time. It's your decision. You are your own man and you have to make your own decision.' When Coach Hoke finally said that (also), that was big for me with Michigan."
The Flint Powers standout says he's considering announcing his college decision on October 7, during his high school's homecoming week. He has an official visit planned for Michigan State for October 15, when they coincidentally play Michigan. You do the math there.
Lakewood (CA) wide receiver Darius Powe plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Notre Dame game ($, info in header).
Adolphus Washington and Dwayne Stanford will take official visits together to Michigan, USC, Alabama, and Arizona State, but Tim Sullivan (yes, that one) says not to expect these guys to become Wolverines, in so many words. All signs, especially with Washington, point to Ohio State at this time.
Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep cornerback Yuri Wright, who is now Rivals's #51 overall prospect, is keeping his options open ($, info in header). He recently said Rutgers and Cal stood out among his leaders, which also include Michigan, Georgia, Notre Dame, and Michigan State, but he has backed off that statement and claims he doesn't have any favorites or a timeline. Wright plans on taking all five official visits.
Defensive lineman Aziz Shittu claims to be down to a top three, and it doesn't include Michigan ($, info in header). I'm not sure if the coaches would take him at this point regardless.
Josh Garnett is still figuring out where to take his official visits ($, info in header), and the Wolverines appear to be in the mix.
Offensive lineman Jordan Diamond was one of the standouts at the Chicagoland Pre-Season Prep Bowl, according to Steve Wiltfong of 247Sports in a free article.
Happy trails to defensive tackle Jarron Jones, who somewhat surprisingly committed to Notre Dame on Monday. Many experts expected he'd end up at Penn State. He teams up with Sheldon Day to give the Irish a really good pair of DTs in the class — their defensive line is going to be scary good in a few years. Blergh.
The Detroit News names Terry Richardson the top prospect in the state. There's a disappointing lack of actual scouting reports throughout the entire countdown, but here's a quote from Cass Tech head coach Thomas Wilcher:
"He's one of the biggest recruits we've had," Wilcher said. "People asked me why Terry is so good. He's a great cover guy and he's fast."
Other players of interest in the countdown: James Ross (2), Mario Ojemudia (3), Royce Jenkins-Stone (4), Ron Thompson (5), Aaron Burbridge (6), Matt Godin (8), Devin Funchess (9), Danny O'Brien (10), Ben Braden (12), and LEVITICUS PAYNE (19).
Meanwhile, Duane Long has rated 11-50 of his top 50 prospects in Ohio [parts 1, 2, 3, and 4], and here's the Michigan commits included so far: Tom Strobel (12), Pharaoh Brown (17), Jarrod Wilson (18), Joe Bolden (26), A.J. Williams (31), and Caleb Stacey (48). That means Kyle Kalis and Chris Wormley are almost assuredly in his top ten, but it'll be interesting to see if Kaleb Ringer and Allen Gant make the cut or are (unjustifiably, in my somewhat-biased opinion) left off the list entirely. For context, the #50 prospect, Mason Monheim, is unrated on Rivals and holds offers from Illinois and a handful of MAC schools.
Dave Berk, who covers Ohio high schools for Scout, tweets that Joe Bolden is the "top pure linebacker" in the state in the 2012 class.
Scout released their initial list of five-star recruits for the class of 2013, and Shane Morris is one of them. Analyst Bill Greene on the future Wolverine quarterback:
"I've never seen him play in pads yet, but I've seen him at Pittsburgh, seen him in Florida, saw him in Cleveland, NIKE, four or five times. The thing that sticks out is arm strength, one of the strongest arms you'll ever see, especially on a kid that young. He's still developing. What I got to see in the 7 on 7s, is competitiveness. His team had been on road a lot. He hadn't been home in awhile, and it was about 100 degrees in Florida, and I think a lot of kids mailed it in that day, and that kid wasn't going to mail it in. He wanted to win, and they did. He couldn't just gun it into windows down there either, he had to show touch. There was speed all over the field, and he had to throw over linebackers, underneath safeties, and he did it. You saw how much he loved to compete. It meant a lot to me too, that, at NIKE, Elite 11, they made them do a lot of things they don't do at any other event, with throwing on the run, the targets they have to hit, and his accuracy was impressive. I didn't know he had that type of accuracy. He's as good as it gets as a quarterback prospect. I like what he does with footwork, release, and he'll only get better, bigger, and stronger."
Scott Kennedy piles on with more hype, saying, "I don't know where he'll be ranked overall in the Class of 2013, but he'd easily be a Top 10 guy in the Class of 2012." It's not clear whether he means overall or among quarterbacks, but regardless... word.
Scout also posted a breakdown of recruits in the Midwest who could earn the coveted five-star rating or at least crack the Scout 300, and those players include:
- Fort Wayne (IN) ATH Jaylon Smith (not offered yet)
- Midland OL Steven Elmer (offered)
- Marlington (OH) ATH Dymonte Thomas (offered)
- Trotwood-Madison (OH) S Cameron Burrows (interest, no offer)
- Hudson (OH) OLB Ben Gedeon (offered)
- Huber Heights (OH) Wayne OL Lovell Peterson (interest, no offer)
- Joliet (IL) Catholic Academy RB Ty Isaac (interest, no offer)
- Avon (IN) DE Elijah Daniel (interest, no offer)
- Detroit Catholic Central ATH Wyatt Shallman (offered)
- Brother Rice DE Jon Reschke (interest, no offer)
- Grand Blanc Community DE Luke Maclean (interest, no offer).
Got all that? There will be a quiz next week.
The Saginaw News prominently features Steven Elmer in a preview of Midland's season, and despite drawing interest from schools like Michigan, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Syracuse, and Mississippi State, it sounds like he'll be holding off on a decision for the near future:
"Steven's been recruited heavily, while Wylie, Vieau, Alek Swiercz have been going to some MAC and GLIAC schools," [Midland head coach Eric] Methner said. "I'm not worried about it being a distraction because their focus is on Midland High School right now. The recruiting stuff was for the spring and winter. They are absolutely focused on their role as Chemic football players. Our coaches are doing a good job of keeping them focused."
Lake City (FL) OL Laremy Tunsil was named one of 24/7's first five-stars in the class of 2013 ($, info in header). He's been hearing from the Michigan coaches, and I'm guessing an offer will come sooner or later. The 6'6", 275-pound junior already holds scholarship offers from Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Notre Dame, USC, Arkansas, and South Florida.
Finally, Farmington Hills Harrison sophomore running back Lorenzo Collins is profiled by 24/7's Steve Wiltfong. Collins talks about attending Michigan's camp with teammates Devin Funchess and Mario Ojemudia:
“[Fred Jackson] told me a lot of speed things and things that would help me with my footwork,” Collins said. “He was just telling me and actually motivating me. He told me he’d be looking at me. I’ve never been a big fan of Michigan, but I’m really starting to like it. It’s a fun school. I like the coaches. The coaches are real motivating.”
Unfortunately, no glowing Fred Jackson quotes comparing Collins to a young Bo Jackson with more speed were readily available.
'Friday Night Lights' is now 'Weekday Warriors', and every week I'll be updating you on the latest performances from Michigan commits as they play our their high school seasons. If you see anything missing or can find an article on a game, please feel free to contact me via Twitter or email.
TN OL Blake Bars
Montgomery Bell Academy dropped to 1-1 on the season with a blowout loss to Louisville (KY) Trinity. Since Bars is an offensive linemen, there are no stats to report.
This week: The Big Red hope to move back above .500 at home against Brentwood Academy on Friday.
OH LB Joe Bolden
Bolden's Colerain squad won a nationally-televised matchup with last year's Florida 2A state champion, Cocoa, by a score of 17-7, snapping Cocoa's 38-game winning streak. Bolden did a little bit of everything, tallying eight tackles, tipping a pass that led to an interception, and completing a 36-yard pass on a fake punt (yes, Bolden serves as Colerain's punter). The win extended Colarain's home winning streak to a remarkable 60 games. ESPN's highlights of the contest prominently feature the future Wolverine, though also unfortunately Pam Ward. I can't embed the video without an ad autoplaying (seriously, WTF, ESPN), so you'll have to hit the link to see the highlights.
This week: Colarain looks to continue their home dominance on Friday against Ryle at 7:30.
MI OL Ben Braden
In a matchup of western (Michigan) powers, Rockford fell in their opener at Lowell, 28-7. Despite the loss, Braden came in for praise from Lowell's coach, Noel Dean:
"I'm not sure we'll see a team anywhere near that big," he said. "Their front seven on defense is as big as I've ever seen. And their front seven on offense -- I've never seen a human being move as well as that Ben Braden at this level. I was standing on that field, and I didn't feel good about putting my kids in front of him. He's huge, and he's a really good player."
This week: Rockford looks to right the ship in their home opener against Holt on Thursday at 7.
OH DE Pharaoh Brown
Brush fell to Eastlake North 51-20 in their opening game of the season. Though the Brush defense didn't perform, Brown reported to me on Twitter that he recorded three sacks, four tackles, and caught three passes for 86 yards, despite the fact that, according to him, Eastlake North widened the splits in their line to keep him from getting to the quarterback and refused to run in his direction.
This week: Brush hits the road on Friday at 7 to face Madison.
MI TE Devin Funchess, DE Mario Ojemudia, LB Royce Jenkins-Stone, and CB Terry Richardson
As you all know, these four faced off in the Big Day Showdown at Eastern Michigan, with Farmington Hills Harrison (Funchess and Ojemudia) blowing out Cass Tech (RJS and Terry Richardson) 43-7. Funchess recorded three receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown, as well as tallying an interception while playing safety. Ojemudia dominated at defensive end, finishing with four tackles, three for a loss, 1/2 sack, six QB hurries, and a fumble recovery on a blocked punt, while also playing offensive tackle for most of the game. Jenkins-Stone had four tackles and a forced fumble (in a bizarre twist, that came on offense after an interception) and also caught two passes and carried the ball five times for a total of seven yards. Richardson finished with a pass breakup – in the end zone against State commit Aaron Burbridge, no less – three kick returns for 70 yards, and one catch for 13 yards. The game was the subject of this week's Creeper Van Originals, and the highlights are below:
This week: Harrison plays at Southfield on Thursday at 7, while Cass Tech hopes to bounce back on Friday at 3 on the road at Detroit Central.
OH S Allen Gant
Gant played on both sides of the ball for Southview in their 23-21 season-opening victory over St. Francis de Sales. According to an intrepid MGoPoster who was taking down stats for de Sales, Gant played receiver and finished with one catch for five yards and took a jet sweep for seven yards – there are no defensive stats to be found, though apparently Gant did not record an interception, in case you were wondering.
This week: Southview travels to Toledo Rogers on Friday at 7.
MI DT Matt Godin
According to Andrew at Touch the Banner, Godin recorded two tackles in the first half before sitting out the second with an apparent concussion in Detroit Catholic Central's 42-0 trouncing of Dearborn Fortson.
This week: DCC heads to Ohio to take on Delphos St. John's on Friday at 7:30. Let's hope Godin's injury isn't too serious.
UT FB Sione Houma
This week: The 2-0 Rams have their home opener against Provo at 7 on Friday night.
OH OL Kyle Kalis
Lakewood St. Edward defeated Glenville 17-14 in their season opener, but did so without Kalis, who was sidelined with an injury:
Michigan recruit and offensive tackle Kyle Kalis was in street clothes on the St. Edward sideline with a dislocated kneecap. Finotti said he's "day to day." He could return as early as next week or in two to three weeks.
This week: St. Edward travels to Pittsburgh to take on Penn Hills on Friday. We'll see if Kalis is able to suit up.
CA OL Erik Magnuson
Magnuson did not play last week, as La Costa Canyon begins its season on Friday against Marina.
MO DT Ondre Pipkins
This week: On Friday at 7, Park Hill has its home opener against Ruskin.
OH LB Kaleb Ringer
Northmont dropped its opener to Hamilton, 28-14, as Ringer sat out the game with a broken hand suffered in the previous week's scrimmage. Ringer said on Twitter that the injury might require surgery, but he's hoping to get back on the field in a soft cast next week.
This week: Northmont plays at Princeton on Friday at 7:30.
MI LB James Ross
Orchard Lake St. Mary's dominated their first game against Grand Rapids West Catholic, finishing with a 35-0 shutout. The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan (another name you might recognize) was at the game ($), and reported that Ross tallied three solo tackles (two for loss) and four assists.
This week: The Eaglets host Toledo (OH) St. John's Jesuit on Friday at 7.
OH OL Caleb Stacey
Oak Hills fell to La Salle in their opener, 42-21. No stats (obviously) or mention of Stacey in the game article.
This week: The Highlanders will try to pick up their first win of the year at Harrison on Friday at 7:30.
IL CB Anthony Standifer
Crete-Monee defeated Thornton Fractional South by a score of 32-8 in their opener. Standifer reported to me on Twitter that he finished with eight tackles, making sure to mention that Thornton didn't throw his way during the game.
This week: The Warriors head to Lincoln-Way West on Friday at 7:30.
OH DE Tom Strobel
Mentor defeated Euclid 49-21 in their first game of the season. No stats were readily available for Strobel, so this is the part where I remind you to contact me if you come across these kinds of things. Thanks.
This week: The Cardinals host Ursuline on Friday at 7.
OH TE A.J. Williams
Sycamore beat Withrow, 38-24, to open the season. Williams didn't record a catch, though his quarterback ran the ball 16 times for four touchdowns, so I'm guessing he didn't have many opportunities to do so.
This week: The Aviators, whose mascot is not a pair of cool sunglasses, bro, have their home opener against Springboro on Friday at 7:30.
OH S Jarrod Wilson
Buchtel's matchup with Ohio powerhouse Massillon Washington was featured in a Rivals AMP video, and Wilson was credited with 6 1/2 tackles, though his team ultimately fell by a score of 31-6. Highlights, including a couple nice tackles by the future Wolverine:
This week: The Griffins hope to notch their first win of the year on the road at Steubenville on Friday at 7.
OH DE Chris Wormley
Toledo Whitmer blew out Start, 42-6, and TomVH once again comes through with the stats – two tackles, one QB hurry, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery for Wormley. The Whitmer defense held Start to just 108 yards of total offense.
This week: The Panthers host some of our neighbors to the north as London (Ontario) Lucas travels to Toledo for a Friday night game at 7. I'll be filming this one for next week's Creeper Van Original.
KY S Jeremy Clark
North Hopkins went on the road to defeat Graves County, 42-13, and Clark had quite the game, finishing with 12 tackles, an interception, and capping off the scoring with an 80-yard punt return for a touchdown, according to TomVH. It's great to see Clark do so well, but this is the point where I start to get nervous that a big-time program might offer him more than a grayshirt and he could jump ship.
This week: The Maroons look to improve to 2-1 when they host North Hardin on Friday at 8.
MI QB Shane Morris
Morris and his Warren De La Salle squad dominated my alma mater, Ann Arbor Pioneer, 43-28. Morris completed 12 of 15 passes for 233 yards and a touchdown, and Fox 2 has a brief highlight clip from the game:
This week: De La Salle plays Carmen-Ainsworth at Lake Shore on Friday at 7.
Player roundtable notes from Big Ten Media Days coming as soon as I can type them up. Hopefully 3500 words is enough to tide you over.
This fall, I'll be chronicling the season of Michigan commits as they hit the field on Friday nights (or Thursdays, or Saturday afternoons) in their high school games. The series includes stat breakdowns, game stories, and even some original video. Here's a primer for the out-of-state commits. If you have any corrections, you can e-mail them to me at Tim@mgoblog.com, or post them in the comments of this post.
Montgomery Bell Academy
|Montgomery Bell 2011|
|8-26||8PM||@ Louisville Trinity|
|9-16||7PM||Battle Ground Academy|
|9-30||TBA||@ Father Ryan|
|10-28||TBA||@ Pope John Paul II|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tackle/Guard
Last year, Montgomery Bell Academy went 9-3, losing in the second round of the Tennessee High School State Playoffs. Since Blake is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note on the year.
This season, MBA plays many of the same opponents that they did last year, including Ensworth, who beat them in the playoffs (avenging an earlier loss). Blake is one of the key players on his team, and with a solid season, could see his rankings improve on the recruiting sites. Since he was a first-time starter last year, it's likely he'll show plenty of improvement now that he's gotten his feet wet.
Colerain High School
|10-7||7:30PM||@ Lakota West|
|10-28||7:30PM||@ Oak Hills|
HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Strongside Linebacker
Colerain is one of the traditional powers in Ohio High School football, and their 11-1 season last year is another example of that success. However, they lost in the second round of the State Playoffs to rival St. Xavier, ending not only their undefeated streak, but also their season. Bolden notched 90 tackles, 4 sacks, and 2 interceptions in the campaign.
Look for the Cardinals to reload for yet another successful campaign, though five players went on to Division-1 colleges after graduation. They also have a tough schedule, starting with an inter-state game against Cocoa (FL), and including a game against fellow Michigan commit Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills squad.
I might get a chance to catch a game of Bolden's, but if not, you'll be able to watch the season opener on ESPN2, so be sure to tune in.
Brush High School
|8-26||7PM||@ Eastlake North|
|10-28||7PM||@ Garfield Heights|
HS Position: Quarterback/Defensive End
Projects as: Defensive End/Wide Receiver
Brush struggled to a 4-6 record last year, with Brown one of the few bright spots at both defensive end and quarterback. He made 49 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, 7 sacks, 3 pass breakups, and two forced fumbles at defensive end. His quarterback stats are not available.
Brush is looking to rebound in 2011 with a stronger season, and the five close losses last year indicate that they may not be far from a breakthrough of sorts. Brown might switch from quarterback to wideout this year (as some 7-on-7 highlights might indicate), but will continue terrorizing QBs off the edge.
As an underexposed recruit, Brown is somebody that could see his rankings on the recruiting sites rise if he has a dominant senior year. His physical tools are impressive, and putting them to good use could see him rise to 4-star status on all the recruiting sites. It's unlikely that I'll catch any of his games in person this fall. I'm also not positive if the schedule listed by MaxPreps is accurate, as that double-dip against Twinsburg seems a little fishy.
Southview High School
|9-2||7PM||@ Toledo Rogers|
|9-9||7PM||@ Toledo Start|
|9-16||7PM||Napoleon (@ Northview)|
|9-30||8PM||Perrysburg (@ Northview)|
|10-7||7PM||@ Bowling Green|
|10-14||7PM||Whitehouse Anthony Wayne|
HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Strong Safety
Like Colerain, Southview completed an undefeated regular season - blowing out many opponents along the way - but was tripped up early in the playoffs, falling in the first round to Twinsburg (alma mater of Zoltan, All Hail Zoltan). Allen finished his junior year with 56 tackles, 3 interceptions, and 2 forced fumbles on defense, while also recording 20 receptions on the other side of the ball.
This year, Southview will look to take last year's performance to the next level, advancing into the Ohio Playoffs. Allen should be an important part of the defense and the offense if he can stay healthy (he's had hamstring issues in the past).
Since the Sylvania/Toledo area is not a long haul, I might be able to catch a couple of Gant's games in person this fall. With a healthy, successful season, he has a very good chance to move up in the rankings.
Salt Lake City, UT
Highland High School
|8-19||7PM||@ Salt Lake West|
|8-26||7PM||@ Cedar City|
|10-14||7PM||@ Salt Lake East|
HS Position: A-Back
Projects as: Fullback
Highland had a pretty successful 2010 campaign, finishing the year with a 10-4 record and running through the playoffs to a State Championship. Houma played a big role in that championship, rushing for 1200 yards and 9 touchdowns as the dive back in a flexbone offense.
As the reigning State Champs, Highland should expect to have another successful season this fall, despite the loss of a pair of 3-star players to the Pac-12 (Desmond Collins to Oregon State, Nate Fakahafua to Utah). Sione should continue to play a big role in the offense, especially since one of his backfield mates has moved on as well.
Since he plays a position where there are rarely any prospects rated higher than three stars, it's unlikely to see Sione rise that much in the rankings. Compounding that is the fact that he's slightly undersized for his eventual college position, and he'll have to turn in a very impressive campaign in 2011 to see his rankings rise (though he may be able to pass a fullback or two).
Since he's two timezones away, I think it goes without saying that I won't see any games in person this fall (though any readers in the SLC area who want to e-mail game reports, photos, video, etc. are more than welcome to).
St. Edward High School
|St. Edward 2011|
|9-2||TBA||@ Pittsburgh Penn Hills|
|9-10||7:30PM||Youngstown Cardinal Mooney|
|9-24||7PM||Tampa (FL) Jefferson|
|9-30||7PM||@ Youngstown Ursuline|
|10-8||7PM||Ramsey (NJ) Don Bosco Prep|
|10-15||7PM||@ Cincinnati St. Xavier|
|10-29||7PM||Cleveland St. Ignatius|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Guard/Tackle
2010 was a good year for one of the tradition powers in Ohio High School Football, as Lakewood St. Edward went 15-0 en route to a State Championship. That was quite the rebound from an extremely disappointing 4-6 campaign in 2009, especially since they played plenty of top competition. Since Kyle is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.
This year should be interesting for St. Edward, as they lost 5 players to Division-1 ball (and another to FCS school Penn, which I guess technically counts as D-1). However, this year's senior class might be even better, with Kalis joined by a quartet of 3-star commits on the roster. The run-heavy scheme certainly should see success behind Kalis and fellow BCS-bound lineman Tyler Orlosky, who is committed to West Virginia. They have a hell of a schedule, with opponents from four different states.
Cleveland is one of the less-convenient potential stops for the Great FNL Tour of 2011, but I'm hoping to make it to at least one of Kalis's games. I'm not willing to make any promises though.
La Costa Canyon High School
|La Costa Canyon 2011|
|9-16||7PM||@ San Clemente|
|10-21||7PM||Rancho Buena Vista|
|11-4||7PM||@ El Camino|
HS Position: Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Tackle
La Costa Canyon had a decent season last year, finishing 8-4 and losing to Oceanside in the CIF Playoff Second Round. Since Erik is an offensive lineman, he didn't have any stats of note.
La Costa Canyon is looking to build on last year's success, and have another successful season, taking it to the next level. They did lose a defensive end to Kansas State, which one must assume will weaken their defense.
California is a little too far for an FNL road trip (forgive me), but if any San Diego-area readers want to help keep tabs, my e-mail inbox is open. Erik is already a very highly-regarded prospect, so unless he has a simply dominant senior year, displaying that he has NFL potential as a true left tackle, it's hard to see him moving up the rankings much.
Northmont High School
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Princeton|
|9-10||7PM||@ Cincinnati Moeller|
HS Position: Linebacker
Projects as: Weakside/Middle Linebacker
Northmont missed the State Playoffs last year after a trying season that included four blowout losses (to six wins). Despite team struggles, Kaleb performed pretty well, notching 35 solo tackles and 50 assisted tackles, while playing running back in goal line situations.
No recruited players graduated from Northmont, so this season has a chance to show some improvement. With Kaleb the key component in the defense, Northmont will look to build toward the State Playoffs in 2011.
Kaleb has a range of rankings on the recruiting services, with only Scout deeming him worthy of a fourth star. If he can turn in a physically dominant senior year, there's a good chance for him to rise in the rankings. His height will limit him a bit, but there's no reason he can't scrape into the 4-star range.
I'm hoping to make it to maaaaybe one of Kaleb's games this season, but with so many commits close to home, I may not be able to see him live. Also, there appears to be an error in the schedule posted on Maxpreps, as it shows two consecutive games against Fairmont.
Oak Hills High School
|Oak Hills 2011|
|8-27||TBA||@ Cincinnati La Salle|
|9-23||7:30PM||@ Lakota West|
|10-7||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Sycamore|
HS Position: Offensive Guard/Tackle
Projects as: Offensive Center
Oak Hills had a rough season last year, going 4-6 and missing out on the State Playoffs. Losses to Stacey's future teammates AJ Williams (Sycamore) and Joe Bolden (Colerain) were included. Since Caleb is an offensive lineman, he didn't register any meaningful stats last season.
This season, the slate looks pretty tough again for Oak Hills, but they'll certainly strive to improve upon last year's record. Once again, they close the season against Joe Bolden's Colerain squad.
Caleb is at an interesting point from a rankings perspective. He's a 3-star across all three sites, which unanimously rank him among the guards. HOWEVA, he's slated to be a center in college, and is expected to play that position for his high school team this year to help get acclimated. That means that not only are the recruiting sites going to be scouting him this fall, but they'll be doing it at a new position. Lots of moving parts means lots of opportunity to move in the rankings. Rivals and ESPN only rank two centers in the 4-star range, Scout ranks three (two of whom are committed to Oklahoma), and 24/7 Sports only bothers to rank one center at all.
There's a slight chance I'll see a game or two of Stacey's this fall, but again, there are plenty of other prospects much closer, so I make no promises.
Crete-Monee High School
|8-26||7:30PM||Thornton Fractional South|
|9-2||7:30PM||@ Lincoln-Way West|
|10-7||6PM||@ Rich Central|
|10-22||12PM||@ Rich East|
HS Position: Cornerback
Projects as: Cornerback/Safety
Crete-Monee had a decent season last year, finishing with an 8-4 record and a loss to Danville in the third round of the State Playoffs. Anthony was a big part of that success, adding 44 tackles to his 9 interceptions and a forced fumble.
This year, Crete-Monee should be even stronger, with no players from last year's class even present in Rivals's database, much less committed to Division-1 schools. Anthony should be one of the squad's leaders, along with junior teammate WR LaQuon Treadwell, helping take their team to the next level.
Anthony has plenty of potential to move up in the rankings with a good season. He's been pegged as sort of a corner/safety combo by some recruiting sites, so showing that he has the necessary skills to be a high-level corner in college could boost his rankings. With excellent corner size, displaying his abilities on the field is all he needs.
I won't be wishy-washy about whether or not I'm going to see any of his games, as I plan to make exactly one: The night before the Michigan game at Northwestern, Crete-Monee takes on Rich Central. Convenient!
Mentor High School
HS Position: Defensive End
Projects as: Strongside Defensive End
Mentor had an OK season last year, finishing 7-4 with a first-round playoff loss to Lakewood St. Edward (and Strobel's good friend Kyle Kalis) - bookending the season with losses to St. Ed. Strobel had 37 tackles, 5 tackles for loss, and a sack for Mentor, and added a pair of fumble recoveries.
This year, the schedule looks just a bit lighter, so Mentor should put together a strong season. Strobel is the headliner of his team, and should be a team leader en route to a successful season.
Despite that, I don't think it's likely that Tom moves around much in the rankings, unless he puts together a monster year statistically (he was held back a bit last year by a trachea injury). A solid 4-star ranking is nothing to be ashamed of, and it seems likely Tom sticks in that range.
I'm not planning to make it to any of Mentor's games this year, but it's always possible that plans change.
Sycamore High School
|8-27||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Withrow|
|9-30||7:30PM||@ Cincinnati Princeton|
HS Position: Tight End/Offensive Tackle
Projects as: Tight End
Sycamore had a mediocre season last year, finishing 6-4 on the season and missing out on the State playoffs. The season included a win over Caleb Stacey's Oak Hills but a loss to Joe Bolden's Colerain. AJ didn't rack up many numbers, instead serving primarily as a blocker.
Sycamore graduated a couple BCS-bound players, so it wouldn't be a surprise if their team took a sight step back this year. However, the schedule is a bit lighter with no Colerain, so perhaps they can put together a strong season.
AJ is in a weird position as far as rankings go. He's a huge tight end, but it doesn't sound like there is any plan to have him play tackle. Despite that, he rarely catches any passes. Unless he moves to offensive line (and is ranked there by the recruiting services) or Sycamore's offensive scheme changes to get him the ball a bit more frequently, I doubt AJ is going to move in the rankings.
I have no current plans to make it to a Sycamore game this year.
John R. Buchtel High School
|8-25||7:30PM||@ Massillon Washington|
|9-16||7PM||@ Akron Garfield|
|10-8||12PM||@ Akron North|
|10-21||7PM||@ St. Vincent-St. Mary|
HS Position: Safety/Wide Receiver
Projects as: Safety
Buchtel had a pretty good season last year, falling in the State Finals to Bishop Watterson. The 11-4 final record also included losses to a trio of Catholic Schools. Jarrod was a huge part of his team's success, reeling in 12 interceptions and returning 5 of them for touchdowns. He also had a 98-yard fumble return for touchdown. He recorded about 50 tackles on the year.
This year, Buchtel loses the services of wideout Corey Smith, who would be a senior, but is ineligible to play high school sports (he's participated in four previous years). One of Wilson's compatriots in the defensive backfield, Chevin Meadows, has moved on to Kent State. Despite that, Jarrod is one of the catalysts for his team's success, so there shouldn't be too much dropoff for the Griffins - though they have a brutal start to the year.
Jarrod has put up massive stats in previous years, so it's not a lack of production that is holding him back in the rankings. Because of that, I think it's unlikely he moves much, even if he has another huge year.
I'm not currently planning to attend any Buchtel games this season, but Akron readers are welcome to e-mail me.
Any corrections to the schedules posted here are welcome. If you attend any commit's game, feel free to e-mail me notes, stats, photos, etc. to Tim@mgoblog.com.
You can find the 2012 offer board here.
AJ Williams and Devin Funchess Go Blue
Brady Hoke's coaching staff seems to only accept a commitment if they're able to get another commitment at the same position within a couple days (or minutes). This time, it's a pair of tight ends as Devin Funchess and AJ Williams committed back-to-back last week.
Funchess talks about how he turned into a bigtime football prospect:
"I started caring more. I used to just be out there lackadaisical. I started caring more, got bigger in the weight room and started to get better." ... "Devin has always had great potential, but the maturity between his sophomore and junior year was really amazing," [Harrison coach John] Herrington said.
Go Blue Michigan Wolverine breaks down Devin's abilities:
He runs very well for a player his size. Devin also jumps well and times his jump well catching the ball at its highest point. As pointed out, Devin uses his size and athletic ability to make difficult catches. With his length and long arms, he makes an excellent red zone target. Devin has the ability to make a difficult catch look easy.
The Wolverine Blog newcomer Jack Slice goes into awesome detail about what Funchess will do in Ann Arbor:
Funchess’ main asset on the field is his versatility, and the staff has a plan to utilize his skills... They’ll slide him in motion and have him plowing holes in the middle of the line as a fullback. They’ll use him in a traditional H-Back role. They’ll split him out wide and create mismatches with his size. Funchess (and other U Tight Ends) will be the ultimate utility player.
Tom talked to Funchess's teammate, MI DE Mario Ojemudia:
It depends on what [Devin] says to me. We've talked about playing together, but that's not the main reason I would choose to go to a college. I pretty much knew [Devin] was going to Michigan, I just didn't know when he was going to commit.
For the record, the Wolverines are in his top 3 ($, info in header).
AJ is a huge high school tight end who could play either tight end or offensive tackle at Michigan. At spring camps he demonstrated excellent measuables, including a sub 5.00 second forty and recorded a 30-inch vertical. AJ also tested well in the squat and bench.
Magnus talks class fit on Touch the Banner:
The high number of offers to tight ends in this class suggests that Michigan would like to take at least two players at the position, and the skill sets of those offers tell me that they would like at least one blocking tight end and one pass receiving threat at the position. Williams is the blocking variety and has stated that the coaches want to use him to pave the way at the point of attack.
Every fanbase has "that guy," and this Arkansas messageboarder DOES NOT UNDERSTAND why any skill position player with an Arkansas offer would commit to any other school, unless they're getting paid.
- IN QB Gunner Kiel. One of the nation's top QBs, Michigan seems like a longshot. With Pike off the table, do they turn up the heat?
- FL QB Bennie Coney. Michigan currently in his top 5, trailing his top 2 of Notre Dame and Florida State.
- OH QB Maty Mauk. Though he wants to play in a spread offense, he has the size and skills to play in a pro-style. Michigan is in his top group.
- CA QB Jake Rodrigues. Hasn't been mentioned much, but holds a Michigan offer.
- NJ QB/Ath Devin Fuller. Not the prototypical pro-style QB, but Michigan's coaches have said he could get a shot at the position.
There are a couple as-yet unoffered QBs that may get a shot as well:
- OH QB Austin Appleby. Not terribly mobile, but he can throw it.
- OH QB Tyler O'Connor. O'Connor seems to be ahead of Appleby in the offer LINE, and he thinks he'll be getting one soon. A Michigan offer would put them among his favorites, and he wants to decide by the first week of his senior season. Michigan's coaches are in his school today.
- MI QB Brian Blackburn. His interest seems to be picking up, but he's still a little way down the list.
- IL QB Wes Lunt. Recently picked up a Wisconsin offer.
With instate phenom Shane Morris in the 2013 class, an elite signal-caller isn't an absolute necessity this year.
Assume the Position: Linebacker
Space was tight in last week's recruiting post, what with two commitments and all, so it's time to delve into linebacker recruiting going forward. Michigan currently has commitments from Scout's #2 and #9 middle linebackers (though I think Jenkins-Stone is more likely to be a SAM at the next level), and are in good position with at least a couple other guys.
How many linebackers will they take in the 2012 class? They had a pretty big haul last year, with Frank Clark, Antonio Poole, Keith Heitzman, Kellen Jones, Desmond Morgan, and Brennen Beyer. OK, that's beyond a "pretty big haul," but it's also likely that some of these guys end up at other positions. For example, Clark can play TE, Heitzman is probably a TE or DE, Beyer is almost certainly a DE, and Morgan could even play fullback.
It's clear that the staff wants at least one more LB in this class, and depending on who they can land, I think they'd take two. The most obvious candidate to land in the class is OH LB Joe Bolden, who likes Michigan a lot, is "still a major priority" ($, info in header), and could decide "at any time." He was the focus of last week's Sam Webb column in the Detroit News:
Colerain headman Tom Bolden: "Speaking as a head coach, he is a phenomenal player. He can play inside and he can play outside at the linebacker position. He covers a lot of ground, he is smart, and he can make the checks. He is a thumper. When he gets there he makes an impact. When he tackles kids, they stay tackled. Plus he carries a 3.9 GPA and is a great man off the field. I think all that makes him a great football player and a great young man."
Good lookin' out, uncle Tom. Scout's Allen Trieu:
"He has very good size, and he's a tough, hard-nosed football player," Trieu stated. "He's a classic, throwback type linebacker, but he's not just a run stuffer. He runs well and shows good ability in coverage. I think he can be an every-down linebacker and that's why so many schools are after him... Put that all together and he has a shot at playing early and often."
Ohio State hasn't offered (and apparently won't), and that means good things if he eventually suits up for the maize-and-blue:
"To me, if you didn't recruit me — and I don't like to be arrogant and full of myself — I like to prove people wrong," Bolden admitted. "I love doing it. I love talking, but also backing it up. If you've ever been in that situation, it makes it sweeter. It would definitely feel good."
I think the staff would probably also take a commitment from MI LB James Ross or PA LB Deaysean Rippy. Beyond those guys, it's tough to see any mutually-interested options.
IL LB Antonio Morrison visited Michigan for the spring game ($, info in header), and has picked up a Florida offer. MI LB Tyler Goble has visited Ann Arbor, but I have to think his best bet is a preferred walkon spot at this point. OH LB Mason Monheim was recently on campus.
In the "who might be next" department, MI DE Matt Godin will announce a decision on May 12th. He's a lifelong Michigan fan, and the Wolverines are in his final three along with Michigan State and Wisconsin.
Michigan will offer IL CB Anthony Standifer if he performs well at Michigan's camp. He's a big CB, and what he might lack in elite speed, he makes up for with ball skills:
Michigan was the first non-MAC school to show bigtime interest, and Charles Woodson is his favorite corner.
MN OL Jonah Pirsig gets the local fluff treatment from the Pioneer Press. The way the article is written, Jerry Kill might commit seppuku if he doesn't land Pirsig. The kid currently favors Iowa.
OH DE Tom Strobel will play in the Army All-American game.
MI CB Terry Richardson has set a firm decision date ($, info in header).
OK RB Donovan Roberts holds a Michigan offer and he will decide today ($, info in header). I'd be shocked if Michigan is the selection.
Michigan seems like a longshot for MD WR Stefon Diggs, a teammate of 2011 signee Blake Countess.
OH RB Bri'Onte Dunn, currently an Ohio State commit, has softened that commitment, and may visit Ann Arbor soon.
PA RB Greg Garmon plans to visit Ann Arbor.
OH DE Pharoah Brown is making a return visit to Ann Arbor soon.
NJ S Brandon Napoleon will visit in May.
A couple new(ish) offers:
- VA DE Ken Ekanem has picked up a Michigan offer. The offer surprised him, but he might reciprocate the interest with an Ann Arbor visit this summer.
- Michigan has offered TX RB Jonathan Williams.
- Michigan has offered TX FB Dominic Ramacher.
Michigan has offered OH RB Dymonte Thomas.
Continuing the new Michigan tradition of landing commitments at the same position back-to-back, the Wolverines gained a commitment from OH TE/OL AJ Williams this afternoon.
Come at me bro: Scouting Ohio
|3*, #15 TE||NR TE||NR TE||NR TE|
The premium sites are mostly in agreement on his size: three votes for 6-6, and ESPN is the lone dissenter at 6-5. They're also pretty close on his weight, with two votes for 255, and two votes giving 5 extra pounds at 260. That difference is too small to be relevant.
Now that we know how big this kid is, we start coming to the questions of position. If a high school junior weighs 260 pounds, there's a darn good chance he'll be near 300 by his redshirt sophomore year. It seems almost inevitable that he ends up on the offensive line, especially since that's what he'll do most of his senior year. Ohio recruiting guru Duane Long like his potential there:
A.J. Williams, Cincinnati Sycamore. Could be top five in the state after a year of playing tackle rather than tight end, something he will do this year.
Of course now that he's a Michigan commit, Long will downgrade him to "worst player ever to come out of Ohio." More from Duane:
I have to mention Cincinnati Sycamore's A.J. Williams. I know Mark Porter is grinning seeing his name come up as we don't quite know what to do with him. He plays tight end at 6-6 255 but blocks like a tackle. The thing is he is so athletic you have to want a guy like this at tight end. You have a third tackle on the field at all times without giving up a weapon in the passing game. We have no idea whether he can catch the ball though. On a 4 minute highlight reel he only catches one ball.
That's a nice segue to the the negative: he hasn't caught a lot of passes in his high school career. That's not such a big deal if he fills out and end up on the offensive line, right? Magnus said on Maize n Brew that he could be a strictly-blocking tight end as well:
While Thompson is more of a pass-catching threat, there are also offers to guys like Williams and Mark Harrell, which suggests to me that Brady Hoke wants a blocking tight end, too.
Somebody who's mostly a blocker, with the occasional threat of catching a pass (remember, Long raves about his athleticism), could be a great addition in Borges's offense. He's also a high-scoring player on the hoops court, speaking to either his size or athleticis, but more likely both.
AJ had a pretty good offer sheet, with representation from the SEC (Arkansas, Vanderbilt), ACC (Boston College, NC State), Big East (Louisville, West Virginia), and Big Ten (Illinois, Indiana), to go along with some lower-caliber squads.
Ohio State would have liked for him to be available late in the year in case they wanted to toss a last-minute offer his way, but the Michigan commitment obviously closes that door.
Given that he has an entire highlight reel that includes only one catch, it's fair to say that AJ doesn't rack up a whole lot of individual production. Therefore he falls more into the "offensive lineman, there does not have stats" category.
FAKE 40 TIME
Rivals is the only site listing a 40-yard dash time, crediting him at 4.9 seconds. Considering he's a tweener between tight end and tackle, that's downright realistic (if not a little on the pessimistic side). I'm left with no choice but to dole out a mere one FAKE out of five.
ScoutingOhio has only a preview for his highlight video:
PREDICTION BASED ON FLIMSY EVIDENCE
As I started writing this post, I was dead set on the idea that this guy is a high school tight end who becomes an offensive lineman in college. I'm still leaning that way, but now I'm not quite as sure. He's a de facto third tackle in high school, so it wouldn't be that much of a change for him (especially if, as noted above, he simply plays on the line this year). However, he also has pretty good athleticism, and while that trait isn't "wasted" by putting him on the line, it's definitely one less weapon you have.
At the end of the day, I'm going to predict he ends up as a 6-6 (or even taller, as he's only a high school junior right now) 315 offensive lineman, capable of playing pretty much any position along the line until the coaches give him a bit of specialization. Like every offensive lineman, he will spend a year redshirting to bulk up and start learning the system.
Down the road, he'll show some flashes of brilliance in backup duty, and his career will follow a similar arc to what Patrick Omameh's has done so far [Ed-M: earning late-season playing time over established veterans as a RS freshman then blowing up All-American linebackers by Game 2 of his sophomore year? Um, yes please!]. All-Big Ten and even All-American honors are not out of the question way down the road.
UPSHOT FOR THE REST OF THE CLASS
Since Williams is a tweener, it's tough to know exactly how the coaches view him, and therefore what impact he'll have on the class. If he's strictly a tight end, it may squeeze Michigan lean Ron Thompson out of the picture. If he's an offensive lineman, it gets Michigan one player closer to the projected goal of 5-6 players at that position.
Either way, he has little effect on overall numbers, and is another useful piece to a solid (but not great) beginning to the 2012 class. The biggest needs remain quarterback and defensive line.
I had commitment posts ready to go for these guys before my blogging software melted down and I lost all my drafts (recommendation: Mac users, avoid Ecto at all costs. All. Costs.), so full-fledged Hello posts for both commitments will be coming later this afternoon.
Muchas gracias for your patience.