It's Football Season
As we prepare for Michigan's opener, high school football is already underway in several states, which means less recruiting news and more useful scouting information as prospects turn their focus back to the field.
2015 LB commit Darrin Kirkland Jr. earned the top grade of any player Josh Helmholdt saw in two games scouting Indiana prospects, as he turned in a four-TFL performance in his squad's seven-point loss to open the season ($):
Performance: Kirkland got off to a strong start in his 2014 campaign, registering four tackles for loss among his 12 total tackles. The Rivals250 prospect was lined up at middle linebacker, but was making plays sideline-to-sideline. He was at his best, though, when he was playing downhill, filling holes and coming off the edge to make plays in the backfield. Kirkland overran a few plays in the flats, but also made several impressive open field tackles on running backs trying to get the edge and made it difficult for Avon's offense to scheme around him.
Scout's Brian Dohn caught 2015 OL commit Jon Runyan Jr. and his St. Joseph's Prep squad scrimmage against Philadelphia Imhotep ($):
Jon Runyan, OL, 6-4, 291
Skinny: Runyan, who is committed to Michigan, plays left tackle and was markedly bigger. He put on 20-plus and now has the strength needed to be dominant this season. He fired off the ball and did a nice job of getting his hands onto the defensive lineman, but he wasn’t as active as he was when in the midst of the grind of the season. He was [solid], but not overwhelming. When he was able to engage the defensive player, Runyan did a good job of finishing the block.
At 6'4", 291, Runyan very much has the look of a future guard.
[After THE JUMP: Michigan's strong presence on the Freep's top 25 list of in-state players, updates on several 2016 prospects, and more.]
Now THERE'S An Idea
The Freep's Mick McCabe released his annual top 25 list of Michigan high school football players, and 2015 ATH commit Brian Cole earned the top spot and his own feature. Can we get this kid on campus right now?
In addition to the three spots on offense [QB/RB/WR], Cole is a terrific free safety, earning a spot on last year’s Free Press All-State Dream Team as a defensive back. He also returns punts and kickoffs.
The toughest question for Heritage coach Don Maloney is: Which is Cole’s best position?
“He’s been best at all of them,” Maloney said. “Truthfully, he’s just such an explosive playmaking kid it doesn’t matter where I put him. I could put him at right guard and he would still make plays because he’s a strong, talented kid. I moved him to running back last year to get the ball in his hands more on a consistent basis, and there’s some highlight-reel plays he made in large part by himself.”
The rest of the list very much flies in the face of McCabe's reputation on Michigan boards as a Spartan homer. Here are some notable rankings:
- Wisconsin OL commit David Moorman at #2
- Michigan RB commit Mike Weber at #3
- Michigan QB commit Alex Malzone at #4
- MSU LB commit Tyriq Thompson at #5
- MSU ATH commit Khari Willis at #6
- OSU DE commit Josh Alabi at #7
- MSU OL commit Kyonta Stallworth at #8
- MSU ATH commit Tyson Smith at #13
That's as low as I've seen Stallworth ranked among in-state prospects, though it's worth keeping in mind that this is a list of the top current high school players, not best college prospects.
2016 Updates: Harding, Bredeson, Walker, Hill
The Wolverine's Brandon Brown caught up with 2016 Eastern Christian Academy four-star LB Dele' Harding, who said that the presence of former HS teammates Freddy Canteen and Brandon Watson will help Michigan's cause in his recruitment ($):
"Yeah, I believe having Freddy and Brandon up there will help Michigan," he said. "At the end of the day I just want to go to a college where I'm welcomed in with open arms and feels like a family.
"I want to have an impact on the program. I want a place that can support me academically and put me in a place where I can be successful if football doesn't work out. Michigan is a great school and they've been really good with our players. As far as Brandon and Freddy being there, it will definitely be a plus in my decision."
Harding mentioned Ohio State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Baylor, and Oregon as other schools standing out to him; while he won't make a decision until next summer, he said that Michigan will be a major factor until the end.
Scout's Allen Trieu talked visit plans with 2016 four-star WI OT Ben Bredeson:
As far as unofficial visits for the Fall, the school and football schedule will affect travel, but Bredeson does have his eye on several games and schools.
"For sure the Notre Dame-Michigan game, I just scheduled that one. I'm going to try to get out to some Badger games, possibly Penn State-Michigan and we'll see from there. I'm still working it out to see where I can go."
Trieu also spoke with Ben's older brother, Jack Bredeson, who plays defensive end on their high school team but will head to Michigan next year as a baseball commit. It's pretty clear he'd like to continue being teammates with his brother at the college level:
Younger brother Ben has a Michigan scholarship offer for football, and the thought of getting to attend college with his sibling is an enticing one.
"It would be like home for us. We're pretty close. It would be pretty cool to stay down the street or even in the same house. It would be pretty special, especially for our parents. It would be a dream."
That said, Jack stated that he's not putting any pressure on his younger brother; he'd like him to make his own decision.
Five-star 2016 NJ RB Kareem Walker told Scout's Brian Dohn that he "felt real comfortable at Ohio State and Michigan," after recent visits to both schools ($).
247's Steve Lorenz reports that four-star Cass Tech DB Lavert Hill will visit for the Appalachian State game; that'll be his fourth trip to Ann Arbor in the last month.
The Wolverine's Tim Sullivan relayed a quote from 2018(!) Gilman (MD) CB Taron Vincent, son of former NFL All-Pro CB Troy Vincent, in which he said he holds a Michigan offer ($). No other outlet has reported the offer, and Lorenz said in a board post that U-M hasn't sent out any 2018 offers. Vincent is almost certainly on Michigan's radar—especially since they have a solid relationship with his head coach at Gilman, Biff Poggi, aka Henry Poggi's father—but it's too early for them to be putting out offers to prospects who have yet to play in high school.
Happy trails to four-star 2015 TN LB Josh McMillon, who committed to Alabama on Friday as expected. He is, however, expected to take an official visit to Michigan this fall anyway.