Most of you may not know that I live in Arizona. I recently [ed note: not that recently anymore!] got the chance to see one of the final football games of the regular season for Michigan defensive end commit Craig Roh and offensive line target Taylor Lewan, teammates at Chaparral High. Chaparral beat Lewan's former team Cactus Shadows 45-28. Their team is 9-1, and they both have a lot to do with their team's success.
Craig Roh is a defensive end, four star recruit, and Michigan commit. Throughout the entire game he played strong, and didn't seem fatigued. The P.A. regularly announced his name for tackles and big plays. He was very vocal on the sidelines, focused on the team rather than himself.
He told me that was one of the things that drew him to Michigan, "They treat everyone like family, whether you're a freshman or not. I really like that each player gets treated the same, and with respect."
He also really likes the tradition of Michigan football, and has already started to build friendships with other players. "I've talked with Anthony Lalota a little bit," said Roh, "and I actually have Mike Martin's phone number, so we talk too, which has been good to get to know my future teammates."
We went on to talk about his excitement to get up to Ann Arbor this summer, where is his main focus will be building strength and putting on weight. When I asked him whether or not he was trying to convince his teammate, and friend to join him at Michigan, he looked back at Taylor down the field, and said "yeah, I want him to come to Michigan; I want him to be there with me."
While the recruiting process has slowed for Roh after his commitment, it's picked up for Taylor Lewan. Lewan, a recent convert to offensive tackle, stands 6' 7", 272 pounds and runs a 4.72 40. Before his senior season, he was relatively unknown, but now he's one of the hottest offensive line prospects in the country, a newly-minted four-star recruit and possessor of over 20 offers. Oklahoma State and Missouri are the latest BCS schools to add themselves to that list.
I had the privilege of talking with Taylor and his father Dave. They both seem to be taking the process for a ride, and are excited about Taylor's success. The elder Lewan was an athlete at Minnesota, and lived in the Detroit area earlier in his life. He told me "I'm not being biased at all, this is Taylor's time, and he's going to make the decision."
They both told me about Taylor's favorite player: former Michigan left tackle and current Miami Dolphin Jake Long. Dave told me that every Sunday, “Taylor watches the Dolphin games, and actually rewinds every offensive play to see what Jake was doing, and his technique.” Lewan draws comparisons to the first pick in the 2008 NFL draft. Taylor plays left tackle, wears the number 77, is one of the smartest players on and off the field, and has based his game on strength. Coming out of high school, Long was a recent convert to offensive line rated about where Lewan is.
I wasn't sure what to expect from Lewan since he was relatively new to the position, but he showed why colleges across the country are after him. He stands taller than most of the players on the field, and lacks the usual spare tire around his waist. He's solid muscle, and has a good frame to build on.
Then he strapped on his helmet, and showed me his best Jake Long impersonation. He plays with harnessed anger and emotion, and more importantly plays snap to whistle on every play. The play that stuck out was when he drove a defensive end all the way past the right hash mark, and would've kept going had the whistle not blown. His dad told me that Taylor thought he had a poor game, but that type of play is pretty normal for his son. "If you watch his highlight film,” he said, “there's a play where Taylor drives a kid 30 yards down the field, and actually out of the camera shot."
He told me he actually prefers playing in the cold, which is refreshing to hear from a warm climate player.
Coach Dews has been in contact with Lewan regularly, and has made a great impression on him. "I really like how Coach Dews treats me, and when we talk, I feel like he's my friend," said Lewan. Taylor seems to have a great head on his shoulders, and the right support system in his family. He's looking for the right opportunity, and wants to play. Roh and Lewan were both recently invited to play in the Under Armour All American Game. They drill together after practice, and credit each other for their success.”There’s no way that I would be where I’m at right now without Craig, he’s pushed me, and I’ve pushed him to where we are today,” said Taylor. Lewan told me that he will be taking one of his visits to Michigan. He originally planned to do so this weekend, but Chapparal has a playoff game and he has to reschedule. He currently plans to visit December 6th.
Michigan has some good competition for this highly touted recruit, but I can confidently say he will be a household name where ever he goes. Both he and his family spoke highly of Michigan, and had some great things to say about the coaching staff as well. We'll have to wait and see how this plays out, and there will be a lot of teams watching his every move.