My Report from Belleville-West Bloomfield HS Playoff Game

Submitted by robpollard on November 12th, 2018 at 11:27 AM

Since discussing the blowout Rutger game has limited utility, I thought I’d give a summary of last Friday’s high school quarterfinal playoff between Belleville and West Bloomfield. Belleville ended up winning 13-10 on a TD late in the 4th quarter.

Chock-full of D1A players, it was played in freezing conditions (about 25-30 degrees wind chill) with a decent breeze and some wet snow, so conditions were slick – Belleville physically dominated, but had a number of turnovers and also 2 key penalties that took long TD passes off the board. Caveats: I left at end of 3rd quarter b/c person I attended with stepping in a puddle at halftime and was worried he would get frostbite; he did not. I am also not remotely a professional evaluator.

Julian Barnett (MSU; #3 in State, #54 in Nation - CB/WR): whoo boy – a real player. Looks and plays like someone who will contribute as a freshman. Has excellent speed—jumps out at you. If I were Belleville, I'd give/throw him the ball as much as possible (did have one of the TDs called back). He’s going to be a problem for us.
Jalen Hunt (Iowa, #18, DL): Love this dude. Listed as 6-2, 260 and, along with playing some RB and DL, he was the punter! He got a couple off (nothing special) and on one bad snap, picked up the ball and ran hard to get what he could. He dinged up his legs, worked hard on sidelines to get loose, then had a sack on the next series even though he was still gimpy.
Tyrece Woods (UM, #42, DL): played inside, so didn’t get a chance to see much. Made a few tackles.
Andre Seldon (UM, #6 2020, SE/CB): had a couple nice runs, but didn’t have a chance to do much that I saw. He’s tiny. May have been out there on defense, but as WB didn’t threw down the field much except to Mosley (who wasn’t guarded by Seldon), I really didn’t notice him.

Lance Dixon (Penn State, #6, LB/CB): looks like an athlete, but surprisingly didn’t do anything on offense—WB didn’t really get him the ball for some reason. Even though looks like an LB, had to play CB against Belleville’s typically 4-wide set, and did a nice job.
Tre Mosley (MSU, #19, WRF): a nice player. WB’s best receiver; has nice body control and hands. Scored an easy TD. Could be a nice possession receiver at next level?
Cornell Wheeler (UM, #15 2020, RB/LB): a tackling machine. Needs to get a bit stronger/faster, but ran hard as an RB (though usually just for 3-5 yards). Played with energy.

Finally, Devontae Dobbs (#2 in State, #19 in Nation, OL):
I don’t get it. I’ve seen him 4 times now (3 times last year) and he just doesn’t stand out as you would expect. I watched him more than any one player (he typically plays left side of OL). Belleville didn’t run behind him nearly as much as you would think. In fact, here’s a typical Belleville running play: Dobbs would come out his stance (which looked high to me), the WB linemen/LBs would avoid him, Dobbs would take a couple steps forward—and that’s it, as the RB would typically go elsewhere. He did not seek out contact, at all. He literally would stop, instead of finding the ball and running to help block someone or push the play along. Was he coached this way? It was mystifying. Why didn’t Belleville run, on a crappy night, behind their 5-star, 300lb tackle and just mash the smaller WB team?

In fact, the most notable thing I saw him do all night is when Belleville scored to make it 10-6, they missed the XP (another bad snap due to weather). He seemed ticked and absolutely BOLTED to the sideline in frustration; coaches had to calm him down. While it was definitely impressive to see a 6-5, 300lb guy run that fast, not sure what that was all about (he also did something similar earlier in the game).

Not saying Dobbs for sure won’t turn out to be a player—he, at a minimum, has excellent size and is athletic. He also did a nice job pass-blocking, FWIW, against WB's much smaller, less athletic line. But he just didn’t make the impact that Barnett, Hunt, Mosley or Wheeler did.



November 12th, 2018 at 11:31 AM ^

Regarding Dobbs, I agree wholeheartedly based on what I've seen on film. He doesn't have impressive film at all. I think the kid's just a really good athlete for his size, so teams are giving him the benefit of the doubt.


November 12th, 2018 at 12:36 PM ^

Yes and no. If I'm looking at more athletic guys, I at least want them to play aggressively. Taylor Lewan, for example, was an athletic player, but he was nasty. Ryan Hayes is tall and kind of thin, but he was aggressive in high school and would drive people. I'm not saying Dobbs is destined for failure, but I wouldn't rank him as highly as he is right now.


November 12th, 2018 at 1:18 PM ^

The primary projection part on OL is on the physical side - keeping athleticism while adding weight and strength.  There is not much to project anymore for Dobbs (unless he grows 3”) so people are focusing on attitude and effort.

Something was definitely a concern with M coaches (at least during the Drevno period) as Dobbs was never as big a focus as you would expect for an in-State 5-star.  Also Dobbs is most likely NOT a tackle on the next level — though much like Mason Cole, he might be the best available at MSU and should do OK if left there.

Projecting OTs seems to be the biggest crap-shoot in the recruiting game.  Despite recent stories that most NFL drafted tackles were not 300# in HS, most of the top rated recruits are well over 300#.  A good example is M-commit Trente Jones.  Per Steve Lorenz from 247 Sports, many down in GA are saying that Trente is the best OL on his team but is rated 291 spots lower that his teammate fellow-tackle, Wanya Morris.  Morris is 6’5.5” and 311 while Jones is 6’6” and 282.  (Steve is not the hype-man type so I tend to believe he is reporting what he is hearing vs. pumping up a M commit for our sake.). 


November 12th, 2018 at 11:37 AM ^

Also, West Bloomfield safety Makari Paige is another guy on these rosters who's a noteworthy recruit, not to mention a few more Belleville guys in the coming classes.


November 12th, 2018 at 11:43 AM ^

Oh yeah, Belleville has a handful of other players who I could have mentioned, like their sophomore QB (who is a bit short/thick for a prototype QB, but has a nice arm and showed good accuracy, esp for such a crappy night) but I didn't want my already long post to get even longer.

You are right about Paige, now that you mention it -- I didn't know of him before the game, and didn't watch out for him, but he made some plays.


November 12th, 2018 at 12:34 PM ^

Agreed. I've not, remotely, seen every top recruit but he has excellent size and his speed reminded me of Daxton Hill -- I have no idea which one is faster in a footrace, but in relative terms: when I watch those highlights of Hill, he had a different speed than the other players that were on the field with him; same with Barnett. 


November 12th, 2018 at 12:59 PM ^

Yep, that's true. I was surprised Belleville didn't get him the ball more on offense (I would make sure he touched it at least 10 times a game -- he's a threat to go to the house everytime he touches it), but I understand it -- they have so much talent, it makes sense to spread it around.

He did return both kicks and punts, and WB did a nice job covering that (and kicking away from him).

Monkey House

November 12th, 2018 at 11:43 AM ^

Oline is hard to evaluate sometimes.  A friend of mine played at psu in the mid 2000s and was all big ten.  In high school he didn't stand out at all other than his size.  


November 12th, 2018 at 11:52 AM ^

That's certainly true, but still. I'd love an explanation of why, on multiple consecutive running plays, he literally took a couple steps forward and stopped -- didn't go find someone to block, didn't even touch anyone. I was stunned the first time I saw it, and then it happened again.

He's a top athlete, for sure. But I would think you'd want linemen with a bit of mean streak, who seeks contact and crushing blocks. I certainly didn't see that, at all, though again, perhaps that's how he's coached (I didn't see that from other OL, though).

Diagonal Blue

November 12th, 2018 at 11:57 AM ^

Thanks for the writeup Rob. My two cents having also seen some of these guys:

Lance Dixon is every bit the prospect Logan Brown is. Would have been a PERFECT Viper. Not sure what he sees in Frames Janklin but they are going to play him at a traditional linebacker spot at PSU and I don't see how he fits that. He's basically another Willie Gay.  

I agree with you on Dobbs, very athletic but something is just missing there. I think Karsen Barnhart is the better OL prospect between the two.

I think Wheeler ends up at fullback eventually. Don't think he has the speed to play on Don Brown's defense. 

Seldon is extremely tiny but very sticky. Will be interesting to see how much bigger he can get because he can definitely cover.

Never understood the Woods offer and still don't. Not even the best DL on his own team, that would be Hunt IMO. Reminds me of when UM took Paea.

Two guys you didn't mention, Makari Page (WB) and Damon Payne (Belleville) are both top 100 type talents.


November 12th, 2018 at 11:59 AM ^

Size and athleticism are a hard combination to find.  I don't doubt that Dobbs will be a successful OT, but I'm thinking that his 5-star rank is based on the combo of size and athleticism.  And this would make perfect sense for why UM would look elsewhere - they can find that combo in a player that may show more effort.

I mean, this is Michigan, fer Godsakes!!


November 12th, 2018 at 12:26 PM ^


They also have sharp uniforms and, for some reason, only 2 heater blowers on the sideline which was funny to see how their players, at a school that I assume has a high budget, had to take turns heating/drying their hands (Belleville also only had two heat lamps, so maybe it's an MHSAA regulation or something!)

Matte Kudasai

November 12th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

Lance Dixon - I saw him against Cath Central the prior week where he must have run 10 jet sweeps and also caught the winning TD pass.  I didn't notice him as much on defense, but he was definitely a very good athlete.

While I would love to have him, he definitely reminded me more of a potential Josh Uche type fast OLB with a pass rush) than a viper type.  Either way he is very wiry and will need to add some weight and strength.  He did look like his listed 6'2.

Wheeler also ran the ball a lot and was solid on defense.  While he's probably 510-511 his body should be more college ready than Dixon's.

Mosley will be a solid college WR.  He was definitely better than the kids trying to cover him so I didn't get a great read but he looks like a player.

I really wasn't watching Paige.