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Posts Tagged ‘Michigan Recruiting’

New in Blue: Wide Receiver Brian Cole

Saturday, July 26th, 2014


Brian Cole(Jeff Schrier, MLive)

Brian Cole – WR | 6-2, 190 | Saginaw, Mich. – Heritage
ESPN: 4-star, #8 ATH Rivals: 4-star, #7 ATH 247: 4-star, #2 ATH Scout: 4-star, #5 WR
Other top offers: Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Tennessee

Michigan’s annual BBQ at the Big House kicked off with a bang on Saturday afternoon with the commitment of the state of Michigan’s top-rated prospect, wide receiver Brian Cole. Cole announced his commitment shortly after 1 p.m. EST via Twitter.

Cole is a consensus four-star recruit in the 2015 class and rated in the top 150 nationally by each of the four major recruiting services. 247 Sports ranks Cole the highest, listing him as the No.2 athlete in the class and 42nd overall. Rivals has him as the seventh-best athlete and 106th-best overall prospect, while Scout lists him as the fifth-best receiver, and ESPN has him as the eighth-best athlete and 137th-best overall prospect.

Heading into his senior year of high school, Cole already has ideal size. All four sites list him at 6’2″, while there is some disagreement about his weight. 247 and Rivals list him at 190-pounds, ESPN at 199, and Scout at 210. Regardless, by the time he shows up in Ann Arbor around this time next year, he’ll have the size to contribute immediately. And while he could play defensive back, Michigan has been recruiting him at receiver all the way.

Scout’s Allen Trieu had this to say about Cole: “Good sized kid who carries his 200-plus pounds very well. Shows very good ability in space and change of direction for a bigger kid. He is a good open field runner with legitimate speed. He has played a lot of tailback and safety, but shows good natural hands and ball skills. Having not played as much receiver, refining his route running is key but he has the tools to project to multiple positions in college.”

As the top-rated prospect in the state, this was thought to be a head-to-head battle between Michigan and Michigan State all along, even though he also held an offer from Ohio State. He had been considered a Michigan State lean up until this weekend. But when word broke earlier in the week that he would be on campus over the weekend and fellow in-state commit, quarterback Alex Malzone, would be with him, it was a good sign for the Maize and Blue.

Cole is the first wide receiver in the 2015 class, but joins the last commitment Michigan received, tight end Chris Clark, as highly-rated pass-catchers in the class. He’s the ninth commitment so far, the fifth on the offensive side of the ball, and is now the highest-rated commit in the class.

With dozens of other recruits on campus this weekend for the BBQ at the Big House, Cole may not be the only commitment of the weekend. Stay tuned for more updates.

New in Blue: Quarterback Messiah deWeaver

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014


Messiah DeWeaver

Messiah deWeaver – QB | 6-3, 200 | Trotwood, Ohio – Trotwood-Madison
ESPN: NR* Rivals: NR* 247: 4-star, #9 QB Scout: NR*
Other top offers: Louisville, Cincinnati, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Toledo, Western Kentucky

For the third straight week, Brady Hoke picked up a commitment, this time from Michigan pipeline south of the border. Trotwood-Madison quarterback Messiah deWeaver got an offer this morning and it turned out to be the one he was waiting for. The class of 2016 prospect committed a short time later and announced it via Twitter.

All four major recruiting services are in agreement about his height, 6’3″, but differ slightly on his weight, ranging from 198 to 202. Only one service has released its ratings and rankings for the 2016 class at this point. 247 Sports rates deWeaver four stars and ranks him the ninth-best pro-style quarterback in the class and 244th-best overall prospect.

He lead Trotwood to the state title game as a freshman in 2012 and then back again last fall as a sophomore, where the Rams fell to St. Vincent-St. Mary 24-0. In that game, deWeaver completed just 9-of-25 passes for 84 yards and three interceptions. However, in the semifinal, a 54-7 win over Clyde, deWeaver went 16-of-19 for 366 yards and six touchdowns. He finished the season with 2,265 yards, 21 touchdowns, and six rushing touchdowns. As a freshman in 2012, he threw for 831 yards, 13 touchdowns, and just four picks.

DeWeaver has hit the camp circuit heavily so far this summer, including the Michigan camp for the third straight year and Sound Mind Sound Body in Detroit last week. In addition to Michigan, he held offers from Cincinnati, Louisville, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Toledo, and Western Kentucky.

DeWeaver joins tackle Erik Swenson as the second member of the 2016 class and joins Alex Malzone (2015) as the second quarterback to commit to new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier. He’s just the latest in a series of recent Trotwood prospects to spurn the in-state Buckeys in favor of Michigan, including Roy Roundtree, Michael Shaw, Brandon Moore, current linebacker Mike McCray, and current defensive back Reon Dawson.

With two years of high school remaining, by the time deWeaver gets to Michigan Shane Morris will be a senior. He will then be behind Wilton Speight and Alex Malzone in terms of eligibility.

Drew’s mailbag: The rival Michigan needs to beat, Crawford’s crazy courtship

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014


Below is another installment of Drew’s Mailbag, which will run every two weeks throughout the offseason, answering any questions you may have regarding Michigan athletics. You can submit your questions to Drew on Twitter (@DrewCHallett) or via email (drew.maizeandgoblue@gmail.com).

Which [rivalry game] do you want the most if [Michigan football] can [win] only one? – Josh (@josh_muhleck)

Why only one? Shouldn’t Michigan expect to beat all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State next season? This is Michigan, fergodsakes. The leaders and best. The champions of the West. Michigan does not accept anything but first place. Etcetera, etcetera. Yada yada yada.

Okay. Now that that is out of my system, let’s be realistic. The truth is that it is highly unlikely that Michigan will defeat all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State in the fall. The Wolverines are staring up at all three rivals at the moment. The Buckeyes are 24-2 in two seasons under Urban Meyer. The Spartans have won at least 11 games three of the past four seasons, which includes earning an outright Big Ten championship and a Rose Bowl victory last year. The Fighting Irish are one year removed from an appearance in the national championship game. And this has all happened while Michigan has managed to have only one season with more than eight wins since 2007. The task of beating all three of its rivals is difficult enough when Michigan is at its peak, having done it only twice since 1991. Not even the biggest Michigan homer can expect the Wolverines to pull it off this year given the current state of these four programs.

To make matters worse, Michigan does not even have the luxury of hosting one of its rivals at Michigan Stadium this season. Instead, the Wolverines must face all three of Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State on the road for the first time in school history. This is a nightmare scenario for a program that has struggled on the road against quality competition. Michigan has lost its last 10 true road games against teams ranked in the AP Top 25. The last road win against such a foe was against No. 2 Notre Dame in 2006. Notre Dame, Michigan State, and Ohio State likely will be ranked in the AP Top 25 when Michigan steps on the gridiron with them. The idea that Michigan will end this extended road drought by sweeping them is ludicrous. Michigan fans should consider just one win versus its rivals this year as progress.

If Michigan can beat just one rival this fall, the pick should be the one in Columbus (Detroit News)

If Michigan can beat just one rival this fall, the pick should be the one in Columbus (Detroit News)

With that disclaimer out of the way, let’s break down which rival Michigan fans should most want the Wolverines to beat this season:

Notre Dame: Nothing would be sweeter than getting the last word in a rivalry that has all but disintegrated. Notre Dame stuck it to Michigan by notifying athletic director Dave Brandon just minutes before the two teams kicked off in 2012 that the Fighting Irish were putting the rivalry on pause after 2014. This was a shock to Michigan. Earlier that summer, Michigan and Notre Dame jointly announced that there would a two-year hiatus in 2018 and 2019 to allow the schools to schedule some new, fresh competition. It was supposed to be a short recess, not a permanent vacation.

Yet this fall will be the last Michigan-Notre Dame clash for the foreseeable future. Michigan reportedly has locked in its premium non-conference opponents through 2023. None are Notre Dame. With the Big Ten adding a ninth conference game to the slate in 2016, Michigan likely will not seek to add a second premium non-conference opponent. And Notre Dame’s affiliation with the ACC limits its availability. Therefore, a win in September would give Michigan bragging rights over the Fighting Irish for the next decade or two.

Nonetheless, Notre Dames is a non-conference rival. It always is enjoyable to watch Michigan’s quarterbacks torch the Fighting Irish, but the wins have no impact on its goal to win a Big Ten championship. Yes, wins against Notre Dame provide the Wolverines an added boost heading into the conference season. However, the significance of those wins pales in comparison to Michigan’s wins against conference rivals, Michigan State and Ohio State. Plus, unlike MSU and OSU, Michigan has had Notre Dame’s number recently, winning six of the last eight meetings. While Michigan would like to make it seven of the last nine, a win here is not nearly as important is would be later in the season.

Michigan State: In 2007, after a fourth-quarter, comeback win against Michigan State, then-Michigan running back Mike Hart claimed that Michigan State was Michigan’s “little brother.” Yet, since those infamous words were spoken, Michigan State has had the upper hand on Michigan. The Wolverines have suffered defeat in five of the six meetings against MSU that followed. Michigan has not had this much trouble with its in-state rival since before Bo Schembechler first arrived in Ann Arbor in 1969.

Accordingly, Michigan State has seen its stock rise to levels it has not experienced in decades. The Spartans are piling up wins, conference championships, and even their first Rose Bowl victory since 1988. Whether Michigan fans want to acknowledge it or not, Michigan State has become a Big Ten power under Mark Dantonio. Even recruits are taking notice as some of Michigan’s top high school talent has begun to favor the Spartans over the Wolverines. This is a trend that Michigan needs to stop in its tracks instantly. The first step to doing so is to beat the Spartans in East Lansing this season.

However …

Ohio State: No matter how compelling an argument one can make that Michigan State is the most important game on Michigan’s schedule this season, no game is more important than “The Game.” A rival against whom Michigan has had a poor six-year stretch does not replace the rival with whom Michigan has created college football’s best rivalry as the most important on the schedule. Sorry. No chance. Yes, a Michigan win against Michigan State would be quite significant for U-M’s future prosperity, but it will never define an entire Michigan season like a win against Ohio State does.

So, if Michigan can beat only one rival this season, it is Ohio State. No ifs, ands, or buts. Of course, I would not mind if Michigan shocked the world and beat all three.

Should we consider [Michigan football commit] Shaun Crawford as good as gone? –Bill (@BillOffer)

Not yet. Initially, when it was confirmed that 2015 four-star defensive back Shaun Crawford had visited Notre Dame last weekend, it looked grim for Michigan. Brady Hoke has a well-publicized policy that discourages current commits from visiting other schools. The policy is simple, even if it has been misinterpreted repeatedly:

If a Michigan commit visits another school, the staff will no longer guarantee the prospect a spot in the class. This does not mean that Michigan will banish the prospect from being a member of its recruiting class, though, as some have claimed. In most cases, Michigan still will want that prospect to be in its class and “re-commit” as soon as he is sure he does not want to take anymore visits. But Michigan may look at other prospects to fill the new vacancy. Nothing is guaranteed. That is the risk of taking visits.

Despite a wandering eye, Crawford shouldn't be considered gone just yet (247 Sports)

Despite a wandering eye, Crawford shouldn’t be considered gone just yet (247 Sports)

With Crawford’s visit to Notre Dame, his spot in Michigan’s class was no longer guaranteed. Although this does not result in an automatic decommitment, most Michigan commits who visit elsewhere tend to decommit because their spot is no longer guaranteed anyway. However, multiple outlets reported that Crawford wanted to remain a Michigan commit despite his wandering eye. It appeared he still favored the Wolverines, but did not want to be forced out by a policy he felt was hypocritical. But Crawford had yet to speak with Hoke about visiting elsewhere. Once Crawford had that conversation with Hoke, I expected that Crawford would decommit and that it would be the beginning of the end.

Yet, according to Rivals’ Josh Helmholdt ($), Crawford stated that he spoke with the Michigan staff on Tuesday night and still is a Michigan commit. Crawford also told Helmholdt that he will continue to look at other schools, which includes a trip to Ohio State soon. It appears that Crawford has gotten what he wanted: to remain a Michigan commit while looking around.

This is good news for Michigan. If Michigan had forced Crawford to decommit, the odds of him recommitting would have been slim to none. Crawford likely would have become frustrated with Hoke’s no-visit policy and disillusioned with the idea of playing football for him in Ann Arbor. Instead, Crawford maintains his commitment with Michigan, which indicates the Wolverines still are the leader for his services. Of course, this could change down the road if Notre Dame, Ohio State, or even Miami (FL) persuades him to make a switch. But this is the life of recruiting. And the odds of this happening would have been much higher if Crawford had decommitted from Michigan.

Plus, Crawford is a commit Michigan wants to keep. Most recruiting services consider Crawford to be in the top 100 of the 2015 class or just outside of it. He is a talented player from the state of Ohio that grew up a Michigan fan. This is not the type of recruit that Michigan can afford to lose right now, especially when Michigan has already lost two other top-50 commits from the 2015 class in running back Damien Harris and wide receiver George Campbell. At the moment, Michigan does not appear to have lost Crawford, but this will be a recruitment we will need to keep our eyes on the next few months.

If you have any questions related to Michigan athletics that you want answered in the next mailbag, please tweet them to @DrewCHallett on Twitter or email them to drew.maizeandgoblue@gmail.com. 

New in Blue: Linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr.

Sunday, May 18th, 2014


Darrin Kirkland(247 Sports)

Darrin Kirkland Jr. – LB | 6-2, 228 | Indianapolis, Ind. | Lawrence North
ESPN: 4-star, #7 ILB Rivals: 4-star, #6 ILB 247: 4-star, #7 ILB Scout: 4-star
Other top offers: Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Oregon, Ole Miss, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech

Michigan received its second commitment in a week when linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. pledged his intention to join the Wolverines’ 2015 class on Sunday afternoon. The senior-to-be from Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis officially announced his commitment via Twitter.

Kirkland is a consensus four-star recruit rated among the top ten inside linebackers by all the major recruiting services. Rivals ranks him sixth at his position and the 183rd prospect nationally, while ESPN has him seventh and 247 Sports list him seventh. ESPN has him 256th nationally with a grade of 81.

Kirkland recorded 110 tackles and eight sacks in 2013 while earning first-team all-conference and Top 50 all-state honors. Scout lists his strengths as discipline, instincts, and tackling technique, while his area to improve is shedding ability.

In his scouting report, Scout’s Allen Trieu writes, “Very smart, instinctive player who always seems to be in good position and around the football. Takes good angles to the ball, rarely takes false steps and shows good closing ability. Has gotten stronger and thicker over the last year and needs to continue to do that.”

Kirkland reported receiving an offer from Oregon just two days ago and also had offers from Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Ole Miss, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia Tech, and a host of others.

The seventh commitment of Michigan’s 2015 class, Kirkland joins defensive backs Shaun Crawford, Tyree Kinnel, and Garrett Taylor, quarterback Alex Malzone, kicker Andrew David, and offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr.

New in Blue: Quarterback Alex Malzone

Monday, May 12th, 2014


Malzone

Alex Malzone – QB | 6-2, 200| Bloomfield Hills, Mich. | Brother Rice
ESPN: 3-star, NR Rivals: 3-star, #16 QB 247: 3-star, #13 QB Scout: 4-star, #15 QB
Other top offers: Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Miami (OH)

Just days after three Michigan players were selected in the NFL Draft Brady Hoke received a commitment from quarterback Alex Malzone. The Bloomfield Hills, Mich. native pledged his commitment to the Wolverines on Monday during a visit to campus and announced it via Twitter.

Malzone is rated a three-star by Rivals, 247 Sports, and ESPN and four-star by Scout. Rivals ranks him as the 16th-best pro-style quarterback in the class of 2015, while 247 has him 13th, and Scout 15th.  There has been a lot of discussion in recent weeks as to when the Michigan coaching staff would extend Malzone an offer. He was named the quarterback MVP of the Detroit Rivals camp in April. New offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier saw him throw on April 28 and subsequently extended an offer. Nussmeier Tweeted his excitement upon receiving Malzone’s commitment.


During the 2013 season for Brother Rice High School, Malzone went 190-of-281 for 2,794 yards, 25 touchdowns, and just nine interceptions, leading the Warriors to a perfect 14-0 record and a state championship. He was the Michigan Mr. Football runner-up to Ithaca quarterback Travis Smith, who is heading to Toledo this fall. Malzone was the only junior among the final four for the award.

Scout lists his strengths as accuracy/consistency, arm strength, and mental toughness, while saying his biggest area for improvement is his size. He’s listed as 6’2″ and 200 pounds. For what it’s worth, 247 lists him an inch taller and ESPN an inch shorter.

In his scouting report, Scout’s Allen Trieu states, “Has the arm to make all the throws. Mechanics can still use polishing, but he has good velocity on his passes, shows excellent timing and is very accurate. Shows the ability to make tough throws into coverage and has great touch down the field. Shows calm under pressure and lead several late game winning drives and has been in big game situations. May not have ideal dropback QB height, but is a gamer and a winner.”

Malzone reports offers from Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Miami (OH), Ohio, Old Dominion, Pittsburgh, Toledo, Wake Forest, and Western Michigan, though Stanford and Tennessee expressed interest after his standout performance at the Detroit Rivals camp. He visited both unofficially back in February.

Michigan now has six commitments in its 2015 class. Malzone joins defensive backs Shaun Crawford, Tyree Kinnel, and Garrett Taylor, kicker Andrew David, and offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr.

National Signing Day: Visualizing Michigan’s 2014 class

Wednesday, February 5th, 2014


2014 Class Visualization

National Signing Day: visualizing Michigan’s 2013 recruiting class

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013



Stay tuned in the coming days as we profile each of the 27 members of Michigan’s 2013 class.

High school All-American games preview

Friday, January 4th, 2013


Now that Michigan’s season has drawn to a close, the second season has ramped up  to full steam. Recruiting is pretty much non-stop these days, but now that the coaching staff is able to devote the vast majority of its time to pulling in the best class possible, it’s a frantic race for the Feb. 6 finish line. That’s the day of National Signing Day, when all letters of intent have to be signed and submitted and become binding. But before we get there, several All-American games exist to showcase the top talent on the national stage. Some of the players are already committed, while some choose to make their announcements live on national television during the game. Still others opt to wait until National Signing Day to pledge their commitments. Here’s a look at the games and the current Michigan commitments that will be playing in them, as well as the targets that Brady Hoke’s staff hopes to lock in within the next month.

Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | 5pm EST
Under Armour All-America Game | St. Petersburg, Fla. | ESPN

The Under Armour All-America Game is ESPN’s version and features the Black (Highlight) team and the White (Nitro) team. Team Highlight is coached by former NFL head coach Herm Edwards, while Team Nitro is coached by Steve Mariucci.

Current Michigan commits:

#9 – LB – Mike McCray II (White)
#12 – QB – Shane Morris (White)
#17 – DT – Henry Poggi (White)*
#55 – OG – David Dawson (White)*
#57 – OG – Patrick Kugler (White)*
#72 – OT – Logan Tulley-Tillman (White)

*denotes starters

Michigan targets:

#22 – S – Leon McQuay III (Black)
#1 – WR – Sebastian LaRue (White)
#4 – WR – Laquon Treadwell (White)
#78 – OT – Cameron Hunt (White)

Other notables:

#3 – WR – Alvin Bailey (Black) – Former Michigan target, committed to Florida
#32 – RB – Ty Isaac (White) – Former Michigan target, USC commit

Rivals:

#6 – CB – Cam Burrows (White) – Ohio State commit
#7 – ATH – Jalin Marshall (White) – Ohio State commit
#7 – CB – Gareon Conley (White) – Ohio State commit, former Michigan commit
#8 – TE – Marcus Baugh (White) – Ohio State commit
#97 – DT –  Joey Bosa (White) – Ohio State commit
#34 – LB – Alex Anzalone (Black) – Notre Dame commit, former Ohio State commit
#60 – OT – Colin McGovern (Black) – Notre Dame commit
#70 – OT – Hunter Bivin (Black) – Notre Dame commit
#32 – LB – Trey Johnson (White) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State, Florida, or Tennessee

As you can see, Team Nitro (White) has the majority of the players relevant to Michigan, so that’s the team to pay the most attention to. Of the uncommitted targets, Michigan isn’t in great position for any of them. McQuay was at the Wolverines’ Outback Bowl practice, but had this to say about where Michigan stands. He will make his decision known during the game. LaRue is an interesting one since he was committed to USC, but just decommitted. He reportedly wants to hear more from Michigan and has formed a bond with current Michigan commit Mike McCray. Hunt, a Cal commit, recently announced that he’s re-opening his recruitment and was offered by Michigan, but that was before David Dawson re-committed to the Wolverines, so it’s unclear as to whether the staff would take another offensive lineman. Treadwell seems extremely unlikely at this point. He favors Ole Miss, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State, but with recruiting, you never know.

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Friday, Jan. 4, 2013 | 9pm EST
Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl | Carson, Ca. | NFL Network

The Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl is considered the third-best of this weekend’s All-America games and is the Marine Corps’ version of the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

Current Michigan commits:

CB – Ross Douglass (East)
DT – Maurice Hurst, Jr. (East)
* Kyle Bosch and Taco Charlton chose not to play due to enrolling early at Michigan

Rivals:

DB – Devin Butler (East) – Notre Dame
WR – William Fuller (East) – Notre Dame
OT – Mike McGlinchey (East) – Notre Dame
QB – Malik Zaire (East) – Notre Dame
CB – Cole Luke (West) – Notre Dame
RB – Khalfani Muhammad (West) – Notre Dame

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Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013 | 1pm EST
U.S. Army All-American Bowl | San Antonio, Texas | NBC

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is traditionally considered the nation’s premier high school all-star game and is in its 13th year. It has featured eventual Heisman Trophy winners and more than 200 eventual NFL players. This year, the West team will wear yellow and the East team will wear black.

Current Michigan commits:

#87 – TE – Jake Butt (East)
#73 – OL – Chris Fox (West)
#27 – DB – Jourdan Lewis (West)
#14 – DB – Dymonte Thomas (East)

Michigan targets:

#27 – RB – Derrick Green (East)

Other notables:

#5 – DB – Kendall Fuller – Former Michigan target, Virginia Tech commit
#10 – LB – E.J. Levenberry – Former Michigan target, Florida State commit
#21 – S – Su’a Cravens – Former Michigan target, USC commit

Rivals:

#24 – RB – Ezekiel Elliott – Ohio State commit
#9 – CB – Eli Apple (East) – Ohio State commit
#35 – K – Johnny Townsend (East) – Ohio State commit
#69 – OT – Evan Lisle (East) – Ohio State commit
#76 – DT – Michael Hill (East) – Ohio State commit
#72 – OT – Steve Elmer (West) – Notre Dame commit
#1 – RB – Greg Bryant (East) – Notre Dame commit
#74 – OL – John Montelus (East) – Notre Dame commit
#26 – LB – Doug Randolph (East) – Notre Dame commit
#88 – WR – Corey Robinson (West) – Notre Dame commit
#9 – LB – Jaylon Smith (West) – Notre Dame commit
#44 – LB – Mike Mitchell (West) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State, Oregon, or Texas A&M
#17 – WR – James Quick (East) – Announcing commitment to either Ohio State or Louisville

Unlike the Under Armour game, Michigan’s four commits playing in this one are split between the two teams. Derrick Green is the big one to watch since he is reportedly leaning towards Michigan. He fueled speculation on Wednesday by posing for a photo with the four Michigan commits and then went on a Rivals chat and said Michigan does hold a slight lead. Ohio State and Notre Dame both have a number of commits playing in the game as well, and there are a couple that are making their announcements live during the game and have Ohio State among their finalists.

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Another thing you may notice is the complete lack of Michigan State prospects on the rosters for these three games. Of the Spartans’ 15 current commits, only two are rated four stars by Rivals and the rest are three stars.

Dee Hart Chooses Future National Champs over Defending Champs

Friday, October 8th, 2010


The Denard phenomenon continues to grow with an announcement by the nation’s No. 1 all-purpose running back of his intentions to play college football at Michigan. Dee Hart, from Dr. Phillips High School in Orlando, Fla. announced his decision tonight following his team’s win over Boone High.

Demetrius Hart, 5'9" 180 lbs.

The 5’9″, 189-pound speedster chose Michigan over Alabama, perhaps surprising many who believed the recent hype. In the past couple of days, he reportedly sent texts to the Orlando Sentinel saying, “real high on Alabama” and “Roll Tide,” but many in the know thought that to be simply leading them on. And they were right.

Hart, whose former teammate is Michigan freshman wide receiver Ricardo Miller, visited for the season opener against UConn and witnessed first-hand Robinson’s first 200/200 game of the season. He left Ann Arbor raving about the visit and commenting on how fun it would be to play alongside Robinson.

In the past few weeks, Hart made official visits to Auburn and Alabama, but neither was enough to keep him from going Blue.

Hart isn’t the most physically imposing back, but he fits Rich Rodriguez’s system perfectly and can be compared to former West Virginia (and current Houston Texans) running back Steve Slaton. Slaton rushed for nearly 4,000 yards in three seasons in Rodriguez’s offense at WVU and finished fourth in the Heisman Trophy race in 2006. Hart could do just the same.

In tonight’s game preceding his announcement, Hart rushed for 267 yards and four touchdowns in his school’s 45-0 win.

Michigan doesn’t lose a running back following this season, but Hart will surely be given the chance to compete right away. Rivals describes him as “lightning in a bottle,” and according to Scout, he’s a good enough receiver to play in the slot. That will make him versatile enough to get some early playing time next season, even among Michigan’s crowded and talented skills players.

DEMETRIUS (DEE) HART – RB
5’9″, 189 lbs.
Dr. Phillips High School
Orlando, Fla.
Rivals Ranking: #1 RB, #37 overall (4-stars)
Scout Ranking: #9 RB (4-stars)
ESPN Ranking: #9 RB, #118 overall (4-stars)

He can line up in the slot and split carries with Michael Shaw and Vincent Smith in the backfield. Shaw will be a senior next season, so getting Hart’s feet wet in the offense in 2011 will set him up to assume the starting role in 2012.

Hart becomes the first of what could be a breakout recruiting class for Rodriguez on the heels of the success of Robinson. As the hype grows and Heisman talk continues, more and more top recruits will start looking at the Maize and Blue. Here’s to hoping that many of them are on the defensive side of the ball.