Afternoon at Detroit Mackenzie High School

I recently visited Detroit Mackenzie High School to speak with Coach Eric Smith and a few of his athletes. Fred Wilson and Demarco Hughes both had news that might be surprising to Michigan fans. Click for more.

These interviews are a follow-up to the very thorough profile that Jim S. put together a few months ago. Those who missed it can find it here. (A brief side note: Coach Smith indicated that the best back on the team was a kid by the name of Kalvin Brown. He wasn't at school the day I visited. However, there is some very detailed info on him in Jim S.' report linked above.)

Coach Smith took about 3 hours out of his day to sit down and talk to me about his athletes and football in general. The most illuminating observation for me was how much he cared about his kids. Before he arrived at Mackenzie there was no weight room. He has gone through the process of obtaining equipment on his own so the kids can condition themselves appropriately. There was an even more serious problem before he got there. Most of the kids in the program were barely maintaining their eligibility. Last year, however, he had 31 kids with GPAs 3.0 or more. Four of the 31 kids attained GPAs of 4.0. That's the type of dedication and commitment that we see far too infrequently. I'd like to thank Coach Smith for his indulgence and applaud his efforts with his kids.



Coach Eric Smith

Refresh our readers on what type of player and kid Fred Wilson is.

"Fred Wilson is about 5'10.5" and weighs about 195 pounds. He bench presses 300lbs and runs a 4.59 forty. Last year he suffered an ankle injury early in the season and only ran for 780 yards in 10 games. He's a power runner, but is definitely a tailback on the next level. He's hearing from Michigan, Michigan State and the entire big ten. He'll be camping again at Michigan and will also be heading down to Ohio State for their camp."

"Off the field he's a very good and pleasant kid. He's also an excellent student. He received a 3.8 on his most recent report card."



Fred Wilson

What is your top 5 at this point?

"My top 5 would be Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State, and Florida."

Do you have a favorite?

"Yes. Florida is my favorite right now."

Who is recruiting you for Michigan and what position are they talking to you about?

"Coach Campbell is recruiting me and they are looking at me at tailback."

Do you have any offers yet?

"No."

Will you be making an early decision or waiting until close to signing day?

"I'm going to take all of my visits and wait until close to signing day."

What do you want to major in?

"Business Management."

What will be the most significant factors in your decision?

"The major factors for me will be playing time and the type of education the school offers."



Coach Eric Smith

Give us some brief background on what type of player your son Blake is.

"Like I've said before, he's a true coach on the field. He's been playing football non-stop since the age of five. He's originally from Ohio and they start them young down there. So, he's been playing a lot longer than most of his friends. Plus, he's a smart kid. He got a 3.5 on his last report card. The leadership just comes out of him."

"He's 6'2", weighs 185 pounds, and runs a 4.6 forty. He can play quarterback, safety, or receiver in college. But I think he wants to play QB. People will be surprised by this, but he has really good accuracy. We run the option here and he's very good at it. But we do drop back to throw the ball about 10 times a game. Every time the pass is going for a big play or a touchdown."

"Right now he's hearing from Illinois, Michigan State, and Indiana. He grew up in Ohio and loves Ohio State. He likes Nebraska too."



Blake Smith

What position do you want to play in college?

"I'll play quarterback, safety, or receiver. Wherever the team I choose can use me."

Do you have a top 5?

"Florida, Nebraska, Iowa, Ohio State, and Michigan."

Do you have a favorite?

"I really like Nebraska."

Any offers yet?

"No."

What do you want to major in?

"I'm really into cars and engines so I've been thinking about Mechanical Engineering."

Do you plan on making an early decision or waiting until close to signing day?

"I plan to take all of my visits."

What will be the most significant factors in your decision?

"I'll be look at how many guys the school sends to the pros and if they offer a good education."



Coach Eric Smith

Tell us briefly about Demarco.

"Demarco Hughes is just a monster. He's 6'4" 275 pounds and is very quick. He originally played linebacker and TE, but he came back this year about 40 pounds heavier and we had to move him down. He had 13 sacks from his defensive end spot. He has very quick hands and feet. He just an athlete. The kids around here can't handle him. I think he wants to play defense in college. He just heard from UCLA the other day."



Demarco Hughes

What schools are in your top 5?

"I like Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, and UCLA."

Do you have a favorite?

"Ohio State is my favorite."

Were they your favorite team growing up?

"No. I didn't really have a favorite team growing up."

What position do you want to play in college?

"I think I want to play defensive end."

Do you have any offers yet?

"No."

What do you want to major in?

"I think I'll major in business."

Do you plan on making an early decision or waiting until close to signing day?

"I plan to take all five of my visits and wait until close to signing day."

What will be the most significant factors in your decision?

"I'll be looking at who offers the best education."



Coach Smith also indicated to me that he had another player that was receiving interest from colleges. His name is Xavier Odom.

Coach Eric Smith

Tell us about Xavier.

"Xavier is about 6'1" and weighs about 220 lbs. He runs between 4.6 and 4.7. He was my leading tackler last year with 122 tackles and 8 sacks."



Xavier Odom

Can you give us your measurables?

"I'm 6', I weigh 215 pounds, and I run a 4.7 forty."

What schools are you hearing from?

"I've heard from Boston College, Eastern Michigan, Toledo, and Nebraska"

Do you have a favorite?

"No."

Do you plan on making an early decision or waiting until close to signing day?

"I plan on taking all 5 visits."

All four kids will be attending the Nike Camp. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for info on how they performed.

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