Mathis Steps up to Challenge
To many of the nation’s elite prospects, camps and combines are unnecessary exhibitions. Those youngsters have already established themselves as top players, gained widespread exposure, picked up numerous offers, and in some cases, already committed to a school. For others, though, it’s the competition that drives them. Better yet, it’s the chance to prove they’re the best. That in large part was what drew Upland, California, DE Joe Mathis across the country to participate in Saturday’s Adidas Invitational just one week after he wowed onlookers at the Nike Camp in southern California. With a profile that resonated so loudly coming into the Invitational, the competitors were chomping at the bit to get a piece of him. Mathis was called out early and often, and none were more vocal in that regard, than Michigan commitment David Dawson.
When the two matched up in a tug of war drill, Dawson reigned supreme… twice. They crouched in the middle of the field grasping a tire on opposite ends. When the whistle blew the task was simple – drag the opponent ten yards back. After being defeated and hearing the chirps from both Dawson and the crowd, Mathis called his shot. In the made for internet translation, he said “ wait until the one-on-ones!”
Joe Mathis (left) vs David Dawson
When that segment of the competition finally rolled around, Mathis was either too quick with his speed rush or too precise with his moves to be kept off the quarterback. He made his point against every opponent, including Dawson. When the dust finally settled, it was time for Michigan’s contingent of commits in attendance to make theirs. They were determined to let the Mathis know they hoped he would become a Wolverine. Not surprisingly, Shane Morris led the charge. Dawson was likewise a participant in the courtship. Then there was Kyle Bosch, who had made his way up to the Great Lake State simply to spend the day with his future teammates. He seemingly spent the majority of the event courting Mathis. It didn’t take long for Bosch and most of the other prospects in attendance to realize just how receptive Mathis was.
Kyle Bosch & Joe Mathis
Michigan the Team to Beat for Mathis?
Mathis was just one day removed from a memorable visit to the University of Michigan. He could hardly hide his overwhelming enjoyment from his time on campus… at one point saying “walking down the tunnel at the Big House gave me chills.” He stated unequivocally that Michigan was suddenly among his top schools and that he would travel back to Ann Arbor in the fall for an official visit. As the day progressed the magnitude of those positive feelings became more and more obvious. During one of his hotly contested match-ups with Dawson, one of the other youngsters in the gallery remarked… “(their dislike for one another) ain’t real… they’re going to be teammates at Michigan.” Lending credence to that perception was Mathis’ comment that he “almost committed” to Michigan assistants Jerry Montgomery and Dan Ferrigno during the visit (as you’ll hear in an upcoming video interview).
According to the oft mentioned cliché, “almost” only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades. That cautionary phrase is also applicable here. All too frequently in recruiting the glow from visits dissipates over time. One of the more significant hurdles for the Wolverines is Mathis’ plan to carry the recruiting process out to the Army All-American game. Will he still feel the same about Michigan by then? Will Michigan have a spot left? Only time will tell. For now, though, it’s safe to say that Michigan has vaulted itself up his list significantly and is now a major factor in his recruitment.
Movement with Isaac?
The efforts of the commitments were certainly an aid in Michigan’s pursuit of Mathis. The future Wolverines believe they are experiencing similar success with other targets as well. For instance, both Morris and future teammate Kyle Bosch mentioned they are making progress with Joliet (IL) RB, Ty Isaac.
Shane Morris & Kyle Bosch
“Ty is my dude,” said Morris. “I have been talking to him a lot -- trying to get him to pull the trigger. He went out to USC. He liked it out there. They’ve got a pretty good quarterback going out there (also). Hopefully, I think we will get him.”
“I think (Isaac) loves (Michigan),” added Bosch. “I don’t know what he is waiting for to be honest. But I know he went out to USC. I heard he liked it. I still think he likes Michigan, and I think it is a great fit for him. I bet if he comes to the Spring game, I bet he will commit.”
Bosch hadn’t yet discovered that Isaac will not be making it to Ann Arbor for the spring game, as he is taking the ACT next Saturday. There has been some thought given to making it up on a visit during the week, though. As always, stay tuned.
Tuley-Tillman to the Motor City?
In other news, David Dawson was quite confident that Peoria (IL) Manual OT, Logan Tuley-Tillman would be joining him at Cass Tech next year as a transfer (as you’ll see/hear in our upcoming video interview). But when we spoke to Cass Tech headman Thomas Wilcher later in the day, the former Michigan tailback wasn’t nearly as optimistic. Based on his difficulty of getting transfers in in the past… (difficulty stemming from more than just the testing requirements necessary to get into Cass)… he refuses to get his hopes up. Combine that with the inability to graduate early, Tuley-Tillman’s first option, (joining Morris at De La Salle), and it appears that Wyandotte Roosevelt now the leads the pack for Tuley-Tillman’s transfer.
Will Cass’ Next Corner be its Best?
Even without Tuley-Tillman, Cass Tech will be loaded next year and Jourdan Lewis will be the Technicians best player. His two-way performance at the Adidas Invitational was downright special. His hip fluidity is elite, he has excellent recovery speed, and superior ball skills. He was a proverbial blanket in coverage. For good measure he showed enough ability at receiver to be a playmaker there if given the time hone his skills. He excitedly made mention of his desire to be a two-way player in Ann Arbor as well. Whether he will actually get that opportunity or not remains to be seen. Even if just on defense, he has a chance to be an impact player. He’ll just have to continue getting bigger and stronger to do so.
The Next Big Timer from the D
Getting bigger and stronger is also the edict for Detroit Loyola sophomore DE, Malik McDowell. That is a scary proposition for future oppoents. This 6-6, 265-pounder is a man-child, plain and simple. He showed good first step quickness, good bend for a youngster so long, and great natural power. Also obvious was that fact that he is still learning technique, is still carrying some baby fat, and is far from reaching his peak in the strength department. Add it all up and you have a prospect that is just scratching the surface of how good he can be. According to Loyola Coach John Callahan, when not focused on academics his star pupil has demonstrated the requisite work ethic in the weight room and on the field to make the necessary improvements. All that has done is make the phone in his office ring even more with coaches inquiring about McDowell. For his part, the talented youngster hasn’t even begun sorting through his growing list of suitors. With two years of high school left, the McDowell family in conjunction with Callahan is committed to taking the recruiting process in stride. He does plan to visit Michigan in the not too distant future, though he is not sure it will be before the end of spring practice. He also mentioned that he hopes to camp in Ann Arbor. Don’t look for a decision anytime soon, though. Again, he is prepared to take his time. He did say, however, that his parents have given him the green light to make a decision during his junior year. It just has to be the right fit.
- Farmington Hills Harrison RB, Lorenzo Collins will again camp at Michigan this summer.
- Word on the street from some Ohio folks during the camp was Ben Gedeon was on a visit to Stanford this weekend, but that Michigan has a commanding lead in the race. Stay tuned to GoBlueWolverine confirmation or refutation of that scuttlebutt in the coming days.
- Chelsea RB, Berkley Edwards ran a blistering (hand-timed) 4.32 forty Saturday. He recently picked up a Minnesota offer and is fielding strong interest from Iowa, Wisconsin, and Michigan State – though the Spartans are courting him as an athlete. There has been little to no contact with Michigan to this point.
- Ft Wayne (IN) Bishop Luers LB, Jaylon Smith was the best player in attendance. After dominating at linebacker with his elite speed and quickness, he showed just what a special talent he is when he went over to the defensive back group and was the top performer at that position after Jourdan Lewis. Can’t miss isn’t a tag that should be tossed around lightly, but this youngster’s combination of size and athleticism puts him pretty close to that category.