Michigan's Recruiting Focus: Cornerbacks
Where will Michigan DB Coach Ron English travel this spring? With Michigan looking at a small 04/05 class (15-ish), English may well be focusing more on recruiting for his coaching position, DB's, rather than recruiting his 'recruiting area', the West. So if we were Coach English's travel agent, here's where he'd be routed.
The road trip would HAVE to start in Pittsburgh. Justin King may just be Michigan's top recruit overall -- especially because CB is the team's biggest recruiting need. Hopefully he will attend the Michigan Spring Game and Summer Camp ... and make at least a 'silent commitment' somewhere early (it'd probable be either to U-M or PSU where his stepfather/coach attended).
- Cornerback/athlete Justin King (Planned 2004 Michigan Camper, 5-11, 182 lbs., 2003 PSU Nike stats: 4.29 in the 40, 3.72 sec. shuttle, 37.1 inch vertical jump, 11 bench press reps., 3.0 GPA) from Monroeville, Pa. Considered perhaps the #1 junior prospect in Pennsylvania, he rushed as a junior for 1,763 yards (8.2 yards per carry) and 29 touchdowns; and as a cornerback he recorded 28 tackles, three fumble recoveries, and three interceptions. He came to the Feb. 29 Junior Day and plans to attend the Spring Game and the Michigan Summer Camp. He is Max Emfinger's #1 All-purpose back.
One other thing -- if he picked Michigan King would likely to be U-M's 'small corner' recruit. He's a true 5-11 -- and it is unlikely Michigan will seriously recruit anyone shorter than that. Michigan has always liked tall DB's (Todd Howard was the exception), and that seems to be the case more than ever these days. So no matter what you may read as time goes on ... keep this in mind.
From Pittsburgh we'd send Coach English over to the East Coast:
- Cornerback/running back Victor Harris (6-0, 185 lbs., 4.45 in the 40, 2.8 GPA) from Highland Springs, Vir. grew up a U-M fan and U-M has OFFERed him. But Max Emfinger's #3 cornerback told us in late March that he is completely open. As a junior Harris rushed for 2,210 yards and 37 touchdowns as a running back; as a cornerback on defense he made 45 tackles and eight interceptions. He was named a first-team Class 3A selection as both a defensive back and a tailback while helping lead the his team to a 9-2 record.
Then we'd swing Coach English out West:
- Cornerback/running back Edward Britton (6-0, 176 lbs., 4.38 in the 40, 10.7 100 meters) from El Paso, Tex., Montwood. As a junior he rushed for 2,185 yards in nine regular season games (8.5 yards per carry), scoring 22 touchdowns and 16 two-point conversions. He was named first team AP 5-A (largest class) Texas All-State, rare for a junior -- and only the second junior from El Paso EVER named All-State. Britton lists U-M, USC, Notre Dame, Texas and the rest of the Big 12 South. He is a Max Emfinger 4 star "All Purpose Back."
Coach English is from California -- the Pomona/Covina/Claremont area of the extreme Eastern suburbs from Los Angeles. So we'd have to swing him on out to Covina.
- Cornerback Will Harris (6-2, 195 lbs., 4.4 in the 40, 38 inch vertical jump) from West Covina, Calif., Charter Oak School District. Harris is Max Emfinger's #7 cornerback and has U-M in his early top three with USC and UCLA. He has offers from UCLA, Washington State, Oregon State and Arizona. Harris is definitely tall enough, we'll see whether he is 'Michigan-tough'.
Then we'd bring Coach English back home to see:
- Athlete Antonio Bass (6-1, 190 lbs., 4.4 in the 40, 3.0 GPA) from Jackson, Mich. He is one of the consensus top three instate juniors, and could play wideout, running back or cornerback. Bass has a U-M OFFER and attended the Feb. 29 Junior Day. Bass wants to promarily be recruited for offense, and that'd be fine with U-M, but Coach English may still pay his school a visit. Michigan leads for Bass, but if he wants to play quarterback in college then schools like Virginia Tech and Syracuse will also be in the picture.
After a rest stop back home in Ann Arbor, we'd send Coach English out again for a 'second swing', once again first to the East:
- Wideout/cornerback Derrick Williams from Greenbelt, Md., Roosevelt, whose US Army Combine Stats were: 5-11 1/2, 185 lbs., 4.41 in the 40, 31 inch vertical jump. Michigan has now OFFERed him. And he has interest in Michigan. True, Derrick wants to be primarily recruited as a WR, and U-M will probably be fine with that -- in that case Coach Campbell will likely make the in-person evaluation, but we'd send Coach English along just to say 'Hi" (and because Derrick was first team All State as a CB). Williams finished his junior year with 1,500 yards rushing and 24 touchdowns on the ground along with 700 passing yards and eight touchdowns through the air. On special teams Williams racked up 400 yards in kickoff retruns and took three punt returns back for touchdowns. Defensively he notched three interceptions, one that was taken back. He is Max Emfinger's #1 Wide Receiver.
- Cornerback Keith Fitzhugh (Planned 2004 Michigan Camper, 5-11, 190 lbs., 4.4 in the 40, 3.0 GPA/860 SAT) from Lovejoy, Ga. FSU and U-M are his favorites. He is a Max Emfinger 4 star prospect.
- Cornerback Avery Atkins (6-2, weighs 190 lbs. 4.4 in the 40, 310 lb. bench press, 35 inch vertical) from Daytona Beach, Fla., Mainland. As a junior he made 39 tackles, six pass breakups and three interceptions. He has offers from FSU and Miami.
And then again back to the West:
- Cornerback Kevin Thomas (6-0, 170 lbs., 4.5 in the 40) from Oxnard, Calif., Rio Mesa. He was the top "athlete' at the SOCAL MSL/TheInsiders Combine in March (he ran the 2nd fastest 40 overall, on an extremely slow long-grass track it was a 4.64). Originally from St. Louis, he grew up a U-M fan. Click here for GBW's MSL Report/Interview with Thomas.
And once home again, there are a couple closer-in prospects that we'd maker sure get in-person evaluations as well, including:
- Athlete Akim Sanders (Planned 2004 Michigan Camper, 6-1, 190 lbs., 2.8 GPA) from Detroit Crockett. Michigan is his favorite school.
**Okay, my arm is TWISTED: one addition.**
- Cornerback Brandon Harrison (Planned 2004 Michigan Camper, 5-8 1/2, 200 lbs., 4.4 in the 40) from Dayton, Ohio Chaminade-Julienne. Max Emfinger's #2 Free Safety attended the Feb. 29 Junior Day. If anyone breaks the 'no one under 5-11 rule', it could very well be Brandon. Why? Because as well as being a speedster, he is 'thick' and 'strong' -- 200 lbs.-plus. So Brandon could well play 'bigger' than his height. He has given us the impression of wanting to come to Michigan, and he is coming to camp with the idea of making an impression on the U-M Coaches -- whether he has actually been offered at this point ... he just may get himself into this class and contribute.
That's the end of our CB Road Trips. Of course this is not necessarily the 'complete list' of Coach English's spring evaluation visits. And in actuality he is likely to make ONE trip to the East and then one to the West. And while out West he'll visit other U-M recruits (from other position groups) as well: while in El Paso he'll certainly swing up to Albuquerque, M. Mex to visit defensive lineman Aaron Lewis, etc.
But, all that being said -- these fantasy road trips do rather lay out the Michigan cornerback recruiting situation at this early point in time.