The First Edition of Blue Sam's Top Ten Michigan Highschoolers.
This list will be revised periodically from now through the end of the season.
1.) Linebacker Lamarr Woodley (6-2, 250 lbs., 4.7 in the 40) from Saginaw. This kid has undeniable football talent. There were many who questioned what all the hype was about after seeing him turn in a 4.7 forty time in the MSU Nike Combine. Well, we can just squash all of that talk immediately. He is absolutely the real deal. He has a gear ON THE FIELD that renders that particular forty time moot. He can track a play from sideline to sideline. He can blow up linemen and fullbacks in the hole. He has all of the raw materials to be successful at DE, or MIKE or SAM LB. In the past he played a lot with his hand down. However, he has played much more LB this year (almost exclusively early in the season). The only thing he really has to work on is his pass coverage (particularly covering backs out of the backfield). I've seen him have some troubles with that. However, as he becomes more familiar with the position, I have absolutely no doubt that he will master it. It all comes down to what position HE wants to play. The scary part about this kid is…as physically imposing and strong as he is, he STILL has not tapped into his full physical potential. Can you believe that this kid still has some baby fat?!!
2.) Offensive lineman Jake Long (6-6, 295 lbs., 5.0 in the 40) from Lapeer East. People who follow the Michigan High School football scene have known about Jake for a "long" time. His size and athleticism have allowed him to play O-line, D-line, and even carry the ball on occasion. Jake's stock really began to soar after word of his Michigan summer camp performance got out. Playing on a gimpy ankle for the entire camp, this kid went out and dominated every man he faced. All of the other line recruits left the camp saying that Jake was the top guy there. National analysts have seen tape of his early season dominance and have started to move him up the rankings. Even if he doesn't move an inch up another list, Michigan has got itself a potential dominant force along its future O-line. He simply engulfs his opponent. I will be going out this week to see big Jake live for the first time since the summer and I hope to have pictures up for those who haven't seen this mountain of a young man.
3.) Jim Presley (6-2.5, 223 lbs., 4.56 in the 40) from Milford Highland. Jim is raw athleticism personified. He is just an amazing athlete. I've seen him no less than five times and I'm continuously amazed at how fast and quick he is. He is very physical at the fullback position and will offer the type of versatility Michigan fans have become accustomed to should they play him there. According to some of our most adept high school football observers (Maize_Man and Sleepyguy), Jim isn't the most instinctual LB at this point. However, he has the potential to develop into one of the best in the class. This kid is a 'blank pallet'. The Michigan coaches have the opportunity to turn him into a masterpiece.
4.) Doug Van Dyke (6-4, 245 lbs., 4.8 in the 40) from Marshall. Doug is the epitome of a jumbo athlete. His list of offers speaks for itself. He has the talent to play DE or TE. Further, he has played some at DT and OT this year, which only increases the possibilities for this outstanding prospect. I have not had the fortune of seeing Doug in live action (but should be viewing tape on him in the next few weeks).
5.) Marcus Woods (5-8, 180 lbs., 4.4 in the 40) from Farmington Hills Harrison. Some may disagree with this high of a ranking because of Marcus diminutive stature. Well, I know a football player when I see one, and this kid is a football player. He has speed, strength, and vertical jump numbers of a player much larger. However, he also possesses that which is most important for a player his size to be successful. HEART! This kid has a ton of heart. It's obvious when you watch him play. Although he is a shade smaller than Iowa RB (and former U-M signee) Fred Russell, Woods' running style is extremely similar. He can juke other players out of their socks. Plus, he has the extra gear to pull away once he gets in the open. Once he gets into a college weight room he'll be able to develop the outstanding strength that Fred Russell has. Nebraska or MSU will be getting an outstanding player.
6.) Garrett Bushong (6-5, 225 lbs., 4.8 in the 40) from Ionia. I've only seen this kid one time (at Nike). And even then, I wasn't able to observe him in drills. His numbers from the Nike camp may not wow many, but I've heard he was battling an injury. Furthermore, this kid has an impressive list of offers, which compels me to rank him accordingly. I hope to have a more descriptive account of his play from someone who has seen him play very soon.
7.) Jerome Jackson (6-0, 195 lbs., 4.5 in the 40) from Saginaw. Jerome is one of those kids who isn't going to dazzle you with big time workout numbers. He's not the biggest. He's not the fastest. But, this is another kid with tremendous heart. At the end of the day he is going to have well over 100 yards. He shows up to every game with his lunch pail in hand, ready to put in a hard night's work. You are NOT going to bring Jerome Jackson down with one man. You are NOT going to bring Jerome Jackson down with an arm tackle. He has great instincts for a running back. Very rarely are you going to see him hit for a loss. He always falls forward. And while he may not be as fast as his backfield counterpart (Jr. DeMarcus Laury, cousin of Lamarr Woodley), Jerome has the talent to methodically carry a team down the field…yard by yard.
8.) DaJuan Warren (6-3, 195 lbs., 4.5 in the 40) from Southfield. The Illini (as well as many of the recruiting pundits) think that Lonnie Hurst is their top recruit from the state of Michigan. They couldn't be more wrong. DaJuan has the physical skill to excel at QB or receiver. If he plays the receiver position, it is my opinion that he will become a better prospect than Hurst will. He has a very nice arm and is extremely elusive. The only thing he lacks at this point is QB tutelage. Once a good QB coach like Ron Turner gets a hold of him,…look out! This kid could (and I stress COULD) turn out to be another Zack Mills/Brad Banks type of QB.
9.) Chris Lee (6-4, 180 lbs., 4.7 in the 40) from Ypsilanti Lincoln. Forget the fact that the recruiting services don't have this kid rated highly. He's a skilled QB. He has a good (not great) arm. That, accompanied by his good size and great understanding of the game, makes him a prospect that some team is going to be very lucky to get. He performed impressively at the Nike camp in East Lansing and at the Purdue QB camp. This is another kid that, with the right guidance, could turn into a very good BIG TEN QB.
10.) Fred McConnell (6-4, 324 lbs., 5.1 in the 40) from Southfield. This kid plays a physical brand a football that in any other year might have earned him a scholarship offer from Michigan. As it stands, he has a few big time offers and will be playing Saturdays for a major D1 program. Combine his physical talents with the fact that he's an outstanding student and you can see why he made this top 10 list.
[And Tom Beaver can't resist. I disagree on #10. Here's mine: Defensive/Offensive lineman Pat Sharrow (6-3, 275 lbs., 4.9 in the 40) from Monroe. Michigan has offered him (albeit for Jan. 2004). That alone puts him above at least four of the above kids.]
Blue Sam's Top Ten Michigan Highschoolers
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