Aundrey Walker and Jordan Diamond didn't work out because of injuries, but there was no shortage of impressive Michigan targets on day one of the Sound Mind-Sound Body Academy. We check in with updates on the performances of Chris Bryant, Delonte Hollowell, James Ross, and more. Could a few new Michigan offers be on the horizon? Which prospects will visit Ann Arbor today? Find out inside.
This Windy City lineman appears to have slimmed down a bit since we last saw him at the Michigan Showcase back in February. All that did was make him tougher for opponents to deal with. The 6-4, 330-pounder's penchant for being a punisher in the run game is well-established. It was his pass blocking that scouts wanted to see improve. It's easy to see that it has. Bryant showed better lateral quickness, was more adept at opening his hips in order to prevent rushers from getting around the edge, and possesses a devastating punch. He still lunges at times and can get caught off balance, but his technique is clearly improving. Coaches were all over him all day. That certainly was true of Michigan the coaching staff. Greg Frey led the line drills, which gave him the opportunity to make a significant impression. So too did Rich Rodriguez, who made it a point to get over and spend time with Bryant and his young teammate Jordan Diamond. Both Chicago standouts plan to visit Michigan today and don't be surprised if offers are extended.
The Michigan commit didn't have his most consistent day catching the football, but he still had his fair share of impressive catches in one-on-one action. His performance could best be described in one sentence… he dropped the easy balls and caught the tough ones. His most impressive catch during our observation came on a fade pattern where the defensive grabbed his shirt and waist before literally jumping on his back. The referee threw the flag for pass interference, but Conway still managed to stay upright and haul in the pass over-the-shoulder pass for a touchdown. "What are you complaining to the ref for," Conway asked his beaten opponent. "You were holding me the whole way. The whole way! And it was still six! Don't cry about the call, cry about that."
Davis' stock, quite simply, is on fire. His versatility was again on full display, as he rotated between linebacker and defensive line drills. To be clear, the Southeastern standout is a pure linebacker, but he takes great pride in his pass rushing skills and could be an extremely effective blitzer at the next level. That's likely part of the reason why Michigan defensive coordinator Greg Robinson is so enamored with him. Robinson was seen offering Davis instruction throughout the day, especially in the pass rushing drills. Coach and prospective pupil appear to be hitting it off really well. The Wolverines weren't the only ones showing Davis that kind of love though. Michigan State looks to be showing increased interest. Iowa's Erik "Soup" Campbell and Syracuse's Tyrone Wheatley were also keeping close watch. Next up for Davis is the Michigan State summer camp, followed by his possible attendance at Notre Dame's camp. A summer decision is still in the offing and the Wolverines are still in a strong position.
Track is officially over and it showed in Hollowell's performance. The three-star DB was much sharper at Sound Mind Sound Body that he was at other camps we observed during the winter and spring. He wasn't nearly as susceptible to the double move this time around, and that spelled trouble for the majority of youngsters he faced. Many were mauled at the line of scrimmage and others simply weren't able to run by him. It should be noted, however, that Hollowell didn't match up with future teammate Shawn Conway. The receiver that did manage to best him a few times was Saginaw's DeAnthony Arnett. Arnett's inline quickness and route precision allowed him to gain the occasional advantage. So too did his route creation like the "post-corner-comeback." The DBs have to throw route recognition out the window when facing Arnett because of the likelihood of seeing something they've never seen before and might never see in an actual game. To Hollowell's credit, he did a much better job adjusting to Arnett's creativity. When not focusing on his duel with Arnett, Hollowell was busy recruiting. The future Wolverine was all over Ed Davis Thursday, doing his best to lure the Detroit Southeastern standout to the Maize & Blue. He also put on his Michigan recruiting hat for his current teammate, Royce Jenkins-Stone.
Jenkins-Stone is a stone cold hitter, so unpadded events like Sound Mind Sound Body always seem to do him a disservice, until now. The 6-2, 215-pounder looks more comfortable in coverage, and demonstrated fluidity much like that of Ed Davis. He also possesses the kind of mean streak that coaches love. James "Biggs" Ross is a better linebacker than Jenkins-Stone right now, but he is not a better athlete. The self-professed Michigan fan seemingly had Michigan and Ohio State coaches checking him out all day. He will be camping at Michigan in a few days and the buzz on the field Thursday was that a Maize & Blue offer is just around the corner.
Detroit Martin Luther Kinng
Jr. - Running Back
Northfleet's good speed and elite quickness make him one of the most difficult match-ups in seven-on-seven settings. The diminutive tailback has extremely long arms for his size and is a terrific pass-catcher out of the backfield, lending even more credence to the belief that he could be effective in the slot. That said, he is a tailback at heart and plays much bigger than his size. Michigan was among those seen showing a great deal of attention.
This fiery youngster plays with great explosion off the snap, excellent leverage, and a non-stop motor. At about 6-1, physically he bears an uncanny similarity to a defensive lineman the annoyed Michigan for the Golden Domers two decades ago by the name of Chris Zorich. Though only a 2012 prospect, O'Brien was receiving a great deal of attention from the Michigan coaching staff among others. He plans to be a Michigan camper in the coming days.
There wasn't a receiver that Richardson was afraid to line up against Thursday, and this "Dior Mathis play-alike" gave as good as he got. He may be the fastest defensive back in attendance and can break on the ball with the best of them. What he doesn't have right now is a great deal of size. He is still working hard to build up the necessary size and strength to be more formidable at the line of scrimmage. At times gave receivers a bit too much cushion and was beaten as a result. It is very likely the case that the stronger he gets, the less cushion opponents will see. All that said, "T-Rich" impressed a number of coaches in attendance, especially those from Iowa. The Wolverines were seen keeping a watchful eye as well and he plans to camp in Ann Arbor later this week.
"Biggs" was arguably the linebacker with the best blend of athleticism and knowledge of the game at the camp. He's so strong in coverage that one opponent figured there was only one way to beat… a blow to the mouth! The inadvertent hit resulted in a noticeably fat lip, but it didn't slow this talented youngster down. It just reminded him he didn't have a helmet on. Ross and Orchard Lake St. Mary's will be at Michigan State's 7-on-7 camp today and will try to make it over for at least one day of the Wolverines' summer camp later this week.