It all Starts up Front
The highlight of Tuesday afternoon's action and maybe the entire camp were the intense battles along the lines. The ensemble cast of characters in this play consisted of Muskegon's Damon Knox, Detroit Catholic Central DL Matt Godin (2012) and Flint Powers DL Dan O'Brien (2012).
Let's start with Damon Knox, who is an intriguing prospect because he is like a ball of clay… raw and unsculpted but with loads of potential. Standing 6-5 and weighing in at 255-lbs., he possesses good athleticism and the frame to add significant size and strength. What he doesn't have is polish. The bull rush is his patented move. It's also his only move. That's all he needs against physically overmatched opponents, but it's not enough against talents like Traverse City West's Jake Fisher (more on him later). To Knox's credit, he is working hard on expanding his pass rush repertoire, and he experienced some success with a few different moves Monday afternoon. They even helped him get the better of Fisher a few times, but not enough to say that he was the ultimate victor in series of duels between the two.
Fisher vs. Knox
Matthew Godin may be a year younger than Knox, but he is similarly sized and has more technique. He already has a patented spin move that he used to abuse opponents with all day, and he has good strength. And while he isn't quite as explosive as Knox, he plays with a great motor. He hasn't filled out his physically yet, so he isn't overpowering opponents. That was an issue against Fisher that was able to stalemate the Catholic Central star. That being said, Godin is definitely one of the top players on the in-state scene in the 2012 class.
Fisher vs. Godin
Flint Powers' Dan O'Brien will be ranked even higher in the 2012 class. The 6-1, 275-pounder was a disruptive force all day. Simply put, he was too quick or too strong for virtually every offensive lineman at the camp. He has an assortment of pass rush moves that are enhanced by his off the snap quickness. His game bears an uncanny resemblance to Mike Martin's at the same stage of development. Add to it his overwhelming intensity and you have a kid that was an absolute beast for opponents to deal with, both at Michigan's camp and at Sound Mind Sound Body last week. Things were running along pretty seamlessly today for O'Brien until, finally, he ran into Jake Fisher. The two talented youngsters locked horns for the most memorable exchange of the camp.
On their first snap facing one another O'Brien blew right by Fisher with an inside swim move. After the lighting quick victory, O'Brien let out a loud celebratory yell before subsequently getting in Fisher's face and telling him "let's go!" The exchange elicited the type of pumped up, yet concerned reaction from Fisher's mom that any mother would have. Fisher took issue with it as well, shoving O'Brien's facemask and then taking his game to another level.
Fisher vs. O'Brien
Keep in mind for a moment that Fisher had won each of his best of three one-on-one battles up to that point, so he had already been really good. But O'Brien's call-out made Fisher mad, and also made him even better. The next time they squared off O'Brien again showed good initial quickness, but this time Fisher was ready. The Traverse City West star recovered quickly by getting in a good punch before sliding in front of O'Brien and planting him into the turf. A noticeably upset O'Brien went right back at Fisher again the next snap… but the result was the same. He got planted into the turf again. The crowd around the two was fired up in response to what they witnessed. Even Fisher's mom raised her arms triumphantly.
Afterward both O'Brien and Godin were spent and each needed a quick beverage to quickly re-energize. A person in the crowd volunteered to walk across the field to get drinks for both of them. Unbeknownst to the two youngsters at the time, that volunteer was Fisher's mother.
Sportsmanship and football at its finest.
Worthy of the Hype
Warren Cousino's rising senior Ben McCord has fully embraced the tight end position according to his coach Rod Oden… and it shows. The former wideout benefitted from his great size when at his prior position, but he didn't have the speed to consistently get deep on corners. At tight end his speed is not only adequate… it's exceptional. He got deep all day long and caught everything thrown his way… even the hot stuff over the middle. It also helps that he is up to 235-lbs. The Michigan coaching staff was all over him as a result. He was on the receiving end loads of personal attention from offensive coordinator Calvin Magee and head man Rich Rodriguez.
Delonte Hollowell followed up his strong Sound Mind Sound Body showing last week with an equally effective outing in Ann Arbor Monday. His straight-line speed has never been questioned… and it certainly won't begin to be after he destroyed the field in the Smokehouse race to determine the camp's fastest defensive back. His strength is also a major asset, allowing him to maul receivers at the line. The knock on Hollowell's game has always been his stop/start quickness and hip fluidity. Both of those traits continue to show improvement. The Michigan commit was only beaten in coverage a couple of times during what was an otherwise outstanding day.
2011 Flint Northern standout Thomas Rawls caught the attention of the coaching staff at the running back position. The physical runner displayed a great burst and decent hands out of the backfield. He has been classified by many as a downhill/I-back type, but both he and his coaches caution against pigeon-holing him. Northern runs Rawls out of the spread so he is familiar with the zone read. It also helps that his coach is Michigan running backs coach Fred Jackson's son.
Ladue (MO) Horton Watkins WR Jehu Chesson is another prospect that really turned heads over the past few days. The 6-3, 175-pounder is a long strider with deceptive speed and great ball skills. The exciting thing is he hasn't even approached his physical peak yet. He won the Smokehouse race for WR;s and he'll only get better and more explosive as he gets bigger and stronger. He's another that the coaches were paying a great deal of attention to.
The top overall performer at the tailback position may well have been another 2012 prospect… Muskegon's Juwan Lewis. This powerful youngster is an explosive athlete with impressive feet and quickness. He's unproven at the moment, but he has the potential to be one of the state of Michigan's impact player's next year and will certainly be a prospect that the Michigan coaching staff keeps an eye on.
2013 Already?Yes… 2013 already. All that can be said about Butler LB Peter Kalumbayi is wow! He's already a physically imposing at 6-3 and about 220-lbs. He's as physically filled out as his teammate Kris Frost right now! Greg Robinson was very hands-on with him and the kid seemed to be soaking it up like a sponge. He appears to be the next in a long line of outstanding Butler prospects.