Chris Wormley is among the top-level defensive ends from Ohio in the Class of 2012 (Allen Trieu)
In the final part of this “Ask the Experts” column with Scout.com Midwest Regional Manager Allen Trieu, South Regional Manager Chad Simmons, and Florida analyst Geoff Vogt, the three share their thoughts on Denard Robinson’s impact on Michigan’s recruiting efforts in Florida, a high-level quarterback recruit slated to visit Ann Arbor this weekend, and the strong talent pools in Michigan and Ohio in 2012:
Sam Webb: Will there be a “Denard Robinson Effect” for Michigan when it comes to recruiting in Florida? Did you guys have any idea that he would be this good this soon?
Chad Simmons: “I got to see ‘Shoelace’ in high school and there was no doubt that he could run. He was a great athlete that could do a lot of things when he had the ball in his hands. Some schools liked him as a defensive back, some said wide receiver, some said athlete, and some said quarterback. That obviously tells you he was an outstanding athlete. Still, no matter how good he was is in high school, I think everybody is still surprised at the impact he is having right now. He is having is a Heisman Trophy-type season. I don’t think anybody expected him to do that as a sophomore. But there was no doubt he could (eventually) put up big numbers as a quarterback in that type of system where he has the option to run or pass and always has the ball in his hands. That definitely helps (Michigan) recruiting. They’ve won the games this year. They’ve definitely bounced back from a tough season last year. Having a quarterback like Shoelace out there making those big plays and showing that kind of freedom and that kind of athleticism — it is going to help recruiting. Especially guys in the south, like in Florida where (Robinson) is from. It is putting their offense back out there saying, ‘We’re going to get the ball to the playmakers.’ Those Florida kids, all they want is a chance to play, a chance to compete. I think (Robinson) doing this early in his career only helps (Michigan) show that opportunity.”
Geoff Vogt: “I remember watching Denard and thinking he was simply one of the fastest players I had ever seen in pads. It is not surprising that he is doing the things he is doing, running with the ball in his hands. He has always been able to do that. It is a little surprising that he is such a good thrower already and is having a lot of success this year. A lot of credit should be given to the Michigan staff for developing him in just a little over a year. In terms of recruiting, Denard is going to be a big name. Everybody is going to know that he came from Florida. Everybody is going to know he had great success at Michigan. It definitely should open up even more avenues for Michigan in Florida. He is sort of a headliner going forward where they can say things to recruits like, ‘Hey, look what happened to Denard when he came up here. He blew up. He won the Heisman.’ That will carry a lot of weight.”
Sam Webb: Chad, one of Michigan’s official visitors for the game against Michigan State is Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek High quarterback Marquise Williams. The 6-3, 215-pound youngster is currently committed to North Carolina, but he is taking this visit to Ann Arbor. I know you saw him recently. What is the deal there?
Chad Simmons: “I had a long talk with Marquise after I watched him practice when I was there about a week and a half ago. He’s a great kid. I’ve been taking to Marquise and kind of covering him for the last couple of years. He made a bold move when he committed to North Carolina with (four-star Myrtle Beach, S.C., quarterback) Everett Golson already committed to the Tar Heels. That showed right there he is not scared to compete. He’s a bigger quarterback that can definitely step out and also play maybe H-back or tight end. He really has a good arm too. I definitely don’t think his recruiting is done. After talking to him and his coaches when I was there for a couple of hours, he is still on that commitment list for North Carolina, but he is definitely reevaluating everything. He still does like North Carolina and they still are the team to beat for sure, but Michigan is up there. So are Virginia Tech and LSU. I think Wake Forrest is kind of a dark horse. They’ve been getting seriously involved by getting him on campus for an official visit and talking about him playing early in his career there. But Michigan is very much involved. He likes obviously what Denard is doing. He knows that he is an athletic quarterback. He’s not the type of athlete that Denard is — not quite that fast or mobile — but he still could fit into that offense up there.”
Sam Webb: Allen, let’s fast forward to next year’s recruiting class in the state of Michigan. There are a number of prospects already receiving Division I attention. Without putting them in any particular order, can you list the youngsters that stick out to you as the best prospects in the state at this early stage of evaluation?
Allen Trieu: “James Ross, the linebacker from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s, is certainly one of the top guys. He already has offers from Michigan and Michigan State. He plans to be at the game (Saturday). Cass Tech has a bunch of juniors. Terry Richardson is a standout corner and Royce Jenkins Stone is an athletic linebacker. Both guys should pick up multiple high-level Division I offers. Their teammate, Laron Taylor, also deserves mention. It’ll be interesting to see who offers him because he is a little bit undersized to play linebacker, but he is one of the top performers I’ve seen. I also think what the speedy running back, Drake Johnson, has been doing over at (Ann Arbor) Pioneer has him up there. The big defensive tackle, Dan O’Brien from Flint Powers, already has two big-time offers from Michigan and Tennessee. He is definitely going to be a high-end guy. There are a number of others that are worthy of mentioning like Kelby Latta from Battle Creek Harper Creek, Dakota Perry from Capac, Detrick Goff from Grand Blanc, Chase Deback over at Charlotte. Those are a few of guys that have intriguing physical ability, but that we need to see more of. Those guys are all looking like Division I prospects and there are a number of others that I didn’t even mention. I think the state is going to be really, really strong next year.”
Sam Webb: You said the state of Michigan is going to be loaded next year relative to its normal level of talent. Word out of Ohio is they’re expecting a bumper crop in 2012 as well. That state already has a reputation for one of the most fertile talent grounds in the country. Does that 2012 mean it will be a gigantic recruiting year in the Buckeye State.
Allen Trieu: “Yes! There are too many elite prospects in that state next year to list in this interview. The defensive end position alone is going to produce a ton of Division I prospects. It is just so deep. At first glance a handful of defensive ends all merit four-star or higher consideration. There’s Se’Von Pittman from Canton McKinney, Adolphus Washington from Cincinnati Taft, LaTroy Lewis from Akron Archbishop Hoban, Greg McMullen from Akron Archbishop Hoban, Tom Strobel from Mentor and Chris Wormley from Toledo Whitmer. Those are a few of the top-level defensive ends that we’ve noticed so far. There definitely will be more that emerge in the coming months. Then we haven’t even begun to talk about the big-time talent at the other positions like running back. That state is absolutely loaded.”
Sam Webb is managing editor of GoBlueWolverine.com and co-host of the "Michigan Insider" morning show weekdays on Sports Talk 1050 WTKA.
One of Michigan’s official visitors for the game against Michigan State is ... (Chad Simmons)
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