Signing day notes: Cass Tech's Deone Walker picks Kentucky over Michigan, Alabama

David Goricki
The Detroit News

There was no drama where Grosse Pointe South cornerback Will Johnson, the No. 1 player in The News Blue Chip list, would sign with on Wednesday during National Signing Day. The same goes for Traverse City Central linebacker Josh Burnham and Grand Rapids Catholic Central safety Nolan Ziegler.

Johnson inked his letter of intent with Michigan and Burnham and Ziegler with Notre Dame.

However, there was a lot of drama surrounding Detroit Cass Tech four-star defensive tackle Deone Walker, who announced he was signing with Kentucky. He picked the Wildcats over Michigan, Alabama, Georgia and Missouri.

Walker, a mammoth 6-foot-7, 345-pound two-way linemen, made the announcement as part of the U.S. Army All-American selection team ceremony in San Antonio.

When asked why he chose Kentucky, Walker gave his reasons during a phone interview with The News.

“It was really the comfortability and how much I trusted the coaches there,” Walker said. “Plus, (Kentucky linebacker and former Cass Tech player DeAndre) Square is coming back for another year and he’ll show me the ropes.”

How close was Michigan from getting Walker?

“I’m not going to lie, it was neck and neck,” Walker said. “They have a great program and great coaches.”

Deone Walker

Walker said Monday while working out at Cass Tech that he wanted to go to a place “that I feel comfortable at" and "one where the people who are showing me love won’t be leaving.”

Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops recently received a contract extension through 2027. He has done a tremendous job of building the program. After starting 12-24, he has guided the Wildcats to a 46-29 record since 2016.

Stoops guided Kentucky to a second-place showing in the Southeastern Conference East Division and a 9-3 record this season, with wins over LSU and Florida. The Wildcats are ranked No. 25 heading into the New Year’s Day Citrus Bowl against No. 17 Iowa.

Kentucky has done a great job of recruiting players from the metro Detroit area in recent years, grabbing former Oak Park two-way lineman Justin Rogers — The News' No. 1 player for the 2020 class — former Oak Park two-way lineman Marquan McCall and Square.

While Walker signed in San Antonio, his Cass Tech teammates made their decisions at the high school.

Offensive lineman Masai Reddick, a member of The News Dream Team who sits at No. 17 on the Blue Chip list, signed with Tennessee. Two-way lineman Jackson Pruitt (No. 22) signed with Temple and receiver Jameel Gardner (No. 41) with Kent State, flipping from his original commitment to Bowling Green.

"My No. 1 decision to go to Tennessee was based on the environment," Reddick said. "The environment is amazing, the people are amazing It's an all-around place for everyone to grow at one time. It's a family environment. The guys are real supportive and the coaches are real supportive where they talk about more than just football.

"Coach (Josh) Heupel is a great coach. He's really invested in me, my peers, invested in my teammates so as a whole he wants to take a full step forward as a family and as a community. He's a great coach and I trust him. I just really trust in everything he's trying to build right now."

Tennessee, which is 7-5 in Heupel's first year as head coach, has recruited the 6-5, 330-pound Reddick as a guard.

Pruitt talked on his decision to head to Temple.

"I enjoyed the atmosphere, what they were offering me and their business school is second to none," Pruitt said. "Coach (Rod) Carey recruited me really heavy and he's a real good guy. He's up-front and tells you what you need to do. The whole staff is great.

"I think my ability to lead and adjust are my strengths. I had to learn how to play every position on the offensive line for us to have success, find out where I best fit in to help my team. I played guard last year. This year played every position on the O-line and nose guard and defensive tackle. … The coaches at Temple feel like I'm going to play early there and they want me to be an interior guy."

Dream Teamers wait until February

Jeremiah Caldwell and Deshaun Lee, who are both receivers/cornerbacks, showed they had Power Five talent while helping Belleville win the Division 1 state championship this season.

Yet, Caldwell (No. 8) and Lee (No. 15) will be waiting until February to make their college choices.

That's what happens when the NCAA allowed players to have an extra year of eligibility last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in addition to the transfer portal situation.

Multiple Power Five coaches, and Group of Five coaches for that matter, still don't know how many scholarships could be available with players still deciding if they will use that extra year.

"Right now I haven't been talking to a lot of coaches," said Caldwell, who caught three TD passes in Belleville's state title game win at Ford Field last month. "People talk to me every once in a while, so I'm waiting to see what happens.

"Kentucky, Central (Michigan), Michigan, Michigan State, Tennessee, Toledo and Alabama State have offered me. Some of those offered me freshman year so I really don't talk to most of them anymore. I hope to talk with them again in January.

"It's tough not knowing where you're going, especially for a player who knows he can play at that level. My coach (Jermain Crowell) said the portal has really taken over high school offers."

Lee agrees, saying: "It's been rough because of the transfer portal. I wish I could make my choice now, but everything happens for a reason.

"I had offers from Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Syracuse, Iowa and Central. Some have kept in contact with me, some not all. I've been talking to a lot of schools that haven't offered me. They pretty much don't know if they have a spot or not. I haven't taken an official visit yet, but hope to in January."

Detroit King all-state receiver Lynn Wyche-El (No. 16) will also wait until the February signing period.

Entringer chooses Hawkeyes

While a lot of the star players from the metro area received offers early in their high school careers, Walled Lake Western defensive back Koen Entringer (No. 32) received more than a half-dozen offers within the last month, including Michigan, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Iowa, Utah and Boston College.

Entringer was offered by Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh three weeks ago, then attended the Michigan-Ohio State game at the Big House.

But on Wednesday, Entringer put on an Iowa cap and said he was headed to play for the Hawkeyes during a ceremony at the high school media center.

“When I went on a visit on the 10th (last Friday) everything just felt right. It felt like home when I was there,” said Entringer, who has been recruited as a safety. “Some of things that are important to me are obviously being developed as a defensive back, a school where there’s good players. Coach (Kirk) Ferentz has been there 20 years, which is important to me, and Iowa is very well known for academics.”

Entringer said he was a "little shell-shocked" by the recent swarm of offers.

“I took official visits to Iowa, Wisconsin and Boston College and unofficially visited Michigan several times," he said. "I took my official to Wisconsin November 19th, went to Michigan’s game against Ohio State and have been to their practices too. The Michigan-Ohio State is a game I’ll always remember and hopefully I can play in a rivalry game or a conference championship game like that.”

Entringer played freshmen football his freshman year, then JV ball as a sophomore before playing varsity football the last two years.

“I was really intense because of COVID. I wanted to make sure I made a play every time I was on the field,” Entringer said. “The biggest thing for me is that I played every play like it was my last, sold out every play. I also spent a lot of time this offseason working with different people in Sound Mind, Sound Body and it helped me build a mentality to play your hardest every play because you never know who is watching.”

Entringer’s high school teammate, linebacker Aidan Vaughan (No. 24), signed with Wisconsin.

Miles heading to Bowling Green

River Rouge defensive tackle Davonte Miles, a member of The News Dream Team who is No. 20 on the Blue Chip list, signed with Bowling Green.

Miles, who decommitted from Michigan prior to his senior season, could have possibly signed with Indiana in February.

Miles took his official visit to Bowling Green this past weekend.

"I loved it there," Miles said. "I'm going to be on the defensive line. But if they need me at offensive tackle, I'd play there too."

One of Miles' River Rouge teammates, receiver Jalen Holly (No. 47), also signed with Bowling Green.