No. 1 Blue Chip Mike Weber made huge strides
Detroit Cass Tech running back Mike Weber is the No. 1 player on The Detroit News' annual list of its Blue Chip recruits.
Detroit – Mike Weber established himself as the premier player in the state and one of the top running backs in the nation during his senior year at Detroit Cass Tech.
Weber committed to Michigan prior to his senior season, then focused on getting Cass Tech back to Ford Field to play for a championship after his junior year came to a premature end due to an ankle injury. That injury played a role in the team's failure to earn a third straight state title.
Weber had an impressive senior season. And Cass Tech did win a championship at Ford Field, but it was another PSL title. Weber and his team didn't make it back again to the Lions' home, falling again in the state semifinals, this time to Saline.
After that loss to Saline Nov. 22, Weber decommitted from Michigan, feeling the Wolverines' home loss to Maryland that day would ultimately lead to the firing of Brady Hoke. Weber committed to Ohio State soon after.
"We fell one goal short and that's winning the state championship, but I'm very proud of what I've become and of all the goals I set and reached," Weber said. "I was really pleased with what I've accomplished with my teammates through all four years and how I developed."
Weber, 5-foot-10 and 215 pounds, improved in every area -- speed, strength and yards after contact. After rushing for 1,659 yards as a junior, he set his goal to top the 2,000-yard mark and surpassed that number by running for 2,265 yards and 29 TD. He put the pressure on his shoulders while sophomore Rodney Hall was developing as a first-year starting quarterback.
"I feel my biggest improvement was in breaking more tackles," said Weber, who has been timed at 4.5 seconds in the 40. "My junior year I broke tackles, but I broke a lot more this year since I got a lot bigger and stronger.
"I played at 205 my junior year, this year at 215 and I felt a lot stronger, more explosive. I did a lot of work in the offseason, a lot of work on my legs and upper body to get more explosive. I've run track all through school -- my fastest time is 10.8 in the 100 -- and I know getting faster is the main thing that I need to do going to the next level."
Weber inded got plenty of yards after contact, but he also got through holes more quickly, and once he reached the second level he was hard to tackle.
"Rule No. 1 is to not get caught from behind," Weber said. "Once I get out in the open field I don't plan on getting caught."
Weber showed that speed in a 48-35 regional championship win over Chippewa Valley, rushing for a career-high 404 yards on 32 carries, scoring five TDs, including long runs of 50, 45, 76 and 44 yards.
"That was the best game I ever played and I left my mark on that field, my last home game," Weber said. "Running for 404 yards and five touchdowns, that's something I never thought I'd do in high school and it so it felt good."
Another highlight play for Weber was a one-handed catch on a screen pass from Hall, turned into a 76-yard TD to open up a 20-0 lead over King early in the second quarter of the PSL title game at Ford Field. The play had fans out of their seats.
While Weber had big games and big plays, he also enjoyed the ceremony of being invited to the U.S. Army All American Bowl during Cass Tech's homecoming.
"Getting accepted to the All American Bowl was definitely one of the best experiences of my senior year," Weber said. "At halftime during the homecoming game, all the fans, all my family, my mother, my dad, all my brothers and sisters and grandparents came on the field and they (bowl representatives) had the stage out there, the trophy and the jersey. I got to speak with everybody at the game and it was real touching, a great memory."
Then, at the game in early January in San Antonio, Weber got six carries and ran over two defenders on one play.
"It was real special, actually being the only guy from Michigan playing in the game, so I tried to represent the state and the city of Detroit," Weber said. "That was a dream come true."
Harbaugh 'a cool guy'
Weber took his official visit to Ohio State in December, watched them practice, and felt the Buckeyes had an excellent chance to win the national championship. They defeated Alabama in the semifinals, then Oregon for the national title.
"When I went there and watched them practice -- the hard work they put in was unbelievable, so I thought they'd win the national title," Weber said. "I went to Ohio State in December and that was my only visit."
New Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh made a big push to try to get Weber to reverse field and flip back to Michigan. While Weber didn't return phone calls or texts Sunday, he said recently he was "solid on Ohio State."
"I grew up a Michigan fan and it's always been a school I wanted to go to, play for, and that's why I made my decision to go there early," Weber said. "But when it went downhill and they lost Brady Hoke and didn't know who they would bring in, I committed to Ohio State. Then they hired (Jim) Harbaugh, but I was pretty solid on Ohio State because I wanted to try something different.
"I talked to Coach Harbaugh a few times and he's a real energized guy, a cool guy," Weber added. "I think he understands (why I'm going to Ohio State). He just wanted to get to know me."