Belleville defensive end Tyrece Woods Jr. thought his future as a college football player was clear.
He said he received a scholarship offer from his dream school, Michigan, after an impressive outing at a UM camp this summer. He committed to Michigan on Aug. 12 after the annual BBQ at the Big House, writing on Twitter, “I’m a Michigan Man. All Glory to God!! 100000% COMMITTED”
But Woods’ plans were derailed the day before Thanksgiving. He says that’s when UM recruiting director Matt Dudek informed Woods that the Wolverines were pulling their offer. The next day Woods wrote on Twitter that he had decommitted.
“We weren’t on the same page as we were when I first committed,” Woods said this week to The Detroit News. “They were basically trying to force me to take an academic scholarship and walk-on for football. When they originally offered me at their camp they said it would be a full ride (football scholarship).”
A source familiar with the situation said Woods was only offered the opportunity for an academic scholarship and preferred walk-on status, which means he would have had to submit paperwork by certain academic deadlines, but could practice with the team in hopes of earning a football scholarship. The source could not speak publicly because of NCAA rules that limit what programs can say regarding prospective recruits.
“It hurt me because it was my dream school, and then to have one of the assistant coaches tell me about it instead of Coach (Jim) Harbaugh made it real bad. Coach Harbaugh offered me (during camp). Matt Dudek told me the news the night before Thanksgiving, and I talked with my family and we came up that it (decommitting) was the best thing for me to do at the time. I was numb over it for a couple of days, couldn’t believe what I just heard.”
Woods' father, Tyrece Woods, corroborated his son's version of events.
"It was never a walk-on," his father said. "We would have never accepted that."
So Woods has had to look to other colleges. He took an official visit to Western Michigan over the weekend and the Broncos are in the mix, along with Cincinnati and Ball State.
Woods is among a large number of local recruits who have yet to commit to a college. The early signing period is Wednesday-Friday, and players can their national letters of intent then, or anytime after National Signing Day on Feb. 6.
On The Detroit News’ annual Blue Chip list, 14 of the top 60 players were undecided as of Tuesday.
Woods — a three-star prospect ranked No. 28 on the Blue Chip list — has come to the realization he will not be playing for a Power Five program.
“Right now, it’s between Western Michigan, Cincinnati and Ball State,” Woods said. “On my visit this past week (WMU) I felt like I was at home. They offered me a full ride. It was nice. I enjoyed myself. I watched them practice on Saturday and they were looking good.
“I told them I’d think about it for a few days, make sure it was the right decision for me, that I’d be comfortable there. They want to know by the early signing period because they want me to enroll early, and that’s been my plan throughout the whole process.
“I don’t feel like I have to (sign Wednesday) because everybody’s (Cincinnati, Ball State) been patient. I talk to them almost every single day. I just want to be 100 percent sure.”
Woods was expected to be one of a half dozen or more Belleville players to sign Wednesday, but now only Devontae Dobbs (No. 1, Michigan State), Julian Barnett (No. 3, MSU) and defensive end Jalen Hunt (No. 19, Iowa) are assured of signing letters of intent, while Woods, linebacker Marvin Ham (No. 23) and defensive tackle Jalen Bell are still figuring things out.
Ham decommitted from Boston College Monday after taking an official visit to Colorado over the weekend to meet with new head coach Mel Tucker, the former defensive coordinator at Georgia, also the former DC of the Bears, Jaguars and Browns in the NFL.
John Niyo and Dave Goricki talk about college football's early signing period with analyst Allen Trieu and four local players, including Canton's Darius Robinson. The Detroit News
Bell — who transferred from Detroit Cass Tech with Woods this season — reopened his recruiting after Akron fired Terry Bowden.
“I’m going to make my announcement tomorrow (Wednesday),” Ham said. “I’ve got a lot more interest, picked up more schools, so I’ll talk with my parents and family tonight and then make my decision tomorrow.
“I loved it out in Colorado. It’s beautiful. Coach Tucker is a great coach. He coached in the NFL, coached at Georgia, was the DC on the national championship (runnerup) team, worked under Coach (Nick) Saban. He has a great coaching staff and has a lot of talent coming out there.”
One such talented player headed to Colorado is Cass Tech 6-1, 214-pound running back Jaren Mangham (No. 8 on Blue Chip list) who rushed for 1,098 yards on 89 carries and 26 touchdowns to help his team win the PSL title.
Tucker made the trip to Detroit and had a home visit with Mangham last week, making sure Mangham was still headed to Boulder since he had committed this summer before Colorado fired head coach Mike MacIntyre last month and replaced him with Tucker, who started his career as a grad assistant at Michigan State.
Madison Heights Madison 6-foot quarterback Austin Brown (No. 42 Blue Chip list) is another player waiting for the right opportunity. He thought it might be at Western Michigan after Naperville (Ill.) quarterback Payton Thorne flipped from WMU to Michigan State.
Brown had been in communication with WMU coaches, and thought if the dominoes fell his name would be called, but that was not the case. Instead, Broncos’ second-year coach Tim Lester pulled the trigger on 6-3 three-star Nick Kargman from New Jersey who threw for 3,963 yards, including 539 in one game his senior year. Kargman picked WMU over Rutgers, Morgan State and Jackson State.
Brown felt he did enough to receive a Division I offer, after having had a hand in 126 career TDs and leading two schools — Detroit Catholic Central (2016) and Madison Heights Madison (2018) — to state championship game appearances.
After throwing for more than 2,000 yards and 24 TDs and rushing for nearly 2,000 yards and 37 TDs his senior year, Brown has received an offer from Grand Valley State to play football.
Brown will weigh that against an offer to play baseball for Marshall, with an opportunity to try to make the Thundering Herd football team, as well.
“I’m leaning toward Marshall,” said Brown, who has not given up on his goal of playing Division I football. “I always go back to Baker Mayfield, go back to this guy who is one in a million. He walked on at Texas Tech, was the Heisman Trophy winner (with Oklahoma) and now he’s the No. 1 draft pick playing for the Cleveland Browns. My path might not be as easy as everybody else is with getting these offers that I feel like I wanted or deserved, but I’m still going to end up where I want to be. All I want is a chance.”
Warren De La Salle cornerback Josh DeBerry (No. 15 Blue Chip) took an official visit to Boston College this past weekend but also remains undecided.
“It went good, everything was nice there,” DeBerry said. “I saw their practice and had a chance to meet some of their players. I love where it’s located, downtown in Boston, love the coaches and players there.”
DeBerry said he likely will be make his decision Wednesday. He’s also considering Wake Forest and Northwestern.
“Boston College and Wake Forest are probably like my top two right now,” DeBerry said. “They have both said they want to know (by Wednesday), as has most every school.”
Canton defensive lineman Darius Robinson (No. 18 Blue Chip) is another standout player who has a big decision to make. He has narrowed his schools to Michigan, Minnesota, Colorado and Missouri.
Robinson played organized football for the first time since sixth grade his junior year at Canton after transferring from Canton Prep. He earned a spot on The News Dream team this season after getting in on 68 tackles (12 tackles for loss) while also playing tight end.
“It’s a little twisted right now, to be honest with you,” Robinson said. “I’m just thinking things over with my family and then I’ll sign my letter of intent Wednesday at my high school,” Robinson said.
Robinson called the recruiting process a “great experience.”
He added: “I definitely enjoyed the process, but I’m glad it’s almost over. I’m ready to get back to work and play and start the next chapter.”