Local recruiting: Yaseen's flip, Martinez's decision add intrigue to Early Signing Day
It wouldn’t be a normal signing day if there wasn’t a little excitement and change in the plans. That was the case Wednesday when Dream Team receiver Abdur-Rahmaan Yaseen flipped and decided to sign with Purdue instead of Northwestern.
Yaseen, who is No. 6 on The News' Blue Chip list, had a memorable senior season with 86 receptions for 1,646 yards and 20 touchdowns. He helped lead Walled Lake Western to league (Lakes Valley), district and regional championships before a suffering a 57-56 loss to Muskegon Mona Shores in a Division 2 state semifinal.
And, it wasn’t done there. Dream Team quarterback Cameron Martinez of Muskegon decided not to sign with Ohio State, opting to wait until February to make up his mind.
Muskegon coach Shane Fairfield said Martinez is still an Ohio State commit, but he is waiting to find out who Buckeyes coach Ryan Day will name as his defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach after Jeff Hafley left to become the head man at Boston College.
For Yaseen, he said Purdue offered him before Northwestern and then stayed in contact throughout the recruiting process, despite his commitment to Northwestern.
Northwestern struggled during a 3-9 season (1-8 Big Ten) with its passing game almost nonexistent.
“I just thought it (Purdue) was a better fit for me. They throw the ball a ton, so I think I fit well with an offense that throws the rock around,” Yaseen said on his decision to flip. “I did my homework on previous years when they (Northwestern) were successful and they didn’t match up with Purdue.”
Yaseen said Purdue (4-8, 3-6) stayed in contact with him and he decided to take an official visit this past weekend.
“Well, we kind of always been in touch with some coaches down there and recently after the season we wanted to make sure we were comfortable in what we were doing,” Yaseen said. “I feel I just fit well in their system. Last year, they completed more than 300 passes with three different quarterbacks, so that makes you know that no matter who is in there they can still swing it around.
“For me in terms of fitting in, they are looking at me either playing X or Z on the other side of David (Bell) with Rondale (Moore) in the slot. So, it’s going to be something like Alabama and all of their stud receivers with Jerry Jeudy, Henry Ruggs and Devonta Smith.That’s what you’re going to see.”
Purdue freshman David Bell had 86 receptions for 1,035 yards and seven TDs this season. Rondale Moore had 114 catches and 12 TDs during his freshman year in 2018, including 12 catches for 170 yards and two TDs in a win over Ohio State.
Fairfield talked about Martinez’s decision to wait on signing.
“Cam did not sign today. Cam is still committed, but he’s working with Coach Day on who the new D-coordinator will be,” Fairfield said. “They let him hold off until the second signing date. Coach Day and Cam’s family have talked quite a bit since Hafley left since Hafley was his primary recruiter.
“Cam was either going to play defensive back for Hafley or he was going to play some receiver. Then they brought in another receiver and now with Hafley gone things are just uncertain.”
Martinez, who is No. 4 on The News' Blue Chip list, rushed for 2,228 yards and 36 TDs and threw for 1,258 yards and 11 TDs this season. He was set to play receiver or defensive back for the Buckeyes.
Muskegon two-way lineman Billie Roberts, a member of The News' Dream Team, will also wait until February to sign, with Michigan State, Minnesota and several MAC teams in the mix.
River Rouge's big day
Division 3 state champion River Rouge had four players sign during a ceremony at the high school auditorium.
Linebacker Deshawn Walker (No. 45) signed with Toledo, cornerback David Carter (No. 51) with Eastern Michigan, receiver Xavier Smith (No. 59) with EMU and safety Chastin Cross with Western Illinois.
Walker got in on 110 tackles, including 15 sacks, to help River Rouge defeat Muskegon, 30-7, at Ford Field and walk away with the Division 3 state championship trophy.
“It was a bad year this year, but we ended out so great with the championship. Now we’re signing early, so I never thought in a million years I’d be in this position and I’m excited and can’t wait to be a Toledo Rocket,” Walker said.
So, why Toledo?
“It feels like home and it’s far enough from home to be myself and close enough to home to help my mom,” Walker said. “It was so exciting to win the state championship, unbelievable really. I stood on Ford Field just looking up and talking to my Pops because my dad is dead. I do everything for him. It was just like, ‘We did it!’”
River Rouge coach Corey Parker was proud of Walker.
“Deshawn decided to turn all the negative into a level of focus and just say this is what I have to do,” Parker said. “He had to rely on a lot of people. So to see how this young man was able to persevere through all of this and still be able to get what an everyday student is able to get done, and maintain success on the field, have tough conversations with his teammates, which is not the easiest to have, it was amazing to watch. He didn’t use it as a crutch. He let his heart lead him.”
Cross transferred from Lincoln Park two years ago and will now be playing at Western Illinois, deciding to stay with his first offer after Michigan State showed interest last week.
“I never knew I’d have this opportunity from where I came from because I come from a school where nobody signed,” Cross said. “Things got crazy (last week), but Western Illinois made me feel like family, so I went with my first option.”
Dream Team running back De'Andre Bulley did not sign, opting to wait until February to make his decision. He decommitted from Akron during the season and has recent offer from San Diego State.
From Belleville to Big Ten
Belleville Dream Team cornerback Andre Seldon (No. 7) signed with Michigan at while his teammate and cornerback Brenden Deasfernandes (No. 37) signed with Iowa.
“This is just a dream come true for me since I’ve been waiting for this day ever since I was a little kid. It’s a blessing,” Seldon said. “As soon as that 7 o’clock mark came we (Michigan recruits) all popped in a group chat and that was great.
“I knew that this was the place I wanted to make an impact at. I just want to be there for my state, for my team and for my brothers. I feel I can be versatile. I can play corner, but I can play anywhere in the secondary. Playing that safety position just proved the fact I can step up for my team no matter where my team needs me. Wherever they’re going to put me I’ll make an impact.”
Seldon hopes he plays on special teams as a return man.
Deasfernandes is thrilled to get his chance to play in the Big Ten. Iowa was his lone offer and he earned MVP honors at Iowa camp this summer, which led to that offer.
Southfield A&T's Anthony Romphf flipped and signed with Purdue instead of Florida Atlantic.
Romphf, who played quarterback and is No. 30 on The News' Blue Chip list, committed to Florida Atlantic when Lane Kiffin was head coach. However, Kiffin recently took the head job at Mississippi.
“I decided to go to Purdue for bigger and better opportunities for me for the future based off me and my conversations with my family,” said Romphf, who signed as an athlete.
... Detroit King had offensive lineman Deon Buford (No. 10) sign with Kentucky, running back Peny Boone (No. 11) sign with Maryland and receiver Rashawn Williams (No. 17) with Indiana during a ceremony at the high school.
… Davison Dream Team receiver Latrell Fordham (No. 14) signed with Ball State.