River Rouge — De’Andre Bulley proudly showed off a Morgan State T-shirt during River Rouge’s Signing Day ceremony inside the school’s auditorium on Wednesday morning.
Bulley, a member of The News Dream Team who rushed for 1,975 yards this past fall to help River Rouge earn its first state championship, will be playing for former Michigan All-American Tyrone Wheatley.
The 6-foot, 240-pound Bulley is hoping Wheatley leads him to a similar path the Wolverine took after his college career when he played 10 years in the NFL, including a 1,000-yard season for the Raiders back in 2000.
Wheatley was a fast, physical back at 6-0 and 235 pounds when he played for the Wolverines where he rushed for 4,178 yards, fifth-best in school history, before being the first-round pick of the Giants in the 1995 NFL Draft.
“Tyrone’s a great guy and I know he’ll coach me well,” Bulley said. “He said he basically saw himself in me. The running backs coach there (Jerome Smith at Morgan State), he coached him at Syracuse. I like their support system because I have the same support system here as they have at Morgan State. It’s a family thing, they grow a family and that’s what I want to be around.”
Bulley had originally committed to Akron prior to his senior season, but as Akron kept losing games and River Rouge kept winning games he decided to de-commit and reopen his recruiting.
San Diego State came on board late to show its interest in Bulley, along with Western Michigan — his first offer his sophomore year — and Eastern Michigan also in the mix, but in the end it was Wheatley being the difference.
It also helped that Bulley will have a familiar face at Morgan State in Detroit Renaissance quarterback Raequan Beal, who signed back in December.
“That’s my brother, he knows what’s best for me, so me going with him is probably the best decision I made,” said Bulley of Beal, who is No. 56 on The News Blue Chip list.
Said Beal: “Morgan State just felt like the perfect fit for me. I just felt like I was at home. They have a great coaching staff and they keep selling every day, every day. They showed me around the whole campus and they didn’t sugarcoat how the campus is or how the students are or how I’m going to be coached, just showed how every day would be like for me if I went there and I really enjoyed my visit.
“They told me I would be competing for the starting job, just have to work hard and lead the team and just come in and be prepared.”
Beal talked on his relationship with Bulley.
“That’s my guy, told him all about Morgan State,” said Beal. “We talk pretty much every day. It’s going to be amazing playing with him. In PAL, I played for the Ravens and he played for the Wolverines.
“I was just telling him that it would be great if we played together if we had the chance. Then, recruiting picked up and we had some similar schools and we kept talking, and it was like if the right opportunities come for both us, because it would have to for both of us. I went to Morgan State and it was a great fit for me and then I gave him the feedback of what I thought it was, then he went to go see for himself so it’s awesome that he felt the same way.”
Other River Rouge players to sign included Rmontaye Caldwell (Ferris State), Dekare Spicer (Wayne State), Josh Poole (Northwood), Christian Jones (Davenport), Avery Burch (Lawrence Tech), Nigel Payne (Alma), Cameron Davis (Alma), Jalen Dunwoody (Alma), Cortland Cochran (Madonna), Nah’shon Hurst (Ellsworth Community College) and Alex White (Advanced Prep Academy).
Belleville pair to play at Saginaw Valley
While Belleville defensive back Ronald Jackson signed with Akron during a ceremony that included nine other teammates, defensive end/receiver Jalen Williams and running back Michael Jenkins both signed with Saginaw Valley State.
Williams and Jenkins were excited to remain teammates for the next four years, but now they will be catching passes from Brighton quarterback Colby Newburg.
“It just felt like family and my mom was comfortable with my decision,” said Williams who took his official visit on Saturday. “I liked the campus and players.”
And, on playing with Jenkins: “That’s my brother for life so it was an easy decision. We were going to be together anywhere we went.”
Jenkins is excited to play with Williams.
“We’ve had a long, long relationship and it’s crazy because not a lot of people get a chance to play with a teammate in college,” Jenkins said. “I’m going to push him as hard as he’s going to push me to dominate.
“I wasn’t interested when I first went there, but once I started to take a tour around the school it caught my eye. It seems like the players and coaches were basically all about culture and changing the culture and trying to win a GLIAC championship so I’m going to take my talent there, no matter if I’m a DI or DII player and do the best I can so I can dominate the GLIAC.”
Central Michigan offered Jenkins before John Bonamego got fired following the 2018 season.
“There wasn’t a connection there (after Bonamego’s departure), so that’s why I kind of faded away from them,” Jenkins said.
Other Belleville players to sign included Hunter Little (Michigan Tech), Clifton Buchanan (Davenport), Jeffrey Price (Michigan Tech), Christopher Zaharie (Northwood), TyTrayon Lewis (Independence Community College) and Sherrod Green (Independence Community College).
Three-star safety Josh Wiley announced he will be going to Independence Community College in Kansas.
Wiley had multiple Division I offers while playing for Calvin Norman at Detroit Cody before playing his senior year for Corey Parker at River Rouge after Norman was fired.
“My recruiting process was kind of bumpy, but it was fun also for me being a three-star No. 2 prospect in the state,” Wiley said. “I had offers from West Virginia, Toledo, EKU and Western Michigan, but at the same time because of my grades I have to be at a junior college, but I’m willing to take that route and I’m not going to be discouraged.
“For the young kids, it’s grades, grades, grades because I could have been gone right now to West Virginia because I have the talent and the coaches love me, but grades are where it’s at. I don’t care how good you are, how big you are because I’m 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds.”
Belleville three-star offensive tackle Coleon Smith, who had offers from Indiana, Kentucky, Iowa State and Kansas, will be teammates with Wiley at Independence CC.
… Brighton also had a big day with eight signing, including receiver Ruben Salinas and tight end Luke Stanton at Grand Valley, Newburg at Saginaw Valley, tackle Nate Hoffman at Air Force, linebacker Cole Riddle as a preferred walk-on at Central Michigan, linebacker/running back Zach Pardonnet of Hillsdale, defensive tackle Nate Kwapisz at Northern Michigan and offensive lineman Jack Cataldo of Alma.
… Detroit Cass Tech had linebacker Devonte Murray signing with Youngstown State, linebacker Daniel Wynn with Northwood, running back Donny Scott with Lawrence Tech, noseguard Dewayne Legette, slot receiver Terrence Kendricks and defensive back Gmauri Cox all with Albion, offensive lineman Craig Rush with Independence CC, defensive back Marvin Rushing at Valparaiso and quarterback Sebastian Brown as a preferred walk-on at Michigan State.