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Belleville's 'most destructive' defender Jamari Buddin set to make college choice official

David Goricki
The Detroit News

Jamari Buddin has demonstrated his versatility in past seasons to help Belleville earn consecutive Division 1 state semifinal appearances, showing his talent at linebacker and defensive end.

Buddin might be adding tight end to his resume and could well be an impact player at that position with his size (6-foot-3, 225 pounds) and athleticism.

Jamari Buddin

Buddin – ranked No. 7 in The Detroit News’ Top 50 players in the 2021 class – has said he will announce his college decision on Friday. Earlier this week he said his finalists are Penn State, Michigan State, Purdue and Minnesota.

The 247Sports Crystal Ball has Buddin selecting Penn State, and if he does, Buddin would join the King twins – Kalen (No. 9, cornerback) and Kobe (No. 14, linebacker) of Detroit Cass Tech – and Detroit King safety Jaylen Reed (No. 10).

Buddin, who has not returned calls from The News about his recruitment, made a visit to Michigan State in early March and met with new Spartans head coach Mel Tucker. That followed a visit to Penn State on Feb. 1.

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Last season, Buddin was a member of The Detroit News Dream Team after getting in on 61 tackles, including 29 tackles for lost yardage and 18 quarterback hurries.

Buddin was at his best in a 27-22 regional final win over West Bloomfield, getting sacks and then more pressure to bat down passes.

“The last two years we played Belleville (in regional final losses) we went against a very aggressive, competitive defense with a lot of talent, a lot of D1 kids. You look at Andre Seldon, Damon Payne, Jalen Hunt and (Devontae) Dobbs and all of those guys with their defense, but he’s the one that you have to really circle and find because he’s the most destructive,” said West Bloomfield coach Ron Bellamy of Buddin.

“Payne gives you problems interior and Buddin, when they move him around, he comes off the edge and gives you a ton of problems. He’s a big, athletic kid that has a passion for winning and that’s why he’s one of the best defensive players in the state.”

Seldon is now playing at Michigan, Hunt and Dobbs at Michigan State, and Payne is considered the No. 1 defensive tackle in the country by the 247Sports Composite heading into his senior year.

Jamari Buddin

Bellamy knows all about elite linebackers since he had one two years ago in Lance Dixon, who is now playing at Penn State.

“You know you look at them stature-wise and they look almost identical,” said Bellamy, comparing Buddin and Dixon. “Lance was a little more explosive as an athlete and we asked him to cover a little bit more in our defense than they do with Buddin. When you look at Jamari, his stature stands out – a long, lean, athletic that looks the part. That’s what they look like when they play Power Five football.”

Dearborn Fordson coach Walker Zaban walked away impressed with Buddin after Belleville’s 20-19 win over Fordson when Buddin got in the backfield to knock down multiple third-down pass attempts.

“Jamari is a very versatile player where he can stand up, he can back up and play inside the box, he can play on the line, he’s fast, he’s strong,” said Zaban. “He’s a very good athlete on the basketball court as well.”

Livonia Franklin coach Chris Kelbert also has high praise for Buddin.

“He’s a really good athlete where he can run and play in space and also play up at the line of scrimmage and be a physical presence there as well,” Kelbert said. “He can play a lot of different positions.”

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When asked what type of player Buddin would be as a tight end, Kelbert responded: “With him there, you’d definitely have to account for him. He wouldn’t be one of those guys that they would just put in to block. He would definitely be effective in their RPO game and in their pass game.”

Belleville coach Jermain Crowell expects Buddin to be a threat at tight end.

“Jamari used to play receiver,” said Crowell, adding that Buddin has put on 20 pounds since last season. “He’s an athlete, has great hands and can go up and get the ball.”