The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MIDWEST TOP 30 266 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW BY TIM SULLIVAN M ichigan's coaching staff has focused on the Midwest with recruiting efforts in recent classes. While the region is not as strong in 2015 as it has been in recent seasons, there are still several top-flight prospects available. 1. Damien Harris, RB Madison Southern H.S./Berea, Ky. Kentucky may be on the fringe of the Midwest (venturing into the Southeast), but to gerrymander the region to fit a prospect like Harris is totally understandable. The 5-11, 205-pounder has the ability to run over and juke defenders, and then the speed to blaze to the end zone before they know what hit them. The nation's No. 4 overall player and top running back rushed for 2,621 yards and 42 touchdowns on an eye-popping 11.9 yards per carry as a junior. The former Michigan commit has re- opened his recruitment and has offers from around the country. He is considering pro- grams like Ohio State, Kentucky and Ala- bama most highly headed into his senior year, but Michigan is still in the mix. 2. Terry Beckner Jr., DT East St. Louis H.S./East St. Louis, Ill. Beckner has defensive tackle size at 6-4 and 298 pounds, but so much quickness that he was listed as a defensive end until the spring update to the rank- ings. The nation's No. 32 overall player and No. 5 defensive tackle is capable of holding up against the run or providing a pass rush from the interior. Beckner holds offers from coast to coast, and although he hails from Big Ten country, seems most enamored with SEC programs like Missouri and Auburn early in the process. Michigan got into the mix early for Beckner, but he is not strongly considering the Maize and Blue. 3. Jerome Baker, ATH Benedictine H.S./Cleveland Baker is a 6-1, 202-pounder who hasn't even decided on his col- lege position yet. Most schools mentioned outside linebacker early in the pro- cess, but after earning first- team Division IV all-state honors as a running back during his junior season, many are starting to come around on him as an offensive player. The No. 36 overall player and No. 3 athlete prospect nationally can really do it all. Ohio State and Penn State are the most prominently mentioned programs for Baker, but Michigan and Michigan State are also in the mix. Multiple planned Michigan visits have been scuttled, and he's still trying to see campus for the first time. 4. Justin Hilliard, LB St. Xavier H.S./Cincinnati Hilliard has the build of a classic Big Ten inside linebacker at 6-2 and 225 pounds. He has the size and instincts to play the run exceptionally well, but is still athletic enough to be out in space against the pass or to rush the passer. He earned all- state special mention in Ohio's largest division as a junior and should only improve in his final high school season. He is rated as the No. 49 overall prospect and top inside linebacker nationally. Hilliard has narrowed his list to a group of five finalists, including Michigan. Ohio State and Notre Dame are thought to have a slight lead on the Wolverines, Iowa and Alabama. His older brother, C.J., signed with Iowa in the 2014 class, so the Hawkeyes have a connection, but the in-state power and the regional Catholic school have ins as well. 5. Larry Scott, RB Hubbard H.S./Hubbard, Ohio Scott is a bruising 6-1, 215-pound tail- back in the classic Big Ten mold. He's more apt to go through a defender than try to fake or run past him. The No. 65 overall pros- pect and No. 6 running back in the country is rem- iniscent of past Ohioans like Beanie Wells (Ohio State) and Le'Veon Bell (Michigan State). It's no surprise then that two of Scott's big offers come from the Buckeyes and Spartans. He's the highest-ranked prospect on this list without a Michigan offer, with Alabama and Pitt among those in contention for his ser- vices. 6. Jashon Cornell, DE Cretin-Derham Hall H.S./St. Paul, Minn. Cornell entered his junior year known as a strict speed rusher, but he has bulked up to 6-3 and 270 pounds, giv- ing him the ability to play strongside defensive end on an every-down bases. The No. 6 player at that position and No. 76 over- all prospect in the nation, Cornell hasn't lost his step off the edge while adding bulk. He is a well balanced defensive end who can do a little of everything. Michigan was one of Cornell's early fa- vorites, but Michigan State and Ohio State have made runs leading up to his senior year. Notre Dame is always a threat for prospects at Cretin-Derham Hall, and national big hit- ters like Alabama, Florida and USC are also in the mix. The Wolverines should be in strong standing by the time he makes his late-summer decision. MIDWEST TOP 30 The Region's Best In The Class Of 2015 Running back Damien Harris, who is rated the nation's No. 4 overall player by, rushed for 2,621 yards and 42 touchdowns in his junior season. PHOTO COURTESY RIVALS.COM 266-269.Midwest Top 30.indd 266 6/18/14 4:04 PM

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