The Wolverine

2014 Michigan Football Preview

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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MIDWEST TOP 30 268 ■ THE WOLVERINE 2014 FOOTBALL PREVIEW 14. Darrin Kirkland Jr., LB Lawrence Central H.S./Indianapolis Kirkland is a physical linebacker whose 6-1, 233-pound size al- lows him to be a bully when the pads come on. Much to the delight of re- cruiting analysts, he im- pressed this summer just as much with his pads off, showing his athleti- cism dropping into pass coverage and his instincts. He is listed as the No. 167 overall player and No. 6 inside linebacker nationally. Kirkland committed to Michigan May 18 while on an unofficial visit to Ann Arbor. He picked the Wolverines over Boston College, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State and Virginia Tech, among a couple dozen others. 15. Darrin Hall, RB Austintown Fitch H.S./Youngstown, Ohio Hall is a 5-11, 196-pound tailback whose ability to find a crease and dart through traffic allows him to put up big yardage for his high school team. While he's not as physical as other backs, the No. 18 running back and No. 168 overall prospect nation- ally has the frame to grow into a more well-rounded player. Michigan hasn't shown much interest, but Arkansas, Michigan State and Vanderbilt are among his 14 offers. 16. Tyree Kinnel, S Wayne H.S./Huber Heights, Ohio Kinnel is a solidly built safety at 6-0 and 190 pounds, but he still has more man-to-man coverage ability than you'd expect out of a player that big. He is in- stinctual in zone respon- sibilities, and he also has the ability to come up and play the run. That com- bination of abilities sees him ranked as the No. 193 player overall and No. 10 safety in the nation. Kinnel committed to Michigan Aug. 24, 2013, over offers from Kentucky and Arkan- sas. Although Alabama has also followed through with an offer, he's strong to the Wolverines. 17. C.J. Conrad, TE Keystone H.S./La Grange, Ohio At 6-5 and 231 pounds, Conrad has the size to be an end-of-line blocker, but he's primarily a wide receiver for his high school team, and it's in the passing game that he truly shines. His abilities catching the football have him ranked as the No. 7 tight end and No. 195 overall player na- tionally. He has committed to Kentucky. 18. Josh Barajas, LB Andrean H.S./Merrillville, Ind. Barajas is a long, lean outside linebacker whose frame allows him to fight off blockers while rushing on the edge. He also has the athleticism to drop into coverage. He needs to add size to excel in the run game, but can grow into that responsibil- ity. He is ranked as the No. 14 outside linebacker and No. 206 overall prospect in the country. After initially committing to Penn State, he flipped his commitment to Notre Dame in May. 19. Neville Gallimore, DE Canada Prep Football Academy/ St. Catharines, Ontario Gallimore's stock is likely on the rise af- ter the 6-3, 303-pounder has impressed at summer camps already this year. He has the size coaches like in a defensive tackle, and the athleticism to be a factor against both the pass and run games. He is ranked as the No. 214 overall player in the class of 2015. Michigan hasn't come calling — the Wol- verines are unlikely to take a defensive tackle in the 2015 class — but Florida State, Michi- gan State and Notre Dame are among the two dozen who had through mid-June. 20. Nick Conner, LB Scioto H.S./Dublin, Ohio Conner is a 6-2, 223-pound linebacker who has yet to completely fill out his frame in the weight room. With more size likely on the way, he's a true middle linebacker with the hardnosed charac- teristics you expect from a prospect in Big Ten coun- try. He's is listed as the No. 8 inside linebacker and No. 218 overall prospect nationally. Entering the summer, Michigan and the rest of the region's top squads hadn't offered Conner, but Illinois, Maryland and Oregon are among those who had. 21. Natereace Strong, RB East St. Louis H.S./East St. Louis, Ill. Although he isn't particularly big at 6-0 and 202 pounds, Strong runs like a bowling ball, and is able to stay on a downhill course and smash through defenders. He's improving in the receiving game, but pounding straight ahead will always be his forte. He is rated as the No. 22 running back and No. 229 overall prospect nationally. He has committed to Missouri. 22. Alex Malzone, QB Brother Rice H.S./Bloomfield Hills, Mich. Malzone is just under ideal size for a BCS- caliber pocket passer at 6-2 and 205 pounds, but he makes up for it in other ways. The lifelong base- ball player has refined his throwing motion on the gridiron, which has made him extremely accurate without sacrificing any power. He has an excellent command of his offense and receivers, and will only get better with more time focusing on football. He has led his team to two straight state titles in Michigan's Division 2, with 2,795 passing yards and 25 touchdowns as a junior. He is ranked as the No. 11 pro-style passer in the country and earned an invitation to the Elite 11 Quarterback Camp this summer. Malzone committed to Michigan May 12 over offers from Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech and several others. 23. C.J. Stalker, LB Lakota West H.S./West Chester, Ohio Stalker is yet another classic inside line- backer in a strong year for the position in Ohio. The 6-2, 223-pounder plays with a tough edge and has the mobility to make plays going forward in the run game. He is rated as the nation's No. 11 inside line- backer. Stalker has a number of lower-level offers (including from the Ivy League for the strong student), but big-time BCS programs are tak- ing their time in offering. Michigan was not in the picture entering the summer. 266-269.Midwest Top 30.indd 268 6/18/14 4:04 PM

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