The Wolverine

August 2014

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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Page 93 of 145

I n its fourth year of existence, Nike's The Opening elite camp, held annually at Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., was once again must-see TV for Michigan fans — lit- erally, with many portions airing on ESPNU. Quarterback Alex Malzone and linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. were Michigan's commitments rep- resenting the Maize and Blue on the West Coast. Malzone, out of local Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Brother Rice High School, is a four-star prospect and the No. 11 pro-style quarterback na- tionally, and he showed at The Open- ing — and the Elite 11 quarterback competition in the days leading up to the large-scale event — that he has what it takes to be a successful quarterback on the national scale. While his 6-2, 205-pound frame is not quite prototypical for the position, his arm strength and accuracy dur- ing the event (after a shaky first day) allowed him to shine. Kirkland, a four-star prospect and the No. 6 inside linebacker and No. 167 overall player in the nation ac- cording to, hails from In- dianapolis Lawrence Central High School. While his 6-1, 233-pound frame may seem better suited to playing against the run in the box, he showed yet again — as he has at previous camps this summer — that he's more than capable of playing in space as well. The 7-on-7 play al- lowed him to cover running backs and tight ends, and he showed well in both phases of the game. A third U-M pledge, Avon (Conn.) Old Farms four-star tight end Chris Clark, was scheduled to attend but had to drop out due to personal rea- sons. Despite his absence (and the loss of a big-time recruiter, which he had planned to be for Michigan at the camp), Malzone and Kirkland also had the chance to interact with many of the Maize and Blue's top prospects, helping convince them that Ann Arbor is the place to spend their college days. The biggest news on the recruiting front was a number of players show- ing renewed interest — or continu- ing strong interest — in Michigan. That was never bigger than No. 4 overall prospect Damien Harris, a five-star running back from Berea (Ky.) Madison Southern. The former Michigan pledge has seemed to cool on Michigan to the benefit of Ohio State and Kentucky. However, he made plans to visit Ann Arbor for the Barbecue at the Big House July 27 (see sidebar). That's an opportunity for U-M to make a climb back up in his recruitment. Another running back maintained his high level of excitement about the U-M program. The nation's No. 10 tailback and No. 103 overall player, four-star Mike Weber of Detroit Cass Tech, continues to build a bond with   MICHIGAN RECRUITING Two Commits And Several Targets Participate In Nike's The Opening

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