The Wolverine

January 2017

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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52 THE WOLVERINE JANUARY 2017 BY BRANDON BROWN H igh school All-America games provide a stage for some of the nation's best football players to put their talents on display against a level of competition they don't nor- mally see. Sometimes this allows the cream to rise to the top and other times players can get a bit exposed. This year, Michigan has several commits and targets involved in four all-star games including the inaugu- ral Polynesian Bowl. UNDER ARMOUR ALL-AMERICA GAME Sun., Jan. 1 • Orlando, Fla. 1 p.m. EST • ESPN Since 2008, some of the nation's best high school football players have been selected by ESPN to participate in the Under Armour All-America Game. This year, at least four Michigan com- mits will play in the game while sev- eral targets will also be competing. Plantation (Fla.) American Heri- tage four-star offensive tackle Kai- Leon Herbert, Detroit Cass Tech three-star safety Jaylen Kelly-Powell, Warwick (R.I.) Bishop Hendricken three-star defensive end Kwity Paye, and Alexandria (Va.) Episcopal four- star defensive end Luiji Vilain will all represent Michigan in Orlando. Three other big-time prospects that could eventually end up in Michi- gan's class will also be on the field in Florida. Bradenton (Fla.) IMG Acad- emy four-star center Cesar Ruiz, Paramus (N.J.) Catholic four-star out- side linebacker Drew Singleton and Brooklyn (N.Y.) Poly Prep five-star offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson are all Under Armour participants. Wilson and Ruiz both have pre-Christmas decision dates and could be repre- senting the Maize and Blue in the game. U.S. ARMY ALL-AMERICAN BOWL Sat., Jan. 7 • San Antonio 1 p.m. EST • NBC The U.S. Army All-American Bowl is the original high school all-star game, featuring 90 top players in an annual East-versus-West matchup. For the last 17 years the game has been played in January in San Anto- nio's Alamodome. Two of Michigan's most recent commitments in Cheshire (Conn.) Cheshire Academy four-star wide re- ceiver Tarik Black and Detroit Mar- tin Luther King four-star cornerback Ambry Thomas, along with the unof- ficial face of the program, Highlands Ranch (Colo.) Valor Christian four- star dual-threat quarterback Dylan McCaffrey, will all be in San Antonio starting on New Year 's Day. Black and Thomas will suit up for the East team giving them a chance to face each other all week in practice, while McCaffrey will quarterback the West squad. Many of Michigan's top targets will also be in Texas for the premier all-star game. Aledo (Texas) four- star offensive tackle Chuck Filiaga, Starkville (Miss.) High four-star outside linebacker Willie Gay, An- tioch (Calif.) Senior five-star running back Najee Harris, Calabasas (Calif.) High five-star cornerback Darnay Holmes, Flint (Mich.) Southwestern Academy three-star defensive end Deron Irving-Bey, Detroit Cass Tech five-star wide receiver Donovan Peo- ples-Jones, Nashville (Tenn.) David Lipscomb three-star defensive tackle Rutger Reitmaier, Leesburg (Ga.) Lee County five-star defensive tackle Aubrey Solomon and South Jordan (Utah) Bingham four-star defensive tackle Jay Tufele will all be in atten- dance and will undoubtedly have a few Wolverines in their ears through- out the week. OFFENSE-DEFENSE ALL- AMERICAN BOWL Sun., Jan. 1 • Atlanta The 11th Annual Offense-Defense All-American Bowl week will pit a Michigan running back commit against one of its big-time defenders. Loganville (Ga.) Grayson three-star running back Kurt Taylor will suit up for Team National and Toledo (Ohio) Central Catholic four-star defensive tackle James Hudson will be on Team American chasing him around. The two Michigan commits are the only players of Wolverine interest in the game this year. POLYNESIAN BOWL Sat., Jan. 21 • O'ahu, Hawai'i 6 p.m. HST The Polynesian Bowl will feature the world's elite high school players of Polynesian heritage and as well as players of other nationalities. The game will be held Jan. 21 during the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame En- shrinement Week in O'ahu, Hawai'i, and U-M has a high amount of com- mitments in the contest with five. Saint Joseph (Mich.) High four- star defensive end Corey Malone- Hatcher, McCaffrey, Berrien Springs (Mich.) High three-star offensive guard/defensive tackle Phillip Paea, who is of Tongan descent, Orchard Lake (Mich.) St. Mary's four-star outside linebacker Joshua Ross, and Taylor will all rep- resent the Wolver- ines on the island. Five other Michi- gan targets will be in attendance, and four of them have a Polynesian back- ground — a key bonding point for them and Michigan director of player personnel Tony Tuioti. Pago Pago (American Samoa) Le- one four-star athlete Juliano Falaniko is currently committed to USC, but he's mentioned being very intrigued by blazing his own trail at U-M. Sac- ramento (Calif.) Inderkum four-star tight end Josh Falo is the only un- committed player at his position still being recruited by Michigan. Filiaga is one of U-M's top tackle targets and has a very close bond with Tuioti. Getting him around five U-M com- mits for the game in Hawai'i should make for a very positive experience. Phoenix Mountain Pointe four-star athlete Isaiah Pola-Mao has main- tained that he'd like to take an official visit to Michigan. Last but not least is Iowa City (Iowa) West three-star wide receiver Oliver Martin. He may be a little fur- ther down Michigan's wide receiver board than others, but his friendship with McCaffrey could still make for an interesting development as Na- tional Signing Day approaches. ❏   FOOTBALL RECRUITING U-M Well Represented In All-Star Games MALONE-HATCHER

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