This pre-season list will be updated at the end of the upcoming college season. (This list was put together earlier in the week, before the commitments of Charles Stewart and Alex Mitchell).
1.) Will Johnson, DT/OT, 6-5 278, 4.71 40(UM CAMP), 4.56 shuttle, 27.9" VJ (Lake Orion)
Will burst on the scene in a huge way at the Ann Arbor Nike Camp. Lake Orion Coach Chris Bell commented on Will's immense strength when I visited Lake Orion earlier in the year. "He has very good feet and very good speed for his size. He's strong as they come. He already bench presses over 400 pounds. He squats over 500 pounds." That description was extremely accurate. I've watched film and viewed him in person and this kid absolutely destroys opponents. He's an excellent bull rusher (on one occasion I saw him bull rush a 260 lb. kid, pick him up in the air in the process, and then pile drive him into the turf!) but will have to hone his other pass rushing techniques. Will could be very successful on either side of the ball. That said, it is my opinion that while he could make a very good DT, he could make a GREAT offensive guard. Time will tell.
2.) Morgan Trent, WR, 6-1.5 188, 4.41 40(NIKE), 3.88 shuttle, 35" VJ (Orchard Lake St. Mary's)
Morgan is one of the best (if not the best) skill position athletes out of the state of Michigan in the past couple of years (MSU receiver Matt Trannon is right up there). He has off the charts athleticism (10.82 100m as a sophomore, 21.88 200m and 6.81 60m as a junior) and really can physically overmatch his competition on any given day. Some observers have questioned his consistency, but Morgan is poised to silence all of the doubters this season. A great senior campaign could vault him back to the top of my list.
3.) Charles Stewart 6-1.5, 188, 4.47 40(NIKE), 4.23 shuttle, 29.0 VJ, (Farmington Hills Harrison)
Two years ago Charles opened a lot of eyes at the East Lansing Nike Camp with impressive testing stats. He followed that up with a hard-hitting campaign at his new school, Farmington Hills Harrison. As is the case with Morgan Trent, some have questioned his consistency. That said, after watching him in person on a number of occasions and viewing film, I simply can't deny his talent. The kid is a ferocious hitter and will bring a physical style of play to his new cornerback position. Anyone who questions what Charles can do should take a look at the film of his game versus Lake Orion. I know for a fact that Charles has heard some of the knocks on him and is going into the season with a serious chip on his shoulder. I think all of the critics will be answered. This young man could be very very good.
4.) Roger Allison LB/RB 6-1 229 4.60 40(NIKE), 4.37 shuttle, 31.2 VJ (Lake Orion)
Roger is the quintessential old school football player. He's one of those guys that could have played in any era. He is a big bruising fullback on offense and a ball-hawking patrolman in the middle on defense. When I visited Lake Orion earlier this spring, Coach Chris Bell told me, "On offense, he is a conventional North/South type of runner, but he IS a runningback. He's not just a big thug back there playing tailback. He has great feet and great vision. He really understands the cuts." Regardless of what side of the ball he's on, this kid NEVER shies away from contact. One of the best sites will occur when Roger squares off with Charles Stewart later this year! Farmington Hills Harrison and Lake Orion played a great game last year. Hopefully there will be more of the same this coming season.
5.) Justin Hoskins RB 5-10, 183 lbs, 4.41 40(NIKE), 4.10 shuttle, 33.4 VJ (Grand Rapids Creston)
This young man is a big time athlete with numbers eerily reminiscent of current UM cornerback Darnell Hood (though Justin is an inch shorter). He's a runningback with excellent hands out of the backfield (probably do to his two-year stint as a receiver during his freshman and sophomore campaigns). None were better at receiving the ball out of the backfield at the UM Nike camp. Justin is good RB prospect that I think could do just as well at corner in college.
6a.)(Tie) Kellen Freeman-Davis TE 6-6, 220 lbs, 4.81 40(NIKE), 4.21 shuttle, 28.3 VJ (Adrian)
Kellen has the athletic ability to be #4 on this list. He definitely caught my eye at the Ann Arbor Nike Camp. I wasn't able to view him in receiver drills that day, but I've since had the opportunity to. He has the ability to split the seam of a defense and has very good hands. I've talked to a few area observers and he was thought to be more of a hoops prospect than football up until now (he plays for an Ann Arbor area AAU squad). I'll reserve further judgement until I see him with the pads on. One thing that is already certain is he's a fantastic athlete.
6b.)(Tie) Alex Mitchell OL 6-6, 317 lbs, 5.69 40(NIKE), 5.09 shuttle, 20.0 VJ (Bay City Central)
Alex is a huge kid with nice feet. He was one of the top offensive line performers at the Ann Arbor Nike Camp. Once he gets into a college strength and conditioning program his game will improve even more than it already has. That will improve his initial punch, which will allow him to keep defensive lineman from getting into his body so quickly. The leverage advantage gained by high school defenders won't really help them much, but against college level prospects it may prove to be a hinderance. This young man has definite Big Ten level ability/potential. Some school will be very lucky to land him.
7.) Josh Hunt DL/OL/TE 6-5, 250lbs, 4.80 40(Jim S.) (Jackson Lumen Christi)
This may be a surprising name to some, but this young man definitely has ability. He comes off of the ball very well and has good strength. A surprising aspect of his game is his ability to use his hands when engaging the offensive lineman. He will need to add weight on the next level, but looks to have the frame to do so without losing much speed.
8.) Jamarko Simmons WR 6'2", 207lbs, 4.58 40(NIKE), a 4.4 shuttle, 31 VJ (Flint Central)
I'm doing my very best to stay neutral on this young man (a fellow Flint Central Indian), but I don't think I'm being biased when I say that Jamarko definitely has skills! He's not a burner, but he always gets open. He has all of the release moves off of the line of scrimmage and has good hands. If that isn't enough, he's extremely physical. He'll get the tough yards and isn't afraid to go over the middle. Don't let that fool you into thinking that he can't go deep because he has deceptive speed and will get open for a bomb from time to time! I've watched him be successful against some big names this summer and I'm convinced.
9.) Vernon Gholston DE/LB 6-3 238lbs, 4.45 40(NIKE) (Detroit Cass Tech)
I don't think it's a leap to call this young man the top athlete in the state. He looks like the incredible hulk in person, but he runs faster than most backs and receivers. The question with Vernon is, "what type of football player is he?" Schools from around the nation will be watching to see how he does this year. Regardless of how he performs, I think a Big 10 level school will take a floater on his athleticism alone. In my opinion, he is the state's most intriguing prospect. He could rocket up the list with an impressive season.
10.) Dewayne Roland DL/OL 6'4, 280 lbs, 4.85 40 (Jim S.) (Southfield-Lathrup)
Here's another surprise player to the top 10. One of the state's best kept secrets, this kid is a fireplug with quickness AND strength. He could have a season that will draw the type attention of that his ability merits. People from the area know that this young man has the physical tools to make it to the next level It is my opinion at this point that he'll end up in the Big 10.
Others receiving Top 10 consideration:
Jamaal Gause LB/DL 6-3 210 4.50 (Jim S.) Harper Woods Trinity
Dwayne Holmes TE/LB/DL/RB 6-3 240 4.70(Jim S.) Detroit Henry Ford (Purdue Commit)
Blake Botek OL/DL 6-3 305 5.10(Jim S.) Grand Ledge
John Thompson LB/TE 6-2 220 4.60(Jim S.) Detroit Crockett
Brad Jones LB/TE 6-3 210 4.50(Jim S.)East Lansing
Isaac Price DB/WR/LB 6-4 195 4.50(Jim S.) Southfield
Trent Varva OL/DL 6-2 310 5.00(Jim S.) Lake Orion
Kyle Wasson DB/WR 6-0 175 4.54(NIKE) Romulus
For comparison and discussion here is the top 70 in-state prospects according to Michigan High School Football Guru Jim S.