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A college sports blog from The Oakland Press, dedicated to covering Michigan and Michigan State athletics as well as former Oakland County athletes at other schools.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

In-state schools rev up recruiting

It's not uncommon for two teams to come out of a single game with a huge win at this point in January.

With big-time football recruits often sitting court-side, key basketball match-ups take on double importance as the Feb. 3 signing day gets closer.

Both U-M and MSU walked off the court with huge weekend hoops wins — MSU won a first-place showdown with Illinois Saturday, while U-M got a non-conference upset by knocking off No. 15 UConn on Sunday — but the two schools' football teams didn't leave the first recruiting weekend of the year empty, either.

• Mark Dantonio and the Spartans hosted a baker's dozen recruits for the weekend, and landed a verbal commitment from three-star linebacker Justin Wilson from Western High School in Davie, Fla.

Six more of the visitors were players who had already committed to MSU, which has the 34th-ranked class so far, according to The Spartans lost out on two more of their weekend visitors — three-star Cinncinnati Wyoming DE Jibreel Black chose to stay in town, committing to the Bearcats, while Warren, Ohio, DB Mike Dorsey gave a verbal to West Virginia — MSU is still in the running for the final three players who came to East Lansing. Still uncommitted are a trio of three-star players: OL Alex Lewis, from Phoenix (offers from Air Force, Colorado, MSU and UNLV), OL Eric Franklin, of Youngstown, Ohio, Cardinal Mooney (Pitt, MSU, Purdue) and Chicago St. Rita DT Bruce Gaston Jr. (Purdue, MSU, Wisconsin).

Three more players are slated to come to East Lansing this weekend, including: Westland John Glenn ATH Jeremy Langford (already a verbal commit to MSU), Buford, Ga., DT Jerome Davis and DE Rashad Frazier of Middletown, Ohio.

• U-M had 10 players in for official visits this past weekend, and came away with a verbal commitment from Davion Rogers, a three-star linebacker from Warren (Ohio) Harding, who changed his choice Sunday from West Virginia to U-M. He joins high school teammate D.J. Williamson in the 2010 class for the Wolverines, which is ranked No. 19 by

A day later, another weekend visitor — three-star linebacker Jake Ryan of Westlake (Ohio) St. Ignatius — gave his verbal to the Wolverines.

Bigger than those two grabs — which gives U-M four incoming linebackers and 13 of 26 commits (not counting those listed as athletes) on defense — was the news that the jewel of Rich Rodriguez's recruiting class, Inkster QB Devin Gardner was set to start classes on Tuesday as an early enrollee. Along with six other early enrollees, Gardner will have a leg up on the rest of the recruiting class, giving the nation's top dual-threat QB recruit a shot to truly compete for playing time, come the fall. While that's key at a position that's been in turmoil since Rodriguez hit Ann Arbor, it's just as important for another reason. It finally puts to rest all the rumors that Gardner, who committed last April, might be wavering on his choice, after another shaky U-M season on the field in the fall.

“I start on Tuesday,” Gardner told's David Birkett after the Michigan-UConn basketball game. “I don’t know what the holdup was, but it finally got done.”

• Western Michigan was the only one of the state's other three Division I schools to land a commitment after the weekend's visits. The Broncos added three-star RB Dareyon Chance of Ft. Lauderdale Cardinal Gibbons to their class (No. 95-ranked class by Rivals) of 18. Coming off a disappointing, third-place finish in the Mid-American Conference's West Division, the Broncos have continued to depend on a haul of out-state recruits. Only four of WMU's 18 commits are from Michigan, headlined by Grand Rapids Junior College OT Marcus Cann.

• Eastern Michigan's winless season in its first year under former U-M defensive coordinator Ron English hasn't done anything to help recruiting, as the Eagles only had six known commits entering the weekend, according to Rivals. EMU did get some good news Monday, when Bellwood (Ill.) Proviso West WR Julius Shelby gave the Eagles a seventh commit on Rivals' list. Line coach Kurt Anderson has been the primary recruiter for more than half the Eagles' recruits so far, the former U-M lineman drawing on his ties in Illinois to bring in four players from his home state.

• On the job as CMU's head coach for just a little over a week, Dan Enos likely hasn't had time to do anything other than select his staff and try to hold onto CMU's current class. The most important of those committed players — QB Cody Kater, who led Montague to back-to-back MHSAA Division 6 titles — has initially said he's staying put. If the three-star QB — who will be in the running to replace record-setting Dan LeFevour — does sign with CMU, it'll be a testament to the continuing work of Enos and Max Glowacki, who was retained as the Chippewas' recruiting coordinator.

CMU's most recent additions were a pair of two-star teammates from Miami Southridge, ATH Jermaine Kelson and WR Lavaughn Whigham, giving No. 23-ranked CMU a class of 19, which is ranked No. 90 by Rivals. More important to CMU, however, is the fact that 12 of those players are in-state recruits. Like Butch Jones before him, it was expected that Enos' contract would have an incentive clause that pays a bonus every year that more than 60 percent of the CMU roster is from Michigan.

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