Harrison showed why many consider them the top team in the state and one of the best in the entire country, as they rolled 43-7 over the Technicians. Cass Tech simply had trouble moving the ball offensively, and Harrison was able to turn their special teams mistakes and turnovers into quick points with their well executed offense.
Burbridge vs Richardson
This was the match up everyone wanted to see: Aaron Burbridge and Terry Richardson. Two of the top players in the state squaring off, one committed to Michigan State and one committed to Michigan.
To be frank, the match up did not materialize into one that had a tremendous impact on the game. Burbridge finished with three receptions for 52 yards, each setting up a first half score for Harrison. It was apparent in those plays though, why he is so highly regarded. He's explosive off the line of scrimmage. He beat Richardson off the line in his first reception, and showed his straight line speed as well. Then he took a big hit from a safety coming over and hung on. He also had a catch and run where he showed some run after the catch ability. I loved how aggressive and physical he was as a blocker, although his technique can be improved in that department.
Richardson really only allowed one reception in man to man coverage. He had a couple of nice kick returns where he showed his speed and quickness, and despite a dropped pass that turned into an interception, I was surprised he was not targeted more on offense. I don't think it was his best game, but I'm also surprised to hear so many people say he had a bad game. He made a great play where Burbridge ran a double move, he used his recovery speed to catch up and batted the ball away at the last second. That's what you get with Terry Richardson: make up speed and quick feet. He was not afraid to mix it up physically with Burbridge, although in that regard, he was physically outmatched by the bigger receiver. A big key for him moving forward into college will be getting stronger. Despite his team being down big and him being injured, he went back out there (I did not expect to see him return to the game), so he showed something there in terms of toughness.
Burbridge, despite not being targeted as much as some expected (Harrison simply did not need to, and they have a lot of weapons), displayed his elite talents as a route runner and receiver. He has the polish and physical tools to be an early contributor in college. Richardson displayed the speed, quickness and competitiveness that earned him all those offers. He is not as ready to step in instantly though because he still has weight room work to do.
The Michigan Commits
The stands were filled with Wolverine fans just looking to catch a glimpse of several commits other than Richardson.
They surely were not disappointed with what they saw in Harrison defensive end Mario Ojemudia. Ojemudia goes inside-outside for the Hawks, often playing inside of the right tackle, but will be converted to more of a true edge guy or potentially a stand up rush backer in college. He is very quick off the ball, plays with excellent pad level and motor. He was in the Cass Tech backfield quite a bit and laid a big hit on their quarterback in addition to a sack. He's relentless and looked like he was playing at a different speed than the Cass offensive line. He'll have to get bigger (6'3, 220 currently), but I thought he was clearly one of the best players on the field. It will be interesting to see what he does the rest of the field, as he faces some top offensive linemen around the state.
His teammate, tight end Devin Funchess, had a relatively quiet night, grabbing two passes, but one was for a 31-yard reception. The other was off of a tipped ball. That said, watch him run around the field and the potential is obvious. He's 6'5 and very smooth and runs like he could be a wide receiver. Like Ojemudia, he's not the most filled out guy at 210-lbs, but I think his ball skills and athletic ability give him a chance to play early because he can be split out until he gets strong enough to play on the line of scrimmage.
Cass linebacker Royce Jenkins-Stone, the final Michigan verbal in the game had a somewhat quiet night as well. He knifed through the line and made a tackle for loss on a failed Harrison reverse, and had a couple other tackles I spotted. That's when he's at his best, coming forward and blitzing. One part of his game that can be improved is taking on blocks. He has a tendency to run around them at times.
Cass linebacker Laron Taylor came into the game a commit to Iowa, and safety Ruben Lile announced his Hawkeye decision after the game. Like the rest of their teammates, it was a quiet night for the Technicians.
Lile did some nice things in the open field. I knew he could cover from seeing him this summer, but my question was, would he come up and stick somebody? He did that a couple times, and came over the top and put a lick on Burbridge, although the future Spartan hung on. He made a name for himself this summer, showing he could play cornerback and man to man even at his 6'2, 200-lb size. However, for Cass, he plays deep center field, so you don't get to see that as much in a game.
Taylor had a couple stops, but Harrison's offense kept the Cass defense on their heels all night. My opinion of him didn't change though. He's a future WILL backer, and in my opinion, will be a great special teamer and a kid who works his way onto the field because he's smart, has a nose for the ball and is simply dependable and productive.
Other Seniors to Watch
Harrison quarterback Jake Vento is a good little football player. He's a future college slot receiver, not a quarterback at the next level, but he was great catching the ball last season. I think he's a likely a D2-1AA scholarship guy, but could be a Big Ten level walk-on like his brother Tommy a year ago. Teammate Lamarr Marshall, a nice safety prospect, had a quieter night, but I like his potential and think a late FBS offer is a possibility.
Cass Tech linebacker Brandon Berry, who holds a couple of FBS offers, had a nice night. He made a couple tackles behind or at the line of scrimmage and was aggressive, flashing around the ball a lot on the night. He's a good looking kid on the hoof, and has good athleticism to go with it. He's a bit of a safety-linebacker tweener, but I think he can play WILL or strong safety at the next level. Defensive tackle Darryl Goldsmith, who committed to Western Michigan after the game, had a couple nice stops. He's a nose tackle type. A shorter, but wide bodied plugger who is strong and tough to move.
Juniors Who Shined
Cass Tech's Jourdan Lewis had a really nice game. He's a fast, athletic kid, who is not the biggest (5'8, 165-lbs), but makes a lot of plays. He had some nice returns, a couple tackles and an interception on a diving attempt. He holds a Toledo offer, and is a BCS prospect in my opinion.
Harrison receiver Gairus Coleman is a fantastic route runner with great hands. He always seems to be open and made a couple of key 3rd down receptions. He's not real big, but it's easy to see how he already has early offers from Cincinnati and Bowling Green.
Cass Defensive tackle Kenton Gibbs, a prospect we've been high on, but an ankle injury bothered him in practice all week and kept him out for most of the game after he re-injured it early in the contest. He did make a nice play prior to that, making a tackle at the line of scrimmage.
Junior offensive tackle Dennis Finley, a big 6'7, 285-lb kid, is raw, but I actually thought he had a decent game. He has a ton of potential, and is barely scratching the surface. If he develops this year and next off-season, he has a shot at some offers because of his physical tools.
Plenty of Sophomore Talent
Harrison running back-safety Lorenzo Collins is a future big timer. We saw him at Michigan's camp this summer, where he was impressive. He's a nice sized (5'11, 185) kid. He had a touchdown run where he showed his vision and speed and a couple of other nice runs. He's a slasher, but he does show burst and breakaway ability. On defense, he laid a tremendous hit, one of the biggest hits I've seen in this early season. Watch this one, the Harrison coaches told me he's a future All-American.
Cass Tech's young linebackers, William White and Deon Drake had solid games. White's a thick kid who made a couple nice tackles. Drake is a little longer, a different body type, and this was his first varsity game. He made a couple nice plays, including an open field tackle of Burbridge on a punt return.
Freshman Steals the Show for Cass
Quarterback Jayru Campbell stepped in for an injured starter and got the Cass side energized with his play. He's a kid the coaches had been quietly hyping up, but their secret is out. At 6'3, 175-lbs, he can really throw the ball, including a great touchdown pass on a corner route that he put perfectly over two defenders. He also was tough, mobile, made defenders miss, kept plays alive and showed moxie and savvy beyond his years. The scary thing is, Cass hasn't even started school yet, so this kid has not even had his first day of 9th grade yet. Very talented kid with a bright future if he keeps up his development.
Defensive tackle Keith Jones played heavy minutes and showed good motor and made a couple tackles in pursuit. He's one to watch. The Cass Tech coaches say he's going to play heavy minutes this year even though he's only a freshman.
Harrison freshman linebacker Gary Hosey is the one they talk about as being a great young prospect. he's 6'0, 230-lbs already. He played late in the game, and only just got his feet wet. He won't play much this year I don't think, but store the name for the future.