Saturday, July 30, 2011

Preseason Top Five Oakland County Football Teams

Around this time of the year, most people (me included) begin to start gearing up for football, even though it might be a bit early. So I figured that I’d run down my early list of top five list of teams in Oakland County. This list will continue change during the preseason and throughout the regular season

Last season the Vikings made some noise throughout the regular season and playoffs, making it all of the way to the state semifinals before falling to Lowell. This season, the Vikings still have a few pieces from that team including starting quarterback Zac Leimbach. The Vikings lost all of their starting secondary from a season ago, but should be able to make up for those losses with some of their younger players.

The Wolves may have one of, if not the most talented team in the county in 2011, and linebacker might be as good as it gets. With returning starters Matt Dellinger and Zach Collins playing in the middle of that defense, it will definitely give offenses their fair share of headaches. Pair that with an underrated offense that features quarterback Mitch Baezinger and Clarkston may be in for a big season this year.

The Dragons did lose a lot from last year’s state championship team, but they are still the best team in division one until someone knocks them off. And that’s no easy task. With quarterback Sean Charette back for his senior season and his presence on offense will be huge for the Dragons as they try to fit new players in early on.

After an early exit from the playoffs last season, the Shamrocks should be more motivated than ever to make a statement early on in the season. Defensive lineman Matthew Godin will help pace, what should be a very good defense this season to go along with an offense that always seems to be sneaky good on a yearly basis.

Even after winning the state championship last season, there is no doubt whatsoever in my mind that the Hawks will be even better this season… And that’s scary to think about. The defense will be anchored by defensive lineman Mario Ojemudia, who committed to play for Michigan back during the spring, who should be the best in the county along the defensive line. Then offensively Harrison will be flat out fun to watch with Michigan commit Devin Funchess at tight end and MSU commit Aaron Burbridge at wide receiver, giving new quarterback Jake Vento some very good targets throughout the season.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Harrison's Burbridge Commits to Michigan State

Michigan State may not have gotten off to the best of starts recruiting in Oakland County for 2012 but the Spartans have arguably the best recruit in the area on Thursday when Farmington Hills Harrison wide receiver Aaron Burbridge gave his verbal commitment to the Spartans. Burbridge went in the opposite direction from teammates Mario Ojemudia and Devin Funchess who committed to Michigan earlier this year.

According to Burbridge is a four star receiver and is considered to be in the top 20 for his position throughout the nation. Rivals also considered Burbridge to be the number two player in the state of Michigan for the class of 2012 only behind Detrit Cass Tech linebacker Royce Jenkins-Ston. Burbridge also received offers from Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Illinois and Cincinnati before settling on his decision to go to East Lansing. Burbridge made his commitment to the Spartans on Thursday after visiting Michigan State on Wednesday for a tour of the campus.

After what was a somewhat slow start in Oakland County for 2012, Michigan State hauls in the best recruit in the County and perhaps the state. Burbridge, who played a key role in Harrison's state title run last year made 26 catches for 540 yards and had five touchdowns while fighting double and triple teams on almost every down, he also played cornerback for part of the season where he made three interceptions as a junior in 2010.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Former OC Football Players in the Big Ten

Bolden became the first true freshman to be named the starting quarterback at Penn State under Joe Paterno and played well at times for the Nittany Lions. Bolden threw for 1,360 yards and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes in ten games last season but lost his starting spot to Matt McGloin. Bolden and McGloin will compete for the starting job for this season and I fully expect for Bolden to come out on top and step right back in as the starter when the Nittany Lions open their season up against Indiana State.

Pannell looks like a leading candidate to be a starter on the Penn State offensive line for the upcoming season as a senior. Pannell caught the attention of many in Happy Valley as a freshman and has continued to be a key part of the Penn State offensive line in a reserve role. Pannell played in ten games and made two starts last season on a very deep Penn State offensive line that only surrendered 12 sacks all season. Pannell will play a key part in keeping the pressure off of Bolden or McGloin in 2011.

Martin-Manley red shirted as a freshman last season, but could play a big role in a Hawkeye passing game that lost quarterback Ricky Stanzi as well as their top receiver and tight end from last season. Many remember Martin-Manley’s senior season at Brother Rice where he emerged as one of the most exciting players that the county had to offer and could bring that element to the Iowa offense next season.

Thomas, like Martin-Manley was red shirted last season as a freshman, but could play a considerable role in 2012 with the Fighting Illini. Illinois is relatively young at the linebacker position and Thomas could realistically have a shot at seeing significant playing time in the middle of the defense as the season goes on. Thomas proved to be one the county’s best defensive players as a senior, recording over 100 tackles and seven for loss. His presence on defense will prove to be huge for Illinois in the coming years.

Siller has done a little bit of everything for the Boilermaker’s during his time on campus. He first arrived as a quarterback and made three starts in 2008 at quarterback, but was moved to running back and at the start of last season, he was moved from running back to wide receiver. Siller made four starts and made 12 catches for 104 yards and a touchdown before missing the rest of the season because of a foot injury. Siller is likely fully recovered from the injury and his versatility should help make an already dangerous Purdue squad even more exciting, regardless of where he plays.

Allen originally committed to Florida State but made his transfer official last fall to Ohio State. Allen made one start for the Seminoles in 2009, but played sparingly in eight other games. Allen could see immediate play time next season in Columbus with the Buckeyes having a very young secondary for the 2011 season. Allen could offer the blazing speed and skills that made him the number two recruit in Michigan back in 2007 and give a nice boost to the Ohio State defense.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Former OC recruits at Michigan and Michigan State

Taking a look at some former Oakland County football players who are in line for big years at Michigan and Michigan State

After making seven starts at linebacker last season, 2011 could end up being a big year for the junior linebacker. Last year Demens recorded 83 tackles which was good enough for third best on the team which leaves 2011 to be a big year for Demens who could be heavily relied on for a defense that has had its struggles in recent years.

Martin, regarded as one of if not the best defensive lineman in the Big Ten and should be even better as a senior in 2011. In three years at Michigan, Martin has made over 100 tackles, nearly 20 of them for loss as well as recording six and a half sacks from the defensive tackle position. Martin should be in line for plenty of hardware after this season.

In 21 game at Michigan State, Baker has rushed for over 1,600 yards and popular belief is that he’s only going to get better as a junior next season. Baker’s touches could be limited with the presence of Le’Veon Bell and Larry Caper, but the Spartan backfield could be as dangerous as anyone’s thanks in large part to the former Oak Park back.

Hoover had a career high 36 tackles last season as a sophomore last season and could see time this season as a starter at defensive end. Hoover could get plenty of opportunities to wreak havoc lined up next to Jerel Worthy. Hoover could be the next former Oakland County player to have a breakout season if everything goes as planned.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Michigan Picks up Pair of 4 Star Commits from Ohio

After Brady Hoke and Michigan picked their way through Oakland County, they moved onto Ohio, grabbing nine players from the Buckeye state including two four star commitments coming this past weekend from defensive back Jarrod Wilson and offensive lineman Kyle Kalis.

Kalis, regarded as the country’s number four offensive lineman, withdrew his commitment to Ohio State amidst the ongoing NCAA investigation of the University and its violations. The soon to be senior is already the ideal size for a college level lineman at 6-5, 300 pounds. Kalis is the third four star offensive lineman to commit to Michigan after a few years of disappointing play on the line. Kalis passed on several offers from BCS conference schools.

Wilson is described as a ball hawk from his safety position and is a big hitter of sorts with his 6-2 200 pound frame. Wilson, much like Kalis, turned down offers from all over the country to commit to Michigan. Wilson is the Wolverine’s 20th commitment for the 2012 class.

Michigan State has also been successful in recruiting the state of Ohio as of late with uncertainty spreading throughout for the Buckeyes. If the NCAA comes down with a harsh punishment on Ohio State, both the Spartans and Wolverines should be able to capitalize recruiting the state of Ohio for the coming years.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Under the Radar

Throughout the summer as fall sports begin to get ready for their season’s we’ll take a look at some players that have flown under the radar and could have a breakout 2011 season.

Mitchell Robinson, QB, Auburn Hills Avondale
Robinson proved to many that he could do a little bit of everything as a junior in 2010. Robinson lit up opposing secondary’s all season last year, throwing for 3,606 yards while completing 222 of 386 passes and throwing for 46 touchdowns against only eight interceptions. He rushed for 450 yards and scored nine touchdowns on the ground. Robinson, a dual threat quarterback could do even more damage next season as a senior.

Dan Gibbs, OL, Birmingham Seaholm
During the off season, Gibbs has caught the attention of some college scouts with impressive performances and specifically back in February at the Rivals Elite Big Man Camp. There’s no reason to think why Gibbs wont continue to turn heads into the 2011 season, standing at 6-8 and 320 pounds, Gibbs is one of the county’s most physically imposing lineman and should start seeing even more interest from colleges after the season’s start. Gibbs has already received an offer from Ball State.

Devin Church, RB, Birmingham Brother Rice
Church has proven to be one of the quicker back’s in the county and could provide the Warriors with a home run threat every time he touches the ball. Along with his rushing abilities, Church can catch the ball out of the backfield, which will give the Brother Rice offense yet another dimension next season. Church has already picked up offers from Toledo, Bowling Green and Boston College and is sure to pick up plenty more by the end of next season.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Former head coach Emert returns to bench; Heitsch steps away from Novi Bench

Over the course of the last week or so, Oakland County basketball has both gained the services of a top notch coach in new Oxford girls head coach Steve Emert as well as lost an outstanding coach in Novi‘s Cory Heitsch who was named the principal at Hardy Elementary in South Lyon.

Emert, who hasn’t coached in nearly 10 years, has quite the track record, which includes being the boys head coach at Walled Lake Central for 20 years (1979-99) and led the Vikings to a 25-0 start in the 1993 season. Emert was also the girls coach at Central between ‘94-’98 and had a brief stint with the Oakland Community College Women’s team. During his time coaching, Emert has nearly 500 wins under his belt and brings a lot of experience to an Oxford team that only managed three wins last season.

During his time at Novi, Heitsch put together a 73-20 record, winning 17 games or more in each of his four seasons at Novi, to which he took Novi to new heights. Heitsch has produce a few college level players such as Chris Bellamy (Spring Arbor) in 2009, while Samer Ozeir (Columbia), Rob Laney (Northwood) and Chris Milon (Allegheny) all committed after this past season. Word on Heitsch’s replacement won’t likely come until the fall.