Michigan Wolverines: John Smith

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As expected, Day 2 at the Under Armour All-America practices were smoother, more concise and much more productive. The players are now starting to think less and play more. Natural ability is starting to come to the forefront, which allows for them to be more productive. There have been fewer dropped passes, fewer misses by the QBs and the offensive lines are starting to jell quicker than expected. Perhaps the most impressive thing about this group is there have not been any true letdowns. They have stepped up and been as advertised almost top to bottom for both squads. Let’s hit the highlights of the day:

Top performers

WR Cameron Sims (Monroe, La./Ouachita Parish): Sims might not wow anyone with his 40-yard dash time, but it may not matter. Sims is so similar to Mike Evans at Texas A&M. He just makes plays. He has extremely long arms and is outstanding when in contested matchups. The ball will look like it is uncatchable and then next thing you know he jumps out of nowhere, extends and makes a play and the defender is left scratching his head. When it comes down to it, the QBs for Team Highlight can trust that if they need to throw it up, Sims will make a play. The most basic thing about the position is catching the football and Sims has no problem doing that.


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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One thing is for sure for all the 2014 Under Armour All-Americans: This isn’t high school anymore. Day 1 is about gauging the competition. Some guys dive right in and some test the waters with their big toe, but by the end of the first day of practice, all those in attendance have a pretty good idea of where they stand and what they need to do to compete and get better.

Given that it is Day 1, the playbook is introduced (Team Nitro is going no huddle with wrist bands and limited plays), and there can be sloppy moments of indecision and uncertainty. With each rep, most, if not all, prospects began to get a better feel for what is expected. Most importantly, the center-quarterback exchanges were very good for the most part, which is generally the biggest worry. Upon completion of the first practice, here are some observations and things to look for over the week:

Top Performers


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Weekend recruiting wrap: Big Ten 

November, 18, 2013
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There were quite a few big games within the Big Ten this weekend, which means there were big recruiting implications as well. Here is a look at the happenings on the recruiting trail around the conference.


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Plenty of news and notes on the recruiting trail from the Big Ten Conference this weekend. Here is a look at some of the biggest news, performances and questions for the future.

Biggest commitment:

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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

October, 9, 2013
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Each Wednesday, ESPN RecruitingNation updates its national class rankings. For an in-depth look at the Big Ten conference, check out our conference rankings:

1. Michigan, 15 commits: The Wolverines are No. 6 in the RecruitingNation class rankings, which includes nine ESPN300 prospects -- among them headliner and No. 2 overall Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic High). Michigan could make a move into the top-5 by winning the race for No. 4 Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge High). Defensive tackle and No. 67 Malik McDowell (Southfield, Mi./Southfield High) is another top target still in play. No. 41 overall John Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Polytechnic High) will visit Nov. 29, and is another top target remaining.

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There are still a ton of prospects on the board for Big Ten teams, so conference recruiting reporters Tom VanHaaren and Brad Bournival take a look at the best and worst case scenarios remaining for each team.

Illinois
Best-case scenario: Illinois picked up an offensive line commit on Monday with Peter Cvijanovic (Great Barrington, Mass./East Coast Prep), which gives the Illini two offensive line commits. Despite having four wide receiver commits on board, it looks like the staff would take another receiver in this class.

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Indiana takes center stage in these week’s Big Ten storylines, but that doesn’t mean other schools aren’t getting involved.

Here’s a look at the week that was and what’s ahead:

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The Big Ten doesn’t need an entire schedule of games to make news, and it proved it in the recruiting world.

Here’s a look at what happened off the field in yet another busy weekend of looking toward the future.


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From Iowa, Michigan State and Wisconsin grabbing a commit, to Penn State receiving great news on the recruiting front, to Ohio State playing host to some big-time official visitors this weekend, Big Ten storylines were everywhere this week.

Here’s a look at a busy time in this week’s Big Ten storylines:


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Big Ten class rankings analysis 

September, 25, 2013
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There wasn’t any movement in the class rankings this week, but there are some trends developing.

Here’s a look at some things to watch within the conference recruiting landscape:

Trending up:

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It was another weekend with minimal actual news out of the Big Ten on the recruiting trail, but there is always something to watch. Here is a look at what happened this past weekend and what might happen in the future.

Biggest commitment

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The athlete category can be very tricky to project as so many prospects now are playing as Wildcat QB’s with the majority moving to either the secondary, wide receiver or running back. Players in this category likely play on both sides of the ball on a consistent basis with the upside to play on either at the next level which gives them excellent value, but also can hinder their developmental progress because they have not focused all their time at one position heading into college. Below are five athletes that we feel confident will end up on defense.

ATH John “JuJu” Smith

Smith
Smith
Long Beach, Calif./Poly | Highlights Video | List of schools considering
6-1, 206 pounds | ESPN 300 Rank: 41 | ATH Rank: 3 | Stars: 4

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WolverineNation Mailbag

August, 21, 2013
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We’re almost in the single-digit countdown to the start of Michigan football. You know what that means: Students will start arriving en masse to Ann Arbor in the next few days so if there’s anywhere you wanted to go on South University or State Street before then, get there soon.

If you haven’t left your computer to go to Bivouac or Rick’s, we can start talking football now.

[+] EnlargeMichigan's Fitz Toussaint
Rick Osentoski/US PRESSWIREWill Fitzgerald Toussaint be able to hold up for an entire season?
1. NKnieling via Twitter: Will there be an exclusive back on this season's team, or more than likely a RB-by-committee type of thing?

A: Brady Hoke, Al Borges and Fred Jackson would much prefer a featured back. Last season they had Fitzgerald Toussaint from Day 1, but two years before that, they kind of tested the waters with multiple backs before settling on Toussaint a few games in. The issue they’ll face this fall is that they have two guys who both present very unique and different issues. Toussaint will likely start against Central Michigan, but his health is a concern. He has been healthy through fall camp but when those practice piles turn to opponents and Big Ten linebackers and defensive linemen, will his body be able to hold up? Then you have Derrick Green, whose vision and football IQ need to catch up to the college game before he’s really ready to tear apart any defenses. It sounds like that’s what has held him back so far. Because both concerns are likely present, I’d imagine we’ll see both getting snaps until only really, really separates himself (but knowing the other one also has game time experience this season).

2. June Whitfield, Inkster, Michigan: Any mention of Chris Bryant in the mix within the offensive line?

A: Recently I’ve been hearing good things about Bryant at left guard. He sat out of Saturday’s scrimmage because of a knee injury, but I had heard that he had been taking more snaps with the first team than redshirt freshman Ben Braden. Assuming the knee injury isn’t a big concern, I could see him getting the start against Central Michigan. It's crucial to find someone that will mesh well with Taylor Lewan and find instant chemistry since Michigan will be running to the left behind Lewan often.

3. KentMazingerHw via Twitter: When will we see a new commitment?

A: The next big visit date for Michigan will obviously be the Notre Dame game. In the 2014 class, both Da’Shawn Hand (Woodbridge, Va./Woodbridge) -- the No. 1 defensive end in the nation -- and John “JuJu” Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Long Beach Polytechnic) -- the No. 3 athlete in the nation -- will be in attendance. That kind of atmosphere and energy will be huge in showing those guys how exciting and big Michigan football is as they’re both from outside the area.

4. RyanMassengill via Twitter: What team is the biggest threat to Michigan this season besides Ohio State?

A: I’ll pick a home and away game for this one. Home -- I’ll go with Nebraska. The Cornhuskers return quarterback Taylor Martinez, who will be a challenge for any defense. However, their defense is going to be replacing several starters in the front seven so Devin Gardner could have a field day, too. This could be a fun day to watch some explosive playmakers on offense. And as far as an away game, Michigan State will always be one to watch, but also ... don’t sleep on Northwestern. The Wildcats’ offense keeps defenses on their feet and their defense should be stout up front, which would force Gardner to pass and receivers to step up. It’s not necessarily a huge road game since there’s such a Michigan presence in the Chicago area, but still.

5. Sammy, Ann Arbor: Which Big Ten-related account makes you consistently laugh?

A: It's a parody account, but, @FauxPelini. His avatar should be enough to convince you.
The ESPN Junior 300 was released Tuesday for the 2015 class and it is littered with Michigan targets. The Wolverines don't have any commitments within the top list, but plenty of names that hold Michigan in high regard.

With roughly 65 targets already in the ESPN 300, Michigan should have a chance to land yet another top class for 2015. Here is a look at 10 of those prospects:

1. DE Jashon Cornell (St. Paul, Minn./Cretin-Derham Hall)
6-foot-3, 235 pounds
ESPN 300 rank: 1


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The recruiting process isn't exactly winding down for John "JuJu" Smith (Long Beach, Calif./Poly), but the No. 60 recruit in the nation provided a bit of clarity this weekend.


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Michigan Outlook: 2014
Brian Bennett discusses the outlook for the Michigan Wolverines' football program in 2014.Tags: Michigan Wolverines, Braxton MIller, Brian Bennett, Devin Gardner
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