NCF On The Trail: Brandon Watson

Michigan has seven early enrollees set to hit campus from its 2014 class.

Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian), Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School), Michael Ferns (St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville), Mason Cole (Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake), Bryan Mone (Salt Lake City/Highland), Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and teammate Brandon Watson are all headed up to Ann Arbor to begin their new journey.

Speight, Harris, Ferns and Canteen answered a few questions on enrolling early and what is next for them.

Q: What are you most nervous about?

Wilton Speight: "A lot of people say school, but I went to such a tough high school that I’m not too worried about that. More of the winter workouts and the conditioning is absurd."

Midyear signings: Michigan

December, 21, 2013
12/21/13
5:06
PM ET
According to ESPN's Tom VanHaaren, the following players have signed financial aid agreements with Michigan:

Bryan Mone DT Salt Lake City/Highland
HT: 6-4 WT: 315
Positional Rank: No. 5 DT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 75)
Under Armour All-American

Drake Harris WR Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian
HT: 6-3 WT: 172
Positional Rank: No. 10 WR
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 85)
Under Armour All-American

Michael Ferns ILB St. Clairsville, Ohio/St. Clairsville
HT: 6-3 WT: 228
Positional Rank: No. 7 ILB
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 125)
Under Armour All-American

Wilton Speight QB-PP Richmond, Va./Collegiate
HT: 6-6 WT: 230
Positional Rank: No. 6 QB-PP
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 133)
Under Armour All-American

Mason Cole OT Tarpon Springs, Fla./East Lake
HT: 6-5 WT: 266
Positional Rank: No. 15 OT
Stars: 4
ESPN 300 (No. 153)

Brandon Watson CB Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian
HT: 5-11 WT: 179
Positional Rank: No. 51 CB
Stars: 3

Freddy Canteen WR Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian
HT: 6-0 WT: 170
Positional Rank: No. 159 WR
Stars: 3
Now that the season has finished and a contact period is open, the Michigan coaching staff has been on the road scouting prospects. Plenty of 2015 targets have had Michigan coaches in their school, and a few recently received offers from the Wolverines.


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Each class within the Big Ten has its strengths and weaknesses, but there is a lot of talent joining the conference. Here is a look at the top classes in the Big Ten by position.

Quarterback
Strongest class: Penn State


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- When cornerback Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and wide receiver Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) were last in Ann Arbor, they were there to prove themselves.

They came to Michigan’s camp in July with a singular mission: to earn scholarship offers.

And they left with that mission completed, but in the midst of it all, they didn’t really do much else.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The summer camp season proved to be exciting, as it always is. Here are 10 things we learned through this summer.

1. Camp will always be a proving ground

The 2014 class will only have about 18 members, so when Michigan headed into this summer’s camp with 10 commitments, it was unsure how many camp offers would really exist (especially considering how many highly-ranked guys had, and still have, interest in Michigan). But for guys like Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), camp was all they needed. Their performances there were enough to garner offers. Sooner rather than later, those two turned those offers into commitments. And it wasn’t just true in the 2014 class. Offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. (Philadelphia/St. Joseph’s Prep) became the Wolverines' third commitment in the 2015 class after he proved himself at camp and picked up and offer.

2. The barbecue in the Big House is still … big


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan had several areas of need in the 2014 class, chief among them being quarterback and linebacker, largely due to injuries both position groups have suffered. Here’s a look at the top five areas of need and what Michigan has done to address them so far.


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ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- Michigan’s summer football camp has always been a place for under-the-radar talent to be seen by the Wolverine coaching staff. Last summer, the camp produced an offer and commitment from 2013 cornerback Channing Stribling.

Last week, 2015 offensive lineman Jon Runyan Jr. (Philadelphia/St. Joseph’s) turned his camp offer into a verbal commitment. And on Saturday, two more camp offers turned into commitments.

The Wolverines picked up commitments from high school teammates Brandon Watson (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy) and Freddy Canteen (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), Eastern Christian Academy coach Dwayne Thomas confirmed to ESPN.com via phone.

“When you put together the combination of athletics and academics together, for them, Michigan was a no-brainer,” Thomas said.

Canteen and Watson are the Wolverines 12th and 13th commitments in the 2014 class.

Watson will play exclusively as a cornerback for Michigan, so he’ll join Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic), the No. 1 CB in the nation, in Michigan’s secondary. Canteen is Michigan’s third wide receiver commitment, joining two in-state commitments -- Drake Harris (Grand Rapids, Mich./Grand Rapids Christian) and Moe Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Detroit Country Day).

Eastern Christian Academy is not the typical high school. It has produced several top recruits, including 2015 USC quarterback commit David Sills (Elkton, Md./Eastern Christian Academy), but it doesn’t have a typical high school foundation.

It lacks “any traditional school components, such as a building or full-time faculty” and is “partnered with National Connections, a nationally accredited online institution, to design and administer courses for the students,” according to a September 2012 Washington Post article.

So while the headquarters for Eastern Christian Academy is in Maryland, the two boys are actually from Delaware, which has been a reason why the two prospects haven’t had a ton of attention, according to their coach.

“Being that we’re from Delaware, a lot of coaches don’t get a chance to see them in the spring because there is no spring football,” Thomas said. “So as they get out and get to camps, schools get a chance to see what their talent is.”

Canteen chose Michigan over offers from Hawaii, Maryland and Rutgers, while Watson picked the Wolverines over Boston College, Connecticut, Rutgers and Temple.

However, Thomas believes the two were under-recruited and will excel at Michigan under the tutelage of secondary coach Curt Mallory and wide receiver coach Jeff Hecklinski.

“Freddy Canteen is, in my opinion, the best route-runner in the country. I think every camp that he goes to, people get a chance to find that out,” Thomas said. “And Brandon has this unique combination of speed, strength and hip flexibility that will allow him to be physical with the big receivers, and he’s agile enough to run and defend the smaller receivers as well.”

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