NCF On The Trail: Wilton Speight

Updated ESPN 300: Big Ten analysis 

January, 14, 2014
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The ESPN 300 has been updated and the Big Ten saw plenty of movement for its commits, both up and down the list. Here is a look at the five biggest movers within the ESPN 300.

Smith shoots up the rankings
Defensive back Erick Smith (Cleveland, Ohio/Glenville) recently committed to Ohio State to join teammates Marcelys Jones and Marshon Lattimore as future Buckeyes. Previously ranked No. 228 overall, Smith moved up 45 spots to 183 in the new rankings. He is a big safety who will add a lot to the Ohio State defense in the future. Smith was an Army All-American and had an outstanding week of practice. His rise in the rankings was earned on the field and should make Buckeyes fans happy he will be in Columbus next season.

Michigan fired offensive coordinator Al Borges on Wednesday, which came as a surprise to fans and recruits alike. Wide receiver commit Maurice Ways (Beverly Hills, Mich./Country Day) didn’t know that Borges was fired until it happened and was shocked by the move.

“Wow, first off I’m surprised. It doesn’t really affect my recruiting,” he said. “I still think they’re going to hire someone that will fit my game and the offense, but I’m just in shock right now. I’ll have to wait and see who they hire, but Coach [Jeff] Hecklinski is still there and that’s who I’ll mainly be working with anyway.”

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Early enrollees set to hit Ann Arbor 

January, 5, 2014
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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."


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Three days of practice are now in the books and overall execution was sharper as the players begin to move into final preparations for the Under Armour All-America Game on Thursday. The productivity of the players picked up as did the speed of the play, and they’re continuing to think less and display their natural ability more. It was a physical day, with the pads popping and some big hits throughout the practice. Here are some of the highlights.

Top performers


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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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Midyear signings: Michigan

December, 21, 2013
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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

Big Ten recruiting storylines: Dec. 19 

December, 19, 2013
12/19/13
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As the calendar year winds down, there is still plenty to talk about within recruiting. Big Ten teams have been on a roll on the recruiting trail as of late, and each program is hoping that continues into signing day.

Here are five things for fans to watch as we head into the holiday season.

Under Armour Game

There are six Big Ten teams represented in the Under Armour All-America game this year with Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State and Penn State all having commitments scheduled to play in the game.

The game will be played Jan. 2 in St. Petersburg, Fla., but there will be plenty to watch before the big game. The participants will go through tough practices and skill competitions leading up to the event, which always has some interesting storylines.

The practices put the best players in the country against each other, so it’s a good measuring stick of top prospects.


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Big Ten signing day storylines 

December, 17, 2013
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Signing day is only 50 days away and there are plenty of questions surrounding the big day. Big Ten programs still have a ton of top prospects on the board, which means there could be some impactful decisions coming in the near future.

Here is a look at some of the top storylines in the conference leading up to signing day.


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Michigan hosts big visitor weekend 

December, 16, 2013
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Michigan held a big visitor weekend just before the end of the contact period. Hosting most of the 2014 commitments, there were some big questions coming into the weekend.

The biggest came with defensive back commit Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) who caused an uproar when he tweeted that he would take official visits to other schools after his season.

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Under Armour game storylines: Pac-12 

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
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The rosters for the Under Armour All-America Game were released Wednesday night, and several Pac-12 commits and targets are scheduled to take part.

Here are the top five storylines that Pac-12 recruiting fans should be watching for during the week of practices and the game, which is set for 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.


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Under Armour game storylines: Big Ten 

December, 5, 2013
12/05/13
2:00
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The Under Armour All-America game is fast approaching and plenty of participants still have questions surrounding their recruitment.

The Big Ten has quite a few of those recruits in the game, so here is a look at five of the bigger storylines heading into the prestigious game.

Will Jabrill Peppers take visits?


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Recruits react: Michigan vs. Ohio State 

November, 30, 2013
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There are no moral victories in football, but Michigan’s close loss against Ohio State might have actually helped the Wolverines with recruiting.

Coming into the game there was plenty of uncertainty about the future at Michigan and the offense had played poorly all year. The biggest questions came when No. 2 ranked prospect Jabrill Peppers (Paramus, N.J./Paramus Catholic) tweeted that he would take official visits as a backup plan.

Peppers wasn’t at the game, but he was tweeting during the game, showing approval of the play on the field and even the final offensive play for Michigan.

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UA Game jersey tour: Wilton Speight

November, 16, 2013
11/16/13
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Senior quarterback Wilton Speight (Richmond, Va./Collegiate School) was presented his honorary game jersey Friday at his school during the American Family Insurance Selection Tour for the 2014 Under Armour All-America High School Football Game. The event was part of a three-month selection tour.

Speight, a Michigan commitment, is one of 90 players selected to compete in the seventh annual Under Armour All-America Game, a nationally televised game featuring the country’s top high school seniors. The 2014 game is set for 4 p.m. ET Jan. 2 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will be televised on ESPN.

[+] EnlargeWilton Speight
Courtesy of IntersportWilton Speight is No. 133 in the ESPN 300.
“It really means a lot to me to be able to represent not only my family, but this school, this community and these guys up here, my teammates,” Speight said. “My family, my mom and dad, my two younger brothers Griffin and Jess. It hasn’t all been pretty these past few years … recruiting, as many of you guys know wanting to play in college is tough. You never really know what coaches mean and stuff, but through all the ups and downs, my parents and two brothers have been there with me … and I thank you guys a lot. Today is a really special day, so thank you.”

Collegiate School coach Mark Palyo expects his star quarterback to continue showing strong leadership.

“I really expect Wilton to go there, and just be Wilton. To be that same player he is here for Collegiate School. He’s going to be down there doing that with a bunch of people he is going to meet for the first time. I expect him to carry himself the exact same way … to go out and be that leader on the field. To show what his skills are, and how he can help the team he is on and be successful in the game. I expect him to be the same exact person.”

The future Wolverines quarterback is looking forward to playing with the best players in the country.

"Having my family and team and coaches here is pretty awesome. I definitely wouldn’t be sitting in this chair and doing this interview if it wasn’t for all the people named. I’m most looking forward to the opportunity to play with the best of the best … the best talent around the country. I think what motivates me the most is pure drive to be the best. Not just a quarterback, but as a person. This [Under Armour Game] is kind of like the icing on the cake. I’ve had a really awesome experience here in high school here at Collegiate, and a fun way to go down to Orlando and Disney World. It’s going to be an amazing way to transition from one period of my life to the next.”

The 6-foot-6, 230-pound Speight is the No. 133 prospect in the ESPN 300 and the No. 6 pocket passer in the class. He committed to Michigan over offers from Miami (Fla.) and NC State.

B1G high school performances 

November, 4, 2013
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Here is a look at some of the top performances from Big Ten targets and commits for the week.

Illinois:
Mike Dudek: Dudek helped Neuqua Valley (Naperville, Ill.) beat O’Fallon 38-7 with three touchdown catches on the night.

Julian Hylton: The three-star running back had 159 yards on 30 carries with four touchdowns in his game. He helped lead Lincoln-Way North (Frankfort, Ill.) to a 41-6 win over Thornton Fractional South.

Indiana
Coray Keel: The Indiana commit and Snellville (Ga.) South Gwinnett wide receiver registered five catches for 108 yards and scored a 70-yard touchdown in a 30-28 win over Snellville Brookwood.


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