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August 15, 2013Although Michigan's commitments will take their talents to the biggest stage possible when they arrive at Michigan, many of them are going to compete in huge games at the high school level this fall. Here are ten contests to watch for U-M partisans.
1. Southfield (Mich.) vs. Detroit Cass Tech - Aug. 30, Detroit
This game is as big because of who isn't committed to Michigan as it is because of the lone U-M pledge. Three-star defensive end and future Wolverine Lawrence Marshall will line up next to Malik McDowell - a recent transfer from Detroit Loyola who happens to be the top player in the state - up front for Southfield.
The Blue Jays will roll out 2015 cornerback Ray Buford as well, though 2016 running back Matt Falcon, perhaps the underclassman star of the roster, will miss the seaosn with a knee injury. On the other sideline, Cass Tech boasts 2014 Ohio State pledge Damon Webb, and a pair of future Spartans in 2014 linebacker Deon Drake and 2015 quarterback Jayru Campbell.
As always seems to be the case for the Technicians, there is lots of underclassman talent, including a pair of Michigan offers. 2015 running back Mike Weber and two-way lineman Josh Alabi have both heard the good news from the Wolverines, while a number of other CT underclassmen could in the future. 2015 linebacker Keith Jones and 2016 linemen Ostell Martin and Michael Onwenu have both visited Ann Arbor already in the past, and a few more are likely to do so in the future. 2016 cornerback LaVert Hill is the younger brother of Michigan freshman safety Delano Hill.
A trio of young wide receivers - junior Keshawn Gilmore, sophomore Demetric Vance, and freshman Donovan Peoples-Jones - all project to be Division I prospects down the road.
2. Paramus (N.J.) Catholic vs. Cleveland St. Ignatius - Sept. 28, Cleveland
The Paladins will head West from New Jersey to take on one of Ohio's top teams. Not only does St. Ignatius boast Notre Dame-bound offensive lineman Jimmy Byrne and future Buckeyes linebacker Kyle Berger, but the Wildcats also have a number of underclassmen that should be big-time prospects. Michigan's 2014 commits from Paramus - five-star corner Jabrill Peppers and three star lineman Juwann-Bushell-Beatty - will have their hands full.
3. Grand Rapids (Mich.) Christian vs. Muskegon (Mich.) - Sept. 6, Grand Rapids, Mich.
Drake Harris' Grand Rapids Christian squad captured the 2012 Division 3 state title. Muskegon was the runner up in Division 2. It should be one of the toughest battles of the regular season for both teams with a traditional power squaring off with the upstart GRC Eagles. For Harris, it's a good test against a secondary that includes some of the state's most underrated defensive backs.
4. Paramus (N.J.) Catholic vs. Ramsey (N.J.) Don Bosco Prep - Oct. 18, Paramus, N.J.
Peppers left Don Bosco Prep for Paramus Catholic at the end of his sophomore year, and the Ironmen have no love lost for the five-star cornerback, Bushell-Beatty will try to outshine Virginia Tech-bound Tyrell Smith from the opposite side of the line of scrimmage. Both squads feature plenty of talented underclassmen, including 2015 wideout Najee Clayton for PC. This is a matchup of New Jersey's top two teams, and will be aired live on ESPNU at 6 p.m.
5. Elkton (Md.) Eastern Christian Academy vs. Washington (D.C.) Friendship Collegiate Academy - Sept. 20, Washington, D.C.
Michigan's commitment duo of wideout Freddy Canteen and cornerback Brandon Watson will have their hands full with another of the East Coast's most talented programs. Canteen will go head-to-head with four-star defensive back Jalen Tabor, and Watson will have his hands full on the other side of the ball with a number of excellent athletes. Eastern Christian Academy is also home to 2016 linebacker Dele' Harding, who could be one of the Wolverines' top targets in that class.
6. Richmond (Va.) Collegiate at Richmond (Va.) St. Christopher's - Nov. 2, Richmond, Va.
U-M commit Wilton Speight is the triggerman for the Collegiate offense, and he'll face some tough defenders in this one. St. Chris boasts 2015 linebacker/defensive end Ricky DeBerry, who already holds more than 50 scholarship offers, and safety Garrett Taylor, another BCS-caliber prospect. If Speight can put up big numbers against a talented D, it's a good sign for Michigan's future. The rivalry game closes the regular season for both teams, and a hard-fought battle is in the cards.
7. Hinsdale (Ill.) Central vs. Bolingbrook (Ill.) - Aug. 30, Hinsdale, Ill.
This is yet another battle between a U-M commit and a Wolverines target. Hinsdale Central tight end Ian Bunting lines up at mostly wideout for his high school offense, and Bolingbrook cornerback Parrker Westphal should see time at every position in the secondary. That means many head-to-head matchups between the two. Bolingbrook has been a consistent producer of talent, and includes 2016 linebacker Tuf Borland - who wil make all-name teams even if he doesn't end up playing Big Ten ball - on its roster.
8. Tarpon Springs (Fla.) East Lake vs. Largo (Fla.) - Sept. 6, Largo, Fla.
Largo was one of just two teams to beat East Lake last year, dishing out a 40-10 beatdown. U-M commit Mason Cole along with his talented teammates, including 2014 Clemson commit Artavis Scott and 2015 five-star Michigan pledge George Campbell, would like to avenge that loss, Largo linebacker Frankie Hernandez, a South Florida commit, could be a good test for Cole coming off the edge. Campbell has developed his all-around game after being mostly a go-route specialist last year, and should show off a more complete skillset.
9. Jefferson Hills (Pa.) Thomas Jefferson vs. Washington (Pa.) Trinity - Sept. 20, Jefferson Hills, Pa.
Washington Trinity is a routine producer of talent, including former Michigan defensive lineman Kenny Wilkins. Thomas Jefferson linebacker Chase Winovich will battle on behalf of both his high school team and Michigan when the Jaguars host Trinity. This is a Pittsburgh-area game that Michigan fans won't want to miss.
10. Salt Lake City Highland vs. Skyline (Utah) - Oct. 9, Salt Lake City
Bryan Mone, the nation's No. 14 defensive tackle according to Rivals.com, has flown under the radar from a rankings perspective thanks to playing in an area with little big-time exposure (although it does produce some top talent). His Highland team will take on one of Utah's most consistent programs in Skyline High School in mid-October, and showing that he can collapse the pocket and play the run in this one will give him a boost.